Mental illness can be understood in different ways depending on the person and treatment should be based on the individual. In “Health Psychology”, Richard Straub states that “in the end, no single approach to health care has all the answers; the search for the best solution to a medical condition often requires a willingness to look beyond one remedy or system of treatment” (583). I think that this is the best approach to helping patients improve their overall health. This week we looked at two very different articles. One understood mental illness strictly on the biomedicine perspective and the other was on the traditional side with spirits causing schizophrenia. These articles showed two extreme sides with the middle being a combination of biomedicine and traditional. How a person interprets their mental illness can impact their treatment options and overall well-being. A patient who believes that their disease is due to an angry spirit will have a difficult time accepting a Western medicine treatment plan and will have a harder time sticking to their plan. However, if you incorporated some traditional medicine techniques along with the biomedical treatment, the patient would be more likely to comply.
In “Madness in Zanzibar: An Exploration of Lived Experience”, Janis Jenkins studies three different families in Zanzibar. She observes that all of the patients with schizophrenia are on Western medicine drugs and continually go to the mental institution but they also believe in spirits having a part in their illness. By having these religious and cultural aspects, the patient’s mental health improves. However having too much of religious or cultural aspects can be detrimental to a person’s overall health along with having too much of a biomedical aspect. In “Conflicting Explanatory Models in the Care of the Chronically Ill”, Arthur Kleinman gives a transcript between a doctor and a patient where the patient is constantly being interrupted by the doctor asking about symptoms. If he had listened to the patient he would have been able to get a better diagnosis of the patient.
If the patient and doctor make a treatment plan based on the patient’s explanatory model, the patient is more likely to comply and improve their health outcome. However, depending on where the patient lives, the social outcome may be affected. Someone in Zanzibar would still be socially accepted if they thought that spirits were the cause of their mental illness, but if that same person were in the United States, they would not be as socially accepted.
Straub, Richard O. “Complementary and Alternative Medicine.” Health Psychology. 4th ed. Newy York: Worth, 2014. 550-84. Print.