Differing explanatory models of disease and sickness allow different cultures to view health in various ways. As MD Namratha Kandula from The Health Care Blog explains, “What people believe and experience when they are ill is usually something far more complex, deeply interconnected with their daily lives”(Kandula, 2013). She understands that disease and illness are not results from only the individual’s biology physiological mishaps. How a person interacts with “symptoms” depends greatly on cultural factors and how their lifestyle within their community.
As Dr. Gabriel mentions in our online lecture, many doctors are diagnosing patients based off of the symptoms in our Western culture. This clinical judgement, or also known as clinical gaze, is created when the patient is seen as a body instead of a real person with a unique interactions within his or her society that could influence their health in varying ways. In the United States, an individual’s personal life is never questioned. The doctor rarely ever asks about the different stresses the patient might be dealing with, or what makes them feel really good and uplifted. The doctor patient interaction in this Western culture hardly every includes the patients current socioeconomic status or whether or not the patient believes in therapy versus prescriptions. All of these differing factors play a huge role in how the doctor should “diagnose” the patient, if the medical system wants to benefit each patient to their individual needs most efficiently. Two patients might have identical stages of breast cancer at the same time in their lives. One patient might have horrible feelings/thoughts about the disease as the outcome of many lost family members to breast cancer. The other patient also has family history of the cancer, but the family members are survivors. These two patients should not be dealt with in the same manor. The psychological differences could help or hinder specific treatment paths.
Dr. Metzl starts off by describes schizophrenia as a biological illness that causes symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, etc, caused by “different brain anomalies”(Metzl, 2010). His explanation is very biochemical explaining the illness as chemical imbalances of the brain which is very similar to how the United States’ perceive illnesses. In Zanzibar contrastingly, a patient might experience the same “symptoms” but thinks totally different of them. Instead of blaming these hallucinations on chemical imbalances in the brain, these patients in Zanzibar may be more accepting of these delusions. In their culture, “spirits are active in the everyday experience of humans” (McGruder, pg. 257). Because the Zanzibar patients have totally differing levels of acceptance of this idea of madness, treating them with the same treatment plan would be ridiculous. If the Zanzibar patient was given the treatment plan and medication type that the Western model would prescribe, the patient would not show improvements. They might not even participate in the prescription because they do not believe in what the Western model is diagnosing!
Kandula, Namratha. “The Patient Explanatory Model.” The Health Care Blog. June 11, 2013. Accessed July 14, 2016. http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2013/06/11/the-patient-explanatory-model/.
McGruder, Juli H. “An Exploration of Lived Experience.” Madness in Zanzibar. Accessed July 14, 2016. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp370-us16/files/2015/05/2.1-McGruder.pdf.
Metzl, Jonathan. “Book TV: Jonathan Metzl, “The Protest Psychosis”” YouTube. 2010. Accessed July 14, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEpvqQcwmfE.