Week 2: You Know Yourself Better Than Anyone, Even Better Than the Doctors

Throughout this week, we have been able to learn about explanatory models and how they are different in unique situations. Even though every situation was unique to itself, they all had one thing in common: the person’s explanatory model determined everything. There is a direct correlation from the patient’s explanatory model to the type of treatment they pursue, how they live, and how they view their diagnosis entirely.

In the excerpt from Arthur Kleinman’s “Conflicting Explanatory Models in the Care of the Chronically Ill”, he incomparably illustrated how the explanatory model of the patient conflicted with that of the caregiver. In Mrs. Lawler’s case, she knew that her doctor wasn’t treating her emotional needs. Because of how she viewed her illness, she took herself to a different doctors office. On the other hand, her doctor did not attend to her emotions and family ongoings because his explanatory model only involves the disease, or the biological and chemical factors inside of the body. Mrs. Lawler was right to seek out a doctor that would fit her explanatory model of her illness. As the familydoctor.org stated, “ask someone outside the situation, such as your family doctor… for advice and support to help you improve your emotional health”. Emotional health is as much a part of your illness as anything else.

Also, McGruder was able to capture how a patient’s explanatory model directly influences their choice in how they live their life and the treatment they pursue in “Madness in Zanzibar: An Exploration of Lived Experience”. A majority of the people in Zanzibar are Muslim. Due to their beliefs and way of life, they have a different outlook on a lot of things. I was surprised when they kept their emotions level. From where we live, it is hard to imagine that, because when someone is ill their emotions often are not the first thing we think of. Being from the West, we automatically think of the physical detriments first. When Kimwana was suffering from her illness, the only one who had trouble with their emotions was her grandmother. Everyone else had the same belief that the emotions were troubling Kimwana and setting her off. Because of their belief of Kimwana’s illness, they chose their actions according to that. Her grandmother, however, had trouble understanding that this was an illness. Due to that fact, her mother frequently was caught giving an attitude or having slight disagreements with Kimwana. I think that this particular example in Zanzibar shows that even though they have different views, their beliefs still directly impact their choice in care of the patient.

Jonathan Metzl was able to discuss the view of the doctors I believe. It showed their explanatory model for the disease. To paraphrase, he mentioned that on days when he worked in the clinical area, he would mention that he would describe the disease in a definition sort of way. Because of that, it showed what kind of treatment they were giving. It was a very clincal, or lab, setting. I think that influenced how they viewed the patients as a whole.

No matter who is involved, everyone’s explanatory model directly influences how they treat, live, and view their diagnosis or illness. I think that being able to see how a patient views their illness is just as important as seeing how the family and caregiver’s view the illness. Going into a medical field, I want to be able to bring that emotional and social aspect to the table. I want to be able to help patients with whatever is ailing them, not just the symptoms at hand. My explanatory model for anything is to keep an open mind and not think it is caused by just one thing. Therefore, I will treat the patients with as much care, patience, and listening as they require. I will do that because it correlates directly with what my explanatory model says.

You know your body better than any doctor ever will; make sure that you trust that and seek help however you see fit.



FamilyDoctor.org. “Mind/Body Connection: How Your Emotions Affect Your Health.” Last Modified May, 2016. Accessed July 15, 2016. familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/emotional-wellbeing/metnal-health/mind-body-connection-how-your-emotions-affect-your-health.html

McGruder, Juli H. “Madness in Zanzibar: An Exploration of Lived Experience”. Accessed July 15, 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 15, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEpvqQcwmfE.


8 thoughts on “Week 2: You Know Yourself Better Than Anyone, Even Better Than the Doctors

  1. I personally had never heard of explanatory models before this class and I find the concept of them to be very interesting. I like how you said explanatory models are different in unique situations, even though every situation is unique to itself. Explanatory models can differ in so many ways from person to person and situation to situation, etc. In the case of Mrs. Lawler, I do agree that she was right to seek out a different doctor in her situation. I think it’s very important for an individual to think of and identify their own explanatory model to themselves because even though a doctor is good with medicine and diagnosis, the individual themselves knows what they’re actually feeling on the inside. I also find it important for a person to know their explanatory model because it helps people to stick with their treatment plan better. It’s like they know exactly what they want and need and have a say in how they are going to best fix the situation. I also agree with your closing sentence of “you know your body better than any doctor ever will” because that is true and doctors only know what all you are willing to tell them whether it be physical, mental, or emotional.

  2. Your post was really intriguing and eye opening! I really like how detailed you were about discussing key points from the readings and analyzing them. It is so fascinating learning about how others deal with mental health and seeing the similarities and differences which come from that. In your post you mentioned how Kimwana’s emotional state was the cause of her illness and how that can be hard to imagine for some people. I agree with you on that because in our society we are so focused on the way we do things and sometimes it’s hard for people to think about new options or reasons of why things happen. We grow up thinking that certain things, like one’s health, could purely be biological, when in fact there are people all around the world who could grow up thinking that there are other things which cause different illnesses. There isn’t one exact answer for every problem, but many people live their lives with that state of mind. I am curious in how to get other people to be more accepting or more knowledgeable about cases like these. I find it so interesting how everyone has different opinions about health, so I’m really glad that you discussed that example! Great post!

  3. Before this week I never really thought about how different explanatory models would affect how a patient received treatment. I thought the readings were really interesting in seeing how different was of explaining illness can influence how others and doctors treat you. I really liked how you summarized the important parts of the readings and analyzed them. I agreed that Mrs. Lawler had every right to seek a different doctor that would listen to her and treat to her emotional needs. The emotional aspect of an illness is just as important as the biological and chemical. When I was younger I was in the hospital with a very serious virus and I was really scared and an emotional wreck. The nurse that was on duty came in and listened to every worry I had and talked me through everything that was going to happen. That has really stuck with me because it made me feel so much better just having someone to take time to go over every procedure and reassure you everything is going to be okay. I really like how you incorporated your own explanatory model at the end. I look at treating patients the same way and every situation is unique to the patient being treated. I want to be able to reassure the patient that everything is going to be fine and help them with every aspect of their disease whether it is physical, emotional, biological, or chemical.

  4. First of all, I love how you titled your entry, “You Know Yourself Better Than Anyone, Even Than the Doctors.” I think this sums up the entire weeks’ work very well. We learned that the most through Kleinman, as you also pointed out. She had every right to go to another doctor who was able to focus on more than just the biological illness. On our side of the world we focus a lot on the actual illness, as opposed to the feelings behind it. We trust the doctors to fix things any way they know how. As part of a westernized society, we already are known to be very egocentric, meaning that we think our way of doing things, our culture, is the “right” way. Moreover, we are a society that is built upon western medicine: using drugs and surgery to cure illnesses. Compile all of this together, and it is no wonder that we frown upon the idea of someone’s emotional state as the source of an illness. As a psychology major, it is hard for me to understand doctors who don’t care about the mindset or inner feelings of the patient; their mindset is everything, and the culture they grow up in will most definitely alter their feelings about treatment. This is key to treating all kinds of patients.

  5. Maria,
    I completely agree with your explanatory model. I haven’t heard of that term before this class, but I do think that in modern, Western medicine it is important to consider the patient’s emotional and mental health along with their physical symptoms. These days many people live such fast paced, stressful lives that they in turn neglect their own well-being. Stress has a huge effect on our lives, which is why it is also called “the silent killer”. Almost all college students know about stress eating during finals, and seeing the result of numbers going up on the scale once break starts. Many people may also experience stress headaches. However we are now starting to learn that being so tense actually has physical health implications on us as well. Dr. DeLongis at University of Illinois, along with others conducted a study of how different levels of stress can affect mood and somatic responses over a period of time. They looked at effects of stress on the same day, day after, and long-term. They found that stress could lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, coughing, nausea and even the flu. Stress really can cause us to be sick, and needs to be considered during the diagnostic process!

    DeLongis, Anita, Susan Folkman, and Richard Lazarus. The Impact of Daily Stress on Health and Mood: Psychological and Social Resources as Mediators. N.p.: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1988. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/19795738_The_Impact_of_Daily_Stress_on_Health_and_Mood_Psychological_and_Social_Resources_as_Mediators.

  6. I really enjoyed reading the information you included in your post from your outside source! I think that they phrase the need to understand your own illness and what is best for you very clearly and succinctly. I find it interesting that a lot of other countries around the world have many different options for the treatment of health issues for people to choose from, but here in the United States we are very limited. While there are a few alternative forms of medicine that people can access if they look hard enough, biomedicine is the mainstream health treatment option that we have here in the states. As you summed up about the readings from this week, it is incredibly important to find a doctor that works best for how you perceive your illness. When all factors are taken into consideration, physical as well as mental and emotional, I think that your health will improve at a much faster rate than if just one factor is focused on to the potential detriment of the others.
    I also really liked the point you made about how when we hear of someone getting sick we think first, and most times only, of their physical well-being. We don’t take into consideration their emotional state during the time they are sick. Along with doctors from the United States, we are most focused on how to make someone’s physical ailments go away through understanding the biological and chemical aspects of the illness.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post! Your insight on this topic was very intriguing. I do agree with you in terms of having the proper mindset when it comes to dealing with certain illnesses. The brain is a powerful tool and being healthy mentally is extremely important. The quote, “the brain plays tricks on you” couldn’t be more accurate in my opinion. Whether people resort to taking shortcuts in life, overthinking the situation, or stumbling over their emotions, being strong mentally is essential. Bringing that emotional aspect into the medical field is something that people would greatly benefit from. Your post reminded me of Craig Sager who is currently battling life-threatening Leukemia. I recently just watched his ESPY’s speech for his perseverance award and he kept talking not only about his symptoms but how his mindset has become more aware and healthy when thinking about cancer and other aspects of his life. He referenced watching trains go by with kids running around and thinking it was his life coming full circle. Having a positive outlook on life no matter the circumstances is important. Although it may be hard, but keeping emotions level in times of distress is also crucial. Good read!

  8. Maria,
    I enjoyed reading your post because it is apparent how passionate you are about the topic. You seem very sincere as you draw connections between the course materials and your own ambitions. That being said, I think you touched on all of the critical points of the references you used in way that was well organized and easy to read. I also liked the emphasis you conveyed on how our own perceptions affect our interactions with physicians, as well as other aspects of sickness. The doctor-patient experience is a very complicated and delicate relationship; If someone feels a doctor isn’t being attentive to individual needs, they might feel like a lab rat rather than a unique person. That added stress could even make a person more sick. It’s sort of ironic that a health professional that only looks at the biological aspect of disease could potentially make a person feel worse.

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