Illness and healing are subjects that can be focused on through different viewpoints. It is common knowledge that Western medicine, or the biomedical approach to illness, focuses on healing through science and is typically used in the United States. With that being said, there are also many different approaches to healing that can be used, such as healing through spirit or religion. This is not something that is as accepted or thought of in the biomedical practice, but these approaches can be just as effective, if not more effective, than the drugs used in Western medicine.
When it comes to the relationship between science and healing, Western medicine doctors are taught to think of treatment and healing as a way of balancing out chemicals in the body that have been “imbalanced” through illness, as stated through our lecture material this week. The Western medicine of the United States tends to separate mind and body, and only focus on the “body” aspect, when really these areas go hand in hand.
A different approach to healing, dealing with religion and spirit, focuses on healing both the mind and the body. This viewpoint of healing was originated centuries ago and is sometimes considered “traditional” healing. In a clip that we watched through this week’s class material, we meet a man named Tsitano Muburunyara, who is a traditional healer of the Tsaukwe clan of the San people of Botswana. The main way that he heals people is by doing the “healing dance” with them, along with giving them some simple herbal medicines (Lee, 2012). The main focus here is the “healing dance,” since this is something that was passed down through their own heritage, and is still thought to work today. According to their beliefs, this healer was chosen by God. A higher spirit came down to Tsitatno while he was sleeping and bestowed him with the power of healing (Lee, 2012). Once this happened, he then knew that he could help his tribe by being their healer and leading the healing dance. In their religion, it is very important for the traditional healer not waste his gift, but to rather use it to help his people in any way he can. The healing dance lasts for hours and during this process, the traditional healer goes into a trance and his spirit connects with his ancestors (Lee, 2012). His spirit then returns to his body around the fire and the dance, and implements healing through procedures like massages (Lee, 2012).
Based on an article that I encountered, titled “The Influence of Religiosity on Health,” it has been found that “religion seems to be a psychosocial factor and biological benefit in the recovery of physical and mental illness” (Alves, Alves, Barboza and Souto, 2008). This proves that religious and spiritual healings can have an impact on one’s health. This is an aspect of healing that more people need to be open to, because it has also been found that this facet of health and healing is becoming more and more obsolete. This occurring both because it is not being as respected as biomedicine, and it doesn’t have the listeners and believers that it once used to have, in the more traditional world.
Lee, Ton Van Der, dir. “Part 1: The San People of Botswana.” In Spirits of Africa: Preserving Africa’s Spiritual Heritage. 2012. February 3, 2012. Accessed July 21, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyLF3y1YJKA.
Alves, Rômulo Romeu Da Nobrega, Humberto Da Nobrega Alves, Raynner Rilke Duarte Barboza, and Wedson De Medeiros Silva Souto. “The Influence of Religiosity on Health.” Scientific Electronic Library Online. May 1, 2008. Accessed July 21, 2016. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1413-81232010000400024&script=sci_arttext&tlng=es.