A New Outlook

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this course, or from any anthropology course for that matter, it’s to not take everything for face value.  No matter what we see happening right in front of us there’s always another side to the story.  A lot of this is prevalent in the medical field.  Most of us as young students have only really seen the western bio medical side of everything that we have come to know as bio medicine: birth, treating illness, etc.  I know I overuse this very much in my posts and comments, but the most profound idea I picked up this semester is whether “it works” or not.  When talking about other medical systems, does our “does it work” mean the same as theirs (Gabriel 2016)?  We looked at this case a lot with birth in other cultures compared to ours.  Our birthing system is viewed as a surgical procedure and is to be done in a hospital (with very uneducated deliverers as it would appear).  In other cultures, specifically the Inuit tribes we studied, birth is done at home and is seen more as an empowering moment for the mother.

Going along with this idea, the intangibles of health are neglected in western bio medicine.  For example, in the documentary “The Business of Being Born” a German physician probably had the best quote in the entire movie.  “Not feeling the pain of the birth naturally removes the mother from the situation.  Attachment grows when the mom controls the process (The Business of Being Born 2008).”  In this case hes’ talking about birth, but this idea can be looked at in almost every scenario.  Bio medicine focuses on fixing the problem and nothing more.  There’s no deeper investigation as to what may have been the true root cause of the problem.  That’s the issue with bio medicine: where it excels in emergency treatment it lacks in holistic care.  Any anthropologist knows that anthropology is a very holistic study, so that’s what makes the medical realm so interesting to them.  Medicine is not viewed as that in our culture, but perhaps taking a more holistic approach will help us better understand other cultures as well as our own just that much better.

This may be cheating, but I’m going to use it anyway because of the profound effect it had on me when I watched this movie.  “The Business of Being Born” was such an eye opening movie, this has to be my recommendation for the course.  There are great examples of looking at elements of cultural norms through medicine in this documentary, specifically through birth, that are almost identical to the types of things we’ve went over this semester.  It had a great effect on me, I can only hope it’s have the same effect on more people.  The best part?  It’s on Netflix!

Gabriel, Cynthia. “Medicalization of Everyday Life.” ANP 370: Culture, Health, and Illness. Accessed August 17, 2016. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp370-us16/lecture-videos/medicalization-of-everyday-life/.
The Business of Being Born. The Business of Being Born. August 2008. Accessed August 17, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvljyvU_ZGE.

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