Final Thoughts

This class has opened my eyes, and really made me appreciate and understand different cultures all around the world a lot better. Because I was born in, and have been raised to go to, the hospital in times of need, science and medicine has always been something I depended on. My parent’s aren’t doctors and can’t have the answers to everything, so that’s always something I’ve understood. I’ve never judged other cultures, for their medical choices, I really just don’t think I understood why they wouldn’t want to be updated with modern medicine that could save their lives. This could also be that I’m not very religious, and I’ve learned that many other cultures are very spiritually deep rooted. Like the Hmong and Inuit culture that we learned about in one of our week’s topics, they had very set ways about living their lives. The cultures all had ancestors that would live this same lifestyle thousands of years ago, and they wanted to respect that. A big issue was in childbirth and how to go about having your child. I think this week’s topic was most interesting because there are so many views on what cultures think is right, and it’s a choice that most people have to decide at some point in their lives. For most people this is the first big decision and they want to follow what they’ve seen to be right, which is usually through their parents or other family members. Some very religious people want their placenta after childbirth to then burry it so the baby’s spirit has somewhere to go when they eventually pass. This is something that modern medicine doesn’t really deal with, and doctors can’t really relate because they’ve learned how to save a life the best they can.

I’m definitely glad I decided to take this class, because it was very practical and relatable to real world situations. Most classes in college are asking for your opinion versus another opinion but this class allowed me to look at the other opinion first. This is something that I think is beneficial not only in looking at other people’s medical decisions, but viewing others cultures and respecting them.

As I mentioned in my movie review, I think a beautiful mind would be a good movie to incorporate in this class. The scene especially that would work well is when the doctor is discussing treatment plans and kind of making the decision for John Nash, the patient. This is something that I really felt the class was all about; educating doctors not only to save a life, but respect the wishes of different cultures, and take a different approach on every single patient. Overall this was a very interesting course and I will definitely use my new knowledge moving forward in college, and in life!

Gabriel, Cynthia, PH.D. “Inuit Birth” Lecture, Online, August 16, 2016.

Howard, Ron. A Beautiful Mind. DVD. Directed by Russel Crowe. 2001. , 2001.

2 thoughts on “Final Thoughts

  1. Julie,
    I also used to question why some communities wouldn’t want the help of Western medicine. After taking this class I’ve realized that it has to do with the difference in our explanatory models. Just as we discussed in week 2, our cultural values affect how we view the source of the illness. In Western biomedicine, we view it as a malfunction of biochemical pathways in our body. Other cultures may see it as a spiritual crisis. McGruder’s piece about Amina, Hemed and Kimwana’s suffering from schizophrenia in Zanzibar is a great example. When Kimwana first started showing symptoms, they began to wonder if malicious spirits had been the root of it, perhaps because they were upset ancestors or “sent from a jealous coworker.” Additionally, in Fadiman’s recount of the Lees, they were convinced that her epilepsy was due to her spirit being “scared away” from her sister slamming the door, or her spirit wandering because she is meant to become a shaman. Of course Western medicine has treatments for these such as antipsychotics and behavioral therapy, but the problem is that these would not help treat the angry spirits that are harming the patient. Therefore, they must turn to spiritual medicine such as reading from the Qur’an or herbal medicines (McGruder, 2003). Some cultures believe that “hospital medicine” is a last resort. I personally haven’t tried homeopathic remedies before, and I usually avoid going to see a physician. I feel as though this has been an increasing trend within the past few years, as more people would rather not take medications and not waste time or money if they don’t have to. In fact, in a 2002 survey of 31,044 adults, 62% had used some type of alternative medicine, mainly for common illnesses such as colds, flu, anxiety or depression. Nearly 77% of the participants had seeked out religious prayer as a form of treatment (Barnes et al). Of course these results depend on race, economic status, gender, etc. but after taking this class I wouldn’t mind opening up and trying alternative medicine before I decide to go to the doctor’s office the next time I’m sick.

    Gabriel, Cynthia, PH.D. “Explanatory Models” and Interpretive Theory: Learning about Health through Ethnography” Lecture, Online, August 18, 2016.

    Barnes, Patricia M., Eve Powell-Griner, Kim McFann, and Richard L. Nahin. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. N.p.: Elsevier, 2002. Accessed August 18, 2016.

    Fadiman, Anne. The spirit catches you and you fall down :a Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures New York : Noonday Press. 1998

  2. Hello Julie, I agree with you that this class has really made me appreciate and understand various cultures around the world. The different methods used for childbirth and the ideas behind them are very interesting. Taking into account everyone’s vast background and respecting it is important in today’s society. Being able to compare and contrast the Hmong’s culture to ours was eye opening and made me see things in a different perspective. I also agree with what you said about looking at others opinions first in this class. This is one of those unique classes where opinions drive the course and make it beneficial to be a part of. The childbirth issue made me interested in how other cultures deal with this issue. Do other communities believe the same thing as the Hmong? Are there ideas completely different? I could imagine many cultures having their own set beliefs regarding these issues, which is perfectly fine. I also found it interesting how religion and the spirit have such a major influence within certain communities. I also agree that A Beautiful Mind is such a great movie and would be great for this class! I was blown away when I first saw it. The acting and storyline is incredible! Great post!

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