W7: Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover

I know I sound super cliche by my title, but I feel like that is an overlying theme that I have found throughout this class. This class, for me, has been a little challenging because of the set up of the class. The content of this class has been super easy to follow the entire course. I have loved all of the different topics we have covered throughout the seven weeks has passed. I can’t wait to tell all of you how I think they all connect.

I understand that all of the different topics we have covered this week also are connected through a common theme: don’t judge a book by its cover.  One of the topics this was illustrated in was week 1. In lecture from Dr. Cynthia Gabriel, she explained that race is viewed as a subspecies in society, but in reality it is not. In order to be a subspecies, one race would not be able to create children with another, and (or) the children would not be able to have children (Gabriel, 2015). I think that this is the first way we learned the cliche statement of do not judge a book by its cover. When we look at people today, one of the first things everyone does is judge them. We base it off of their skin color, their clothes, their demeanor; we base it on their appearance. Through the discrimination of different races, we have caused health problems through the stress of discrimination. As humans, we should not be doing this to each other. We are one human race with no subspecies. We may look different but we should not antagonize each other and lead others to have health issues because of it.

In week 2, we learned about mental health. I think that through week 2 and the movie review project, I learned a lot about the stigma around illness. In the reading “Conflicting Explanatory  Models in the Care of the Chronically Ill”, you can see some of the stigma around illnesses. You see that the doctors are only worried about getting the diagnosis and treating the patient (Kleinman, 1988). The family is only worried about making sure that the family member is comfortable, but the only one looking at the whole picture is the patient themselves. The stigma around chronic diseases is that people think they have to fit into certain roles around the chronically ill patient. We should all help to surround the patient with the atmosphere he or she needs to be comfortable, as well as take all aspects of the patient’s life into account of their care. When I watched “Benny and Joon” for my movie review project, Benny, Joon’s brother, showed that he fit perfectly into the role of overprotective family (Benny and Joon, 1993). I think that popular culture shows the stigma’s around health care, but this movie shows a break through and a solution around that.

After this class is over, I will be able to realize that I have to strive to better the world. I know that it has to be done one person at a time and it will be a lot of work, but I want to make the world a better place. I know that I also have to start with myself. When I become a surgeon, I want to be able to take all aspects of the patient’s life into account. I will not ignore the ongoings in the patient’s life that could add a dimension to their disease or illness. Everyone in this class will hopefully be able to take away the same message and aid me in making the world a better place.

This class was very well thought out and had a lot of information. I do think, however, that the documentaries can become a little repetitive and stuffy. I think to break that up, we should include a popular movie that illustrates the topic discussed during that week. I have two suggestions: one is the movie “Benny and Joon” and the other is the movie “Avatar”. I personally used “Benny and Joon” for my movie review project (Benny and Joon, 1993). I read another classmate that used the movie “Avatar” and I thought both were perfect for the class (Avatar, 2010). I think they both illustrate humans judging a book by its cover. We, as a human race, need to be able to break through this mold. I think these movies both show the problem of prejudgment, but they also show what happens if we don’t prejudge people in the end of the movie. They both show what possibilities can await if we just give people a chance. I think that is the important part of these movies. They show the problem, but they illustrate to the students that there is a chance that they can break through and make a change in the world.

Even though I have looked at the stigma on a macroscopic scale, the truth of the matter is that it individually affects all families and patients with illness. The Alzheimer’s Association writes, “Stigma and stereotypes are a significant obstacle to well-being and quality of life for those with [illnesses] and their families,” (“Overcoming Stigma”, 2016). We need to make a change in the world for the better, and this class has finally opened my eyes to all of the problems.


i. Gabriel, Cynthia, Dr. “Understanding Race and Ethnicity in Medicine.” ANP 370 Culture Health and Illness. 2015. Accessed July 07, 2016. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp370-us16/lecture-videos/understanding-race-and-ethnicity-in-medicine/

ii. Kleinman, Arthur. The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing, and the Human Condition. New York: Basic, 1988. Anthropology 370. Anthropology 370. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.

iii. Benny & Joon. Dir. Jeremiah Chechik. By Barry Berman. Perf. Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Aidan Quinn. MGM/UA Home Video, 1993. DVD.

iv. “Overcoming Stigma – Alzheimer’s & Dementia | Alzheimer’s Association.” I Have Alzheimer’s. 2016. Accessed August 17, 2016. http://www.alz.org/i-have-alz/overcoming-stigma.asp.

v. Avatar. Directed by James Cameron. Milano: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2010. DVD.

2 thoughts on “W7: Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover

  1. The idea of not placing too much emphasis on race is definitely a theme that rears its presence throughout the course. This cultural apathy is still something that biomedicine still implicitly propagates. participating in this propagation results only in conflict and further bigotry which has the potential of leeching poison on to even the most distinguished of academics. I pointed out in one of my first’s writings in this class that this inflammatory type of thinking implicitly influenced science ,more particularly, medicine negatively in the future. I feel though you just need to address this one point to your idea. I believe the racism you addressed in your writings was connected directly to the way medicine developed its core problems in modern times. This is not to say that all developments in biomedicine were bad, But it obviously plays a role with the racism that occurred in the Flexner reports and the continued lack of cultural understanding in modern medicine. The racism you have pointed out may have been a contributing factor for the cultural apathy in medicine. The same overconfidence modern biomedical doctors have in their explanatory models is the same over-confidence many early human evolutionary scientist had in their racist models. The type of thinking that was framed by these scientists could have influenced medicine for the worst.

  2. Hi Maria!
    It may sound cliche but I could not agree more with your title theme. Many of us keep that saying in mind as we go throughout life but society has shaped us to much that we often absent-mindedly judge “a book by its cover” without even realizing it. I think another thing this course has taught be is that we cannot set our selves as the standard and assume everything to be abnormal. Western society does that more often than we think. I believe this has a lot to do with your development and believe that since we have a more developed economy, we therefore are “the best”. This class also made me want to strive to make the world a better place. I look around at our generation and I see a general theme of this as well. Maybe we will be the ones to start this change. So much work goes into it but it has to start somewhere. I agree that the documentaries do become dull and a more popular and entertaining film can achieve the same goal, if not make us think more about underlying themes and concepts that connect to the course.
    Great post! Glad you enjoyed the class as well!

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