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Medical Anthropology

Goals better understand those factors which influence health and well being The experience and distribution of illness the prevention and treatment of sickness health processes the social relations of therapy management
Disease and illness Disease- an objectively measurable pathological condition of the body Tooth decay, measles, or a broken bone Illness- A feeling of not being normal and health may, in fact, be due to a disease it may also be due to a feeling of spiritual imbalance
Causes of illness caries radically from culture to culture similar, the methods considered acceptable for curing illness in one culture may be rejected by another tow explanatory traditions- naturalistic
Western civ beginnings in ancient greece; Hippocrates 4th-5th centuries B.c. modern form of today not until 16th century A.D. assumes that illness is only due to impersonal, mechanistic causes in nature that can be potentially understood and cured by the application of the scientific method of discovery organic breakdown or deterioration (tooth decay, heart failure, senility) obstruction (kidney stones, arterial blockage due to plaque build-up) injury (broken bones, bullet wounds) imbalance (too much or too little)
Humoral Pathology based on the idea that our bodies have four important fluids or humors—blood,phlegm,black bile, and yellow bile. each humor is thought to have its own “complexion” blood is hot and wet. phlegm is cold and wet. black bile is cold and dry. yellow bile is hot and dry. BUT nothing to do with actual temp or humidity. origins with hippocrates as well, but lost in europe in during the dark ages preserved in arabic society (ca.500-1000AD) today it remains a major folk tradition of medicine among latin america europe and north america, humoral pathology explanations of illness and methods of curing continued to be part of the mainstream medical system.
Humoral pathology curing discovering the complexion imbalance and rectifying it a hot injury or illness must be treated with a cold remedy and vice versa most people are thought to have an excess of heat and moisture blood letting with leeches or cuts specific foods and herbs also are used to restore balance further complicated by the fact that complexion of something can radically throughout the day
non-western viewpoint seen as being due to acts or wishes of other people or supernatural beings and forces believe that the causes and cures of illness are not to be found only in the natural world curers usually must use supernatural means to understand what is wrong with their patients and to return them to health Typical causes: intrusion of foreign objects into the body by supernatural means native american futures spirit possession, loss, or damage bewitching important is the role of a shaman or other curer and an act of fait or acceptance of something unseen. take it out my supernatural acts as pulling out or sucking out in personalistic medical systems, spirit possession, loss, or damage are seen as the result of actions by supernatural beings or people they may also be due to certain kinds or unpleasant or shocking social things
gusto results from incidents that have a destabilizing effect on an individual, causing the soul to leave the body (espiritu) symptoms: restlessness during sleep as well as being listless and weak when awake. Lack an appetite Ritual performed by a cutandero lengthy series or ritual actions in the presence of the patient’s friends and relatives beings with prayers to the catholic saint of the village a chicken egg and special herbs are passed over the patient’s body to absorb some of the illness patient is then partly stripped and “shocked” by liquor being sprayed from the curandero’s mouth patient may then me sweated to get it out
Curing practices a cure may be successful because the medical procedures actually helps the patient recover from illness Antibiotic a cure may be successful is because patients often get well regardless of the steps taken by the doctor or colk curer 90% of illness is americans is self-correcting a cure may work because of the placebo effect psychological effect that can reduce the amount of stress
Steps in curing curing begins by discovering the symptoms and making a judgement about the nature of the illness a specific treatment is determined and carried out Time- folk curer spends hours with each patient modern medical doctors spends about 5 minutes with patient Environment folk curer-at hime with friends and family modern medical doctors doctors office or hospital
western medical tradition uses the scientific method to understand patterns of diseases learning about the causes of diseases and how to cure or control them Epidemic- ones that are often highly contagious but are not always present in a community they appear rise rapidly in the number of cases, and then decline or even disappear. some are seasonal measles influenza and the plagye are examples of epidemic diseases Endemic- ones that are always present in a community usually at a low, more or les constant frequency malaria atheritis and high blood pressure are examples continuously high frequency within a populated area…...

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