ANT 201 Health and Illness

Terms in this set (28)

Few people in the world meet up the WHO definition of health. Need to distinguish between disease and illness to assess how health conditions and disease affect certain populations.

Anthropology of Childbirth:
Cultures around the world have developed unique practices and beliefs about pregnancy, delicacy, and the treatment of newborns and their mothers that shape the way childbirth is understood and experienced.
--A Comparative View of 4 Cultures:
US sees birth as a medical procedure. Women become patients--sick and helpless seeking the aid of professional to resolve dangerous life crisis.
Holland: Entirely natural process;
Sweden: intensely personal and fulfilling achievement
Yucatan, Mexico: stressful, but normal part of life.
Yucatan and US birth procedures are night and day.
--Pain during Childbirth: US: women have to display severe pain to receive pain meds. Bad because it shifts focus on pain, not delivery. Sweden: women can choose what and when to have pain meds. Holland: no drugs, natural. Yucatan: collective process and natural, pain is expected.

--Healing Practices o Tibetan Buddhism Applied in Northern India: Pordie documents Amchis and their holistic approach to health care.

German health care system recognizes two complementary approaches: school medicine and nature cure. While US emphasizes most extreme treatments.
--Biomedical Conceptions of the Body:
Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Margret Lock review the case of woman who suffered headaches and medical students lack to awareness on how social experiences might produce embodied responses.

--The Human Microbiome:
Human body made up of ten trillion cells to one hundred trillion microbes. They are important in body's ecosystem.

Are there other Global Health Systems?
--Chinese Medicine Today:
Chinese medicine conceptualizes health as a harmonious relationship between Heaven and Earth. A person's qi--energy found in all living things must be balanced and flowing in equilibrium with rest of universe for person to be healthy. Illness occurs when qi is blocked. Acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion (burning of herbs near skin) and consumption of healing herbs and tea. Mei Zhan discuses how Chinese medicine is not the antithesis of western medicine. Rapid expansion of Chinese medicine worldwide.
Their study "Birth in Four Cultures" discusses the four ways that four countries/areas view birth: US: life threatening condition women need medical help, Holland: entirely natural process, Sweden: intensely personal and fulfilling achievement, Yucatan: painful but part of life. Birth in Yucatan and US are opposite. Mayan women give birth in dimly lit, small dirt floor attended by local midwife using everyday materials. Women's husband and mother present and help women through process. Other women can provide birth talk by urging and cajoling. While in the US birth occurs in sterile, brightly lit hospital with sophisticated equipment and attention of highly trained medical professional. One third of US births are through C-section.

Jordan notes that some women in every culture give birth without pain. What differs form one medical system to another is the way in which that pain is handled. Jordan's study explores the possibility that cultural expectation of pain during childbirth shape the actual experience. Use of pain medication during labor was not consistent across cultures.
US: Pain medication administered discretion of doctor. Women must convince doctor of severe pain to get drugs. This shifts the women experience of childbirth more to pain than the delivery.
Sweden: quiet intense concentration on process of giving birth. Women are introduced to symptoms and positives and negatives of pain drugs and they make decisions about how much and any medication given.
Dutch: Natural process, no pain meds. They are reluctant to interfere in process.
Yucatan: Pain is natural and expected. It is considerd a collective process. The intense experience of childbirth reinforces key Mayan cultural values and local understanding of importance of hard work and endurance.