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Medical Anthropology - Essay Example

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We have often used the terms of “illness” and “disease” interchangeably. This is most likely because the medical field refer to the two terms essentially with the same level of likelihood. But to understand these terms in an anthropological perspective takes a whole level and depth of meaning…
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Medical Anthropology
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Medical Anthropology

Download file to see previous pages... Given these two definitions, it leads us to the assumption that some illnesses may be caused by certain diseases but these diseases are not necessarily a result of being feeling ill. An understanding of these two basic concepts is important especially when medical specialists are to diagnose patients who are from a culture that is different from their own. Social scientist have always lobbied to acknowledge the socio-historical upbringing if we are to understand a phenomenon, and the medical field should not be excluded from that. In fact, many literature like Joralemon’s “Exploring Medical Anthropology”, argues for the equal recognition of the societal context when giving diagnosis. This is because the socio-cultural aspect of a person will greatly affect his or her perception of himself in relation to the kind of illness the person is experiencing. Medical professionals may even be surprised at how much relevance these “inner thoughts” bear to help them discover the true cause of certain diseases. Closely related to the terms disease and illness is also another controversial and contested subject in the medical science arena – the notion of “self”. ...
This became the trend after the emergence of a long-standing hard and fast boundary between hard science and soft science, between real and folk medicine and both social science and natural science isolated each other when in fact, it should complement each other and should work hand in hand. The emergence of a new branch of anthropology eventually proved the abovementioned notion fallacious and insufficient; a serious claim against something that has prevailed during the majority of the scientific revolution. Medical anthropology provided a platform to bridge the gap between the social and natural sciences. After all, what the natural sciences discover or learn; it will in due course apply to social beings. Hence, it is irrelevant to create a strict dichotomy between social and natural sciences especially when we are in the pursuit of understanding cultural-specific diseases and illnesses and arriving at long-term solutions to address it. And Joralemon’s book provided an extensive discussion on the importance of incorporating the abovementioned socio-environmental aspect in the medical realm. The introduction of culture as an important facet in the business of health simultaneously (and perhaps unintentionally) evolved with the notion of “self”. In anthropological terms, there have been many definitions of the “self” and these include the following: (1) the self as the individual body, understood in the sense of the lived experience of the body self – hence, referring to the physical aspect. (2) The second definition of self ascertains the representational use of the body as a natural symbol with which to think about nature, society, and culture (Mary ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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