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Anthropology Of Healing

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Running head: FINAL EXAM

Anthropology of Healing Final Exam

Each society has their own medical systems and practices for diagnosing and treating illness and disease. There is a direct relationship between healing beliefs and practices and cultures. Ethno medical inquiry is defined as “the study of how members of different cultures think about disease and organize themselves toward medical treatment and the social organization of treatment itself” (Fabrega 1975:969). Each ethno medical systems have three parts: (1) a theory if the etiology of sickness; (2) a method of diagnosis based on the etiological theory and (3) the prescription of appropriate therapies based on the diagnosis. Personalistic belief system, explains sickness as the result of supernatural forces directed at a patient, by a sorcerer or by an angry spirit. Naturalistic belief systems, explains sickness in terms of natural forces, such as germ theory (Brown P., 1998)

The healing process

The universal pattern of healing is based on cultural constructs, embodied experience, adaption through socialization and the personal self and social self. The universal pattern of healing uses both material and symbolic productions, involves both techniques and meaning, and appeals to senses, mind and social relationships. (Dr. Paul Biscop, 2007).

“Dualism is a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, which begins with the claim that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical” (Dualism (philosophy of mind) [definition].)

Cartesian dualism is based on mind, body and society. It is the continuum of an experience and the connectedness of an experience. It is based on assumptions, cultural definitions and paradigms. Humans experience life through and body and humans experience society as an embodied member. (Dr. Paul Biscop, 2007).

Humans learn to judge and this is developed through orders of reality. Orders of reality include: physical reality (sensory based), social reality (definitional and consensual), scientific reality (evidential/verifiable/objective), ontological reality, altered states or consciousness. (Dr. Paul Biscop, 2007)

Traditional Healers vs. Modern Biomedical type Healers.

There are many differences between traditional healers and modern healers. Physicians’ major stress is due to technology and keeping current with knowledge and medical advancements. Traditional healer’s major stress is due to modernizations and influence from the West. (Dr. Paul Biscop, 2007)

Physicians. Modern medicine explains diseases through scientific and social factors. Physicians are usually specialized and thoroughly understand why a disease occurs and how to treat it. The techniques and treatments used are learned through study under established orders. Physicians partake in rituals of professionalism consisting of: white coats, diplomas and technical language. They receive validation through degrees and professional associations. Physicians view the patient’s medical history in relation to family and social content. Modern medicine is sanctioned through science; predictability is based on statistics, experience and knowledge. They are under pressure from society as a whole; patients, professional associations and legal systems regulate how a physician may operate. (Dr. Paul Biscop, 2007).

Healer. Traditional healers explain diseases and treatments based on tradition, religion and myth. The techniques of traditional healers are learned through studying under other established healers. They have many rituals of professionalism (i.e. costumes, rattles, paraphernalia, sacred pipes, etc) and generally have a good understanding of local conditions. Traditional healing is sanctioned by spirits and healers operate in a highly charged setting (i.e. sacred circle, tent, around fire). Traditional healers predict illness and disease based on knowledge, experience and chance. The validation of these healers is from community consensus, and continued success, the cooperation of the community is imperative to succeed. Devalidation of traditional healers can happen quickly. (Dr. Paul Biscop, 2007).

“Shamanism refers to a range of traditional beliefs and practices concerned with communication with the spirit world.” (Shamanism [definition].) Many traditional healers claim they have the ability to diagnose and cure human suffering,



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