A study in the collision between Western medicine and the beliefs of a traditional culture focuses on a hospitalized child of Laotian immigrants whose belief that illness is a spiritual matter comes into conflict with doctors' methods.
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication. Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.
Discusses a sick child of Laotian immigrants whose beliefs conflict with Western medicine
Answering the question "is a book the same the second time around?" this collection of essays includes contributions from Sven Krkerts, Allegra Goodman, Vivian Gornick, Patricia Hampl, Phillip Lopate, and Luc Sante, among others.
Burnout is common among doctors in the West, so one might assume that a medical career in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, would place far greater strain on the idealism that drives many doctors. But, as A Heart for the Work makes clear, Malawian medical students learn to confront poverty creatively, experiencing fatigue and frustration but also joy and commitment on their way to becoming physicians. The first ethnography of medical training in the global South, Claire L. Wendland’s book is a moving and perceptive look at medicine in a world where the transnational movement of people and ideas creates both devastation and possibility. Wendland, a physician anthropologist, conducted extensive interviews and worked in wards, clinics, and operating theaters alongside the student doctors whose stories she relates. From the relative calm of Malawi’s College of Medicine to the turbulence of training at hospitals with gravely ill patients and dramatically inadequate supplies, staff, and technology, Wendland’s work reveals the way these young doctors engage the contradictions of their circumstances, shedding new light on debates about the effects of medical training, the impact of traditional healing, and the purposes of medicine.
Culture, Health and Illness: An Introduction for Health Professionals covers basic ideas and research in medical anthropology. The book starts by discussing the scope of medical anthropology and the cultural definitions of anatomy and physiology, including the body structure and its functions. The text describes the clinical significance of food in diet and nutrition, social and cultural aspects of medical pluralism and health care. Doctor-patient interactions; social, psychological and cultural factors associated with pain; and non-pharmacological influences of medication, in relation to placebos, psychotropic and narcotic drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are also considered. The book then covers the type of rituals that relate to health and illness and the management of misfortune. The text also encompasses transcultural psychiatry, the cultural aspects of stress, and cultural factors in epidemiology. The selection is useful to health professions (doctors, nurses, midwives, health visitors, medical social workers, and nutritionists); those involved in health education or foreign medical aid; undergraduate students taking up these disciplines; and those studying anthropology or sociology.
In The Wine Lover’s Daughter, Anne Fadiman examines—with all her characteristic wit and feeling—her relationship with her father, Clifton Fadiman, a renowned literary critic, editor, and radio host whose greatest love was wine. An appreciation of wine—along with a plummy upper-crust accent, expensive suits, and an encyclopedic knowledge of Western literature—was an essential element of Clifton Fadiman’s escape from lower-middle-class Brooklyn to swanky Manhattan. But wine was not just a class-vaulting accessory; it was an object of ardent desire. The Wine Lover’s Daughter traces the arc of a man’s infatuation from the glass of cheap Graves he drank in Paris in 1927; through the Château Lafite-Rothschild 1904 he drank to celebrate his eightieth birthday, when he and the bottle were exactly the same age; to the wines that sustained him in his last years, when he was blind but still buoyed, as always, by hedonism. Wine is the spine of this touching memoir; the life and character of Fadiman’s father, along with her relationship with him and her own less ardent relationship with wine, are the flesh. The Wine Lover’s Daughter is a poignant exploration of love, ambition, class, family, and the pleasures of the palate by one of our finest essayists.
It is well known that American culture is a dominant force at home and abroad; our exportation of everything from movies to junk food is a well-documented phenomenon. But is it possible America's most troubling impact on the globalizing world has yet to be accounted for? In Crazy Like Us, Ethan Watters reveals that the most devastating consequence of the spread of American culture has not been our golden arches or our bomb craters but our bulldozing of the human psyche itself: We are in the process of homogenizing the way the world goes mad. America has been the world leader in generating new mental health treatments and modern theories of the human psyche. We export our psychopharmaceuticals packaged with the certainty that our biomedical knowledge will relieve the suffering and stigma of mental illness. We categorize disorders, thereby defining mental illness and health, and then parade these seemingly scientific certainties in front of the world. The blowback from these efforts is just now coming to light: It turns out that we have not only been changing the way the world talks about and treats mental illness -- we have been changing the mental illnesses themselves. For millennia, local beliefs in different cultures have shaped the experience of mental illness into endless varieties. Crazy Like Us documents how American interventions have discounted and worked to change those indigenous beliefs, often at a dizzying rate. Over the last decades, mental illnesses popularized in America have been spreading across the globe with the speed of contagious diseases. Watters travels from China to Tanzania to bring home the unsettling conclusion that the virus is us: As we introduce Americanized ways of treating mental illnesses, we are in fact spreading the diseases. In post-tsunami Sri Lanka, Watters reports on the Western trauma counselors who, in their rush to help, inadvertently trampled local expressions of grief, suffering, and healing. In Hong Kong, he retraces the last steps of the teenager whose death sparked an epidemic of the American version of anorexia nervosa. Watters reveals the truth about a multi-million-dollar campaign by one of the world's biggest drug companies to change the Japanese experience of depression -- literally marketing the disease along with the drug. But this book is not just about the damage we've caused in faraway places. Looking at our impact on the psyches of people in other cultures is a gut check, a way of forcing ourselves to take a fresh look at our own beliefs about mental health and healing. When we examine our assumptions from a farther shore, we begin to understand how our own culture constantly shapes and sometimes creates the mental illnesses of our time. By setting aside our role as the world's therapist, we may come to accept that we have as much to learn from other cultures' beliefs about the mind as we have to teach.
A "one size fits all" approach to health care doesn't work well, especially for America's extremely diverse population. This book provides a lively and accessible discussion of how and why a more flexible and culturally sensitive system of health care can—and must be—achieved. * More than 30 percent new material updates the 1997 edition, reflecting new scholarship and addressing emerging needs * Multiple real-life examples and case studies illustrate and explain concepts * Discussion questions follow each chapter and an appendix with project suggestions is provided * A bibliography offers suggestions for further reading
A Reader in Medical Anthropology: Theoretical Trajectories, Emergent Realities brings together articles from the key theoretical approaches in the field of medical anthropology as well as related science and technology studies. The editors’ comprehensive introductions evaluate the historical lineages of these approaches and their value in addressing critical problems associated with contemporary forms of illness experience and health care. Presents a key selection of both classic and new agenda-setting articles in medical anthropology Provides analytic and historical contextual introductions by leading figures in medical anthropology, medical sociology, and science and technology studies Critically reviews the contribution of medical anthropology to a new global health movement that is reshaping international health agendas
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