The implicit belief of medical anthropologists is that culture does have an impact on the structure, realities, and perceptions of medical practice. Medicine is distinctive to specific cultures, and regardless of whether or not such individualized practices fall within the realm of Western biomedicine, they must be respected as valid and authoritative systems for the given society. As an anthropologist, it is much easier to separate our traditions of medical practice from those being studied or in question. Yet from a medical practitioner's perspective, the practices that their knowledge is founded in and driven by often create conflict when applied to a highly individualized population of differing beliefs. The benefits of incorporating anthropological perspectives in medical practice are potentially immense, and in Chapters 8, 9, and 10, Lindenbaum and Lock offer three arguments that support this relationship.
[...] The combination of the three chapters gives precedence for anthropology, especially when applied to modern (and various) medical networks. Fabrega's solidarity, Frankenberg's efficacy, and Lewis's innovativeness offer new perspectives reinforcing the relationship between anthropology and medicine. Medical anthropology, whether interpretive, critical, or other variations, can affect and aid medical practice from an individual to a completely global level. Using culture as a component in evaluating and developing medical systems will increase understanding and potentially assist in healthcare delivery. Although medical anthropology is based in social science, its application to medicine is undoubtedly useful and in some instances necessary. [...]
[...] Yet Lewis follows his question not with an assertion to raise the standards of other medical systems, but instead to view all medical systems on a more objective and equal basis. Lewis begins by stating that Western biomedicine is neither complete nor perfect, and that much of the authority and strength we hold to it comes from those we see and the transmission of our culture. In other words, we have such great faith in Western medicine simply because it is our system. [...]
[...] Epidemiologic practices bridge social, physical and medical systems, but in order for them to reach their potential, they must be developed within the context of the individual community. Frankenberg uses the example of the Fore to support the association of anthropology with preventative medicine. Instead of asking how to prevent a person from contracting Kuru, Frakenberg recommends one asks how to prevent an “individual Fore” from contracting the disease (Lindenbaum and Lock 1993: 221). With a purely medical view, an epidemiologist would merely see the incidence and prevalence of the disease. Preventative measures would be based on avoiding the pathogen from a biological standpoint. [...]
[...] According to Lewis, when evaluating medical systems (and especially when imposing medical practices), an emphasis must be placed on the relationship between the medical system and the culture it resides in, with the location of authority playing the central role. Lewis stresses the use of an interpretive consideration of a culture's medical systems. His methods apply appropriately to anthropology, yet they also aid fields of public health and medicine. What the Western nurse often referred to as noncompliant, negligent or ungrateful behavior in her leprosy patients was really more an issue of cultural misunderstanding. [...]
[...] Of the three, Fabrega's argument was the most well-founded, as it was so rooted in both social and medical practice and history. Fabrega introduced the realization that psychiatry's role needs to be reexamined in the social and medical “worlds.” Frakenberg offered probably the most applicable and valuable for the medical (and anthropological) field. He provided a logical framework for integrating anthropology into medical practice with legitimate advantages for doing so. Lewis's argument was convincing, yet also rather controversial, as it challenged how highly we regard our own medical system, and critiqued how we judge the systems of others. [...]
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