Medical Effectiveness Religion has consistently affected how individuals seek, obtain, practice and acquire medical intervention and help. Strong religious beliefs associated with the limits or degrees of spiritual, faith, ceremonial and biomedical procedures have shown to possess both positive and negative outcomes. The outline will look at cultures that practice religious and cultural beliefs pertaining to medical procedures and diseases, and compare them to Western medicine.
In George M. Foster’s outline, Disease Etiologies in Non-Western Medicine Systems, he suggests that most non-Western etiologies can be described as personalistic or naturalistic. Personalistics believe illness and death comes from forces while Naturalistics believe illness is a natural occurrence but still harbors an outside force initially driving the problem such as cold, heat, winds, dampness and a disturbance in the balance of the body. (Foster, 775). Similar cultural beliefs have survived for thousands of years, ranging from the Hmongs to Native Americans.
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All of who continue to practice their religions and medical practices even into the 21st century. Yet these groups have allowed themselves to seek and obtain Western medical treatment sometimes in conjunction with cultural ceremonies and at times in place of. In studying a Hmong family named Lee, who came to America as refugees, cultural and religious beliefs continually hindered the care of their epileptic seizing child. Yet, they continued to bring her to the Western hospital in attempt to subside severe episodes as they interpreted them.
They constantly challenged the medical staff, disregarded instructions and interfered with their child’s treatment mostly do to their religious belief that their child had been “chosen” by spirits to possibly become a neeb after she got older and had proper training. Here religious beliefs strongly influenced the way they perceived the intentions of their child’s doctors; the parents saw many treatments, especially invasive as dooming their child to certain death. Comparing these religious beliefs to Western eliefs, there is something to be said about the Naturalistic belief regarding illness and possible death. Outside interferences such as sudden temperature changes, damp conditions and so on can interfere with the body’s ability to ward off bacteria and virus’ by lowering the body’s immune system which can turn into illnesses that can range from mild (such as a cold) to extreme illnesses such as pneumonia (possibly life threatening or fatal). In conclusion, looking at spirit beliefs vs. modern medicine, Western medicine uses biological factors only; to look at the reason for and treatment of illnesses.
In Western medicine, there is no belief of spirit interference either positive or negative. Religious beliefs and faith can have profound affects on the healing process. This has been noted in all cultures. Western medicine should continue to provide the best medical service available while attempting to embrace the complexities of different cultures. References: American Anthropologist, New Series. Vol. 78, No. 4. Foster. George M. Dec. 1976. Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998. pp. 773-782. http://www. jstor. org/jounrals/antho. html.