Sunday, March 22, 2009

Alternative ways of healing and knowing

This weeks readings dealt with alternative ways of healing and knowing, wonderful readings that taught me about rituals of healing in other cultures, but also about the struggles that people from these cultures have to deal with on a regular basis due to the forces of Western medicine.

Mansfield wrote about spiritual practice and beliefs related to healing. It sounded like a very promising article to begin with, but for some reason did the concept of measuring religiosity and believes in respect to healing NOT sit well with me. I don't understand why people are always trying to put everything within the frames of measurements - I do see that this will help them compare and in Mansfield's case, help to create a model (thinking about it, how stupid is that to begin with???) - but why is there this constant need to compare so one can look better than the other? You can tell from my strong reaction, I think Mansfield's article was maybe worth a big laugh, nothing more, nothing less!

The constant struggles of proofing oneself between traditional and western medicine as well as how political aspects play a role was wonderfully shown in the article by Cho on Korean medicine. The article lost me at some point in time, mainly due to its complexity which perfectly reflects how complicated and complex the whole topic is to begin with. How health and healing can be caught in a web of politics and money making.

Trotter made a great point in his article that it is impossible to make judgments about traditional medicine from the standpoint of biomedicine. For some reason that reminded me of some Americans that I know trying to tell me how much better the US are compared to Germany/Europe, yet they never have left the country. Or a little child saying I don't like spinach but they have never tried it before. It's ignorant of you ask me, and from someone with a doctorate degree practicing biomedicine I would expect a lot more. Yet, the article does not go into detail about why we need to assess and compare the two different approaches to begin with. Why can't we just learn and broaden our horizons about one another. This was shown in the book chapter by Adams on establishing proof. Her descriptions and struggles of trying to grasp how Dr. Dawa came to her diagnoses fascinated me. It was a perfect example of the interplay of politics, traditional, and western medicine.

Last but not least I want to talk briefly about the article by Abrums about her time spent with African-American women in a church in Seattle. Although her intentions were only to her best knowledge, it was shown that she still wasn't perceived this way by the members of the congregations. Only after engaging in dialogue with the minister was she able to see how the women perceived her questions as racist and why they were afraid to share their stories to begin with. It was great to see how a researchers was able to be as spontaneous as she was to change her agenda around 100% in order to find access to the women and through that, they finally opened up to her as well. Beautiful.

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