I am hospitalized while I am typing this, waiting to be seen for cervical vertebral disease, which is causing a daily numbing sensation in both hands. The wait time in the hospital provides me with a perfect chance to do autoethnography—to observe how I, as a patient, experience the medical system. I find that waiting is one of the main themes in my hospitalizing experience. The medical system dehumanizes me by means of turning me into a bed number and I have to take actions to be human again while waiting in the system.
Sheets of newspaper cover a portion of the floor of our house in Manila, and on top of those thin pieces of paper sits a white candle, a box of matches, a metal spoon, and a metal basin filled with water. The doors are locked. We’re huddled around the basin, and the room plunges into silence. Rest assured, this is not some scene from a B-rated supernatural horror movie. This is just what happens whenever anyone in my family gets sick. We call an albularyo—Tagalog for witch doctor or folk healer—to come and conduct either tawas or hilot depending on the degree of illness. All my life, I’ve never really understood nor tried to understand why my mom rarely sends us for check-ups, opting instead for tawas, hilot, and the occasional pharmaceutical drugs we self-medicate ourselves with. That is, until I took an Introduction to Anthropology course, where I encountered the term “structural violence” and the whole world of medical anthropology.
The Familiar Strange · #57 Narratives Of Loss: Dr Brossard on Alzheimer’s, Looping Effects & Resuscitating Past Personhood “I’m giving mundane examples here, but it can be a matter of life or death in a sense. Whether people are believed or not, it changes their destiny.” In this episode, we bring you an interview with … Continue reading Ep #57 Narratives of Loss: Baptiste Brossard talks Alzheimer’s Disease & Social Dimensions of Ageing
This post is about the biopsychosocial medical model and how it relates to the treatment of chronic pain. As an anthropologist, I’m particularly interested in the social part of that model - what societal factors contribute to the causes of chronic pain? What societal and contextual factors could be used to help individuals recover from their conditions, and help society recover from the current chronic pain epidemic? To get to that though, I’m going to need to talk about the biological and psychological aspects too, because the three are inextricably connected, despite Descartes assertions about the distinction between the mind and the body. To illustrate this, I’m going to share with you my own experiences. They’re highly subjective of course, and my journey will not be identical to anyone else’s - what has worked for me may not work for you, and I’m certainly no medical professional. But I gift my experiences to you here for you to evaluate for yourself.