The Anthropology of Medicine: From Culture to Method

By Lola Romanucci-Ross; Daniel E. Moerman et al. | Go to book overview

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CREATIVITY IN ILLNESS: METHODOLOGICAL LINKAGES TO THE LOGIC AND LANGUAGE OF SCIENCE IN FOLK PURSUIT OF HEALTH IN CENTRAL ITALY

LOLA ROMANUCCI-ROSS

For primitive societies and for folk or peasant cultures in the Europeanized world, including the United States, we have access to a considerable body of literature on health-seeking behavior and the contexts in which therapeutic decisions are made ( Landy 1977; Logan and Hunt 1978). Investigators of illness and healing in different cultures have tended to agree on the universality of some aspects of health-seeking behavior regardless of other manifest differences in those cultures: One of the areas of agreement concerns client management of alternative systems of curative practices. Strategies employed by patients, or by their families on their behalf, range from serial exclusion of one system in preference of another to making decisions that combine elements of several systems. Such combinations appear to the patient to maximize medical effectiveness.

The serial exclusion principle was well exemplified in the search for cures in a primitive group in the Admiralty Islands of Melanesia, where I was able to observe and record traditional medicine and the very beginnings of Western medicalization. What was occurring here could be described as shifting game strategies in curing events when the choices were multiple and the choosers were persons whose behavior ranged from traditional to "deculturated" to somewhat well adapted to living between two cultural models. Depending on the locus of the person on the acculturation continuum, the progression of resort to curing practices in health-seeking behavior was predictable. Among the somewhat acculturated, Western medicine was chosen

Reprinted from Social Science and Medicine 23( 1), Lola Romanucci-Ross, "Creativity in Illness: Methodological Linkages to the Logic and Language of Science in Folk Pursuit of Health in Central Italy", copyright 1986, Pergamon Press PLC, with kind permission from Elsevier Science Ltd, The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington OX5 IGB, UK.

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