Adaptation in Cultural Evolution: An Approach to Medical Anthropology

By Alexander Alland Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
NATIVE MEDICAL PRACTICE DIAGNOSTICS

In general, diseases which are ethnically defined as common, and mild conditions of short duration are either self-diagnosed or, if a child's disease, diagnosed and treated by the parents or some near relative. Mild conditions which persist may provoke anxiety but, if they are also common, may be classified outside the realm of disease and either ignored or self-treated in a rather haphazard manner. The severity of the symptoms which will be endured, however, depends on such cultural factors as definitions of illness and such physiological factors as pain threshold, as well as upon ecological conditions such as overall disease incidence, frequency of illness in the community, and the types of disease prevalent. In much of West Africa, for example, yaws is endured, but in the United States it would undoubtedly arouse great anxiety and lead to professional treatment. This is a combined ethnosemantic and ecological problem. Research on individual medical system as well as cross cultural studies are needed to unravel it. I would think that certain environmental

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Adaptation in Cultural Evolution: An Approach to Medical Anthropology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 Evolutionary Theory 30
  • Chapter 3 the Ecology of Human Disease 52
  • Chapter 4 Adaptation to Disease 86
  • Chapter 5 Native Medical Practice Diagnostics 114
  • Chapter 6 Native Medical Systems 134
  • Chapter 7 Medical Systems Under Acculturation 155
  • Summary 177
  • Chapter 8 Conclusion 179
  • Bibliography 189
  • Index 195
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