There are a number of themes that have popped up over the years during my research of any and all of the above topics. These themes are quite recurring and often provide us with a much bigger picture about ourselves and out personal believs about health, medicine, history, etc. Many of these themes are based almost completely upon cultural context. They related to a specific topic which out social morees and taboos influence much of our perception on these topics. The following topics are excellent examples of this:
- Amazing Cures, Astonishing Beliefs--over the years I have come upon some “doozies” one could say, some of the most incredible belief systems out there. These cannot be forgotten I keep telling myself and I took every precaution back then to document them as I found them, which at times took me off track from my major research for a few days. No matter. This section–finally–reveals who and what these United States fad or cult healers really are, what the believed in.
- My Library. If not in the above section, these are other books you’ve got to see to believe.
- Transformation of Common Belief [TOCB]–how we conceptualize healing and sickness define how best we get healed. The healing process and herbal medicines are strong evidence for this. The most unstable belief systems in how healing happens is seen in the herbal medicine books from the Renaissance Period to Modern Day medicine. Take for example acupuncture; over time this has been an accepted practice in Western European medicine, with peaks in and around the years 1660, 1810, the 1970s, and today
- The definition of “Quackery”. Self explanatory in concept, not content.
- Cultural Medicine. The United States cultural medicine scenes. Americans are not the only ones to develop different philosophies or faiths within their medical system. During the 1950s and 1960s, Mao Tse Tung was able to merge some of western medical traditions into the Chinese medicine, not vice versa. Other cultural settings also have different, contrasting traditions, like the Iroquois versus the Mahicans, the Buddhists versus to Taoists, the Chinese versus the Japanese, the Unaniists versus the traditional Middle Eastern Healers. The “rights” and “wrongs” about medicine are all based on personal and social perspectives. Do we send in the shaman to heal a teenage boy of some culturally-defined spiritual possession? Do we allow infibulation to be practiced on very young African America girls? What some believe to be healthy or not is a very interest medical anthropological and sociological issue.
- Mindbody healing, and Religion. The history of mindbody beliefs.
Each of these concepts has a history and a presence that can be quite revealing, conflicting, and make you wonder about what you currently believe in with regard to health care practices. This is simply the way our United States/American culture is. We make these decisions because they make us feel more comfortable with our own belief settings first, and the beliefs of our closest friends second. When one takes a look at the history of these beliefs, a certain sense of discomfort can result if we realize these ways that we are now thinking had very questionable backgrounds and histories at times. This leads us to think ‘thank god for progress, now we know what is really the truth about all these former beliefs without any justification.’
People have a right to independent thinking. So there is nothing overly bad about these differences in opinion. But we sometimes have to wonder how and why such opinions exist in the first place. Everyone has the right to be different, but is there a possibility that some way of thinking is actually right or correct and the other way wrong. Is ‘so-and-so’ really like we state he/she is in this context, but a ‘such-and-such’ in any other context? Or is he/she actually both?
Applying this to medicine–
- When is a ‘quack’ a quack and when is he/she not a quack?
- When is an herb a cure and when is it not?
- When is a medicine an absolute solution to an illness, and when is it only what amounts to a temporary fix?