Published:  12:00 AM, 12 September 2018

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Culture and health

Well here we are half way through the 8 week psychiatric placement and things have finally found a bit of rhythm. We seem to have hit our stride. The program is running smoothly and the data collection seems to be coming along nicely if a little slower than could have been hoped. I've been thinking a lot about cultural perspectives on health and illness. 

We have been so indoctrinated with the modern medical model that is almost impossible for us to imagine another frame of reference. Well this might seem true initially but you only have to delve slightly below the surface to realise that many people in Australia still hold unscientifically proven, for want of a better phrase, perspectives on healing. 

There are many people in churches who believe in faith healing, many people use herbal remedies and the immigration to Australia over the years has brought many different cultures together with many different perspectives on healing. However, these are almost always considered to be alternative to the dominant paradigm and may or may not be supported by Medicare or private health insurance. 

An interesting fact is that the vast majority of patients who are admitted to the National Institute of Mental Health have sought treatment from a traditional healer. In most cases this has been ineffective, thus their admission, but the interesting question to me is why? I think that illness in many respects is a loss of control. 

Not just for an individual but for their family and loved ones as well. Throughout history there has been a need to take measures to try and regain control over the situation. Modern western medicine does this essentially by labeling. (excerpt)

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