Cultural Types Broadly Drawn

No social or cultural group is homogeneous. Within every group, some people know more about or are more interested in health issues than are other people. Often these people are recognized within their society as health professionals (e.g., shamans, acupuncturists, chiropractors, homeopathic practitioners, midwives, dentists, surgeons) with an elaborate medical knowledge and recognized set of beliefs and practices. Generally, people are pragmatic about treatment, seeking and using anything that provides relief, and people will change behavior around illness far more readily than they will change their underlying beliefs about the cause of the disorder. The more similar a patient and healer, in terms of age, sex, ethnicity, religion, education, occupational status, geographic location (e.g., rural versus urban setting), and socioeconomic class, the more likely they are to hold the same health beliefs and engage in mutually comprehensible behaviors (Galanti, 1991).

Health beliefs alone do not explain why people act, react, or think the way they do. Basic cultural values and assumptions about the nature of life (e.g., proper ways of relating to various categories of people, animals, and objects) and behavioral norms and expectations—in short, worldview or general orientation to life—all help form individuals' health beliefs or explanatory models (Kleinman, 1980).

Recovered Alcohol Abuser

"Being a nice person, being in control, being healthy, being intelligent. Those [are] all good things. I guess those are all values, like you said earlier, and those are things that I strive for. That I work towards. And it's one, it's not greater than anything else. Being healthy is not greater than being intelligent or being in control . . . [it's being] the good kind of person."

To understand how worldviews can affect therapeutic endeavors, two different cultural "styles," first outlined by Hall (1956, 1959), will be discussed. These variants, or styles, have a long tradition especially in Western social psychological thought that contrasts forms of group organization and values. These variants are often described as "individualist" or "collectivist" in orientation (Oyserman, Coon, & Kemmelmeier, 2002). Such terms are heuristic devices rather than real, immutable degrees of absolute difference. They represent the ends of a continuum, the extremes. Presenting them as distinguishable and nonoverlapping permits each style and its main features to be identified and conceptualized. However, every group contains aspects of both forms, flexibly melded together and manifest differently in different circumstances. This chapter deliberately highlights the differences, the extremes, so the impact of these orientations or propensities for action becomes clear (Barker, 1994). Most cultural groups, however, hold more nuanced, less strident, more middle-of-the-range views that nevertheless can be illuminated and informed by the ideas presented here.

Spiritual Healing Handbook

Spiritual Healing Handbook

A lot of people today are turning to alternative medicines to treat ailment, illnesses, and diseases. Besides this there are also alternative therapies that can also address medical problems successfully.

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