Traditional Healing Vs Western Medicine

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Cultures around the world offer different perspectives on the relationships between spirituality, healing and illness from that of mainstream Western culture (Mark & Lyons, 2010, p.1756).The coexistence of both traditional and biomedical healing systems is commonplace throughout the world and finding a place where only one method is relied upon exclusively is particularly difficult (McGrath, 1999, p.484) Medical pluralism within societies, as Stoner (1986) notes, “is the rule not the exception the world over” (p.44). Medically pluralistic societies provide a variety of treatment options, both modern and traditional, for people to use. (Stoner, 1986, p.44). As Stoner (1986) found, “often these alternatives are held to represent various systems of medical practice and ideology, each deriving from a separate historical and philosophical basis and each providing a different mode or theory of treatment for the individuals who use them” (p.44). Medically pluralistic systems still are described in terms of opposites, yet the the distinction between traditional and modern is not simply old versus new (McGrath, p. 484). As Leslie (1976) found, the distinction “opposes the changing and creative nature of modernity to an assumed stagnant and unchanging traditionalism” (as cited in Stoner, 1986, p. 45), despite these “traditional” healing forms having undergone significant change over time. In fact, traditional medical practitioners have displayed an escalating interest in the acquisition of new skills and the use of modern treatments and technologies in their own work (Stoner, 1986, p.45). Scientifically trained biomedical healers also, as Stoner (1986) notes, “may make use of ‘traditional’ or unscientific practices without paradox” (p. 45... ... middle of paper ... ...-1764. Retrieved from: Ream, M. (2005) Haitian Voodoo: The possession of the spirits. Retrieved from: Stoner, B. (1986). Understanding Medical Systems: Traditional, Modern, and Syncretic Health Care Alternatives in Medically Pluralistic Societies. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 17, 44-48. DOI: 0.1111/j.1937-6219.1986.tb01021.x Unknown. (2001). Voodoo: African Spiritual Religious Systems. Retrieved from: Vonarx, N. (2007). Vodou, Illness and Models in Haiti: From Local Meanings to Broader Relations of Domination. Anthropology in Action, 14, 18-29. Retrieved from:

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