ANTHROP 3HI3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Stomach Cancer, Asthma, Somatization
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ANTHROP 3HI3 – Lecture 10
February 8, 2016 February 8, 2016
Priscilla Medeiros, 1
Explanatory Models of Illness
Defining the Explanatory Model:
• “The notions that patients, families, and practitioners have about a specific illness
episode… to ignore them may be fatal.” (Kleinman 1988: 121)
• Interactions between patient and practitioner in order to get a broader understanding of
the issues surrounding health
• Good way to explain why a condition or phenomenon is occurring
• This is done through negotiation in the patient-practitioner relationship
A Patient’s Explanatory Model:
• Questions people ask themselves when they see themselves as ill – practitioners
should consider these when trying to diagnose a patient
• 1. What has happened?
• 2. Why has it happened?
• 3. Why has this happened to me?
• 4. Why now?
• 5. What would happen to me if nothing were done about it?
• 6. What are the likely effects on other people?
o Loss of income, strains on family relationships, loss of employment, etc.
• 7. What should I do about it?
o Or Whom should I turn to for further help?
o William Steele
o Suffers from asthma for two years and it is getting worse gradually
o Has been tested for allergies, etc. and there is no history of asthma in his family
o Had frequent respiratory issues as a child, but his condition is unknown
o Asthma began à Attack of wheezing on his 40th birthday
§ Had a terrible dream after his party, and he woke up coughing and
choking (first attack)
o Believes he cant control his life anymore, and his family is affected by it too (wife
feels that the marriage is becoming disastrous)
§ He can’t tolerate his kids behaviour
§ The only topic of conversation is health and illness
o For step 7, William turned to psychotherapy, antidepressants and marriage
§ He felt a significant change in his symptoms and psychological state
§ His marriage improved and his career change – law office to working with
o Had he not addressed all of these questions, it would have been difficult for a
healer to do this for him
A Practitioner’s Explanatory Model:
• Practitioners are most interested in the following in order to reach a diagnosis:
• 1. Cause of the condition
• 2. Timing and mode of onset
• 3. Pathophysiology
o Biological manifestations of disease
• 4. Severity of the illness.
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