Cultural Conceptions of Health and Illness

Apart from biomedicine, there are various healing methods in different cultures. Most of these methods are more related to cultural beliefs. Culture is defined as a collection of shared values, norms, and ideas among a group of people, and it affects how those individuals see the world (Du Pré & Cook Overton, 2021). Positive social perception and balanced physical, emotional, and spiritual beliefs in different cultures are healing methods. Positive social, cultural perceptions concerning diseases provide the sick an opportunity to open up for help to prevent depression-related or secret deaths. It includes those beliefs involving social acceptance, thus keeping the individual away from depression that can cause death. Positive social perceptions concerning ailments and balanced physical, emotional, and spiritual life replace biomedicine for many cultures.

Positive social perception is a non-biomedical therapeutic technique. Since society did not comprehend what caused certain illnesses, the victims were mistreated and condemned unfairly. Discrimination and stigmatization of HIV-positive people make effective infection response harder. To combat stigma and discrimination, one must first grasp its extent and underlying roots. About 30 years ago, people with HIV/AIDS were perceived as immoral, and nobody wanted to associate with them (Du Pré & Cook Overton, 2021). Many cultures mistook excessive thinness related to HIV/AIDs, while some of these people were depressed. Societies thought HIV/AIDS was a punishment from God for sinful people, causing stress which deteriorated the case. Despite taking medication, some HIV patients died of depression owing to societal stigma. A positive attitude toward hazardous illnesses like HIV/AIDS may help people live longer; they may as well be encouraged to recover without biomedicine. The example given relates to the book’s topic since the book states that treating diseases as a curse caused many deaths because many individuals kept their illnesses hidden for fear of being condemned.

Balanced physical, emotional, and spiritual health concepts provide healing out biomedicine. Many cultures believe church attendance promotes emotional and spiritual health. When individuals gather for worship, they encourage each other through their testimonies and scriptural readings. Those cultures consider that when individuals are emotionally or spiritually disturbed, they lose their ability to exercise. This is not a rarity when patients with chronic conditions can improve or even treat their conditions through religious support. This idea connects with the view explained in the book. According to it, a traumatic event may weaken one’s spiritual energy. Some traditional Navajo cultures value the interplay of mind, body, and soul. They believe that maintaining good health requires balancing physical, social, and spiritual values.

In the chapter Cultural concepts of health and illness, the authors describe how the balance between emotional, physical, and spiritual affect a person’s health. Culture plays a significant role in determining and promoting this theory (Du Pré & Cook Overton, 2021). I provide two examples where cultural perceptions and interactions influence the health situation of a person. One of them is how people with HIV/AIDS can recover from the disease by receiving social support since the illness is interconnected with the emotional wellbeing of an individual. Positive social perception creates a better platform for the patients to open up about their ailments without fear of being judge negatively. Furthermore, following some cultural concepts, chronic conditions can be treated by developing spirituality. Hence, these two approaches are examples of the ideas portrayed in the book.

In conclusion, there are several ways of attaining healing other than the biomedicine method. Most of these methods entail cultural beliefs which create different perceptions on how people view diseases and their treatment. For instance, social acceptance of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS can reduce the risk of worsening the condition and forestall depression. Similarly, the presence of faith often helps a person undergo treatment difficulties of chronic illnesses. These two examples of alternative medicine correlate with the 7th chapter of the book by Du Pré and Cook Overton about cultural beliefs on healing as they discuss how society shapes the perception of illnesses and possible treatments other than biomedicine.


Du Pré, A. & Cook Overton, B. (2021). Communication about Health: Current Issues and perspectives. (6th Ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

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