• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

'Diseases are cultural constructs.' Discuss with reference to Mesopotamia.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'Diseases are cultural constructs.' Discuss with reference to Mesopotamia. A discussion about disease invariably turns into discourse about health, which is generally defined in terms of the 'scientific' theories of contemporary cultures. Hence, notions about 'health' and 'disease' tend to be cultural constructs, dependent on the collective attitudes of a certain society within a certain period of history. As cultures evolve over time, influenced by political, economic and social factors, ideas about 'health' and 'disease' also change. The existing ideas themselves influence ideas about 'the body', and vice versa; both of which have an influence on the way disease is treated. Galenic notions of disease, for example, regard an imbalance of bodily 'humours' as the origin of illness. Treatment of such illness requires a restoration of the balance. In contrast, Mesopotamians attributed illness (or any misfortune, in fact) to the wrath of a god; in this case, rituals would be performed to appease the said god, or solicit the assistance of a personal god. In this essay, I intend to explore the Mesopotamian notions of 'disease', how they changed, and their influences with respect to social and cultural factors. It is a common notion that 'disease' is a condition that is deviant from the social and cultural norm of 'health'; in effect, health and illness are seen as mutually exclusive opposites in the human state of being. ...read more.

Middle

In Th�rapeutique m�sopotamienne, Herrero makes the assertion that the difference between the curative techniques of an as� and a�ipu depends on the way the nature of the illness is understood (Sarlock, 1999). If we impose our current understanding of illness upon the sources we interpret, we misrepresent the Mesopotamian construction of disease. The sources from which we gather our evidence are themselves cultural constructs. We depend upon cuneiform tablets, specifically a rich corpus of medically related texts, to provide valuable insights into the nosology of the area (CDLI, 2003). Our interpretations aside, there are many ways in which these cuneiform tablets record the Mesopotamian notion of disease and health. Firstly, we should note that - as with any archaeological text - there are vested interests behind the production of a document containing a 'standardised' body of knowledge. Certainly in the Old Babylonian period, there was a royal obligation to manage the well being of a kingdom and its people. The variety of professionals (for example, as�s and a�ipus) involved in healthcare included scholars who informed their opinion and practice of healthcare from medical literary texts. Further observations, amendments or novel ideas within the realm of medicine would be recorded onto cuneiform tablets and, depending on royal patronage, slowly incorporated within influential collections of medical works. These scholars would often be a�ipus, who were known to be literate and frequently acted as scribes. ...read more.

Conclusion

During these times, the as� had greater influence amongst everyday notions of disease, but not necessarily in the courts nor amongst the intellectual elite. Conversely, a dependence on gods and goddesses was so deeply interwoven into Mesopotamian culture, that an a�ipu might also have greater influence, with his strong links to divinity. Consequently, the socio-economic status of an ancient culture may also influence widespread concepts of disease. Any information on how Mesopotamians conceptualised disease gives us important information on Mesopotamian culture. The importance of a divine origin to disease, the method of payment for its treatment, and the diagnostic warning signs an as� or a�ipu might consider, all provide interesting and rare openings to the Mesopotamian culture across two millennia. Our notions of disease belong to our contemporary culture and reflect our current beliefs; imposing ideas from the twenty-first century upon a culture that began four thousand years ago, is hardly sensible for scholarly research. If we cannot separate as� from a�ipu, it is probably because we are looking for binary opposites where there are none (Sarlock, 1999). Even the Mesopotamian anatomical and disease terminology also belong to the culture from which they originate; by using them when we talk about Mesopotamian medicine, allows us to explore the links between language and lifestyle, thereby revealing even more about Mesopotamian culture. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Anatomy & Physiology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Anatomy & Physiology essays

  1. laboratory equipment - Discuss the principles behind, and the use of - The Embedding ...

    have a detrimental effect on the tissue samples and may also be hazardous to health. One cassette is removed at a time using the heated forceps and transferred to the "hot embedding stage. The lid is carefully removed which is then checked to make sure no tissue is adhering to it.

  2. How does dietary status affect carcinogenesis?

    This evidence leads to a possible mechanism for ?-carotene as an anti-oxidant without its conversion to vitamin A. Several prospective studies of carotenoid intake and carcinogenesis have been undertaken [5]. Such studies involve the collection of accurate dietary information and of blood samples.

  1. CD4+ Cell Development, Function & Dysregulation in Allergy and Autoimmune Diseases

    To prevent the cell being directed to a TH17 cell, IL-2, via STAT5, causes Foxp3 expression, and the section of the protein encoded by exon 2 of the Foxp3 gene binds to ROR?t inhibiting its action. Also, STAT5 competitively binds to IL-17 along with STAT3, preventing expression[2,6].

  2. Cardiovascular system and health promotion

    When the impulses reach here, there is a slight delay so that the atria can finish contracting before the ventricles start contracting (Porth 2005). The impulses are then sent from the AV node down through the ventricles via the AV bundles.

  1. Medicine. I will talk about the importance of both Galen and the Hippocrates ...

    This was the main reason why people who went in there came back out feeling well again, but people didn't know this they simply thought it was the God Asclepia's and his daughters healing them. Hippocrates improved the way of Greek medicine, for a starter he didn't believed that a

  2. To examine the evidence for a link between stress and ill health

    There is a readiness for action, a readiness to respond mentally and physically to a stressor. Walker Cannon's (1932) idea of the flight-or-fight response provides an understanding of the relationship between arousal and stress. He argued that it is a biologically based survival mechanism which evolved in humans and other animals.

  1. Eight Journal abstracts demonstrating Gene Knock Theory

    The assembly of gene-targeting vectors is generally a laborious process requiring considerable technical skill. The procedures presented here report the application of transposons as tools for the construction of targeting vectors. Two mini-Mu transposons were sequentially inserted by in vitro transposition at each side of the region targeted for deletion.

  2. The Relationship Between Protein Misfolding and Human Diseases

    There are various types of chaperones which convert the precursors of Amyloid fibres in to normal intractable species which makes them refoldable to normal amino acid chains which can later be disposed into degradable systems (Caughey and Lansbury, 2003). One of the evidences explaining the system includes the role of

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work