Body and Medicine in social and cultural context. Cultural Dimension of Anatomy and Physiology. Background. The human body is more than just a physical organism fluctuating between health and illness.
In every society, the human body has a social as well as a physical reality.
The shape and adornments of the body are a way of communicating information about its owner’s position in society, including information about his/her social status, gender, occupation, and membership of certain groups.
Body mutilation is a cultural phenomena accepted by certain societies.
Female circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab world, Malaysia and Indonesia
Male circumcision in most Catholic and Jewish communities
Penile implants among Filipino seafarers
“Ritual scars” among tribes in South America and Sierra LeoneShape and Surface of the Body: Cultural construct
Individual body-self (both physical and psychological) which is acquired at birth, and a social body that is needed in order to live within a particular group and society
Social body is an essential part of the body image.
Social body is perceived to be physically functioning influenced by societal norms and expectations.
For societies, skins are symbols –
Intimate distance (0-18 inches) that can only be entered by those who have an intimate physical relationship with the individual
Personal distance (18 inches to 4 feet) – this involves less intimate contact and relationships, but is still within the zone of personal space