body and medicine in social and cultural context n.
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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.

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background
2008 @ LIHernandezBackground

The human body is more than just a physical organism fluctuating between health and illness.

The human body is also the focus of a set of beliefs about the social and psychological significance, its structure and function.

background1
2008 @ LIHernandezBackground

The term body image has been used to describe all the ways that an individual conceptualizes and experiences his or her body.

“his or her collective attitudes, feelings and fantasies about his or her body”

background2
2008 @ LIHernandezBackground

The culture in which we grow up teaches how to perceive and interpret the many changes that can occur over time in our own bodies and in the bodies of other people.

Old body vs. young body

Healthy body vs. sick body

Abled body vs. disabled body

main concepts of body image
2008 @ LIHernandezMain concepts of body image

Beliefs about the optimal shape and size of the body, including the clothing and decoration of its surface

Beliefs about the boundaries of the body

Beliefs about the body’s inner structure

Beliefs about how the body functions

shape and surface of the body cultural construct
2008 @ LIHernandezShape and Surface of the Body: Cultural construct

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.

shape and surface of the body cultural construct1
2008 @ LIHernandez

Included in this form of communication are bodily gestures and postures, which frequently differ between cultures and between groups, within a culture.

Difference in body language of doctors, priests, politicians etc.

Shape and Surface of the Body: Cultural construct
shape and surface of the body cultural construct2
2008 @ LIHernandez

Clothing is also of particular importance in signaling social rank and occupation

Artificial changes in the shape, size and surface of the body, can have a social function.

Shape and Surface of the Body: Cultural construct
shape and surface of the body cultural construct3
2008 @ LIHernandez

Inherent in most of these culturally defined notions of “beauty” – usually of women – and the optimal size and shape of the body.

Chinese bind foot women

African tattooed women

Indian sun-baked dye / hena women

Tahitian “obese” women

Shape and Surface of the Body: Cultural construct
shape and surface of the body cultural construct4
2008 @ LIHernandez

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 Leone

Shape and Surface of the Body: Cultural construct
shape and surface of the body cultural construct5
2008 @ LIHernandez

Various forms of self-mutilation or alteration are used in Western countries.

Orthodontics

Plastic surgery

Implants (breast, hair, etc)

Piercing (ear, nose, tongue, lip, nipples)

Dieting (anorexia nervosa)

Shape and Surface of the Body: Cultural construct
individual and social bodies
2008 @ LIHernandezIndividual and social bodies

INDIVIDUAL

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

Social body is an essential part of the body image.

Social body is perceived to be physically functioning influenced by societal norms and expectations.

individual vs social bodies
2008 @ LIHernandezIndividual vs. Social bodies

Are you really alone or need to be with others?

Do you lead or you follow?

Do you conform or force to conform?

How do you self-identify? Masked or real identity?

the body
2008 @ LIHernandezThe body…

The body provides us a collection of “natural symbols” with which to understand society itself and how it is organized.

The body image derived from society is not really external to or separate from the individual body-self, nor from its physical reality

the body1
2008 @ LIHernandezThe body…

Individual embody the culture that they live in – their sensations, perceptions, feelings and other bodily experiences are all culturally patterned.

symbolic skins
2008 @ LIHernandezSymbolic Skins

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

symbolic skins1
2008 @ LIHernandez

Social distance (4 – 12 feet) – this is the distance at which impersonal business transactions and casual social interactions take place

Public distance (12 – 25 feet or more) – this is the distance at which no social or personal interaction is taking place

Symbolic Skins
cultural symbolic skins
2008 @ LIHernandezCultural symbolic skins

Define people’s sense of self based on symbolic skins

(Japan) – more social body than individual body

(Northern India) – “half-body” owned by the spouse and his kinship

Tattooes, piercing, body implants