The Anthropology of Health and Healing

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $88.74
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 10%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (5) from $88.74   
  • New (4) from $88.74   
  • Used (1) from $158.98   


The Anthropology of Health and Healing provides the first holistic approach to the study of medical anthropology. Over the past two decades, medical anthropology has been the most rapidly growing subfield in anthropology, and a number of medical anthropology texts have been published, focusing primarily on public policy and health care delivery systems. Yet while anthropologists have researched topics related to medical anthropology for more than one hundred years, here Mari Womack thoroughly surveys this richly diverse field and provides an integrated approach that links together the biological, psychological, social, communicative, epidemiological, philosophical, historical, and developmental factors that shape health and healing.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Carole H. Browner
The Anthropology of Health and Healing beautifully - and accessibly - draws upon new knowledge from such wide-ranging fields as biology, psychology, epidemiology, public health, health services research and human development, along with core insights from anthropology itself, to provide a comprehensive overview of how nature and nurture interact in diverse settings to shape individuals' own illness experiences, along with global patterns of health and disease. The book achieves rare balance in its attention not simply to what makes us sick but to what keeps us healthy, as well.
Shirley Lindenbaum
The Anthropology of Health and Healing signals a shift from earlier conceptions of medical anthropology to a more comprehensive approach to illness and health. Writing with ease about allele frequency, cultural relativism, or the message of the Vedas, Mari Womack is a wise companion for this dazzling historical journey through the human and biological sciences
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759110434
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 1/16/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Mari Womack is a research scholar at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women and adjunct professor of anthropology at El Camino College.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface: A Tribute to My Teachers xi

Introduction: The Anthropology of Health and Healing 1

Part I The Psychobiology of Health and Healing 9

1 Models of the Body, the Self, and the Human Experience 11

Taming the Body 14

The Rebellious Body 17

Medicine and the Body as Machine 19

Concepts of the Body, Illness, and Power 25

2 Constructing Gender: The Body in Social Context 29

The Social Context of Genital Alteration 41

Constructing Gender 46

Hijras of India 48

3 The Biology of Psychology and the Psychology of Biology 55

Western Philosophy and the Mind-Body Dichotomy 56

The Biology of the Brain 58

Synapses: Communication Circuitry of the Brain 60

The Social Context of Human Brain Development 62

Communication, Cognition, and Abstract Thought 64

Issues in Studying the Human Brain 65

Biology and Cognition 69

Emotions, Health, and Illness 71

4 Metaphor, Labeling Theory, and the Placebo Effect 75

What's in a Name? 76

Folk Taxonomies and Explanations of Illness 84

Part II Maintaining Health and Healing the Whole Person 91

5 The Human Life Cycle: Coming of Age 93

Concepts Regarding Conception 95

Pregnancy: Who Owns the Embryo? 100

Childbirth 102

Infancy 109

Childhood 115

6 The Human Life Cycle: The Reproductive Years 123

Becoming a Parent 133

Sharing the Burden: The Biology and Sociology of Paternity 138

Grandparenlhood 140

7 The Human Life Cycle: Growing Old and Growing Good 145

Attitudes Toward Aging 147

Aging and Medicine 150

8 Lifestyle and Health 153

Play, flow, and Health 154

Cooperation and Collaboration 157

Nutrition, Health, and the Culture of Food Preference 159

Illnessand Agriculture 164

Asceticism and Ritual Purity 166

Part III Models of Diagnosis and Treatment 169

9 Biomedicine and the Scientific Approach 171

Medical Anthropology in the Held 173

Western Medicine: A Brief History 175

Western Biomedicine and Science 179

Environmental Selection and Human Variability 181

Genetics and Medicine 184

Why Western Biomedicine Is Not a Cure-Ail 185

10 Restoring the Balance: Asian Models of Health and Healing 191

Energy Models and Science 193

The Yin and Yang of Chinese Medicine 196

Chinese Healing Techniques-Acupuncture 203

Ayurveda: An Ancient Healing Tradition with New Advocates 207

11 Calling on the Spirits: Shamans, Sorcerers, and Mediums 213

The History and Psychology of Shamanism 215

The "Shamanic Career": Becoming a Shaman 220

Shamanism Compared to Psychosis 222

Integrating Medical Systems 224

12 The Emerging Field of Integrative Medicine 227

What Is "Efficacy"? 230

Efficacy and the Practice of Medicine 232

An Experiment in Integrative Medicine 234

Part IV Contemporary Issues in Health and Healing 243

13 The Social Context of Epidemics 245

The Malaria Pandemic 247


Epidemics, Animals, and Social Status 252

HIV and Tuberculosis: An Epidemiological Time Bomb 254

Developmental Disorders 257

Evolution and Epidemiology 262

Global Warming and Epidemiology 265

14 Medicines, Herbs, and Dietary Supplements 269

Traditional Pharmacology: Healing and Dreaming 270

Science and Controlled Experiments 272

Drug Trials 274

A "Pill-Popping Society" 277

The Natural History of Herbs 283

Scientific Metaphors 286

15 Public Policy and Health-Care Delivery Systems 289

The Geneva Conventions 290

Social Inequality and Availability of Medical Care 291

Medicine and Public Policy 293

Population and Public Policy 293

The Human Cost of Malnutrition 297

Medical Tourism 305

Notes 309

Glossary 327

References 339

Index 351

About the Author 367

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)