The following research paper presents the topic of Native American attitudes surrounding illness. Native American philosophy regarding the causes of illness and paths to wellness are discussed. This is followed by research regarding current health of American Indians, American Indian medicine for treatment of illness, holistic health care, mental health care for American Indians, and summary and conclusions.
Philosophy Regarding Causes of Illness and Paths to Wellness
From the Native American perspective, healing rather than curing is the most important aspect of medicine. Healing includes the making whole of the individual through the establishment, enhancement, or restoration of well-being and harmony within the individual. From this perspective when an individual is sick, rather than simply being prescribed an antibiotic, a healer would pray with the patient and ask the Great Spirit for help. The patient is surrounded with love and support as they attend a healing ceremony. Thus connection to peo0ple, nature, and spirit is emphasized. In this manner, the Native American healing is a holistic medicine. For the Native American, healing, spiritual development and quality of life cannot be separated from other life aspects to include politics and economics. Harmony with the Earth is essential for health. Within this perspective, there is a great deal of diversity regarding techniques, ceremonies, and practices that take place in tribal cultures and the talents of healers also vary. However, there are several intervention categories that are universally important among healers such as smudging, prayer, music, counseling, massage, ceremony, herbs, and vision-seeking (Cohen, 2003).
Cohen (2003) presents descriptions of the common therapeutic methods used by the American Indian healer with regard to their connection to the healing process (pp. 146-147). Vision-seeking, dreaming, and fasting are used to help the hea...