Illness Causation and Interpretation in a Newar Town
Keywords:Illness etiology, Newars, cosmology, carelessness, misfortune
One of the core concerns of medical anthropology is to explore how people in different cultures and social groups explain the causes of ill health, the type of treatment they believe in, and to whom they turn if they do become ill. This article focuses on the understanding of illness causation by the Newars in Kirtipur and their concern about biological and socio-cultural aspects of healthy behavior, and particularly with the ways in which they have been coping in everyday life. The basic method of data collection for this study was formal and informal discussions with the elderly Newar males and females, followed by discussions with youths to explore the variations in their perceptions. The findings show that the understanding of illness etiology is multi-causal. The individual, natural, social, and supernatural causes are not mutually exclusive but are usually linked together in a particular case. In any specific case of illness, moreover, people’s explanatory model varies in how they explain its etiology.
Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology Vol. 5, 2011: 101-120