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Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Globalization and Health By Kristina Bruno

In the book What is Growing? Who is Dying?, Joyce Millen et. Al. argues that political and economic forces maintain existing inequalities and globalization widens the gap between the well-off and the poverty-stricken.   Furthermore, although aggregate figures show that health is improving overall, these international health indicators are deceptive and fail to show how unevenly the health improvements are distributed. In conclusion, the authors bring into question the socioeconomic policies and development strategies of today’s globalizing world and offer a new evaluative criterion of development: the health of the poor.

Linked Below is a video of C. K. Prahalad, acclaimed professor of Corporate Strategy at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, discussing both good and bad effects of globalization on the global poor.

Similarly, Carl Walker, author of the book titled Depression and Globalization, looks into the human cost of recent political and economic activity and argues that for many, a consequence of globalization is mental distress and depression in particular. He links aspects of recent politics to depression and specifically looks at the relationship between globalization and depression. Income and educational disparities, and financial and job insecurities are both by-products of multinational business, and are also main causes of depression.

“In the coming years the World Health Organization predicts that depression will rank just behind heart conditions in terms of the global disease burden.” – from Depression and Globalization


Diabetes and Its Awful Toll Quietly Emerge as a Crisis


I knew that diabetes was a disease that plagued the lives of many Americans, but I had no idea the numbers were so high. One in every eight adult New Yorkers are a part of this nationwide “epidemic”. I also was unaware that diabetes leads to so many other health problems, such as nerve damage, stroke, heart problems, and more. The article discusses how New York is the perfect breeding ground for the disease because it harbors many immigrants, some of which include Latinos who are disproportionately prone to it and Asians who can develop it even while having a lower body weight. Many immigrants are also eating American diets for the first time in a country that promotes over-eating and little to no exercise. The facts are scary, as they state that diabetes is not curable and is a fatal disease. During the person’s life, diabetes sets off complications in all of the major organs and is even the leading cause for blindness in the U.S. The proper funding is not going to diabetes and is instead going to other illnesses that are not as serious or are on the decline. I think that we should write to our congress men and women and plead with them to allow more funds to go into the research of diabetes so that one day we may be able to cure this horrible disease.

Depression is related to diabetes because often if a person is overweight and makes poor lifestyle choices, they are also suffering from depression. In that low state, people lack the motivation to better their eating and exercise habits which can then lead to diabetes down the road. Also, any time a person is suffering from sickness, depression often exists.

The Importance of Diet and Exercise By Kristina Bruno

In the Ney York Times article, Diabetes and Its Awful Toll Quietly Emerge as a Crisis, N. R. Kleinfield clarifies why diabetes is such a big issue and illustrates why city public health officials refer to it as a bona fide epidemic with an outdates reputation as a “benign sickness of the old.” This major disease is growing in number of new cases as well as in the number of people it kills.

Diabetes shows an inverse relationship to income, because poverty often means less access to fresh foods, exercise, and healthcare. As the article states, known linkages to diabetes include an aging population, a food supply with many sugars and fats, and a culture that promotes overeating and discourages exercise. Therefore, diabetes is as much a sociological issue as it is a medical one. Furthermore, the disease can be controlled through a sociological approach with lifestyle changes including diet and exercise.

While diet and exercise are two very important in insuring physical health,  it is equally as important to note how diet and exercise help with one’s mental health as well. As shown in the articles linked below, exercise has been shown to reduce stress, ward off feelings of depression, boost self esteem, etc., while a healthy diet, too, can help ease symptoms of clinical depression.

Exercise and Depression

Diet and Depression

Unity of Mind and Body By Kristina Bruno

In the chapter titled The Damaged Self in the book “The Body Silent,” Robert Murphy gives a personal account of how his disability has affected his life not only physically, but emotionally as well. While he sees the body as a set of relationships that link the outside world to the self, he explains how he has lost that connection through his disability and has put emotional distance between them in order to survive.

Murphy notes how doctors look at disability as objective and make it seem like a “black and white” topic while ignoring the range of emotions tied to it. In consequence, he has suffered from depression and lack of self-esteem in almost all aspects of his life. This leads to a criticism of biomedicine for not dealing with the entire self. Though he may be getting the proper biomedical treatment, he still feels alone and isolated, along with guilt and shame that never seems to be addressed or resolved.

This illustrates the effect that a physical disability can have on one’s mental health as well as how mental health needs of the disabled tend to be overlooked by doctors and by society in general. Both aspects of a disability need to be properly addressed in order for a person’s well-being to remain in a healthy state. In search for some possible solutions to this problem, the article linked below suggests that mastery and social support are two important determinants of depression of people with a physical disability. Mastery can help keep self-esteem levels high and social support will keep all from feeling isolated.

Physical Disability and Depression, A longitudinal Study by R. Jay Turner

“The Damaged Self”


Anyone can rise to the challenge

The autobiographical account is the story of a man named Gregor Samsa. He talks about he worked his way up from poverty and became a successful man. Then, he discovered that the had a debilitating tumor that left him stuck in a wheelchair. He remembered looking down at people with disabilities prior to his own. He remembered looking at them from a distance and really having no empathy for them at all. He always saw them as poor unfortunate souls and that they suffered something that only happened to them and could never happen to him. Now being a disabled person himself, he is shocked by the way in which his daily encounters with people have changed. Most people will stare at him and be uncomfortable around him. They don’t know how they should act around him and it has become very frustrating for him to go from a powerful person to someone constrained to a wheelchair. He said that his self esteem went down tremendously because people acted differently towards him and it made him think differently about himself too. He talks about a time that he visited the Sahel and Sudan zones of Nigeria and Niger, a region of endemic leprosy and missing hands, feet, and noses. People were afraid to come near them and stared at them as objects and failed to help. It is sad that so many people in the world are insensitive to people struggling with disabilities. If people would get over the shock value and begin to look at them more as humans in dire need of care and support and less as lepers, we could get a lot accomplished in the prevention and treatment of these ailments.


Depression is closely linked with this topic because people with disabilities often suffer great bouts of depression due to their frustrations of being trapped in their own bodies and being treated as outsiders by the general population.

Modernity, Cultural Reasoning, and the Institutionalization of Social Inequality: Racializing Death in a Venezuelan Cholera Epidemic”

I had never before learned about cholera and so I was shocked to discover that it can kill an adult through dehydration in as little as 10 hours. I was saddened to also learn that it is easily treated with rehydration and antibiotics. Symptoms of the disease include diarrhea, vomit, cramps, sunken eyes, blue lips, and twisted limbs. In today’s modern world, it could easily be treated as well  prevented. It has devastating effects for the people of Venezuela including huge social, political, and economic downturns. It also raises some moral questions due to the negative association of the disease with the Venezuelan people. They were labeled as a culture with a stigma of backwardness, lack of hygiene, and poverty. With modern medicine being introduced and it’s promise of sanitation, the western culture was seen as clean and good and the Venezuelan culture was seen as dirty and bad. But modern medicine was plagued by failure and false promises and left a sense of disenchantment. It is sad that the Venezuelan people were so negatively stereotyped and weren’t given the proper help that they deserved.

This topic relates to depression in that the Venezuelan people probably suffered depression when they themselves or their loved ones were ill and when they had to deal with the false promises of Western culture.


Cultural Reasoning used to Naturalize Social Inequalities by Kristina Bruno

 In Modernity, Cultural Reasoning, and the Institutionalization of Social Inequality: Racializing Death in a Venezuelan Cholera Epidemic the author, Charles L. Briggs, argues that “the multiplicity of narratives purporting to describe and account for the epidemic constituted social forces with as much power to shape health conditions and social and political-economic relations as the Vibrio cholerae itself” (Briggs 666). In his argument, he uses the term Cultural Reasoning to explain how public health institutions in Venezuela have racialized the cholera epidemic. Racialization refers to the extension of racial meaning to a previously unclassified relationship, social practice or group. In the case of Cholera in Venezuela, the epidemic was given cultural reasoning and became seen as due to the way of life and the culture of the indigenous people there rather than the moral and political crisis it was and therefore, naturalizing and legitimating the social inequality that exists in Venezuela.


This comic relfects the Author's opinion of how the idea and cultural reasoning and cultural relativism can be used to legitimate and naturalize social inequalities and keeps them from resources they nedd to survive.


In an attempt to link this reading to the topic of depression, I found an article that explains some effects that culture may have on the perceived prevalence of depression. Cultural reasoning in the case of depression can be used diagnose the same symptoms differently in different cultures.  For example, in India, a wide range of distress disorders are categorized as depressive disorders, whereas in Japan, the very idea of mental illness is unacceptable and few people will admit to having it (Rashmi Nemade). This cultural reasoning can lead to some people not getting the healthcare attention they need to survive and live healthy. See the article below for more information.

Sociology of Depression – Effects of Culture by Rashmi Nemade, Ph.D


Race, Ethnicity, and Health: An Intersectional Approach

Chart to demonstrate relationship between race & health care

The article stated that racial and ethnic minorities were more likely to die in infancy, have shorter life spans, and live with chronic diseases. It stated that they had greater exposure to environmental hazards, and to live in soconte situations that could be deemed violent or life threatening. Overall, racial/ethnic people have a lower quality of life according to the article. It is sad that a person’s quality of health is so closely tied to their race or ethnicity. Inequality is prevalent among these groups with how they are treated. Racism is what serves as the fuel for unjustness and unfairness. I found it interesting thatya person’s social class and socioeconomic status affected their quality of life so greatly. Even in more detail a person’s gender and sexual orientation also played a significant role. The part of the article that I found most intriguing was the statistics on obesity. Obesity does not discriminate. It affects all races, ethnic groups, genders, and ages pretty much equally. The percentages of overweight people across races was essentially the same with only a few percentage points in difference. The greatest injustice and the main reason for the great disparities in health care among racial groups is access to care and treatment. Other factors for differences in health include genetics, social and behavioral situations in a personM’s environment. The article suggests to look “upstream” and get away fromindividually centered health models and instead focus on the big picture.

This article relates to depression in that depression is an environmental and social factor that affects a person’s health.


Intersectionality and Moving “Upstream” in Eliminating Health Disparities by Kristina Bruno

In the article Race, Ethnicity, and Health: An Intersectional Approach, Lynn Webber and Elizabeth Fore express the need of health disparities research to move “upstream” beyond the narrow focus of the individual, and instead, look into the macro-structural forces that are causes of health and disease, and to “take seriously the intersections of race and ethnicity with other dimensions of social inequality as in feminist intersectional scholarship” (Weber and Fore 202). This scholarly framework sees societal inequities as “the result of the intersections of differences, for example, race, class, gender, sexuality, and other dimensions of inequality. It recognizes that oppressed groups and individuals live at the margins of society with inequitable access to resources and how they are generated, maintained and challenged at the institutional and individual levels, shaping the health of societies, communities and individuals” (Kelly E43).

I have attached an interesting article titled Integrating Intersectionality and Biomedicine in Health Disparities Research by Ursula A. Kelly, in which the author illustrates the importance of integrating the two paradigms for the most effective method of eliminating health disparities. I agree that this approach has the most potential.

In an attempt to relate this idea to my topic of depression, I found an interesting clip of an interview that identifies devaluation of self as the core cause of depression. I believe that the devaluation of self plays off of the idea of intersectionality in a sense that what society forces people to believe is “success” and “value” is high socioeconomic status and all things that come along with it. Because there are certain people that don’t have the access to what leads them to high socioeconomic status, they can be more likely to become depressed. I think this idea again highlights the importance of research to move “upstream” and address the social structures that lead to inequities to fully understand the health disparities we see in society.

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm9sus3PnAs

Also, here is an intersting graph illustrating how depression is more linked to socioeconomic factors as opposed to race:

“Racism and Research: The Case of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study”

The Public Health Service in conjunction with the Tuskegee Institute, conducted a study among untreated syphilis carrying African-American men in Mahon county in 1932. The men were told that they would be freely treated for “bad blood”. They were not told that they had syphilis and they were left untreated despite the newly open availability of penicillin. They essentially became human guinea pigs as the scientists studied how the disease spread throughout the body and ultimately killed them. This was an extremely unethical practice because the men were given false information, were treated as objects without regard for their worth as human beings, and were left to die. In their ignorance, the men also ended up transferring their disease to their wives and children unknowingly.

This study is linked to depression in that disease and depression often go hand in hand. When people are diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness, it is easy to fall into a bout of depression. With syphilis in particular, people who have a sexually transmitted disease often feel shame and consequently depression.


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