Monday, November 17, 2008

New publication: Revisiting USOG, PASMA, KULAM

by Michael L. Tan

This book looks at folk illness in the Philippines including, as the title suggests, usog, pasma, and kulam. Rather than looking at these folk illnesses as "superstitions," Tan explains the boarder social and cultural contexts of these concepts. He discusses these illnesses according to their perceived causes, broadly grouping them into three clusters, mystical, personalistic, and naturalistic.

Tan uses different social science perspectives to explore the deeper meanings of these illnesses, including their links to social norms, tensions, and conflicts. He emphasizes, too, that far from being static, these folk illnesses continue to evolve, influenced by Western medicine as well as new images surrounding health and illnesses that come with mass media and advertising. Finally, he calls attention to a medical ecological perspective, looking at how our changing relationships with the natural environment also lead to modifications in the folk illnesses.

Besides reviewing the extensive social science studies that have been conducted on these folk illnesses, Tan also refers to the more limited, but still significant, biomedical studies that explore some of these illnesses, for example, bangungot, showing that theses syndromes often have a physiological basis and needed to be
recognized by health professionals.

For more information on how to acquire/purchase the publication
Please contact: University of the Philippines Press los Santos St., UP Campus, Diliman, Quezon City
Telephone no: 9282558; 9253243
Cost: P190.00

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