Sunday, March 27, 2005

Yeah I'm a slacker 

Well I was just having a look and Dad is right with his comments. It has been a long time since I last posted.

The placement at the National Institute of Mental Health is finished. Well at least for the moment. I might send a couple of fourth year students back to do some more data collection. I need to get some the interviews that I already have translated and then I will know if what I have will be of any use. I'm sure I'll have plenty to write about I guess I'm just not sure what that is yet.

The placement has basically dominated my life for the past 2 months and so I haven't really done anything exciting excpet for going to placement. There were however a few funny incidents that are probably worth sharing.

We were standing out the front of the hospital one morning just having a cup of tea when one of the patients bolted out the front door and off down the street, he was caught but t was entertaining.

There is a police hut made of bamboo on the side of the highway where police wait, mainly for taxis, to bribe them for inconsequential things. One day on the way back from placement there was a truck where the hut had been, it had obviously run of the road at the opportune place to flatten this shelter, what a shame.

I drove one of the CRP vehicles. The drivers always joke and pretend to give the keys. So one morning I took them got in started the car and drove out the front gate. I drove about a k to the main highway before turning the car over to the driver.

The mp3 player dad gave me for christmas came in handy for some of the car trips. All of the students were very impressed with my ability to take over the radio. Ver cool.

There was one dummy spit. We were sharing a vehicle with some radiology students. One morning they needed to leave early but failed to tell me or my students, as a result the transport left without us and we had to catch a public bus. When the car picked us up I spat the dummy at the driver and the students and on return to CRP took it up with the transport coordinator and the radiology course coordinator. Apparently now all of the drivers and many other people are scared of me. Good.

That pretty much covers the excitement. Although working on Easter Sunday is wrong in so many ways. Hope you're all having a great Easter.
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Monday, March 07, 2005

hmmmm sleep deprivation possibly 

Have recently acquired a copy of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’. This is an old favourite that I really haven’t listened to much for the last few years and on hearing this again there were a few things that stuck out to me that I had never noticed before. One thing was the absolute passion that went onto every song. From the beautiful ballads like lover you should have come over, to the haunting corpus Christi, to the block rockin eternal life there is not a wasted note or lyric on this album. It truly is a masterpiece and almost unbelievable that this could be a debut album. But probably the most disturbing thing about this album is the lyrics. Not disturbing in themselves but when placed in the context of Buckley’s death.

The album seems to be obsessed with love, life and death. There are lyrics in almost every song that refer to death. When I have some spare time I’ll get the lyrics from the net and go through them but some notable ones that stood out to me: ‘grace’ ‘and I believe my time has come’ ‘mojo pin’ (?) ‘we might both be gone tomorrow’ ‘so real’ ‘in my nightmare it sucked me in and pulled me under, that was so real’ and there are many more.

I’m sure you all know that Buckley drowned while swimming in a shipping channel, possibly drunk at the time, before the completion of his second album. So was this a man who understood mortality all too well and therefore put everything he had in to his musical passion, or was this a man who had premonitions of his own death and communicated them to the world through one of the most beautiful albums of the 90’s and possibly all time?
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culture and health 

Well here we are half way through the 8 week psychiatric placement and things have finally found a bit of rhythm. We seem to have hit our stride. The program is running smoothly and the data collection seems to be coming along nicely if a little slower than could have been hoped. I’ve been thinking a lot about cultural perspectives on health and illness. We have been so indoctrinated with the modern medical model that is almost impossible for us to imagine another frame of reference. Well this might seem true initially but you only have to delve slightly below the surface to realise that many people in Australia still hold unscientifically proven, for want of a better phrase, perspectives on healing. There are many people in churches who believe in faith healing, many people use herbal remedies and the immigration to Australia over the years has brought many different cultures together with many different perspectives on healing. However, these are almost always considered to be alternative to the dominant paradigm and may or may not be supported by Medicare or private health insurance.

An interesting fact is that the vast majority of patients who are admitted to the National Institute of Mental Health have sought treatment from a traditional healer. In most cases this has been ineffective, thus their admission, but the interesting question to me is why? I think that illness in many respects is a loss of control. Not just for an individual but for their family and loved ones as well. Throughout history there has been a need to take measures to try and regain control over the situation. Modern western medicine does this essentially by labelling. Once we can give a diagnosis to a certain disease and ascertain how serious it is we can prescribe the appropriate treatment to cure the disease, or at least slow its course. So why do people go to traditional healers in Bangladesh? There are many reasons but I think when it comes down to it they are convenient and inexpensive and they are in touch with the local community and culture. This does not necessarily mean that their treatments are effective and in some cases what they do may make damage worse. In some ways this is no different to many of the people in Bangladesh who call themselves doctors but actually have little or no medical training. I guess my main point is that it is easy to look at other cultures and judge the way that things are done. It is easy to say obviously you will get no real help from a traditional healer, but they may well laugh at us and say how foolish, do you really believe that being jabbed with needles or prayer can heal you? Just food for thought.
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