Watch as the Ju/’hoansi use prolonged dancing to heat the n/um or ‘medicine’ that resides within their bodies. Once heated, this medicine passes from healer/dancer to patient. What role does stress in the form of sensory overload, disorientation, hallucination, dizziness, exhaustion and muscle spasm play in producing a healing effect? How might the healers be employing cross-resistance? Given the core principles of this healing tradition, where might we expect it to collide with biomedicine? How can these approaches be reconciled?
Response: “The Ju/’hoansi use the stress created through their healing dance to relinquish the medicine or healing powers of the medicine man. The medicine man only becomes effective through the noise and heat of everyone participating, which strengthens the n/um. I also noticed a lot of physical contact between the healers and those who needed to be healed. Additionally, there were many points in the film where the healers had to help each other, after one reached the unconscious, or “half death” stage in the ceremony. This entire ceremony was shocking to me and in some ways frightening. Although, I know I’m thinking this simply because it’s not my normal.
Cross-resistance occurs when someone can handle, or even benefit from something that would normally be detrimental, only in the presence of similar agent. I think cross-resistance must be present in the healers because many people wouldn’t be able to survive the exhaustion their bodies endure. My guess is that they’re physically exerting themselves for an extreme amount of time, but at the same time also overheating to the point of trance, or unconsciousness. After reaching this point they don’t stop, which is where I believe cross-resistance comes into effect.
This healing tradition is practiced to heal those who are sick. The village comes together to bring forth the n/um from the healers and heal all the sick at once. Biomedicine on the other hand is for profit and only one individual benefits at a time. Outside factors are not considered and medication is typically the solution. These two practices collide in the sense that the Ju/’hoansi practice this dance to help the well-being of everyone, not to benefit the healers themselves, while our medicine does help the individual, but not without cost. Theses practices could be reconciled through combining spiritual efforts with Western medicine if necessary. Efforts should be made to try other methods of healing before taking the typical biomedical approach.”
Response: “The concept of cross-resistance involves using chemical or physical stress as a healing mechanism. This video demonstrated the use of several different forms of stressors that were used to create an altered state of consciousness. The primary method that was used to accomplish the goals of cross-resistance in this ceremony was the music created by the participants. Loud singing accompanied by strong rhythms constituted a form of sensory overload in an auditory sense. In addition, the participants were subject to hyperventilation from the constant motion and continuous singing, both of which occurred over long periods of time (“all night long”, as was stated in the video). Hyperventilation may lead to the symptoms mentioned in the prompt, such as dizziness, exhaustion and disorientation.
The idea of using stress to accomplish healing in the manner used by the Ju/’hoansi is comparable to the use of acupuncture to relieve aches and pains. This bisects the practice of biomedicine in that stressors, to a certain extent, are involved in the healing process in that they stimulate the release of endorphins into the circulatory system from the pituitary gland. In order to narrow the large gap between the two different approaches to medicine, it is vital to understand that both styles of healing are looking to accomplish the same goal- to make a person free of illness and bodily harm. “
Response: “Watching the Ju.’hoansi healing method opened my eyes to how much I see my concept of “medicine” through my own ethnocentric lens. Bio-medicine in the west is what I am used to. I have no doubts that following these dancing rituals there is a healing effect in most of the ill “patients”. I believe that there is a reason that they have no doubt performed this ritual for generations and it must produce some positive effect. My question is why. As a biochemistry student, I am used to seeing things in terms of concrete cause and effect type healing processes. I am interested in the biochemical reaction of pharmaceutical treatments on the afflicted part of the body. The chemical processes carried out in our cells and how illness and infection affects our natural homeostasis. But there is obviously something within this (by my own standards) unorthodox treatment method that has a healing effect. My thoughts were that maybe it had something to do with the level of togetherness and community support surrounding this healing method. It is anything but impersonal. In addition there has to be some mind-body connection in which the placebo effect, really believing that this ceremony has healing powers would no doubt improve the patients condition. This is not something we are especially used to considering in western medicine but the mind-body connection seems to be quite powerful in many non-westernized medical systems.
The sensory overload, dizziness, and disorientation is an example of Cross-resistance. Cross-resistance refers to an agent that is normally damaging or detrimental which in a certain case provides the opposite effect. In this case, the exhausting effect of the dancing, chanting, overstimulating atmosphere, and tremors may act in a similar way as a fever by rising the internal body temperature to kill off the illness. Specific levels of stress hormones in the body (produced by the physical stress of the ceremony) may possibly contribute to a faster healing effect.”