2005_12_08rev - Culture, Embodiment, and the Senses...

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Culture, Embodiment, and the Senses Thursday, 08 December 2005 Reading NCCAM, Expanding Horizons of Healthcare: Five-Year Strategic Plan 2005-2009 V.S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee, Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind , chapters 3 and 11, pp. 39-62 and pp. 212-226. When reading the Five-Year Strategic Plan, pay attention to the type of language they’re using as to how to study alternative medicine. Keep in mind they’re a government agency – how the state is intervening in what is called bio-politics , the politics of the body (recall Scheper-Hughes and Lock’s political body). Recall the two films, The Knowledge of Healing on Tibetan Buddhism and the one on Chinese medicine, and how these healing traditions are becoming global but also how they’re being studied scientifically. What is behind this, what is at stake, and how does it relate to issues of the market? How is it that a government institution frames what it views as important in terms of regulating/supporting complementary medicine? What is motivating this effort? Student presentation Ramachandran’s initial research was on vision, but his most recent research is on phantom limbs. The first part of chapter 3 characterizes god as a cartographer and explains the mapping of stimuli in cortex. Phantom limbs occur often when person loses a limb with different manifestations (e.g. phantom limbs of woman born without arms or hands stuck to shoulders). Phantom fingers were illusory, but the pain was real. People experienced debilitating pain from non-existent limbs! Ramachandran designs ways to mediate phantom pain, e.g. tricking the brain into thinking there are two arms in a contraption with mirrors. For half of the people, this allows them to believe they’re actually moving – this can be a great source of healing particularly because for some, the brain eliminates the phantom [and the pain] altogether. The pain could be due to clumps of nervous tissue at the end of the amputation being irritated,
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This note was uploaded on 11/08/2011 for the course ANTHRO 2.158 taught by Professor Ericajames during the Spring '03 term at MIT.

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2005_12_08rev - Culture, Embodiment, and the Senses...

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