Utilization of non-medical healing methods as a way of coping with life difficulties in the socially deprived 'losers' of the systemic transformation processes in Poland
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Department of Medical Sociology and Family, Institute of Sociology, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Poland; Independent Medical Sociology Unit, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Department of Sociology of Ethnic Groups and Civil Society, Institute of Sociology, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland; Independent Medical Sociology Unit, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2012;19(1):147-157
Introduction and Objectives. One of the features of systemic transformation are its social costs. This is also the case with the Polish transformation initiated in 1989. Social processes connected with it are a kind of accelerator which increases the range of health needs realized outside the medical system. Utilization of non-medical healing methods may also be perceived as a way of coping with negative, i.e. sociopsychological consequences of transformation, including the fact that many people's health needs were not met within institutional medicine. Such a situation results in a deepening of social inequalities in health. This problem will be presented from the perspective of 'ordinary people' in accordance with the leading research directive in medical sociology. Following the directives of humanistic sociology, the sources of information on the subject were personal documents. Materials and Methods. The paper presents selected results of the sociological qualitative analysis of 1,311 letters received by the editorial section of public Polish Television's Channel Two in 1991 in connection with the broadcasting of a series of programmes conducted by the unconventional therapist Anatoly M. Kashpirovsky, who had a viewership of eight to nine million, on average. The presented and commented-on material consists of spectators' statements on the adverse consequences of the systemic transformation, concerning health and illness. Results. The post-1989 political-system transformation is the most thorough-going social change in post-war Poland. It triggered off a number of both positive and negative processes. The negative ones include the deepening of social inequalities in health as a result of, inter alia, the progressive pauperization of society and also the growing utilization of non-medical healing methods. The negative effects of transformations are especially felt by typical 'clients' of Anatoly M. Kashpirovsky: poorly educated, indigent, residents of villages and small Polish towns: 'the transformation process losers'. Conclusions. Systematic sociological knowledge on the ways of description and interpretation of health and illness by 'lay people' enables a more complete understanding of phenomena related to inequalities in health, including their social and structural causes.
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