Syndemic Suffering: Social Distress, Depression, and Diabetes among Mexican Immigrant Wome (Advances in Critical Medical Anthropology)

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9781611321418: Syndemic Suffering: Social Distress, Depression, and Diabetes among Mexican Immigrant Wome (Advances in Critical Medical Anthropology)

In a major contribution to the study of diabetes, this book is the first to analyze the disease through a syndemic framework. An innovative, mixed-methods study, Emily Mendenhall shows how adverse social conditions, such as poverty and oppressive relationships, disproportionately stress certain populations and expose them to disease clusters. She goes beyond epidemiological research that has linked diabetes and depression, revealing how broad structural inequalities play out in the life histories of individuals, families, and communities, and lead to higher rates of mortality and morbidity. This intimate portrait of syndemic suffering is a model study of chronic disease disparity among the poor in high income countries and will be widely read in public health, medical anthropology, and related fields.

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About the Author:

Emily Mendenhall is an Assistant Professor of Global Health in the Science, Technology and International Affairs (STIA) Program at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.  Her research examines how political-economic and social processes shape disease distribution and illness experiences within and between nations.  Emily received her Ph.D. in medical anthropology from Northwestern University and M.P.H. in global public health from Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.  Previous positions include Research Associate with the Collaborative Research Unit at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago, United States; NIH Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholar at Public Health Foundation of India in Delhi, India; Research Fellow in the Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa; and Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Global Mental Health at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, United Kingdom. She is also founder of a non-profit committed to developing global health curricula for youth through which she has edited two readers: Global Health Narratives: A Reader for Youth and Environmental Health Narratives: A Reader for Youth (www.GHN4C.org).

Review:

"This excellent and readily accessible study provides a compelling account of how social, psychological, and biological factors act synergistically to trigger a diabetes-depression syndemic characterized by a pernicious biosocial feedback loop. This is far more than an account of co-morbidity, which is the consequence of poverty and a difficult life. There are many trajectories leading to both diabetes and depression. One key lesson of the VIDDA Syndemic documented here is that social processes will need to be addressed in order to treat this pathogenic state, not just medicines and health education. This book is an excellent teaching resource for both undergraduate and graduate courses of anthropology and public health."--Mark Nichter, University of Arizona
By rigorously exploring how macrosocial factors shape disease and suffering, Mendenhall s book has the potential to reach well beyond the bookshelves of medical anthropologists. Indeed, it has the capacity to start new interdisciplinary conversations because of its complex methodology, theoretical grounding, and clearly argued prose. This book would make an excellent addition to undergraduate courses in medical anthropology, methods, and structural inequalities. For graduate students, this book would make an excellent addition to research design and methods courses because it demonstrates how mixed methodologies are conceived and implemented. Jessica Hardin, Somatosphere
""Syndemic Suffering" employs a mixed methods approach drawn from cultural anthropology, epidemiology, and human biology to define the VIDDA Syndemic (Violence, Immigration-related stress, Depression, Diabetes, Abuse). Mendenhall argues that diabetes cannot be fully separated from the structural, interpersonal and psychological factors that both lead to and flow from it. Mendenhall is explicit that her aim is not models that predict outcomes but rather to describe how components of VIDDA act synergistically. The writing, while sophisticated, is accessible, and complex concepts such as structural violence and syndemics are described clearly enough for the non-specialist to understand. In addition to its primary audience in critical medical anthropology, this book will be of considerable interest to graduate students, advanced undergraduate students, health professionals, and scholars concerned with how social forces influence immigrant health." Jason A. DeCaro, American Journal of Human Biology
""Syndemic Suffering" is an admirably dense, robustly argued work of medical anthropology. Mendenhall's volume reflects the strengths of ethnography for addressing sensitive subjects and reaching isolated populations; she also reveals the capacity of mixed-methods anthropology for speaking across disciplinary divides into medicine, public health, and psychology. At the same time, the volume is a fast read and genuinely engaging for the powerful narratives of difficulty faced by these resilient survivors."
Caroline Smith-Morris, Journal of Anthropological Research"

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