Health Beliefs and Behaviors: Theories of Illness

Physical and mental health and illness are viewed holistically as an equilibrium model. In contrast, other explanatory models may include mystical, personalistic and naturalistic causes of illness or disease (Anderson, 1983; Tan, 1987; Tompar-Tiu & Sustento-Seneriches, 1995).

Mystical Causes

Mystical causes are often attributed to experiences or behaviors such as ancestral retribution for unfinished tasks or obligations. Some believe that the soul goes out from the body and wanders, a phenomenon known as Bangungot, or that having nightmares after a heavy meal may result in death.

Personalistic Causes

Personalistic causes are associated with social punishment or retribution from supernatural forces such as evil spirit, witch (Manga ga mud) or sorcerer (mangkukulam). The forces cast these spells on people if they are jealous or feel disliked. Witch doctors (Herbularyo) or priests are asked to counteract and cast out these evil forces through the use of prayers, incantations, medicinal herbs and plants. For protection the healer may recommend using holy oils, or wearing religious objects, amulets or talismans (anting anting).

Naturalistic Causes

Naturalistic causes include a host of factors ranging from natural forces (thunder, lightning, drafts, etc.) to excessive stress, food and drug incompatibility, infection, or familial susceptibility.