A look at culture through Greek mythology.

As part of the Coursera course I’m taking on Greek & Roman Mythology, I had to read Homer’s The Odyssey and Hesiod’s Theogony. I would really recommend that people read these, just to understand a bit more about the lives of humans millennia ago, and how some things haven’t actually changed. However, I would recommend reading with a group or doing a course like Coursera so that you can really get into the story and understand the different elements.

Anyway, I’d just like to briefly talk about a few thoughts that came to me through reading The Odyssey.

An appreciation of cultural differences

Odysseus is part of a culture that has certain beliefs and practices, including xenia, which is the practice of extreme hospitality. Through his journeys, he encounters other cultures, some of which are similar to his own, while some are very different (practicing cannibalism, for instance). However, he expects everyone to act like him when he encounters them. I’m sure that these people he met also expected him to act the same way as they did. Through Odysseus’ (and Homer’s) eyes, these differences make these people lesser.

Relating to the modern, globalised world we live in now, these kinds of expectations are still prevalent  though they really shouldn’t be. Ideally, people would tolerate each other’s differences, even welcome them (aside from cannibalism and anything else of the sort though). I, as an occupational therapist, can’t really expect someone from, say, a Catholic family to have the same values and behaviour as myself. In fact, I cannot expect an atheist British person (yes, this still embodies a number of different populations, but bear with me) to act like myself. It is simply not logical or moral to think – or worse, treat – someone as lesser because they don’t come from the same culture as you do.

Some things simply don’t change

One thing that I can’t really say too much on critically, but that amused me, was that even back then, mellenia ago, the ‘common’ people gossiped about the ‘nobles’. There are several instances in The Odyssey where nobles were afraid of what the “meaner” people would say about them. This lead me to thinking that, yes, this was written a long time ago, and we tend to think that we’ve changed so much over the ages, that we’ve evolved and developed. But this and other scenarios made me realise that, actually, we’re not that different from the people who lived thousands of years ago. Our technologies have developed and we’ve made incredible advances in science and knowledge, but we, as human beings, have not actually, fundamentally, changed all that much. People still talk about the royal family and celebrities today.

So there are my two little thoughts. I hope they spark some interesting introspection, and I repeat my recommendation to delve into some ancient literature!

In honour of World OT Day, my balancing act.

I think, as someone who has studied occupational therapy, that I’m allowed to say that I’m not an occupational therapist. Or rather, I’m not just an occupational therapist. My HCPC registration doesn’t define who I am, and my world does not revolve around occupational therapy.

I am seeking balance.

The past three years, I focussed almost solely on occupational therapy, studying to get the qualification I have today. Since then, I’ve had to calm down a bit. I’m not practicing as a therapist quite yet, and in a way, I’m glad I didn’t look for an OT job straight away. I’m enjoying this time, waiting for the right job to come along (and I may have finally found it).

In between my shifts at my part-time job in retail, I’m getting to explore the other interests that I have, apart from occupational therapy. I’m doing three courses through Coursera at the moment. These aren’t directly related to OT, and I think my brain is thanking me for expanding my knowledge laterally, not just going deeper and deeper into one subject area. I’m reading Greek mythology and learning even more about evolution, a subject I adored in high school – and still do!

I’m also learning more about myself, my strengths and weaknesses, my limits.

I believe that these months of exploration are necessary before I move on with my career. And I hope that when I do get an OT job, my employers will respect my occupational balance and allow me to be more than an occupational therapist.

Because I’m a collection of roles and habits and interests, not just an occupational therapist who does occupational therapy and studies occupational therapy in my free time.

This post is part of the Blog Carnival in celebration of World Occupational Therapy Day, run by Linda’s Daily Living Skills.

I’m back. I think.

It’s been a while, I know. All I can say is that this placement has made me far busier and stressed than the previous one. In fact, I actually had a mini breakdown last week.

Anyway, I’ll give you a little bit of everything here.

  1. After much debate, I’ve chosen my case study, a girl with autism and a history of eating disorders who deliberately self-harms through cutting and headbanging.
  2. I’ve read a pretty decent, useful article titled ‘The Role of Occupational Therapy in the Treatment of Adolescents with Eating Disorders as Perceived by Mental Health Therapists’ by Elizabeth Kloczko and Moses N. Ikiugu, published in 2006 in Occupational Therapy and Mental Health.
  3. I’m terribly amused by these pictures of microscopic creatures, particularly the one of the bluebottle fly larva.
  4. I think celebrating Osama Bin Laden’s death is a little stupid, as it’s not as if it will end terrorism. In fact, it’ll probably make things worse. I can understand feeling relieved and a sense of closure in some cases, but celebrating out in the streets simply provides a target for revenge bombers.
  5. A while ago, another OT student contacted me, asking me to look at her website. Basically, they got involved in beta-testing mind map software and have put it to use building a giant OT mind map. When I first saw it, there wasn’t much up, but I just took another look, and it’s starting to come together, so if you’re interested, take a look at www.otstudent.info.
  6. My eczema has gone crazy. I’m embarrassed to go out these days.

I’ll try to get back into the swing of things, I promise.