Saturday, August 13, 2011

Culteral difference and reflexology

Reflexology or its key component, foot message, is said to be popular in some western countries in particular Denmark where it is considered alternative medicine. Brian Dunning of Skeptoid considered it "Only dangerous if you use it". No matter, people continue to use it. And in mainland China, foot message has become (almost) everybody's past time, enjoy an hour with a massasieur's good technique as well as his/her good conversation, or if it is a group, enjoy a good hour of gossip; and not without some satisfactions on one' superiority complex, having someone sitting way below you washing your feet!

Even Brian considered foot massage enjoyable. But why was he so skeptical about an activity that Chinese consider a good way to spend one's leisure time? The reason is Brian, like some westerners, are too serious about alternative medicine, and consider it as good as, or to replace conventional western medicine.

Traditionally Chinese tend to put a health label on almost anything, foodstuff and other activities and in particular the former. Recently a friend of mine in US asked me about the ingredients of an over-the-counter Chinese medical formulation by the name of Colisma. One of its ingredients is Shan za / Crataegus (山楂) and it is for better digestion, promote chi, reduce blood clogs. A western mentality will immediately associate it with drug with medical efficacy. In fact, it is a common plant, and most if not all Chinese kids must have tried a popular candy made from it (Shan za candy: 山楂糖). Actually Chinese simply treat such claim as possible side-benefit from a common ingredient.

And it is the same with reflexology. The Chinese mentality will be that one should not dispute with all the claimed medical benefits of reflexology (or other food and activities). They may indeed be true. Having an enjoyable hour is already worth the money paid for, an additional benefits will be a bonus - and in the bottom of their heart, they only wish those benefits can be materialized.

It is the same with the claim to Immortality in Taoist meditation. And it is the same for the "superstitious" use of "healing water" by a grandmaster of Xiang Gong in Taiwan as I mentioned in a previous post. Western mentality is just too serious for anything!

A reflexology parlor in Taiwan

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