Monday, January 23, 2017

Transhuman Folk Medicine

In general, Transhuman culture is much more limited when it comes to superstition. While religious movements persist (and even some new ones have developed), and urban legends and mesh rumors circulate - generally most information can be checked in a flash via the Mesh. However, cultural baggage can be fairly strong - especially among communities suddenly isolated from their "home" via the Fall. Additionally, numbers of refugees come from countries who lacked strong educational systems and tech bases - and may be "zeroes", Flats with nominally no mesh access. This can persist superstition and "traditional" knowledge which would otherwise die out in the presence of reputable and repeatable scientific information. Some also refuse to utilize advanced technology, for moral or ethical reasons - many of them feel the need to turn to alternate methodologies to get their healing. Let is also never be said some people aren't just plain gullible, and the right snake oil salesman can hand them a "traditional recipe" which will cure whatever they feel is ailing them - for a price.

Traditional Medicine (sometimes called "Folk Medicine" to distinguish it from legitimate "traditional" medicine, i/e "conventional" medicine which does not integrate nanotech) has many forms, spectra and concentrations. These depend highly on origin cultures and other cultural composition, and general conditions. On Mars, so-called "traditional chinese medicine" has boomed (often with backing of local Triads or other gangs) as an effort to cure the ill-effects caused by PC-made morphs with planned obsolescence features, or as an alternative for those who lack the money or desire to buy from corp-sponsored medical facilities. Herbal remedies are common, utilizing small hydroponic growth, as are medicines made from rendering animal components - accomplished through cloning and utilizing healing vats to repair the damage - such as to a finned shark. The efficacy of many of these remedies is nebulous, though some have placebo effects or conceal actual medical components with much "mysticism". Acupuncture, Moxibustion and traditional massage are even more broadly accepted, and one can almost find a traditional acupuncture clinic in most Martian residential neighborhoods of any particular asian culture. Most of these outlets are accredited by the Tharsis Traditional Asian Medicine Association, an independent Martian board which certifies that the techniques are safe and in-line with proper traditional procedures. Ayurveda (the indian traditional medicine system) is practiced strongly in some Lunar cultures by those who do not always feel confident in nanomedicine - involving medicines mixed from traditional herbs and even mineral elements, which often makes it the domain of the rich. This medical style also includes certain wellness practices (such as yoga) or techniques (such as head massage).

Other "traditional" medicinal practices associated with specific cultures or ethnic backgrounds persist, though they are smaller and spread where those groups have pooled. Refugees from the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia and South America continue to follow traditional herbal medicines, sometimes combined with elements of spiritualism or fetishism and actual basic medical knowledge. The efficacy and value of such techniques is largely limited by the availability of traditional herbs or other medical components. High access to many of these plants often also allows access to much more reputable and reliable medications - though some subcultures and clades still trust traditional healers to diagnose and administer advanced medications - especially if they lack technical skills in this area on a broad scale. Transhumans sometimes stretch this "traditional" quality of medicine as well. Some rich persons have been swayed to attempt medical treatments with components of unusual or exotic derivation. Some practitioners of Chinese medicine advocate specifically that smart animal or uplift derived components are more potent, or seek new ingredients among exoplanets. The rich and famous have been said to attempt to meet longevity treatments with the classic ideal of bathing in the blood of young morphs, and drinking the artificial blood of pods can strengthen you if you have "weak blood" naturally. Classic "snake oils" of a variety of mixtures are regularly pushed in souks and bazaars across the inner system - though few charlatans try to push such elements in the New Economy (where instead rep scams take a few more steps of complexity).

In addition to herbalism or traditional medicines, there are many alternate forms of healing which have origins old enough to be seen as classic or "traditions". Homeopathy (the practice of like cures like) still has its spreads, though many people have concerns about using diluted nanites to fight nanotoxins (though if those are medichines or nanophages - this may actually work). Practices such as ear candling or "crystal healing" persist, though few may insist that crystal healing directly cures ailments and many use it as more a spiritual or metaphysical healing. Energy healing and therapy persists, such as reiki massage. While there is no scientific evidence for "universal energy" or "life force", people still swear by the "healing touch" - though again, this may be a more psychological aspect. "Faith" or prayer healing also persists, though the religions who follow such methods have dwindled somewhat after the Fall. Christian brinkers often form long "prayer chains" over the mesh from hab to hab and pray for divine intercession. "Miracles" of healing are still officially recognized by the Catholic Church, though they do not often confirm many reports. As such, Faith healing is often practiced in the Jovian Republic by those who do not trust medical practices even if approved by the government. Some muslims, such as on Mars, perform faith healing by reading the Quran over water or oil, then drinking, bathing or anointing oneself in it.

New traditions of medicine also crop up. Infolife advocate therapeutic effects of "defragmenting" or "correlating" the contents of their minds in a methodical system and making sure their data image is very clean and clear. VR treatments show strong psychological or placebo effects for people to help with issues, especially which may be psychosomatic. The odd and often dangerous path of La Priye is not practiced much outside of Legba and the Nine Lives syndicate, but it promotes the medicinal aspects of pruning, merging and psychosurgical grafting under the hands of a trained "priest". New Age cures emerge all the time, from new massage or "spiritual alignment" techniques, consumption of purely synthetic "medicines" with no discernable effects, sympathetic medicines even brief exposure to cosmic radiation.

Mechanical elements:
Knowing about given practices of a traditional or folk medicine can be handled with an Interest: Traditional/Folk Medicine or a Profession: Traditional Healer skill. Identifying someone who handles traditional medicine or proper cultural protocols involving medicine is Protocol, and acquiring these services would be Networking as normal, with the Favor level being applicable to the level of the required treatment or diagnosis. Actually performing these medical procedures would be Medicine: Traditional Medicine (with specializations applicable to specific regions or procedures). It's up to the GM if any form of Traditional Medicine would actually cause a morph to heal from physical ailments or injuries - though with the right components basic first aid or long-term care should be possible. It may also be possible to use this field to work on healing SV in addition to DV or Wounds, through a placebo-like effect or genuine therapeutic components.

Plot Hooks:

  • A local criminal outfit on Mars is mixing business with revenge. They sleeve their enemies into primate pods or uplift morphs then cut them up for parts and then heal them. This becomes a risk when they utilize TITAN technology or subjects infected by the Exsurgent virus to try and enhance their medical power or recovery time. (Taken from El Destino Verde
  • A crystal healer has come to the local hab and their practices actually seem to have some merit - though this may be because of utilizing hidden nanomachines embedded in the crystals
  • A criminal gang is capitalizing on a craze to consume Pod blood by assaulting and kidnapping Pods in the streets, in a form of crime which is very economically discriminatory.
  • The DNA code for rare plants with spiritual or medicinal properties goes on the market, queuing a massing bidding war to acquire them and grow a fortune.

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