Mind/Body

The “culture of biomedicine” is an important concept because of the misconception that culture does not exist within biomedicine. Most people rely heavily on the Claim of Universality and the Claim of Objectivity to support their beliefs that biomedicine is the most rational, effective form of medicine and it will do it’s best to heal them. To elaborate, the Claim of Universality states that “biomedicine is a direct reflection of nature and a reflection of a universal truth”. This thought encourages that biomedicine is much more legitimate than traditional methods because it’s effects can be proven in a laboratory, despite the fact that a majority of people have never witnessed this themselves. Similarly, the Claim of Objectivity states that “biomedicine is value-neutral and autonomous from cultural context and human influence”. For whatever reason, Western societies put a lot of effort into removing all traces of religion and ritual from as much as they can in the pursuit of “equality” and “truth”. I’m not saying this isn’t a noble cause, but as we can see from this weeks materials, biomedicine and culture are actually impossible to separate.

The positive effects of the mind/body dichotomy suffer because of these trains of thought. As seen with the placebo effect, the mind is actually a very powerful tool in regards to healing. However, the process of the mind is often equated with religion and culture and so it is cast out in favor of solely focusing on the tangible and scientific body. Though Western medicine has proven that factors such as a positive attitude, strong support system, and personal environment have a beneficial effect on the healing body, this is often second-thought after the rituals of sterilization and surgery that are enacted to protect the body.

While Western society would like to separate the mind and body, my own anthropological background teaches me that things are never really as separable as they may seem. Mostly, this pertains to the fact that you cannot remove culture from a situation. Everything we do and believe is influenced by our socioeconomic surroundings, essentially, like our faith in biomedicine. So even when it fails to heal our bodies, our minds convince us to return.

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