Life/Death

The culture of biomedicine is important because it explains health in terms of biology. It emphasis the importance of learning about body structure or anatomy It involves the study of body systems and physiology. It focuses on biology and the body in order to treat diseases and maintain health. Biomedicine is also important because according to the “Claim of Universality” biomedicine is a direct reflection of nature and is a representation of a universal truth.

I chose to focus my post of the dichotomy of life and death. I find this dichotomy to be most interesting and complex at the same time. Within western culture there appears to be no in between, a person is either. However, I find it interesting that western society tries to classify every aspect of being dead or alive. For example, when someone is in a coma some people believe the person is in this deep sleep they may never wake up even though their heart is still bringing. Some people people even feel that patients that are in comas are declared dead all ready because they cannot bring on their on and they are hooked up to a machine or they may be brain dead.

In our society  some people associate healthy and functional brain activity with being alive and not dead. However, I do not believe that just because a person can not function normally in our society or is in a coma that makes them dead. There is still a chance that the person may wake up out of the coma. People who have autism and who are handicap do not function like normal people. They require special needs and attention to survive in the world and to live. They may have limited brain activity and not much control over there actions, but they are still living people. Some people look at handicap people and say they cannot imagine being able to live their life like that. Life is what you make it given your situation. There are people in the world that live with brain disorders, half a brain, and brain damage but they are still living life the best way they can for themselves.

Living life means more than just having a brain. I think in our society we have to take in question what does it mean to be really alive. In the medical community and in western culture there is a constant emphasis on the brain a s the root to the entire function of the body. It seems like the medical field has created mostly everything to increase and promote ones chances of living a healthy life. We have blood transfusions, artificial hearts that people can get today. However, when it comes to  brain transplants there is no such thing. When a person is brain dead in our society that is usually the end of the line of their life and at this point nothing else can be done for them. The dichotomy of life and death is accepted as logical and natural in western society because there are clear distinctions of what being alive and dead means. Death is accepted in western culture because it is a part a life that everyone will go through and experience.

1 thought on “Life/Death

  1. I found your post very interesting because you chose to explore that the dichotomy of life and death is taken for granted in our culture, where as, as you mentioned, it is certainly not black and white. We’ve found ways to extend life, or shorten it, and bring about death quicker. In fact, to me, medicine is all about postponing death when you put it in a nutshell. However, as you also mentioned, we tend to take care of people who may be considered “dead”, like coma patients or patients with little to no brain activity, but who are still very much alive.
    I think it’s important for clinicians to not take life and death for granted because it can’t always be black and white. We can bring people back from death, for example, people’s who’s hearts have stopped. Does this technically signify death, when a heart has stopped? Or is it when you’re brain dead? Is life even something that can be quantifiable? That’s why, to me, it’s important to understand the subtle nuances of life and death, and how they interact with one another. However, I do believe that there may be a difference between life, and life worth living or even capable of living.
    That is why, if I were to re-evaluate life and death, I would say life isn’t so much something that can be defined, but it is something that can be observed. It’s more like a check-list. For example, is someone having meaningful experiences? Can they still perform some bodily functions, like breathing? Do they have emotions or can they even feel anything? To me, life is a sum of parts. I feel that death, quite oppositely, is the negative of all of those parts. However, this may have some complications for medicine. Since this is more of a grey-area approach, that may make it much more difficult for someone to be classified as dead. Issues like this do occur in real life though, like when someone is brain-dead, as you mentioned. Often, they are on life-support, only really living through machines, and even then, people question whether they are alive. In the traditional, biological sense, they are, but since life is so much more than simply breathing and going through the motions, it’s worth it to evaluate the meaning to their lives (and others’ lives that they may have affected) and determine if they are truly dead or not, and for many of us, it’s a very difficult decision.

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