Biomedicine explains health in terms of biology. It emphasizes the importance of learning about body structure (anatomy) and body systems (physiology) in order to treat diseases and maintain health. The power of biomedicine comes from the belief that it is both universal and objective. Anthropologists from the critical approach have demonstrated that biomedical knowledge is not simply a reflection of nature; it is culturally accepted and changed over time. The culture of biomedicine relates to the fact that biomedicine can be influenced by society and is not an objective science. It is one of the most influential cultural institutions in western society. That institution is made up of a system of dichotomies that are culturally constructed. Dichotomy means to be divided into two parts. In anthropology, dichotomy refers to the division between things like life and death or mind and body.
As the lecture says, and I agree, one of the most obvious dichotomies in biomedicine is the line between life and death. The concepts of life and death are very interesting and debatable. Where do you draw the line? In terms of life, the question is when does it begin? There are a number of different arguments that one can make, but to me there is no wrong answer. Personally, I believe life begins the minute a person is born out of the womb. It is hard to pinpoint where I constructed my views from, but I can say they were definitely influenced by my culture. When you celebrate your birthday, you are celebrating the day you were born or the day that your life began. Others may disagree, and say it happens before then or maybe even later in a person’s existence. On the other side of the coin is death. I believe you can pronounce someone dead when their brain and heart stop functioning and they can no longer breathe. Again, that is just my opinion and there is no wrong answer. Death can be perceived a number of different ways. Cultures throughout the world have different perception on death. I think the dichotomy of life and death is accepted in our culture because it is something every person experiences. Many have describes death as a natural part of life and I believe that to be true.