Healthy vs. Unhealthy

I had never thought much about biomedicine being culturally specific. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it was. Biomedicine is something very common to western civilizations in particular, so common that many of us do not even realize that it is cultural. I myself find myself believing that we have the best system of healthcare, but that may not necessarily be true. Classes such as this one are great to give us knowledge of other cultures, which therefor teaches us something about the one we are apart of. The more I learn about other cultures the more I realize how flawed my own is.

The culture of biomedicine is one that is a bit difficult to explain. It is a treatment done mainly by highly “qualified” people who treat those who are different from the standard idea of a healthy person. Their work is often validated by a sense of truth or fact that is easily explained using biology or physiology as stated in our lecture. This is different from medicine common to other cultures where their validity might come from belief or history instead of fact of how the healing will be done. Biomedicine has evolved greatly in the last few decades from a culture where someone who has a problem seeks an answer, to someone who has a problem, thinks they know the answer, and seeks a particular solution. Our material from this week shows how in many cases, a doctors role has changed from the man with the answers, to the gateway man, who allows us to get what we think we need. We have allowed hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, and schools to capitalize by believing that they hold the key to us living out our lives. This is a cycle that continues to make the biomedicine belief stronger and more powerful in our culture.

As stated before, our culture is very dependent on truth and getting answers, so it seems funny to me that so many unanswerable questions lie within our belief system. The dichotomy of healthy vs. unhealthy is one I find particularly interesting because it is a question you would think biomedicine should be very focused on. I struggle with the answer myself, however generally, I think which category you fall under depends on where you think you fall. This thinking came directly from my grandmother, she would never give you medicine unless you didn’t feel well. Today, I would say that if you feel like you are healthy, you are. You could lead an unhealthy life, but you could feel healthy for years until your lifestyle starts to take a toll on you. Even if you have a disease that can threaten your life, you usually can tell that you are unhealthy at one point in time, which is when you realize what the problem is. However there are so many gray areas with my definition, and in fact everyone’s definition, but my definition makes the most sense to me. The reason I believe western society still accepts the uncertain difference between healthy and unhealthy because there is defiantly a difference between the two, we just cannot figure out what the exact line between them is.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Tyler Kavanagh says:

    I too agree with your reasons for why the “healthy vs. unhealthy” dichotomy exists in western medicine today. Amongst people, “the patients”, everyone is different, each case is different from person to person. Each person has their own ideas of what they describe and consider as a healthy state. Sure there is doctors out there to help us out and possibly tell us if there is something wrong with our health, thats essentially how western medicine works. Ultimately it is up to the patient to seek the doctors help if they feel unhealthy or if something may be wrong. If the person makes the choice to seek help and gets negative results from the doctor, options will be provided to them, maybe to go ahead with treatment (as advised by the clinician) or to maybe just deal with whatever is going on, depending on whether or not the patient believes to be healthy enough to just be fine with the problem. The doctors can not force anything upon the patients and can only offer suggestions and this is why I think the dichotomy exists in our society. Looking at it from a more professional perspective now when viewing this dilemma, each opinion from a clinician may not always be the same. One doctor may have a view that this patient will be fine without any intervention, while another doctor may have a point of view that says intervention should be suggested. A patient could seek a second opinion which is often done with western medicine. The idea of a second opinion is just another way I think the dichotomy is viewed and accepted amongst the society. Ultimately, health is subjective (to a certain extent) to each individual person and their views vary with every situation or lack of situation that arises.

Leave a Reply