Life/Death

The culture of biomedicine is the concept about how our societal values and ideaologies influence medical practices and patient relationships. It is a very important concept because it helps at explaining why western medicine is practiced the way it is. In our culture, we are constantly trying to strive to perfection. That is why there is the medicialization and biomedicalization of illnesses like ADHD and ED. With illnesses like those, many of the people prescribed probably do not need the drugs, but instead are taking them in order to be a better person. In “Pill Poppers”, the documentary did an excellent job in showing all the ways society is using medicine to better themselves. Even preventative medicines are invading our culture for disesases we don’t even have yet.

The dichotomy I chose was life/death because it is heavily influence by biomedicine and culture. Our culture hasn’t come to a universal clear consensus on either side. Life is a constant hot topic in America. The battle between pro-life and pro-choice are always trying to push their opinions on when life forms. Pro-life considers conception as life and pro-choice considers a live birth life. These views are based on the church and scientific facts. Death is a huge medicial debate. Is brain dead considered a death or is the the cease of breathing? These debates bring up topics like patients in comas or on life support, making it very difficult to determine what is death. The idea of choosing to die by euthanasia is a very sensitive topic where both agree one should not be able to choose their death.

In my opinion, in western society, life and death is not yet accepted universally. Those who are pro-choice logically support life begining when the fetus is out of the womb. While those who support pro-life believe their arguments are natural and true. However, even though death is hard to determine medically, I believe our culture thinks that death should be natural. That is why euthanasia is not supported here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. phill612 says:

    Clinicians should be able to understand life and death because that is their skill that they bring to society. Doctors go through rigorous schooling learning biological pathways, mechanisms and ethics to prevent the death of their patients. Although the dichotomy of life and death isn’t fully understand quite yet in the eyes of a physician sustaining life is the ultimate goal when treating a patient. Not only is it important for a doctor to understand the processes of life and death but it is also necessary to explain the process of death especially to the family of their patients and respect the way the patient accepts death. For example, if a patient is on life-support and it is their wish to be taken off the patients request must be honored despite the view of the family and doctor. The doctor no longer becomes the life saver rather monitoring the patient and explaining the process to the family to help them accept the loss.
    An alternative way to conceptualize life and death is biological cycle. All organisms including people die to create space for new life. Many accept the survival of the fittest theory and determine that the strongest genes are passed on. But medicine has leveled the playing field in a sense for humans at least because diseases that used to cause the deaths of large portions of the population can be cured, thus extending the lives of those who should have previously died. I too referenced this in my analysis of the doctor- patient dichotomy and questioned if this medicine makes us less fit as a species through an increased dependence on medication.

  2. Kelly Zielinski says:

    Life and Death are extremely important to understand in the clinical setting. As stated in the above post by Alexis, there is not a clear cut definition in our western culture. There are varying opinions on the matters of both when life begins and when death occurs. Because there is not a scientific definition that is widely accepted, doctors and clinicians need to abide by the wishes of the patient and/or loved ones. Especially when dealing with death. Perhaps the person wants a Do Not Resuscitate, and the doctor feels as if he/she can save them, this is a very important time for this dichotomy and the understanding of the relationship that each term holds to be understood. If the doctor did not know what the patient wanted, the doctor could be inclined to go against the wishes of the patient.

    Another way to look at the life and death dichotomy, would be in a medical, preventative way. Can the dichotomy be further defined by biomedicine through use of drugs and treatments? Death for example could potentially be “Beat out” though the use of pills, chemo, treatments, etc… in a person diagnosed with cancer. Rather than the natural process of life and death occurring, we can biomedically arrange for it to happen or not to happen. We can produce a test tube baby, creating life, and further complicating the definition of each life, and of death. Biomedicine has enabled these two terms to require a broader definition. It has created opportunities for scientists throughout the world to expand on the creation of life and death, and the ability for companies to profit off of the ideas and concepts used. We can stop life through birth controls, we can create it through artificial processes. We can stop death through medicines and we can create it through assisted support, pills, gases, etc..
    With the expansion of biomedicine and the fact that we live in a very “trial by error” time in science, alternative medicines seem to also expand and become more accepted. Chiropractors and holistic medicine is more accepted as the trials of the biomedicine fail. The less answers that are received from medicine, the more people will naturally look for them elsewhere.

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