NATURE VS. CULTURE

The culture of biomedicine is a term used to describe the fact that biomedicine, despite its claims of neutrality, is in itself a culture. Cultural studies of biomedicine observe this medical construct through history, medical language and rituals involved in medicine. Anthropologically, research has been shown that medicine is culturally bound and on its own cannot explain many factors when evaluating risk factors. For example, the dichotomy of nature versus culture, rather than being separate entities can also be viewed as being intertwining. Going back to the concept of the placebo effect, medicine/surgery alone could not be isolated as the exclusive factor in healing. The placebo effect clearly indicates that environment, culture, politico-economics and other factors must be involved. To assume that biomedicine is the only authority in treatment would ignore facts that have been proven through research and observation.

I believe that dichotomy can be interpreted as both a positive and negative anomaly in thinking concepts. Contradictory thoughts that are played out for example, when converting theory into practice.  My personal belief is based on my experience of having being raised in two cultures by parents who themselves were raised in opposing cultures.  My father is a physician but his religious and cultural beliefs tend to supersede his medical views. As mentioned in a previous post, the cultural concept of the evil is not a construct of western society or western medicine. But as a South Asian whose religion also accepts this ideology, my father believes that the evil eye can negatively impact a person’s health or social well being. My mother on the other hand, tends to be much more neutral in her viewpoints and tends to look for logical and/or factual explanations, along the lines of the culture of biomedicine.

Western society, in particular the medical community, has tended to be science based so the dichotomy of nature versus culture tends to conflict. As has been acknowledged by the various documentaries in the lesson, cultural awareness is the key to a person getting optimal treatment. However, culture should not be benchmark by which to evaluate a patient. Rather it should be taken as a starting point for medical inquiry into a patients symptoms of illness.

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