The culture of Biomedicine can probably be rephrased as The acceptance of Biomedicine in a culture.  In the United States, biomedicine is the most highly accepted remedy for sickness/illness.  It is based off of medicine and answers given by medical doctors, with year of training and specializing, and it relies on this information to “cure” illnesses.  The solutions are all medicinal and in the form of question and answer.  Our culture relies heavily on black and white discrepancies, grey areas tend to cause discomfort, which is probably a large reason as to why biomedicine is so much appreciated.

Dichotomies, I believe, are a reasonable way to explain and make order of contrasting (or perhaps confusingly similar) concepts.  Doctor/patient, clarifies that among two people in a medical setting, the doctor holds a certain role, and the patient another.  The two people understand where they are placed in the dichotomy and their role accordingly.  This is important to give clarification to people in certain situations.  For example, employee and employer.  An employee may want to do something or refuse to do a task where an employer can remind them of their place in the relationship, and they are to do as instructed by their given role.  When dealing with inanimate nouns rather than people the explanation changes.  Using treatment/enhancement as the topic of choice, these two represent a difference in each other while explaining to people their meanings.  A treatment can be inferred to cure, while an enhancement can be assumed to boost something already there to become better.  An enhancement drug may make a person perform to a higher level than they were once performing.  While a treatment drug can make someone able to overcome an obstacle or illness that inhibited them from ever being able to perform the task at all.  Treatment creates more of a sense of permanent status than enhancement.  Although something can be enhanced on a level that would stand to be permanent, when thinking of the term medicinally, it is thought of as a temporary solution compared to treatment.

As previously stated, in the US, we like a clear cut black and white when dealing with issues such as our health.  Will I get better?  What time frame?  Do you have an answer? These are all questions that although rarely have a yes or no, or exact answer, we as patients, expect and want to hear an exact answer.  With that said, using the titled terms, we can expect treatments to cure and enhancements to boost, and understand what parts of our health will be better or worse given certain treatments and or enhancements.

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  1. Alex Chavez-Yenter says:

    The dichotomy between treatment and enhancement is of particular importance to a clinician because it is frequently the difference between procedures or prescriptions that are medically necessary, and those that are not. It is critical that a clinician recognize which side of the spectrum they are dealing with and to carefully consider where the realm of treatment ends, and where an enhancement begins. However, the categorization of certain conditions as either treatment or enhancement may be difficult and depend from individual to individual. For example, a serious procedure like gastric bypass can be viewed both ways. The procedure may be considered by some as an enhancement for someone who is technically obese, but has not put in the effort to actually lose the weight and yet convinces their clinician otherwise. On the other hand, for an extremely obese individual who has attempted diet and exercise and is running into health complications as a result of their obesity (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc), gastric bypass surgery is obviously a treatment. If a clinician were to only categorize gastric bypass surgery as a treatment, it may increase the number of obese individuals that seek out the procedure as an enhancement because diet and exercise is cumbersome.

    An alternative way to conceptualize this dichotomy is to think of enhancements in a different light. Adding on to Kelly’s definition of an enhancement as something to boost a characteristic, we could also consider the mental health that goes along with an enhancement. Undergoing an “enhancement” that may be medically unnecessary has the potential to improve mental health by addressing something that may have been embarrassing or shameful to the individual and in turn, become a treatment. However, this approach supports the notion that ALL enhancement procedures or prescriptions have this potential, which could cause abuse of enhancements and shortsightedness about side effects and dangers of enhancements.

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