When it comes to Western medicine, biomedicine is the most commonly used and accepted form of healthcare. The “culture of biomedicine” explains the ideals that dominate and form the practice of biomedicine. As we learned in lecture, biomedicine is deeply rooted in studying the anatomy and physiology of the body in order to diagnose and treat illness. Biomedicine is widely accepted in the US because people believe in the authority of biomedicine. Everyone has been raised and educated to believe that biomedicine is universal and objective, but biomedicine, like all forms of medicine, is influenced and constructed socially and culturally. When anthropologists study biomedicine they consider three cultural influences that demonstrate how biomedicine is culturally constructed. These are the institutional history of biomedicine, the language of biomedical facts, and the rituals of biomedicine.
Personally, I think that dichotomy has stemmed from society’s need to categorize and separate various viewpoints. In society, this has become particularly accepted as a logical way of trying to label and organize controversial issues in biomedicine and healthcare because it makes difficult scenarios seem “simple”. Recently, I think the use of dichotomies has become more prominent and accepted as true and natural because technology has blurred the lines in previously distinct groups/issues. Personally, I think that dichotomy has both positives and negatives. It allows us to be comfortable in decision making, but I think it requires us to make decisions that are on one side of a categorization. With recent technological developments, it might be useful to consider some issues on a spectrum, rather than as dichotomous.
I chose to analyze the doctor/patient dichotomy because I find it interesting how it has become increasingly more dynamic as biomedicalization has become more prominent in Western society. This dichotomy has become more controversial as the general public/patients have been able to gain access to more medical knowledge. Historically, the doctor/patient relationship has been very one sided and very distinctly categorized – the doctor is educated and authoritative, and the patient is submissive and accepting. In recent years, it seems as though this dichotomy has been challenged as patients seek to not only be healthy, but also seek to be in control and to take advantage of new biotechnologies in order to be the best that they can possibly be. I think this dichotomy will continue to become more controversial as patients continue to want to have more access to medical knowledge and more say in their diagnosis and treatment.