Life/Death

Biomedicine is one form of medicine that is most commonly found being practiced in western societies. The culture surrounding biomedicine is based on the fact that biomedicine is based on truths and facts. Biomedicine is said to be universal and objective. When anthropologists look at biomedicine they evaluate it in three different sectors; the institutional history of biomedicine, the language of biomedicine, and the rituals of biomedicine. They evaluate how facts have changed pertaining to biomedicine and how power is established in the institutional history sector. How social values are accepted as natural or scientific facts are studied in the language of biomedical facts. Lastly, in the rituals of biomedicine anthropologists investigate patients and healthcare workers and how they interact with biomedicine. The culture of biomedicine is an important concept because biomedicine is the accepted form of practiced medicine in our own society. We have to understand all aspects surrounding biomedicine including the culture to fully be able to practice and accept the ways.

My own personal view on dichotomy is that it is a way of looking or evaluating two different things that are opposites, or opposite groups.   I think that dichotomy came from just evaluating aspects of life that are very controversial. It could have also came from separating paths or ways of living.

This week I chose to evaluate the dichotomy of life/death. The reasoning behind this is because this is a very controversial issue. Just like it was noted in the lecture, defining when a person has completely passed is a very difficult task. Is it when they are brain dead? Is it when their heart is no longer beating? These questions also arise not only pertaining to a medical standpoint, but also defined by law and humanity.  The dichotomy between life and death is logical and natural. It is the question that has been evaluated throughout history.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kelly Delorme says:

    I agree with you when you say that the dichotomy of life/death is very controversial. It is so hard to distinctly categorize “life” and “death”. I think it is important for clinicians to understand the life/death dichotomy because most people are not going to agree on one categorization. If clinicians accept their viewpoint, or their institution’s viewpoint, as fact, they risk disrespecting a patient’s ideals, morals, and beliefs on life and death. This is particularly controversial when it comes to technological advances in healthcare, because it has blurred the lines of life and death. Now we have to decide whether or death occurs when you are brain dead, no longer breathing, or when your heart stops beating. Obviously, not everyone will agree on one of those options. This becomes even more controversial when considering culture, because many people have cultural beliefs about life and death that vary from the biomedical viewpoint. I think it is important for clinicians to have well informed beliefs, but it is also important them to factor in the patients beliefs, whether or not they are synonymous with their personal beliefs. It is the responsibility of the clinician to explain the situation from a medical standpoint, but ultimately, decisions come down to the patient and their family, and it doesn’t matter whether or not their decision is based in biomedical, cultural, or spiritual beliefs. When clinicians disrespect or violate a patient’s medical choices, whether they be based in biomedical cultural beliefs or other cultural beliefs, there could be severe accusations that could result in malpractice lawsuits or another negative consequence.

  2. Alisyn Korpela says:

    This is a very complicated topic and dichotomy. The difference between life and death can be determined in many different ways, in many different circumstances. Life and death is not black and white for everyone. A good example of this is the argument between pro-life and pro-choice. The understanding of such a dichotomy in the right context is very important, for clinicians in particular. In order for the clinician to treat a patient appropriately, it is crucial that they are aware of the patient and his or her family’s understanding of the dichotomy. For example, if the patient is relying on a respirator to continue living, the clinician must be on the same page with the family in order to treat the patient successfully. If not, the clinician may have a different view on the dichotomy and could potentially go against the family’s wishes. This scenario could result in a very unfortunate series of events including suffering and legal fees. The definition of life is defined in many ways involving influences from culture, politics, and the legal system. Not everyone lives under the same legal system or lives within the same cultural context. Therefore, not everyone is influenced in the same way when determining one’s individual beliefs towards the various dichotomies of biomedicine.

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