Life/Death

As mentioned in this weeks lectures, Biomedicine is universal and objective. Since its studies revolve around factual evidence, physiology, and anatomy of the human body, it is always subject to change. In other words, as we continue to advance in technology and increase our knowledge of the science and the human body, biomedicine will progress as well. This is exactly what is meant by the “culture of biomedicine,” where the surrounding culture is the basis of biomedicine, and that biomedicine directly correlates with it. This is an extremely important concept seeing as how culture is such an immensely large influencing factor in all of our lives. It is inevitable to be affected by it, and it makes us the people we are today. However biomedicine also has an inversely large affect on culture as well. As mentioned in lecture, “sometimes its hard to see where culture ends and medicine begins.” For example, in the post war era, the use of mass media helped to incorporate new biomedical advances in medicine into the lives of people such as the use of penicillin or other newly produced medications. In this case, culture helped promote medicine, while medicine improved and advanced aspects of culture.

The dichotomy I chose to investigate was that of life/death simply because I think it is such a complex idea and one that is argued a lot in our society today. Pro life arguments, abortions, and DNR arguments are just a few of the many arguments that revolve around this particular dichotomy.  I believe these complementary yet opposing ideologies and terms came from people arguing ideas and presenting their own opinions of things. Yet again, I believe it is something that is highly influenced by culture and dependent on the ideals of that particular society.

In Western society in particular, the dichotomy of life and death is one that I believe is frequently argued and somewhat of a sensitive subject as well. For one thing life and death are both very natural things, and in Western society we do not particularly shy away from death, but rather accept it as an inevitable fate for all. Some cultures see death as fearful and it is almost a taboo subject to them. As for life, it is something that is celebrated no matter what the circumstances may be. Even if the pregnancy is out of wedlock, or perhaps a forbidden birth, the actual life of the child once it comes into this world is very rarely looked down upon and most always celebrated. Since our culture is accepting of both these ideals, then it is no surprise that the dichotomy of life and death is one that is natural and normal.

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  1. Emily Tassoni says:

    Life and death is probably one of the most important dichotomies a clinician must understand. It is very poorly understood and much debated when exactly life begins and when it ends. Most of the perspectives on life and death are dependent on culture, religion, and personal belief. For a clinician it is vital that they understand not just the general view on life and death but also their individual patient’s view on life and death. There are a great number of implications if clinicians chose only one definition of life and death. For example, if a doctor had a brain dead patient kept alive only by life support, they have a choice; continue treatment until the rest of the body dies, or take the patient off life support and let them die naturally. So when is the patient considered dead? Is it once the heart stops beating or is it when the brain death occurred? This choice is not the doctor’s it is the choice of the family or the patient’s living will. Some people believe that in order to cut costs and hardships on the family, once their mind is gone they opt to not receive any more treatments and to die as they will. Others want to be treated with everything the doctor’s got, to fight ‘til the very last breath. If the doctor doesn’t take these beliefs into consideration, it can cause emotional trauma for the patient or their family and often can result in a lawsuit. It is important to understand that life and death are not black and white, but various shades of grey depending on the perspective of the patient.

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