Life/Death

There are three things discussed in the lecture when referring to the culture of biomedicine. The first is the history of the institution and how it changes over time. The second is the language of biomedicine and this deals with ideologies. The third is rituals of biomedicine and looks at the daily activities of people involved in medicine. Cultural studies of biomedicine are very important. It allows us to look at biomedicine in many different ways rather than one definite way. It shows us that there are multiple factors involved in defining culture of biomedicine and that they all need to be taken into consideration. It varies from culture to culture so it is important that we keep that in mind and analyze each society and understand that they are all unique.

I believe that dichotomies are a way for us to try and conceptualize certain things that are vague or uncertain to us. I believe that as humans, we try to simplify things as much as possible and dichotomies allow us to do so. We are always looking for answers to questions that are sometimes far too complex to try and find a definite answer for, but dichotomies get us close as possible to that answer. Life/death dichotomy is one I find very interesting, yet hard to distinguish. My aunt was recently placed on a feeding tube and ventilator and the discussion of whether she was considered alive or not came up multiple times. Some family members believe she is still alive and functioning while others believe she is considered not living any longer. There is a lot of grey area in the controversy between life and death and I believe a lot of it is personal opinion. I believe this dichotomy is accepted because it gives us an easier understanding of life vs. death. It helps us cope with difficult situations in a simpler manner.

Karim, Taz. “Lecture 5.1 Culture of Biomedicine.” ANP 204 Course Website. East Lansing, MI, July 30, 2014. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us14/schedule/week-5-lecture-1/

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  1. Francesca Rogers says:

    Between every dichotomy there can be controversies. As you stated, there are people who believe one thing and others who believe another. This can create a gray area where it should be black and white. An example of this is determining whether someone is dead or alive when they are on a respirator, but is brain dead or when a baby is actually considered alive at different times in the womb.

    I find it important for clinicians to understand all areas (black, white, gray) because someone may be uninformed about this life/death dichotomy and they may have to explain medical aspects to the family or patient. Many clinicians have their own perspectives, as well as the families, but it is smart they be aware of what is said so the patients or family members do not feel infringed upon.

    If a medical professional takes this dichotomy for fact they are being parochial. They need to realize that not everyone thinks the same way and different individuals with dissimilar backgrounds have their own views on the life/death dichotomy. Families are allowed to believe in what they want which is who is in charge in the end. A clinician must consider every perspective from every direction.

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