The culture of biomedicine is described as the western philosophy of looking at healing as a scientific process. Physicians and nurses in our hospitals are part of this cultural system. Biomedicine is the process of looking at the human body through anatomical and physiological scopes, treating the mind and body as two separate entities. In the western world, we observe medicine as a scientific process. In class, we have study various other medical practices where human body and mind are more than just scientific anomalies, but also connected to a soul. Other cultures look at the mind, body, and soul as one big picture. To treat one you must also take the others into account.

Dichotomies in biomedicine help create standard divisions that allow us to simplify differences and processes that may be a bit arbitrary or difficult to understand. An example is male vs female as two genders in western philosophy. Other cultures have more genders or fewer genders. For example, in India there are three categories of gender where individuals can legally identify themselves as transgender on government documents. The division of gender is western society is currently accepted as two groups, male and female. These groups are acceptable when studying biomedicine from an anatomical perspective. Yet these divisions fail to recognize growing societal trends such as differing sexual orientations, the role of a man and a women in a relationship, and much more. Traditional roles of sexuality tie greatly into this dichotomy and fail to address certain aspects of society that may not have been seen as a norm in the past. This includes individuals of transgender orientation. Do they identify as a man or women based on their physical appearance or based on what they believe themselves to be. I believe that these divisions will shift as western society becomes more open and acceptable to different sexual orientations and gender identifications, following the trends of many other cultures around the world.

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  1. Colleen Drabek says:

    I think it is important for clinicians to understand this dichotomy because it is very important for categorization of patients. When a baby is born, a gender is written on the birth certificate. This, believe it or not, technically outlines how the newborn will live (or be expected to live) the rest of its life. I think that sex and gender are two different things. Sex is more of an anatomical term. Granted, hermaphrodites can offer some sense of ambiguity on anatomical features but sex itself is more easily definable. Gender on the other hand is more debatable. A lot of people, despite their anatomical appearance might view themselves as being from a different gender. Whereas sex might be more important in the operating room, gender is more important in the recovery process and when communicating with the person. A person’s actions usually differ due to what gender they associate with and this is important to understand in order to be a good clinician.
    If clinicians take this dichotomy for fact they could be missing out on an opportunity to better treat a patient. Any good doctor knows that culture must be taken into account when treating a patient. Therefore, recognizing that gender is not clear-cut is also important to take into account. The patient will feel more comfortable and better relate to the clinician. This is an important relationship that needs to be established in order for treatment to be successful.

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