Healthy/Sick

The “culture of biomedicine” can be described in similar terms as the “culture” I defined in previous reflections; the most important aspect in biomedicine’s definition as culture is its linkage with many indirect social influencers. This is to say that there is a give and take between the basic tenants of the biomed system (i.e. pharmaceuticals, physicians, and hospitals) and the people that operate within and are influenced by it, such as the patients or the Western society as a whole. This is probably best illustrated in example. Consider that the authority of biomedicine supposedly comes from its scientific objectivity and universality. These principals influence those aforementioned members of the system (or culture) into certain ways of thinking, such as regarding hospitals as places of healing rather than senseless torture. These people in turn perpetuate the legitimacy of biomedicine. In these ways, biomedicine’s culture is seen in its dynamicity.

There are problems when one doesn’t recognize the subjectivity of principals defined by biomed culture. For example, the distinguishing of one as healthy or sick (a major part of a physician’s job description) is made fallaciously dichotomous when treatment options for illness are narrowed to only biomed-endorsed pharmaceuticals. A line of reasoning promoted by this paradigm is if a condition cannot be cured by medical intervention, it is the condition that is questioned rather than its medical treatment. We observe that more often than not, true health is attained when a mix of tools are employed by the individual in question—pharmaceuticals being one of which, but not the only one. I, like many others, am attracted by the notion that medicine holds the cure to all that ails us, and this can help explain why I often establish a firm line between sick and healthy. I think people like me are led to this conclusion by our trust of the message of many drug commercials. It’s a tough realization that, for instance, a close friend struggling with depression isn’t helped by anti-depressants or (medical) professional counseling. I think that by in large establishing a dichotomy between health and sickness is a form of self-protection: that the cures to our problems are merely a phone call and a trip to the doctor away.

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