Mind/Body

The “culture of biomedicine” has quite the wide range of interpretations. Many cultures in western societies give a great deal of authority to biomedicine because of its claims of universality and objectivity. Much of what biomedicine stresses have principles that fit western ideals and what make it such a cohesive medical approach in western societies, which is also most likely one of the reasons why biomedicine is also referred to as western medicine. The culture of biomedicine also encompasses the way in which biomedicine is given to consumers and how consumers view it. As we learned in the video lecture trends in postindustrial U.S. biomedicine post can be broken down into medicalization and biomedicalization. The medicalization of biomedicine concerns the control over our bodies and behaviors through medical interventions and the biomedicalization of biomedicine concerns the enhancement our bodies and behaviors through medical interventions. These trends affected the way people over time have viewed health and the body as well as the medical system. The “culture of biomedicine” is an important concept because it addresses the fact that biomedicine can be viewed from a cultural and anthropological standpoint, just as we read about in the article “Ritual in the Operating Room”.
Having grown up in a western society where biomedicine is the prominent form of healthcare originally many of my personal view on the mind body were based on the idea that the mind and body are often separated. Having taken an Anthropology course on Alternative Medicine and how other cultures view the mind and body have opened my eyes quite a bit and have made me realize that it’s not all about keeping the mind and the body as separate entities (such is the way biomedicine thinks of them). Many cultures take an holistic approach to mind/body health that treats the whole person just not the mind OR body.
The mind/body dichotomy is accepted as logical/natural/true because like I have mentioned before biomedicine prefers to dichotomize it as such. With biomedicine being the most widely accepted form of health care in western societies it is easy to understand why so many people accept it as true or logical.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Pamela Perez says:

    This dichotomy and the constant ‘fight’ between the significance of mind/body, is definitely an important aspect of society and in the medical field. I think that it is important for clinicians to understand this particular dichotomy because there is still so much we don’t understand about our mind and body, especially when trying to treat an illness looking at both aspects. Thinking of the mind and body as two separate entities has its benefits and its downfalls. When we think of them separately, we are able to treat one without having to affect the other, but at the same time the opposite could occur. Because we don’t fully understand how our mind functions is so many ways and the way that it is interlinked with our body, it is hard to treat any illness/sickness knowing what will occur in the aftermath. Treating the mind and body as one singular ‘thing’ more often the not helps the patient. For example, it isn’t about just amputating a leg because its causing the patient pain and suffering, but it’s about what will occur to the patients mental state when they realize the gravity of what has occurred to them and will hinder their life. If the majority of clinicians were to take this implication of the mind/body dichotomy, then there would be a large quantity of people coming out with certain illnesses and leaving in worse conditions without even knowing it. Now, I’m not saying that it is always beneficial to think of the mind and body as one thing rather than two, but it is incredibly helpful in my point of view. However, society has learned to cope and work around this by creating centers where there are doctors who, as you said, approach medical situations in a more ‘holistic’ approach. Not only this, but we’ve got osteopathic doctors who try to treat the entire body and not just the specific condition or problem.

  2. Amber Roberts says:

    The dichotomy between mind and body is definitely important for clinicians to understand. There is still so much that we do not fully understand about how the brain and the body are connected which makes it difficult to decide if the mind and body should be treated separately or together within one entity. In most family practices doctors are taught to directly treat the illness along with the associated symptoms but often they do not consider the implications such as affecting the patients emotional or mental state. They treat the mind and body as separate entities and they target their treatment to a specific organ. However, the osteopathic approach looks at the mind and body differently, and sees them interconnected. Osteopathic doctors aim to treat more than the specific illness, but instead to treat the body as a whole. Our thoughts and feelings about an illness can have a huge effect on our treatment and recovery process. If an individual is feeling down and feels that their recovery is hopeless then they will likely have a more miserable and long lasting recovery process than if they had an optimistic attitude about the situation. This osteopathic approach aims to treat all aspects of the illness in order to provide a more ‘holistic’ healing.

    If clinicians were to take this dichotomy as fact I think that the quality of healthcare would go down. It’s important for clinicians to understand that the mind and body work together and that affecting one also affects the other. Having an illness is sure to affect our mental and/or emotional state and it’s important for doctors to realize how the illness affects the patient as a whole person, not just a targeted organ.

  3. Natasha Mehta says:

    The dichotomy of mind and body is extremely interesting with regard to how it is applied in the medical field. I think now more than ever clinicians and healthcare professionals are realizing how intertwined they are. In the past, in many societies, doctors did not put emphasis on having a healthy mind. They would treat pathological diseases of the body, but mental health was extremely misunderstood and people who had mental problems were very stigmatized in our society. However, I believe our society is heading in the right direction these days. Campaigns for mental healths that explain how important having a healthy mind is are becoming more and more common. Clinicians now know that even bodily diseases can become better if someone has a healthy mind. For example, there are countless stories about patients diagnosed with cancer, and the patients who remained positive and said that they were happier actually lived longer or even successfully got rid of the disease. This is a great example of how the mind controls the body. Of course this was always known, but until recent history, it wasn’t known that the mind can control the body to that extent. If clinicians took it literally that the body and mind are separate, they would have never come as far as they have.

  4. Taylor Smith says:

    I very much agree with Breanna’s post in that the mind and body are seen as two very different entities in biomedicine. In western culture, we accept this dichotomy to be true and logical mainly because that is what biomedicine is telling us, and due to its authority and acceptance in our society, we follow this belief. However, after learning more about health and healing from an anthropological stance, I think it is inaccurate and detrimental to view the mind and body separately. We have seen clear evidence that our minds have incredible healing power without any assistance from biomedicine. I think that doctors are missing out on incredible and effective methods if they view the mind and body as separate entities. It can also negatively effect the relationship between doctor and patient if a patient is very spiritual and believes in this healing power, but the doctor dismisses this belief and does not take into consideration the patients needs and opinions. I think that at times, biomedicine becomes too scientific, and we need to take a step back and take a more holistic approach. This can be beneficial in so many ways; it can reduce or eliminate the need for certain surgeries, procedures, and harsh medications, which will reduce the cost of treatment for patients that no longer have to have these expensive procedures. In the end, it will lead to a happier, healthier patient, which is the ultimate goal isn’t it?

  5. Mary Normand says:

    The dichotomy between mind and body is important in western medicine. In western culture, the mind and the body are treated separately. I feel that this hurts the treatment of the patient. In other cultures, healers look at the person as a whole, not just the mind or the body. Since the body can affect the mind, and the mind can affect the body, doctors should treat the whole patient instead of just treating the mind or the body. The dichotomy between mind and body is very ingrained in western medicine. Especially learning about things such as the shaman healers and clown doctors have taught me how helpful a healthy mind can be to creating a healthy body. I like that Breanna mentions alternative medicine because alternative medicine puts much more emphasis on the entire person as opposed to just parts of the person. If patients are healthy in their mind, they can heal faster and live longer. Doctors should keep this in mind when treating patients or it can have negative effects on patients. Biomedicine is so strong in our culture that we often don’t even think of the separation between mind and body. If clinicians begin treating the person as a whole person instead of just treating parts of a person, patients will be able to heal quicker and live longer.

  6. Mary Normand says:

    The dichotomy between mind and body is important in western medicine. In western culture, the mind and the body are treated separately. I feel that this hurts the treatment of the patient. In other cultures, healers look at the person as a whole, not just the mind or the body. Since the body can affect the mind, and the mind can affect the body, doctors should treat the whole patient instead of just treating the mind or the body. The dichotomy between mind and body is very ingrained in western medicine. Especially learning about things such as the shaman healers and clown doctors have taught me how helpful a healthy mind can be to creating a healthy body. I like that Breanna mentions alternative medicine because alternative medicine puts much more emphasis on the entire person as opposed to just parts of the person. If patients are healthy in their mind, they can heal faster and live longer. Doctors should keep this in mind when treating patients or it can have negative effects on patients. Biomedicine is so strong in our culture that we often don’t even think of the separation between mind and body. If clinicians begin treating the person as a whole person instead of just treating parts of a person, patients will be able to heal quicker and live longer.

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