This week we discussed what biomedicine was and some of the issues associated with the use of biomedicine. Biomedicine explains health in terms of biology. In other words, it uses scientific explanations for all things medical. It is used to treat disease and maintain health but it has a couple claims that aren’t necessarily true. First biomedicine claims that its an universal form of treatment, and secondly, that its independent from cultural context or human influence. These claims are not 100% true because culture has a huge impact on health, illness, and healing. Not all people are the same, and therefore treatment and cause of illness may vary. Therefore, in addition to the biological functions that are deemed necessary for healing, cultural aspects are also important and may be required for a person to completely heal. Its important that people realize the biomedicine is indeed culturally constructed and will change over time as the world and its contents change. Many changes and advancements made through biomedicine are a reflection of Western medicine, and do not account for those will varying cultures.
My opinion about dichotomies are that they are created to address differences between two things, but as the same time, I feel that they disregard many other factors including cultural factors, that actually blur the definition of those subjects making the difference less apparent. I think they came from social stigmas, or were deemed “normal” behaviors because this the way most people did it, because they learned from one another. For this example, I chose to discuss further the dichotomy life and death. By dictionary definition or from a biological/biomedical standpoint, people may be able to differentiate life and death, but due to personal beliefs or cultural differences, that fine line between life and death becomes more important. I feel this dichotomy is accepted as logical/natural/true in western society because the most common form of life and death, the literal and over-generalized form of birth and burial, are common and often celebrated events. They are thought as the timeline of life and are natural events. It is assumed that everyone should be born into this world and taken out in the same way. Western society does a good job of hiding the other conditions of life and death and anything outside the “norm” is considered taboo and often cause political and social outburst. I remember last year there was a story about a young girl in California who has a tonsillectomy, and ended up in a coma. The doctors declared her “brain dead” so insisted that her family allow her to peacefully pass away. Her family did not believe this to be true based off their own perspectives. They fought for the right to keep this young girl alive long enough to prove that she wasn’t dead. There was conflict, law suits, and differences in opinion. The question is, who is right? Who has the right to make that call? The doctor because they are educated in the medical and science field and due to the biomedical culture that would declare this young girl dead? Or would the parents be correct because they felt in their hearts there were signs of life and that she didn’t deserve to be let go of yet? I think this is where that fine line between life and death and the issues of biomedicine appear. As time went on, there were supposedly signs of life in the young girl and then the question of personal culture and their influence on healing come in handy and would have an important role in the decision making. I do not think that the aspects of biomedicine would be enough to make that type of decision.