W5 Reflection: Mind/Body

Biomedicine emphasizes the importance in learning about body structure and function in order to treat diseases and maintain health. The “culture of biomedicine” represents how we in Western societies denote personal values and ideologies as facts of the natural world through biomedicine. For example, the acceptance of Germ Theory required alterations in personal ideologies about how disease develops in order to accept a new concept as nature.

The relationship between mind and body is a social construct. In our Western society what we believe the relationship between the mind and body to be is different from other cultures. In the United States, we often understand the mind and body as separate entities that act upon one another. For example, placebos can affect how we feel physically by altering how the mind interprets physical symptoms. I believe that we have this understanding because breaking down the relationship between the two concepts creates a more concrete understanding of how they work together.

For example, the mind is often depicted as powerful and uncontrollable in our culture due to so much of our mind being unconscious or unknown. The mind is often referred to as its own entity due to its complexity. Our body, however, is viewed as a system of tissues and organs that functions as a vessel. The body is complex but it is often overshadowed by the mind when it comes to how our society denotes greatness to each concept.

We can see how biomedicine is effected by our culture with the words we use to describe these concepts. The mind being “powerful” the body as a complex “vessel” for life; I used these terms to describe the relationship between mind and body because that is what my culture has taught me. Even though the mind and body unite to create a single person our cultural values about each concept creates the descriptive words and definitions for each. Even though medicine and science are considered fact it does not mean it is free from cultural influence.

2 thoughts on “W5 Reflection: Mind/Body

  1. Hello Samantha,

    I liked that you chose to analyze the dichotomy mind/body because I feel that the relationship between the mind and body is often overlooked in the field of medicine in Western culture due to biomedicalization. They generalize what the mind and body are, so I would agree with your statement that here in America we often keep mind and body as separate entities. I would like to think that they work together. In many cultures the mind and body are one, and when things happen to your body, the mind is consulted. This is why I think it is important for clinicians and other healthcare workers to understand this dichotomy, because they will treat many people, belonging to different cultures, and some may consider the connection between their body illness and their mind, to be an important one. Potential implications if they take it as fact would include eliminating treatment options based off what they feel is biologically possible. For example, in the unit where we learned about the impact of traditional healing on those who follow a shaman, we saw that healing did not really occur until they had spiritual and mental cleansing. If healthcare workers don’t allow such healing options based off their scientific learning, then it will outlaw some individuals opportunity to be treated appropriately. Also, if the mind and body are thought of as two separate functions, then issues that arise due the connection between the two systems, could possibly be overlooked. I liked that you used the placebo effect as an example. I actually think this is an great example of the power that the mind and body share as one.

  2. Hi Samantha,
    I really enjoyed your post, I felt like you brought up a lot of good points about the dichotomy of body versus mind. I concur that in the Western culture we make a strong distinction between the body and mind. Personally, I find it hard to view the body as anything but a machine that has a proper mode of function that works to sustain life. While this is something that we do here, the separation is not always the case in other cultures. I feel like the fact that some cultures feel they are heavily intertwined something that is very important for clinicians and care givers to keep in mind. Whether a doctor is in the United States trying to care for a patient of a different culture or the doctor is overseas in the patient’s home turf, it is important for the doctor to remember that they are not treating a person that makes a distinction between the body and mind. Considering the body and mind dichotomy to be fact globally would be detrimental to the physician’s efforts to provide health care to a person. I believe one of the greatest struggles in provided health care to individuals of all walks of life it that too often dichotomies, such as body versus mind, become so engraved in the care giver that they forget that the dichotomies are not fact. I do not believe this is neglect or intentional on the part of the doctor, but I think we all get so accustomed to our personal way of life and feelings that we forget to look outside the box.

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