W3: Are we thinking about it all wrong?

I found this weeks videos and readings very interesting, especially when talking about how biomedicine can affect the environment. The first lecture talked about how western biomedicine separates the body and the mind, while most other medicines treat them together as integrated systems (Gabriel, 3.1). I have never thought about western medicine in this way, but now I can relate this practice to the way I have been treated by doctors. When I first went to see a doctor about my anxiety they always related it back to biomedical reasons. They tested my thyroid every time I came in, asked if I had enough vitamin D, and only asked about my past medical problems. Yes, it would be great if it was a thyroid problem that could be easily fixed, but it lead to great frustration because they made me believe that there was nothing wrong with me. They never asked about my transition to college, or my relationships with others, which in return made me believe I was making it all up because my blood results were coming back fine. I appreciated learning about other medicines such as the Chinese that believe the whole body is connected (Gabriel, 3.1). I think linking ones religion and culture to their healing is very beneficial. Every patient is unique, so I do not believe that there is one way to treat Dr. Frank Lipman focuses on fixing the flaws of Western Medicine and believes one of the biggest problems to be that, “Everyone with the same disease gets treated the same way, patient uniqueness ignored…We treat the disease, not the patient” (Lipman). Some people may just have a cold and need biomedicine, but others may be suffering in other ways that a simple drug cannot help with.

Another part of the lecture that intrigued me was how when in Western medicine we ask, “does it work?” we are referring to the facts based on clinical trials (Gabriel, 3.2). In other cultures, they consider the bigger picture and how it works with family life, the environment and the rest of the community (Gabriel, 3.2). At my internship this summer, I am doing a lot of research on sustainability in packaging and the effect of plastic waste on our environment. Because of this, I found the story about how chemotherapy is poison and could in ways be contaminating our water very interesting (Gabriel, 3.2). I think in America we live with this mantra of always advancing to a better and faster solution, that sometimes we don’t consider the consequences. I read all these articles about how no amount of recycling will reverse climate change, and that even if we focus on waste decrease, then we are hurting out water conservation. There is no way to truly win because we overlooked the long-term consequences. Just like with clinical trials and chemotherapy. I completely understand that these things do work for some people and are amazing advances and treatments, but sometimes I wonder if we are looking at it all wrong.

Lipman, Frank. “What Are the Biggest Problems You See with the Way Medicine Is Practiced Today?” Dr Frank Lipman. 2010. Accessed July 22, 2016. http://www.drfranklipman.com/what-are-the-biggest-problems-you-see-with-the-way-medicine-is-practiced-today/.

2 thoughts on “W3: Are we thinking about it all wrong?

  1. I really enjoyed the quote at the end of the first paragraph that spoke about the treatment of a disease rather than a patient. Something I’ve come to realize this week is that in medicine today there needs to be a great emphasis on “the why” rather than on simply treating a disease. Westernize medicine rarely incorporates other forms of medicine in treatment. The dualistic view we have taken on medicine may be doing more harm than good. Here we are accustom to jumping straight to medications and costly procedures when there may be a simpler explanation.
    The lectures where we learned about “does it work” also intrigued me. I had not considered any other way to view that question other than is treatment reducing illness severity. When you consider the environmental impact biomedicine has had, it would be easy to say no it’s not working. If you look at that statement and remember the story of how in Russia they were trying to prevent the spread of H1N1 by not allowing siblings into the delivery room, did that help to prevent the spread of the flu? Yes but at what cost? When you consider the social and emotional impact, then no it did not work.

  2. I found your response to be very well written, Emma! Great job. Focusing on your experience being treated for anxiety, I think mental illnesses are different than other illnesses when it comes to the way we treat them in western cultures. This somewhat relates to week two’s focus. When you made reference to Lipman,”everyone with the same disease gets treated the same,” has its flaws. A 40-year-old married woman has a completely different life style and set of stressors that will affect her anxiety than you, a college student just starting out on your own. How and who can come up with a treatment plan for both of you? I am pursing a career in nursing and find this topic to be very relevant. I will be working with so many people from all walks of life; I am optimistic about my ability to help. Learning about the challenges in health care now will only help me become a better nurse.
    Your internship sounds very interesting! It makes me wonder, are there people out there that bridge the gap between medical personnel and environmental researchers? Often times careers are kept separate, but as your internship suggests it would be beneficial to have communication across the two domains.

Leave a Reply