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Using the structural, historical and cultural dimensions of the sociological imagination, identify the critical issues that relate to how western medicine has responded to the challenge of alternative medicine.

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Introduction

SECTION C QUESTION 7: Using the structural, historical and cultural dimensions of the sociological imagination, identify the critical issues that relate to how western medicine has responded to the challenge of alternative medicine. In today's public health system, western medicine dominates over all other forms of medicine. Having said so, there has been a rise in the use of alternative medicines. In response to this challenge, western medicine is trying to fight off this challenge by excluding, subordinating, limiting and incorporating alternative medicine into mainstream medicine. Western medicines view on health is that of the biomedical model. Its biological in nature, therefore it reduces illness to a biological process. ...read more.

Middle

This shows how the two cultures contrast. Western medicines culture on health and illness is biological and follows strict scientific laws, whereas the culture of alternative medicine is holistic and involves the human being 'life force'. In the past health was closely linked to the religious sphere. The application of traditional remedies was often accompanied by religious interventions such as prayers and meditation. In those days, there was a holistic approach to treating patients which meant that mind and body were closely interlinked. Western medicine is a comparatively recent form of medicine, emerging only over the past three hundred years. Even though alternative medicine has been around much longer than this, it's only been since the 1970's that there has been a growing interest in the use of alternative medicine therapies. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even so, the simplification of acupuncture to analgesic needling allowed western medicine to reduce acupuncture to a mechanism that could be explained in terms of the pain-gate theory, thus subordinating alternative medicines. It can therefore be seen that there is a changing perception of health within the public towards a holistic approach to care, rather than just a curative approach. It's this changing perception to health and illness that has seen a recent rise in the use of alternative medicine. Western medicine has responded to this rise by excluding, limiting, subordinating and incorporating the use of alternative medicine into mainstream medicine into a narrower framework. Having said this, it appears as though the growing interest into alternative medicine will continue to rise, unless there are drastic changes in the culture of mainstream medicine. ...read more.

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