Through the Eyes of a Chinese Doctor – Feminist Theorization of the Bodymind

One of the most highly contested issues in feminist theory today is how to go about the theorization of the body. The debate is generally cast in terms of the distinction between essentialist and constructionist readings of the body. In an essentialist reading, the body is posited in naturalistic terms as having some sort of fixed, unchanging essence. Such a reading of the body is useful for feminists in advocating for and justifying political coalition among women. If “woman” is seen as being a natural kind, on the basis of some “natural” or “biological” essence, then it becomes easy to identify women, and easy also to argue why women should join together in political action to resist the oppression of women as a class.

One problem with such a reading is that defining “woman” in this essentialist way effectively masks (racial, ethnic, age, sexual preference…) differences among women. Another problem is that naturalistic readings of women’s biological make-up have often been used in justification of discriminatory practices, for instance when it is argued that women are “naturally” weaker than men, or “naturally” more nurturing than men, so that they “naturally” should be employed as caretakers rather than in positions requiring bodily strength.

In a constructionist reading of the body, on the other hand, women’s bodies are theorized as being the always-changing product of social practices. Such readings take different forms. A materialist constructionist analysis, for instance, would describe the body as resulting from the work it performs within feudal, capitalist, or socialist social relations. A poststructuralist reading would likely be more linguistic in orientation, focusing on how the body can be talked about only in terms of the meanings we assign to it, meanings dependent on our position within discursive fields. The problem with constructionist readings of the body, from a feminist perspective, is that theorizing the body as containing no fixed essence makes it difficult to decide on what basis one is to form political coalition. If “woman” is not defined biologically and essentially, but rather is seen as a constantly shifting category, on what basis are we to organize to oppose the oppression of “women” – or can we even talk about such a thing?

Recently there have been attempts by feminist theorists to come to some sort of middle ground on this issue, in the form of what has been called a “strategic essentialism.” Such a position often draws on Locke’s distinction between real and nominal essence. Feminists advocating a strategic essentialism reject the idea of any real essence defining “woman” as a natural kind, yet do employ nominal essence as an at least provisional ground from which to organize politically. They accept the necessity for having the linguistic category of “woman” as a way of talking about issues important to feminists, but try also to keep in mind the constantly shifting nature of the meaning of this linguistic sign as well as the constantly-shifting (physical and psychological) identities of the individual women whose lived experience is the referent of the sign “woman.” Despite this useful recognition of the necessary tension between essentialism and constructionism with respect to feminist political action, questions around experience and the body remain stumbling blocks.

I have argued elsewhere that the problem is much feminist theorizing about the body is its reliance on Cartesian theoretical frameworks – the discussion never gets out of the mind-body split. I have argued that feminists may be well served by Chinese or African philosophical systems, or – within the tradition of western philosophy – by pragmatists like James and Dewey or phenomenologists such as Merlue-Ponty – in other words, by theorists who are self-conscious in their attempts to theorize outside of the mind-body dualism. What I would like to do in this essay is to illustrate this point by presenting some principles of the philosophy underlying the practice of Chinese medicine, and talking about ways in which these principles may be read in ways useful for feminists attempting a theorization of the body which avoids the dangers both of essentialism and constructionism, as these have to date been defined.

The western post-Descartes spiritual/material dichotomy is not relevant to Chinese medical thought. Chinese medicine does not differentiate between matter and energy. Chinese medicine is synthetic, organismic, holistic. No bodily part is ever abstracted from the whole. Health is defined as balance (between Yin and Yang) – a qualitative rather than quantitative judgment. What in a western framework are labeled as “diseases” are in the Chinese framework seen as “patterns of disharmony” which describe imbalances in the body/mind/spirit of the patient. Yet “disease” and “patterns of disharmony” are not equivalents for, again, patterns of disharmony cannot, as diseases can, be isolated from the individual in which they occur. As such, Chinese medicine rarely looks further than the patient. Theory is necessary only to guide the physician’s perceptions – the “truth” of ideas lies in the way the physician can use them to treat real people with real complaints.

Chinese and western medical systems constitute two completely different medical perceptual systems – two completely different ways of seeing. While the western physician isolates affected body parts, and analyzes them in terms of theory abstracted from any particular individual, the Chinese physician looks at the whole patient. The “four examinations” in Chinese medicine are: (1) looking, (2) listening and smelling, (3) asking, and (4) touching. Again, the idea is to look at the whole patient, as a way of discerning a pattern of disharmony, a pattern unique to the particular patient.

Underlying this system of medical perception and practice are particular philosophical beliefs about the nature of cause, of knowledge, or truth. The Chinese are not interested in causality but rather in the relationships among bodily events occurring at the same time. As such, the practice of Chinese medicine has a very different temporal character than western medicine. Chinese medicine is more rooted in the present, in the here and now. The western preoccupation with causality necessitates a focus on past and future, in determining a sequence of events. And the abstractions of western medical (and philosophical) categories often seem to exist outside of time and space. They are posited as the view from nowhere and from everywhere, as transhistorical categories that can be uniformly applied to any time or place.

Personal Statement For Medical School – Showing Good Command of the English Language

The US medical schools are among the world’s best training grounds for those people who want to pursue a career in the field of medicine. Generally, med schools in the US offer advanced technology that would really aid students in adopting skills that would make them competitive medical professionals in the future. If you are a foreign student and you want to experience the best education US med schools can offer, you have better chances for admission if you can speak English fluently.

One of the most important requirements for your med school application is your admission essay. Your personal statement for med school is your chance to show to the admissions officers that you have what it takes to be in that specific school. Many admissions officers are interested in reading personal statements even from foreign students. If you’re from another country, you can better chances of grabbing the attention of these evaluators by conveying your message clearly. You state reasons for wanting to enroll to that school or in that course. With good command of the English language, your thoughts will flow more smoothly and would be understood better by the readers. Making your essay error-free is one way to score better with your admission essay. Below are some ways to make sure your essay is flawless.

Have a theme

To give your essay an excellent structure, you must have a theme. The theme would bind your topic into a unified whole. If you have a theme, it would be easy for you to think about what to include in and exclude from your personal statement for medical school. You can ask your friends, family, or professors to help you choose a good theme.

Make sure the ideas flow naturally

Among the secrets of a well-written personal statement are clarity and fineness of structure. A clear essay can be achieved with good choice of words. Make sure that your ideas are stated clearly. so they won’t create confusion in the minds of the readers. For a better quality structure, you have to use transitions to make your sentences run smoothly.

Edit and proofread several times

It would create a negative impression on the admissions evaluators if your essay has typographical errors. This would make them think that you are a careless person. This is why you really have to read and reread your work several times in order to see misspelled words, poor word choice, and other errors that are common in writing an essay.

Have someone read your essay

Before you submit your essay, have someone read it. You can ask your English teacher or your friends or family who have excellent training in English. Tell them to give you advice on how to improve your personal statement.

If you are a foreigner, a well-structured and flawless essay would surely be an advantage tp your application. This is why you have to work hard to make your essay as perfect as possible in terms of structure. You have to make sure that the content of your essay is excellent as well.