General Question

nikipedia's avatar

What should the point of medicine be?

Asked by nikipedia (27526points) April 26th, 2008

Is the point of medicine to make us live as long as possible or as well as possible? Do we want to prolong our lives to 120? 200? 1000?

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7 Answers

paulc's avatar

I think that the idea is to live as well as possible which means as little suffering as possible. Longevity is actually a bit of a side-effect of living well. However, there are people in the medical world who are very much involved in prolonging people’s life expectancies. Just making people live longer without giving them a good life to live would obviously be counterproductive so I think the whole point is to avoid suffering no matter the length of one’s life.

gailcalled's avatar

My mother, at 93+, is doing too well physically but has senile dementia (severe short-term memory loss). She is withdrawn and befuddled and tells us that she is ready to die…just go to sleep and not wake up. No suffering but no pleasure either…forgets to eat often, hates going out or socializing due to severe hearing problems, but the old ticker keeps on ticking.

We had to reteach her how to use washer and dryer and it took lots of time and patience. And she still looks like a million bucks. So we take it day-by-day.

steelmarket's avatar

As long as we have bodies of flesh (maybe even beyond) there will be trade-offs between longetivity and quality of life. Each person needs to think through this issue and decide for themselves where the balance lies. And, the best time to do that thinking is before the balance point arrives, otherwise your options may not be your own anymore. I think that @gailcalled understands what I am saying…

susanc's avatar

My beautiful grandmother Rosa lived past her friends and got very lonely. I think about
this. We need people in our lives who remember the same stories we remember.
When I get twenty years older, if I still feel this way, I’ll have my kids apply the overdose.

judochop's avatar

The point of medicine in my opinion is to mask what is really happening to you. I am a huge believer in Eastern Medicine and natural steps towards correcting or learning to live with the problem.
Drug companies make so much money now that they buy their way in to the doctor’s pockets.
Check out how many people are on anti-depressents now vs. the 80’s when times were harder than today.

susanc's avatar

But my antidepressant keeps me steady in a tough time. I know I shouldn’t
need it but ow, ow, ow. Without it I spend too much time crying.

Hobbes's avatar

Why is it necessarily either-or? Will a longer life be less happy? Can medical research not focus on both life-extension and life-improvement?

Though, if I had to choose, I think a reduced quality of life is better than no life at all.

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