Over the summer, I worked in a skilled memory care facility as a caregiver. In my life so far, that is where I have felt most prominently the power struggles mentioned by Benjamin in Bonds of Love. However, the experience was confusing to me in that I, as a caretaker, had power over the residents as my job was to take care of them and was tasked with controlling many parts of their lives, while they also had power over me as I was their caregiver. I’m still not quite sure if I was the subject or object in this situation, but I am certain that achieving mutual recognition in any place related to medicine would be extremely difficult.
Having a clear hierarchy of power is something that can be found in almost every medical workplace, and often helps facilitate effective and efficient patient care, which should be the ultimate goal of any medical institution. However, I feel this system also has many drawbacks in that the patients are stripped of their personhood and viewed solely as patients, which is a dehumanizing experience to anyone.
Personally, I believe that mutual recognition in a hospital setting would require recognition of patients as humans and not just a chart or list of ailments. In turn, patients would need to recognize their doctors’ humanity, which arguably is more difficult than the former, as hospitals are scary places to begin with, and acknowledging doctors not as doctors but as humans (who can sometimes make mistakes) would only add to that fear. Is a binary balance of power a necessary evil in the field of medicine, or would mutual recognition help alleviate the fear so often associated with hospitals?