Mutual Recognition and Healthcare

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?

5 thoughts on “Mutual Recognition and Healthcare

  1. Shane C

    Taisei, I love your application of mutual recognition to your personal life. I feel like everyone should be able to recognize the power that they have in certain situations. This would make a more equal and empathetic society.



    Taisei, having also spent my summer working in a medical office I can relate to and have also seen the way many patients can be apprehensive about a medical setting. I think humanizing many parts of the medical process would be beneficial to both the provider and the patient as it would make both more understanding.


  3. Katie G.

    Taisei, I find your experience with mutual recognition to be very interesting, as it has reshaped my perception of the experience. Before reading your analysis, I assumed that the application of mutual recognition would be easier from the object side of the SUBJECT/object binary since they are the people that are being overlooked. However, I now see why you found it to be the other way around. I suppose it would actually be harder for the object to recognize the subject who has been oppressing them rather than the subject recognizing the object. I did not think enough about the respect piece of mutual recognition and the fact that it is very hard to find respect for somebody who has been treating you with a lack of respect (or even recognition).


  4. Jhaden J.

    This was a super interesting application Taisei, especially your highlights on specifically where you’ve seen this in your own life and how someone may go about applying Benjamin’s theory. The point you made about patients recognizing their doctors humanity really helps to expand perspective and I can think of specific examples where that reconition would’ve been important.


  5. Isaac K.

    This a very interesting story about mutual recognition. I found it fascinating that there was mutual power between the caretaker and caregiver. I had never thought that a caregiver or caretaker could both seen as the subject or the object.


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