Health Essay, Research Paper
“Compare and contrast two sociological perspectives on health”
I have chosen to compare the postmodern perspective on health and the biomedical model. The biomedical model view of the body is mechanistic. This point was argued by Engels, who said that the body was a machine and the breakdown of this machine was disease. he also beleived that the the doctor was the only one who could fix the machine. this point leads to many biomedical views. Firstly, it shows the way that doctors view the body as a set of individual parts, diagnose and treat them as such. This non-holistic view of the body is often criticised because it fails to cnsider the person as a whole and entire building. Secondly it shows the importance of the doctor in the biomedical model. Doctors have and maintain power in the biomedical model. They have all of the information and knowledge and therefore all the power. This can mean that the patient gives total control of their body to the doctor.This power ratio is explored by postmodernists who are interested in how one perspctive gains so much power and influence. Foucault (1963) said that the choice of words and phrases can effect the way people think. So doctors who have more influence and respect can gain power over their patients bodies’. This use of language to affect thinking is called discourse to postmodernists.
A study by peter bellamy (1990) of workers in a pottery factory and the way they took time off work. The study concluded that doctors used their status to medicalise problems such as morning sickness to allow the workers paid time off work. Although to the workers this may seem positive this medicalisation of problems that used to be seen as natural has been criticised. Anne Oakely in her study entitled Women, Medicine and Health (1993) found that child birth is one of the processes that has been turned from a natural process to a medical problem, for example the way women are encouraged to give birth in hospital. Illich (1990) even went as to say that themedical proffesion (including pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment suppliers) have a vested interest in illness so they create illnesses which have to be treated by doctors and drugs etc. this means conditions that used to be seen as natural, such as dying or unhappiness have now undergone a social iatrogenesis (doctor caused illness) whereby people cannot handle their own health anymore. postmodernists dislike this use of medical discourse because one theory has more prestige that it should be considered the truth.
Despite the fact that postmodernism is criticised as being one itself, it dislikes metanarritives. these are single theories such as marxism or science that claim to explain every thing. they do not beleive that science should have as much dominance over what people believe about their health as there are other options. Postmodernists beleive that people should use their theory of Pastiche (pick and mix) and that they should choose some parts from the biomedical view of health that work for them, and some from complementary medicine. This theory of a pastiche of healthcare is aided by the postmodernist theory of globalisation. This is a theory which states that because of the media the world has got smaller. now we in the western world can simply look on the internet to find out different types of healthcare from around the world, for example chinese medicine. this gives us more options and mean we dont have to stick with
what we are given, the biomedical model.
The biomedical model not only receives a lot of criticism from postmodernism but McEeown (1979) claims that in modern society, through industrialisation, the aim of medicine is wrong, and that the emphasis on technology is leading to an increase in Iatrogenic illness. Examples of this are adverse reactions to drugs or complications after surgery. Illich’s study previously mentioned backs up this idea. Other critics from different sociological perspectives have points of view on iatrogenesis. coming from a marxist perspective Navarro blames capitalism as apposed to industrialisation for the increase in doctor caused disease. He beleived that in the capitalist society profit is placed over people and this is true of health care.
a major problem with the biomedical model is the way that it fails to explain the cultural differences in health. it cannot account for people in different cultures who use a different model to deal with their health and yet it appears to work for them.
Both the theories give very different perspectives on health, postmodernists beleive that members of society should be able to choose their own methods of health care whereas the biomedical model beleives that science is the only option to make someone healthy.