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"Describe and assess the effectiveness of the medical model"

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Introduction

"Describe and assess the effectiveness of the medical model" The medical model describes that: mental disorders are caused by abnormal physiological processes rather than psychological causes. The medical approach is very broad and focuses on the role of genetic, neurological and biochemical factors in the onset of mental disorders. For example, with genetics, the research into concordance rates has shown that if one of a monozygotic twin pair develops schizophrenia, there is a 50% chance that the other will also develop it. Anxiety disorders are explained by defects in the nervous system causing the person to be too easily aroused; depression is seen as a dysfunction in the neuronal transmission process. Other causes may include structural abnormalities of the brain or abnormal hormone levels. The approach practices reductionism; the view that complex phenomena (such as thoughts, feelings and emotions) can be completely understood and explained at a more basic level; as biological processes. This simplification has been criticised for being insufficient for truly understanding psychopathology "The crippling flaw of the medical model is that it...can make provision neither for the person as a whole nor for the data of a psychological or social nature" (Engel, 1980). ...read more.

Middle

There is one more type of treatment known as anti-bipolar drugs, such as lithium salts, which are used to treat manic-depressives. These seem to be the most effective with an 80%success rate. Another method of treatment used in the medical model is ECT; Electroconvulsive shock treatment. ECT involves passing an electrical current of between 65 and 140 volts through the patients brain. They believe this will change the chemical balance of the brain, thus curing the depression. There are a number of issues to consider when looking at how effective this is. On the up side the effects are immediate, which is particularly important in suicidal depression patients, however there is no evidence to show that it does actually save lives. It is very controversial as no-one appears to be sure of how it works or how extensive the side effects are. It is thought that it may work by destroying neurones responsible for emotion or affecting the balance of neurotransmitters. One side effect noted is amnesia, however it is claimed that this is only short term. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example: A concurrent physiological cause has not yet been found for schizophrenia yet drug treatments are often used to try to treat it. This is often criticised yet psychiatrists argue that there was no known physical cause for Parkinson's Disease when treatment began on that. This implies that a physiological cause, although not yet known may later be discovered and that if these drug treatments alleviate symptoms then there is no reason why they should not be used. The medical model overall, although mostly objective in its approach, does not seem to be very effective. The approach does not seem interested in prevention or cure, but is interested mostly in the acquisition of scientific knowledge about the nature of the disease. Treatments work short term, but unless treatment is sustained then the condition will often return. They do not seem to offer a 'cure' for the illness, rather just cause side effects which stop some of the symptoms. However as it only looks at the biological level, thoughts and other aspects will still be repressed and not treated. This may later lead to more serious mental illness. In conclusion, the medical model is good for immediate relief from symptoms but in order to offer a 'cure' it also needs to use therapy. ...read more.

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