• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Critically Discuss the Contribution of Different Sociological Approaches to Mental HealthMental illness is very much a common occurrence within society, with one in four people experiencing some

Extracts from this document...


Critically Discuss the Contribution of Different Sociological Approaches to Mental Health Mental illness is very much a common occurrence within society, with one in four people experiencing some kind of mental health problem, and one in six will have depression at some point in their life. Mental illness is a disturbance of thought, feelings or actions that do not conform to normal behaviour within a society, these disturbances or abnormal behaviour characterize the illness. According to the Mental Health Foundation, there are over eighty-three known mental health problems ranging from depression to schizophrenia. Mental illness is not the result of personal weakness or lack of character. It can affect people of any age, race, religion or income. The first approach to mental illness is that it is a form of social control. Some of the most famous sociologists of the anti-psychiatry groups are Szasz and Scheff (1968), whose arguments were strengthened by the work of Erving Goffman (1961). These sociologists worked together and criticised mental illness as being biochemical imbalances or that it was a product of social learning and conditioning, or even a product of unconscious psycho sexual developmental problems, arguing that the phenomenon was not ...read more.


It also fails to consider the powerful impact of a label. The second approach to mental illness is that it is constructed by society, maybe through the reactions that people have or stereo-type images that are seen every day through media and films or even something as simple as a label given to someone. Mental illness is socially constructed according to sociologist Thomas Scheff (1966) he argues that there is no such thing as mental illness; it is just bizarre behaviour that can not be explained through other means, such as drugs or alcohol. Goffman suggests that the process of becoming mentally ill is linked to the way that a person's presenting culture is stripped from them once they enter an asylum. Goffman believed that institutions for the mentally ill people were more likely to create than cure the problems. Once within the asylum the patients self image is taken away, they are then expected to conform by the asylum's rules, if they do not conform, then this person is seen as mentally ill and their self image is replaced with an institutionalised self concept. ...read more.


There are some positive points about this approach - by looking at the possible cause of a problem, it helps us to understand the social distribution of mental health, and it also develops a critical look at society so that we can maybe try to reduce mental illness. This approach does not go without criticisms because it fails to explain why upper class groups suffer; it only recognises the lower classes and ethnic minorities of society. Within this essay three approaches to mental illness have been covered, each trying to give a sociological explanation. The first two approaches do not except that there is such an illness, so then mental illness is explained through the process of labelling and social control each with its own theories as to why it happens. The third approach accepts mental illness is real and that it is not created by society or that it is a form of social control. As a real problem this approach looks at possible causes to mental illness, such as those being socially constructed through class and ethnicity. Whether mental illness is socially controlled, socially created or caused by society, it is a phenomenon that maybe all of the approaches contribute. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

3* This essays presents three approaches to defining mental illness and offers some considerations of their strengths as well as their limitations.

Marked by teacher Stephanie Duckworth 10/09/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The effect of the Level of Processing on the amount of information recalled

    4 star(s)

    It may be the more time and effort put into processing the word, that makes it more frequently recalled. There were a few anomalous results where structurally processed words were recalled more frequently than semantically processed words, this was against my hypothesis so deemed as anomalous.

  2. Criminals are born not made. Discuss.

    Once the behaviour is learned it may be reinforced or punished by its consequences. There are many social factors that can account for crime and many lie within the family. The size of the family is important; large families mean less attention for some family members and therefore produce negative behaviour.

  1. Whistleblowing, The Problems and the Issue.

    of social responsibility, which means that whistleblowing is not so useful as some people's thought. Perhaps there are few victories for whistleblowers, because there are some problems in the formal channels. However, many whistleblowers experience that the formal system does work after all (William De Maria & Cyrelle Jan, 1996).

  2. "Anti-Social Behaviour is caused by a person's family background"

    engaged or witnessed anti social behaviour, to see if economic family background has an influence on a person engaging in anti social behaviour. Social class can be difficult to determine but by respondents stating their parents' occupation I will then determine whether they would be categorised as working class or middle class.

  1. Psychological Theories Of Crime

    The neurotic - stableness is related to moodiness versus even-temperedness. Neuroticism refers to an individual's tendency to become upset or emotional, while stability refers to the tendency to remain emotionally constant. The third dimension of Eysenck's theory is known as pyschoticism.

  2. A) Describe the contribution of a biological perspective to our ...

    Biology doesn't explain why anti- depressants work for some people and not others. Treatment often involves dealing with biology and psychology through means of anti- depressants and therapy. Pleasure drugs such as alcohol, heroin and nicotine can also affect mood and behaviour.

  1. Describe and evaluate the idea that there is no such thing as a selfless ...

    between two related individuals and the influences it had on the decision to offer help and the level of help provided. Another form of pro-social behaviour, is the 'reciprocal altruism', which is said to be closely linked to that of kin selection, as many evolutionary psychologists believe that this form of altruism finds its roots here within (Campbell, 1998).

  2. Literature review - Research Papers into the psychology of athletes

    The athlete's gender was a variable in determining coping styles in response to sources of acute stress. The models showed that athletes who experienced acute stress used their respective coping styles consistently. In addition, gender helps show the relationship between source of acute stress and successive use of coping styles.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work