• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11
  12. 12
    12
  13. 13
    13
  14. 14
    14
  15. 15
    15
  16. 16
    16

A Critical Appraisal of the Concept of Medicalization for Understanding Dementia.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

A Critical Appraisal of the Concept of Medicalization for Understanding Dementia The aim of this paper is to critically appraise the use of the concept of medicalization, as used by sociologists to examine dementia. It will examine medicalization and dementia and the association between the two. Three papers that have used medicalization to understand and explain dementia will be examined. The papers will be critically appraised on the strengths and limitations of the author's application of the concept. The study will use the arguments raised in the three papers to conclude whether the concept of medicalization can be used to understand dementia. Sociologists have been concerned with medicalization for over three decades. The earliest mention focused on the medicalization of deviance (Pitts 1968). However, sociologists soon saw the concept's applicability to a wide range of human problems that had entered into medical jurisdiction (Friedson 1970; Zola 1972; Illich 1976). Medicalization simply describes a process by which non-medical problems become defined and treated as medical problems, usually in terms of illnesses or disorders. Although the literal meaning of the phrase is 'to make medical', it has most frequently been used in the context of a critique of medicalization. While sociologists have mostly concurred that medicalization refers to the process of problems entering the medical jurisdiction, they have offered different definitions. Friedson (1970) emphasised the jurisdictional mandate the medical profession has over anything that has been labelled an illness, regardless of its ability to deal with it effectively. Zola (1972: 495) defined medicalization as a "process whereby more and more areas of everyday life had come under medical supervision." He also drew attention to the fact that medicine operates as a powerful institution of social control. Conrad (1975) stated that medicalization consists of defining behaviour as a medical problem and mandating the medical profession to provide some treatment for it. Illich (1976) termed medicalization 'social iatrogenesis' and said that it resulted from medical imperialism; he expressed particular concern at the increasing 'medicalization of life.' ...read more.

Middle

The second paper is by John Bond (1992) and is simply entitled 'The medicalization of dementia.' The stated aim of the paper is to describe the contribution of medicine to the social construction of dementia and to look at the impact of the medicalization of dementia on people with the condition and their informal caregivers. He states that dementia is a disease category that has been used by psychiatrists to describe a variety of clinical conditions that appear to result in a loss of intellectual power. He adds that dementia is not a single entity but is applied by the medical profession to a number of conditions including Alzheimer's disease, Multi-Infarct dementia, Creutzfeld-Jacob disease, Pick's disease, Neurosyphilis, Korakoff's psychosis, Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. Bond applies the concept of medicalization to explain why the biomedical model in the study of dementia is so dominant. He provides a definition of medicalization: it means defining behaviour as a medical problem and mandating the medical profession to provide some form of treatment for it. He references Friedson, Zola, Conrad and Illich, all contributors to the medicalization debate. His definition of medicalization is almost identical to Conrad's definition in the latter's seminal paper on the discovery of hyperkinesis (1975). This is not a coincidence as Bond applies the concept of medicalization by linking dementia to deviance, a topic well covered by Conrad. Bond states that the loss of intellectual power in dementia is perceived by professionals and lay people as being problematic because it leads to difficulties in remembering, making decisions, thinking through complex ideas, carrying out practical tasks, retaining information and acquiring new skills. He adds that behaviour which has been defined as a problem is deviant behaviour. This allows him to link dementia with deviance. Bond's central argument is that social processes are excluded from the biomedical model, which is therefore incomplete as an explanation of dementia. ...read more.

Conclusion

It can be seen from these papers that medicalization is a useful concept for understanding dementia. Through studying medicalization, we come to understand the social processes involved in the cultural production of medical categories such as dementia and the extension of medical control over the disease. It helps us also to understand the ever-increasing demands for more healthcare provision (Armstrong 2000). However, the concept of medicalization has limitations in its examination of dementia. It focuses its critique on the weakness of the biomedical model, which is very strong in some types of dementia, for example Neurosyphilis. The medicalization thesis also perhaps focuses too much on the medical profession - one of the greatest recent drives to medicalization of dementia has been the pharmaceutical industry which has developed new drugs to treat it. In addition, the medicalization thesis is guilty of neglecting some of the changes that have been occurring in the relationship between medicine and the lay public in recent times. Williams and Calnan (1996) state that most medicalization studies view the general public as largely passive or uncritical of medicine's expansion and this is largely true of the papers above. They point out that lay perspectives on medicine have become much more critical in recent years. Lupton (1997) notes that our post-modern society is characterised by people's increasing disillusionment with scientific medicine. The media has, in particular, played a de-mystifying role in relation to modern medicine. There is also a paradox within the medicalization thesis. While it suggests that the wider social context of illness such as dementia must be taken into account by health professionals, if they do take them into account they are then accused of medicalizing more aspects of social life (Doyal & Pennel, 1979). Thus, a more humane medicine may, at the same time, be one that involves more extensive social regulation. Lastly, Strong (1979) has suggested that sociologists, in drawing attention to the expansionist tendencies of modern medicine and hyping alternative social models of health and illness, may be just as guilty as their medical counterparts of empire building. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

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

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 University Degree Social Psychology essays

  1. Life coaching course essay. I present in this essay an understanding of what motivation ...

    Once a person begins to live in alignment with their values and being true to themselves, then they can feel the contentment and happiness that life can bring. It allows our clients to move away from the struggle and feeling of being stuck and in conflict with themselves that occurs

  2. Evaluate the contribution of the social perspective to our understanding of language and meaning ...

    Another important point is that discourses are chosen to construct an own reality with the aim to support needs or interests. This understanding of language and the process of meaning-making is unique in psychology. It can be understood as complementary with other perspectives such as the cognitive and the evolutionary approach.

  1. Literature Review - How exactly do couples that have arranged marriages get to meet ...

    Although arranged marriages vary widely by region and community across the Indian subcontinent, they usually begin with a realization in the family that a child is old enough to marry. This can occur when a parent or an older relative (usually the mother or another trusted female relative, such as an aunt or an elder sister or sister-in-law)

  2. Antonio Machado's vision of Spain as shown in Campos de Castilla.

    This man is not a man who bears up to suffering nobly, but a human who reacts against suffering with violence and in 'vicios'. By representing his characters in this way Machado shows himself as a realist poet who writes about human nature, in which there is, embedded deeply both good and bad.

  1. Explain the importance of team building, the stages in the development of team cohesion ...

    Competitive conflict is common among teams and arises when a team member feels so strongly about their own perspective that they try to influence the other members to see things the same way. This is also a suitable reaction if a team member feels that the decision being made is impractical.

  2. Stigma Theories, Explain the exclusion of stigmatised Person’s from normal social interaction

    This could lead to further primary deviant acts that will be met with stronger penalties and societal rejections. These could lead the individual to feelings of strong resentment and hostilities. Once the tolerance level of the reactors is met, formal action may be taken in the form of criminal charges.

  1. Evaluate the contribution of the social perspective to our understanding of language and meaning ...

    153) proposed in the Gender Schema Theory (GST) that femininity and masculinity are socially and culturally constructed dimensions absorbed by individuals to produce an understanding of gender to make sense of themselves and their behaviour. Social constructionists however, argue that gender is not a set of characteristics or properties acquired by an individual but rather that gender identity

  2. What is Normal? What is Abnormal?

    Within this society that we live, many 'normal' people are without food and shelter, so it would make it very hard for them to be able to self-actualise. So, although Jahoda's theory is helpful in parts, it cannot be used solely in deciding what is normal or abnormal.

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