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Biomedical Approach To Disease And Medicalisation.

1771 words - 7 pages

Sociologists define health as being the ability of a person to function normally and to perform normal duties in a regular manner on a daily basis (Browne, 1998). The healthy individual feels well. Illness, also called sickness, is a term applied to a person who does not feel well. Disease is attributed to causing sickness in an individual. It is possible to have a disease and feel well and it is possible to feel ill and not have a disease. Disease is usually attributed to a biological factor that is normally medically diagnosed (Browne, 1998). The medical diagnosis relies on the biological medical (biomedical) approach to disease that consists of the germ theory, the medical gaze and the medical specialist (Giddens, 2001).Germ theory is the explanation for the cause of disease that was developed by doctors, utilising scientific means of investigation. Germ theory is based on the existence of antigens and their effect on the human immune system. The germ theory views all disease as having an identifiable biological cause that is believed by Doctor's to produce the effect of illness in the human body (Browne, 1998, Cook, 1997, Giddens, 2001, Short, Sharman & Speedy, 1998). The cause of disease under the germ theory model must first be identified by the doctor, then separated from other body parts or systems and then finally treated in its smallest form (Giddens, 2001).The medical gaze is the process in which Doctors engaged in the treatment of an ill person become focused exclusively on that sick individuals body and ignore their mind (Giddens, 2001, McLennan, Ryan & Spoonley, 2000, Short et al, 1998). The medical gaze appears to give doctors a form of knowledge and power as they are perceived by people within society as being the only authorities allowed to treat sickness (Brown, 1998, Giddens, 2001). Society is made up of interacting human beings, that communicate with the same language and who obey the same rules of behaviour (Short et al, 1998).Sociologists have observed that the medical gaze has been used by doctors to clinically regulate the behavior of individuals within society through the control of sickness (Giddens, 2001, McLennan et al, 2000). The doctor, under the biomedical approach, is the health professional with the authority to label an individual as being sick. This authority helps to position the doctor as the gatekeeper, or controller of sickness within society and also creates a system under which the doctor must first be convinced of the existence of disease in an individual before that individual is able to withdraw from everyday normal routines (Browne, 1998, Conrad, 2001, Giddens, 2001).The biomedical approach allows individual's who believe that they are sick to adopt the sick role (Conrad, 2001, Giddens, 2001, McLennan et al, 2000). A role is the expected behaviour of a person, according to their status within society (Short et al, 1998). The sick role is the fixed behavior that is expected of a sick individual...

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