What Part Does Reification Play In The Process Of Medical Consultation?

1503 words - 6 pages

To answer this question, it must be realised that there are several parts to it that need to be understood. There appears to be little or no literature available on the specific question, however, by understanding the term 'reification' and then applying it to the medical consultation and process, I will answer the question. In this essay I will clarify the essence of the meaning of the term 'reification', give a brief historical outline of the medical 'industry' and show how this all combines to play a major part in the medical process and consultation.If we accept that we are in a postmodern era, then the concept of the progression of civilisation can been seen in three stages leading to that. First there was the 'primitive world' which was primarily understood in terms of magic and superstition. Next came the 'pre-modern world' which was seen by religious belief and an all know God was the only authority of real knowledge. And thirdly was the modern world that was seen as scientific and rational, this was when science was the only source of empirical knowledge. And this is the period reification reared its head (Stainton Rogers, 1991: 1-29).Reification is central to Postmodernism and social constructionism, and is the process that turns concepts and ideas into solid things (Stainton Rogers, 1991:1-29). Reification treats ideas as though they have real, concrete existence and this in turn shows them as real and true objects of the world. They appear to be real because of the power of reification and an example of this comes from Wendy Stainton Rogers:"Just as the fisherman lures a trout onto his hook byConvincing it that some neatly tied feathers are a nice, juicy fly,so too does reification lure us into seeing ideas as real things-and we find it difficult to resist the illusion." (Rogers, 1991: 7)A final explanation comes from P.Sedgwick:"The fracture of a septuagenarian's femur has, with in theworld of nature, no more significance than the snapping of anautumn leaf from its twig: the invasion of a human organism bycholera germs carries with it no more the stamp of 'illness' thandoes the souring of milk by other forms of bacteria."(Sedgwick, 1982:30)It can be seen here that Sedgwick is saying is that perception plays a large part of reification. To use the last part of the example he is saying that if milk goes sour, it is our own concerns that tell us what is happening. If we need the milk for tea or coffee, then we see the milk as no good, however, if we wanted to make some yogurt, our perception would be totally different (Stainton Rogers, 1991:7)Before the 'bio-medical model' advent of illness and the understanding of disease, the doctor, local healer or witch would have used the history of the patient to try and help. This involved information about their lifestyles, morals and the environment in which they lived. The doctors serving the higher classes and the elite in the 17th and 18th centuries would have listened to the patient, in...

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