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Psychology Essays - Psychiatric Diagnosis

To what scope do the negative implications of the psychiatric analysis outweigh the benefits?

The idea that a examination of mental illness can be more damaging than beneficial is an idea which many might find unexpected. However if we study the introduction of sociological theories from the symbolic interactionist movements of the 1960s we can create an argument based on these theoretical insights as to how a diagnosis of being emotionally sick might be hazardous beyond the implications for possible treatment with which such a examination would bring. In this manner we consider what the most effective strategy of treatment should be.

Emerging from dissatisfaction with the structural functionalist's theories pulling on symbolic interactionists are considering analysing how the various relationships between people within communal situations are played out out (Rogers and Pilgrim, 2001). Within the works of Goffman this is portrayed as a drama with actors of sorts and his focus on stigma for example revealed how the rules of the overall game varied for people perceived as being different for some reason (Goffman, 1968a, 1968b). Thus in relation to mental health it is the possible societal reactions arising out of any analysis of mental health problems which is the essential element. The idea which developed out of the ideas hence became known as labelling theory and it became firmly from the anti-psychiatry activity of the late 1960s and 1970s (Cockerham, 1992).

At the heart of this theory are two principles related to deviance or mental disorder these being called main deviance and secondary deviance. Key deviance identifies those symptoms which do indeed have a basis and grounding in medical symptoms. These are the actual incidences of disease. Labelling theorists have some interesting what to say about this, in that specifically much of major deviance runs undiagnosed (Pilgrim and Rogers, 1999). The reasons for this is the result of those throughout the sufferer wanting to make sense of the individuals behaviour, rationalising it until a certain point is reached when it is impossible to dismiss the behaviour as aberrant nowadays. Indeed labelling theorists argued that it was not only members of the family or other people close to suffers who viewed this sort of behavior but also medical practitioners demonstrating a wide range and extensive set of either mis-diagnosis or non-diagnosis of mental illness (Yarrow et al, 1955).

However it's the realm of secondary deviance in which labelling theory gets the most interesting what to say which is here this article argues that the most dangerous areas of a medical diagnosis of mental health issues are available. For labelling theorists supplementary deviance refers to ways that other members of society, the psychiatric and medical profession and eventually the person who has been diagnosed function therefore of the group of mentally sick being applied to them (Pilgrim and Rogers, 2001).

Working out of this supposition then a range of factors are critical for labelling theorists and one of the main is how conformist a particular society is. The reason for this is the fact the higher an even of conformity is situated in a society the greater the chance that a particular behaviour which breaks the guidelines of that contemporary society will be labelled as deviant. A particularly interesting feature of this idea built upon subsequently by interpersonal constructivist theories is the fact that principles of deviancy also change as the conformity degrees of a society alter, thus while homosexuality was a deviant behavior for european societies in the 19th century and psychiatric treatment was recommended for those who were 'afflicted' with the disorder the changing prevalent views on homosexuality have lessened its conception as a deviant behaviour, though not completely dispelled it (Cockerham, 1992).

In some studies it was confirmed that in any other case sane people who talked about specific circumstances of peculiar behaviour were labelled as insane and where those individuals performed normal behaviours these other behaviours in turn then became labelled as insane and became viewed as area of the behavioural design of the insane person. Thus in Rosenham's (1973) examine his fraudulent patients who gained admission into institutions and who had been taking notes of their own observation and treatment by doctors acquired in the observations kept on them notes how they displayed incessant notice taking behaviour. Thus patients who are labelled as emotionally ill face problems when they make an effort to avoid the label and the behaviours which are the objects of labelling. Even where for example patients have been healed they will carry the stigma of such a label and the consequent reactions of individuals who observe the past position of the average person will labelling theory argues lead to a vicious pattern of reinforcement of both label and behavior.

However while labelling theory was a powerful critique of psychiatric practice that was popular also it has since fallen right out of favour and its own principles can be critiqued on lots of grounds. In Yarrow's research circumstance it was found that subsequent to the experiment that his patients in fact did not continue steadily to display aberrant behaviours for long following the research. Thus we can argue that there is a weakness in the thought of a second deviance, that for individuals who are not psychologically ill the labelling of being mentally sick which while it might have an effect may well not be as strong as the idea suggests (Rogers and Pilgrim, 1999).

But it remains to be said that the practice of identification and treatment of the psychologically ill should be aware of the broader interpersonal environments in which those who are emotionally ill will operate in, thus a generally bio-medical style of mental health, i. e. for the reason that there is a specific cause which when healed will make the patient better, is limited so that labelling theory and more recently the field of health mindset suggests we should consider a holistic type therapy which factors in the effects of wider sociable phenomenon such as the reactions of men and women and clinicians to the patient in order that effective strategies of treatment can be developed which gain the person engaged (Heller, 1996). Therefore while moves from institutional care can be commended as ceasing to split up the mentally unwell from society and so stigmatising them in an extremely visible manner the effectiveness of community health care must be judged against both successful curative techniques and levels of effective integration with the city setting where the care and attention is provided.

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