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The Sociology of Mental Illness

Within this statement I aim to put together the biomedical model, investigating whether it can be used to assess mental illness. I'll compare both interpersonal realism and interpersonal constructionism in relation to mental condition and determine the role of the psychiatric career from the point of view of functionalist theory.

Firstly, the biomedical model is the clinical diagnosis of a problem which is come to by quantitative and qualitative actions, often disregarding subconscious and sociological factors. That being said, can the biomedical style of health really assess a person's mental health? Many mental medical issues often have un measurable (scientifically) factors and symptoms, often having blurred lines between a common group of factors; rendering it hard to distinguish between a select group of condition'. In 1952 the North american psychiatric association released the D. S. M. (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which plainly discussed the symptoms and ramifications of a range of mental illness'. Since its first publication, the D. S. M. is continuing to grow from displaying 22 mental disorders, to overviewing over 297 diagnosable issues.

While there are no standardized medical lab tests to diagnose mental medical issues (bar those classed as organic AND practical mental health problems, which derive from brain impairment such as Alzheimer's etc. ), these will come into play during diagnosis to ensure there is no other causation for the patient's symptoms. In theory these investigative actions can be argued to be the biomedical participation for the diagnosis (according to solely efficient mental disease such as major depression etc. ). The key players now will be the psychologist, psychiatrist and trained mental medical researchers who are medically equipped to analyze such issues.

While the biomedical approach concentrates itself on science and the causations being objective and measurable, the idea of lay opinion coverts the ideology of communal construction, economical factors and communal conformity. Lay thoughts and opinions focuses on behavioural habits and socio-economical input upon a person's life, and the next impact these have upon their mental state. This theoretical strategy is seen as highly important when determining something users state of mind, the practitioner's diagnosis being based after observations of an individual's behavioural characteristics which correlate to the D. S. M and I. C. D. (international classification of diseases). Again, despite the highly theoretical methodology which causes diagnosis, within these procedures we see standardized checks and assessments, which can certainly be construed as clinical as they go about to identify between 'normal' and 'excessive' by using a standardized set of questions and observational directives.

There are quarrels from either side as to the theoretical basis of psychiatry, on one hand Thomas Szasz famously quoted ""It isn't research. It's politics and economics. That's what psychiatry is: politics and economics. Behavior control, it isn't science, it is not medicine" (cchrint. org, 2017) Szasz presumed that the practice of psychiatry was wholly influenced by the state, creating scores of 'quacks' diagnosing with free reign. He argued that there have been "two radically different kinds of psychiatric practices, consensual and coerced, voluntarily desired and forcibly enforced. " (Szasz. com, 2007) his concept was that psychiatry based mostly itself after the basic principle of interpretation and interpersonal conformity or a service users behaviour. As stated before questions of coercion and imposition after a patient undergoing assessment take the forefront in Szasz' quarrels, giving his ideals a typically Marxist approach. More recently the newest release of the D. S. M. emerged under fireplace from the psychiatric community with "a number of high-profile articles by Professor Allen Frances. (that) highlighted changes to the manual that he argued were examples of over-medicalisation of mental health. These changes included: Asperger's syndrome, Disruptive feelings dysregulation disorder, Mild cognitive disorder, Generalised anxiety disorder and Major depressive disorder" (NHS, 2013).

While all arguments for the objective and subjective thesis of psychiatry have their merits, it can be argued that psychiatry all together can only just be considered subjective as it uses no clinical model of method of diagnosis, merely understanding, opinion and instruction from the D. S. M and I. C. D. to decipher features and categorize symptoms.

The public realism perspective defines mental disease and the analysis of, as having a precise set of abnormal behavioural patterns that can be definitively seen across ethnicities and societies. Realists argue that even though some illnesses aren't recognized or share a typical name, the symptoms and real condition are very much real and observable. That being said, on the other hand we've the perspective of social development, where by its theorists claim that mental condition is determined by public norms and worth.

For example, the mental impairment of post-natal depressive disorder. Public realists would argue that the definitive group of symptoms being shown by the struggling party, would be enough to determine result. Constructionists however would claim that the individual could be delivering these symptoms due to their communal environment and ideologies of interpersonal 'norms'. Because of the nature of the condition, and its unpredictable effect on the average person either of these theories could be employed.

Because of the group of diagnosable characteristics and cross society classification, realists could claim that despite its irregularity encompassing timeframe, its cause and eventual impact can be clearly categorised without external input. That being said, constructionists can dispute that the condition is purely described by social perception of norms. As the illness can take condition both instantaneously and over a prolonged period of time, the cause and effect could actually be inspired by sociological and environmental issues experienced by the average person, triggering stress and ultimately the consequences and symptoms of post-natal despair to take keep.

The functionalist view of the psychiatric role is one of great communal standing and status within the community and society all together. Due to their organizational position and public hierarchy, they, as a medical professional, keep great stature and ranking within the framework of functionalist contemporary society.

Because functionalism bases itself on the idea that every key part (the cathedral, organizations, the family) work together to keep culture running smoothly, deriving its ideologies from sociable consensus; it is their view that the role of the psychiatrist is "primarily determined by the desire to heal the unwell" (Moore et al, 2010)

Because functionalism focuses on categorising mental and physical health issues as public deviances because of the annoyed of balance and tasks, they put great importance on the timely treatment and re conformation of people.

They view the treatment of people as necessary coercion so as not to annoyed social framework. As psychiatrists contain the key to analysis of mental health and subsequent re conformity of an individual to interpersonal norms, a great precedence is put after their work.


Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph. D "defining psychiatry", [2007] available at: http://www. szasz. com/freeman21. html seen 20/1/17

Moore, S. et al "sociology AS for OCR - chapter 5 - sociology of health" webpage 172, Collins, London, [2010]

NHS Selections "news analysis: controversial mental health guide DSM-5, [2013] available at: http://www. nhs. uk/news/2013/08August/Pages/controversy-mental-health-diagnosis-and-treatment-dsm5. aspx utilized 20/1/17

Professor Thomas Szasz "Psychiatry as a Individual Rights Mistreatment", [2017] avaliable at: https://www. cchrint. org/about-us/co-founder-dr-thomas-szasz/quotes-on-psychiatry-as-a-human-rights-abuse/ seen 20/1/17

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