The Biomedical Model

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The challenge of defining and measuring health in contemporary society When trying to define health in our current society, one is presented with multiple options. In 2005, Bircher defined health as “a dynamic state of well-being characterized by a physical and mental potential, which satisfies the demands of life commensurate with age, culture, and personal responsibility”. This could be seen as a valid, specific definition of health. Similarly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined health as “A complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Given the role and status of the WHO, this definition appears to take precedence over any other. Arguably, is it fair to assume this…show more content…
Firstly (, mind-body dualism. This is where the mind and body are separate entities. According to Rene Descartes’ in the 17th century, the mind and body were unrelated. As science progressed and became a valid and respected form of knowledge, his theory strengthened. This provided the basis of the second assumption of the biomedical model. If the human body is to be considered as a machine, then medicine will act as a mechanical metaphor. (The sociology of health and illness Sarah Nettleton) As a result of this, medicine is considered a crucial mechanism which is the third assumption of the model. Fourth, biomedicine is a reductionist, whereby illness and disease are solely related to biological changes in the body. Social and psychological factors are disregarded. The last assumption was developed in the nineteenth century, where every disease is caused by a specific, identifiable agent. This is often referred to as the doctrine of specific aetiology (The sociology of health and…show more content…
This idea is more suited to the acute, short-term illnesses rather than chronic, long-term ones. In a chronic illness it is unlikely that the patient will leave the sick role for a long period of time, and are surely still considered an active member of society. It is more accurate for a short-term illness, where a person can enter and leave the ‘sick role’ and returning to contributing to society in a productive manner. Another critique of the ‘sick role’ is similar to that of the biomedical approach. Parsons’ ignores the influence of our social status in society. He naively assumes that everyone has access to the same quality of healthcare as each other. Also he presumes that everyone in a certain society are all equally at the same risk of becoming ill. Indeed a person who hasn’t caused their own health problem will evoke more sympathy from people and society, which is a concept that should be considered when trying to define health and

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