Foucault's Biomedical Model

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Health, according to sociologist Talcott Parson, is “of the roles and tasks for which he (sic) has been socialized” (Parsons, 1972: 117). This is a profoundly sociological view and definition of health. It does not contain any biological or physical health aspects, except referring to the capacity to fulfil one’s socially ascribed roles in society (Conrad, 1992). In heath, sociologists are interested in the institution of medicine, in particular, the process of medicalisation (Dew & Kirkman 2002). In Western cultures, the biomedical model is the medical paradigm used to diagnose and explain a person’s illness, corresponding to a malfunction of biological processes (McLennan, Manus & Spoonley, 2010). However, sociologists have criticised biomedicine;…show more content…
This critique emphasises Foucault’s point in that, the ideas and ‘realities’ in biomedicine are, in fact, social constructions of ‘health’ in a particular manner within certain social, historical and cultural contexts (Walsh 2004). Hence, sociologists argue that the medicalisation of diseases is a social process. It is important to consider social contexts outside the West, where biomedicine is less dominant and so, similar symptoms and signs of diseases may not necessarily hold the same usual meanings (Walsh 2004). History has shown that diseases and health issues can differ and change over time and between cultures. The examples of recent medicalised ‘diseases’ as well as demedicalied ‘diseases’ in Western culture, defies biomedicine as stable and based on biological realities (Walsh 2004). This underlines the sociological argument that indeed, medical professions socially construct diseases. The ‘diseases’ in eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, manifest how medical approaches undertaken were not efficacious, in terms of bringing better health outcomes, though efficacious in influencing individuals to comply with social…show more content…
The medical terms signified how women were idealised, as according to Chamberlain (2013), orgasm was labelled as “hysterical paroxysm” because women were socialised to believe that “ladies” had no sexual desires, and thus; fulfilling their primary roles as housewives and home-makers, required them to tolerate sex in order to satisfy their husbands and bear children. This allowed men to classify and medicalise women, who did not fit within that ideal of society (White, 2008). According to Russell (2013), in extreme cases, the treatment of hysteria would lead to genital mutilation in which the female’s clitoris is surgically removed. As a result, women who were deemed as outcasts from the rest of the norm-abiding women in society were to be trapped in the asylum for the rest of their lives (Russell, 2013). These treatments, however, did not help treat female hysteria. In fact, with no health or ‘scientific’ empirical evidence to validate these claims, the medical practices were unethical and resulted in significant trauma to female patients (Tasca et al, 2012). Evidently, this is a case of how social and political processes can lead to certain ways in which to be
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