Framing Disease Chapter Summary

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In the chapter Illness, Society, and History in his book Framing Disease, Charles Rosenberg claimed that “in some ways disease does not exist until we say it does, by perceiving, naming and responding to it” (Rosenberg). Once accepted, these named diseases play a role in a complex network of social negotiations. Does this mean the disease does not exist before it is given a name or, rather, does it mean that a set of symptoms is placed into a new context? In the lines below, I will be exploring the meaning behind Rosenberg’s quote by discussing what the affect of the social construction of Alzheimer’s disease has been in social and familial contexts over the past few decades, as well as how Alzheimer’s was thought of before a diagnosis was…show more content…
In fact, opinions tend to wildly shift over the past few millennia. During the Greco-Roman period, symptoms aligning with Alzheimer’s were considered to be a normal process during aging and was expected. Pythagoras, a Greek physician who lived during the 7th century BC, divided the human life span into five separate stages, the last of which being old age, in which he claimed that “the system returns to the imbecility of the first epoch of infancy” (Feldman). With the rise of the Middle Ages came a decline in the role science played in the social context of Alzheimer’s. The church at the time asserted that “disease was a punishment for sin”, which tied into the witch hunts that were famous during these centuries (Feldman). There was a drastic increase of interest in dementia and Alzheimer’s-like symptoms during the persecution of witches in the fifteenth century, as many victims of witch trials included those with cognitive disorders. “During this period there was little elucidation of the underlying causes of dementia” and the church used witchcraft to explain what they could not (Feldman). Dependent upon the society in which the disease exists, it will be responded to and thought of
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