Sociology - Western Medicine

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Discuss the development of the biomedical view of the body. Explain the importance of this view of the body for Western medicine. Is there an alternative to this view? The biomedical model view of the body is mechanistic. This point was argued by Engels, who said that the body was a machine and the breakdown of this machine was disease. He also believed that the doctor was the only one who could fix the machine. This point leads to many biomedical views. Firstly, it shows the way that doctors view the body as a set of individual parts, diagnose and treat them as such. This non-holistic view of the body is often criticised because it fails to consider the person as a whole and entire building. Secondly it shows the importance of the doctor in the biomedical model. Doctors have and maintain power in the biomedical model. They have all the information and knowledge (medical education, professionalism and scientifically thinking form an important part of the Western medicine in which the manner in a disease is scientifically understood) and therefore all the power. This power ratio is also explored by postmodernists (an alternative approach or view to the Western medicine) who are interest in how one perspective gains so much power and influence. Foucault (1963) said that the choice of words and phrases can affect the way people think. So doctors who have more influence and respect can gain power over their patient’s bodies. This use of language to affect thinking is called discourse to postmodernists. A study by Peter Bellamy (1990) of workers in a pottery factory and the way they took time off work. The study concluded that doctors used their status to medicalise problems such as morning sickness to allow the workers paid time off work. Although to the workers this may seem positive this medicalisation of problems that used to be seen as natural has been criticised. Anne Oakely in her study entitled Women, Medicine and Health (1993) found that child birth is one...
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