To What Extent Does Medicine Act as a Social Control Mechanism

Topics: Psychiatry, Mental disorder, Psychiatric hospital Pages: 4 (1232 words) Published: March 19, 2012
To What Extent Does Medicine Act As A Social Control Mechanism? Please Refer T o Social Class And Mental Illness In Your Response. There are a number of theories about medicine as a social control mechanism.The medical profession is the recognised authority in the UK on illness and treatment and also has established a monopoly on the official identification of sickness and on the legitimate practise of healing. It also shapes ideas, expectations of how those who are pronounced sick may behave and believe the public have to be protected from unscrupulous practise. For example Functionalism sees doctors as gate-keepers to the sick role thereby limiting abuse because they have the skills and knowledge to maintain a healthy population. Marxists believe that it is a mechanism to get people back to work as quickly as possible so they can make more money for the capitalists. The Feminists argue that drugs ‘treatment’ of depression in women is based on gender stereotypes. Although these theories put forward strong arguments in favour of medicine as social control there are however criticisms that suggest that medicine is not always a form of social control. Medically dealing with deviance justifies certain intrusive procedures to be performed on individuals not only in the name of "treatment" but also in the interests of the common good. When health professionals attempt to eradicate a disease or a bothersome social behaviour, we all supposedly benefit. Mental illness is ‘a state of mind which affects the persons thinking, perceiving, emotion or judgement to the extent that she or he requires care or medical treatment in her or his interest or in the interest of other persons’. Mental Illness is common. 1% of the population develop schizophrenia. One in ten are admitted to a mental hospital and a much higher proportion receives psychoactive medication.

The biomedical approach sees mental illness as a medical problem and treatment involves the use of drugs or other...
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