By Michael Senior, Bruce Viveash (auth.)
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Additional resources for Health and Illness
Why might it be easier for some people than others to visit their doctor? 5. Some people might be reluctant to visit their doctor even when they interpret their symptoms as illness. Does th is matter.? Stage 5: labelling: doctor-patient interaction Much as official criminal statistics depend on a police officer labelling an act of behaviour as a crime, morbidity statistics depend on a doctor labelling symptoms as an illness. The medical model of illness searches for identifiable causes (for example a virus or bacteria) and gives medical officers such as doctors the authority to label symptoms as a legitimate illness.
Try either activity (a) or activity (b): (a) Spend one week making a log of all the information about health and illness featured in the mass media . Read some newspapers and magazines and make a note of any information about health and illness. If this was your only source of knowledge , what would you understand about health and illness? (b) Choose just one medium, for instance TV, a newspaper that has a health section, for example the Independent; a magazine such as a women's magazine, for example Cosmopolitan .
The medical model and the body The medical model views the body much as a machine that can break down and therefore needs repair. Lawrence and Bendixen (1992) studied anatomical textbooks published between 1890 and 1989 and found that the descriptions of the body and many diagrams treated the male body as the norm. Such texts may shape doctors ' views of the body (that is, the male body as the norm). Laqueur (1990) is critical of the way biology claims differences exist between bodies. He says the search for classification of types (for example people, plants, animals) started around the 1800s.