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Discuss How This Approach Differs from the Biomedical Approach to Mental Illness.

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Scheff, Szasz and Goffman argue that mental illness is a social construction. Discuss how this approach differs from the biomedical approach to mental illness.

Mental illness has been well-defined severally by some sociologists, professionals in the medical field, politicians and other good academia. Mental illness can be define as ‘a state of one’s mind that affects the thinking, emotions and judgement to the extent that the individual need a medical attention for his/her personal safety and that of the society’. The definition of mental illness by other academia has been termed as behavioural and emotional disorder. They perceive this disorder as disease that affects the mind. In a particular society, mental illness is a behaviour which is classified as disturbed or abnormal and people found of that behaviour are branded deviant. Acceptable behaviour in one society can be unacceptable behaviour in other society.
From the biomedical approach point of view, mental illness deals with the state of mind and is the duty of the trained professionals to diagnose patients and by the use drugs and surgery treat them in medical way in order to improve the patient mental disorder, living condition and poor self-care. This model places more emphasis on the causes of mental illness as biological so it was criticized thereby making the social condition play a significant role. ‘’There is the need to recognize both the outer and inner worlds of a person as well as the society’’ (Duggan et al, 2002).
In other for the capitalist to continue their manipulation and also increase the sale in their pharmaceutical companies, most symptoms were branded as mental illness so that drugs can be prescribed. The means of production is own by most of these professionals in the biomedical approach so their motive as an entrepreneur is to maximise profit. As a result of this they prescribe drugs for even a common sadness. They practices for their own selfish interest and ignore the interest of those people with mental illness.
Moreover, the definition of mental illness was argued by researchers like Scheff, Szasz and Goffman as it is formed by society- social construction.
Scheff and Szasz argue that those in powers as politician, mass media, and bourgeois etc. labelled people especially to that behaviour they disapprove mostly when they are against such behaviour. Sometimes the individual go through stress, depression, or put on some behaviour which is bizarre in some stages of life. Since few holidays can deal with such situation, this should not be labelled as mental illness. If such transition will be labelled as intolerable then stereotype of mental illness will comes into play and this will make the individual starts to behave in that way. Treatment begins when the individual is been labelled by the psychiatrist as ‘insane’. Those people (labelled as mental illness) will have limited choice and their illness is confirm by any further behaviour of them.
In an attempt to control people, most influential people see those who try to challenge the present order ideas, as having mental illness. These influential people do that as a protection of their selfish interest (Szasz 1972). Szasz continues to argue that, the views and reactions of others does not lead to unacceptable behaviour but rather lead to mental illness label being applied. This makes ‘mental illness’ very difficult to treat because it is the attitude of the people, not with the behaviour itself.
Mental illness as a social construction was the view of Goffman (1961). He argues that, a person starts to act in accordance with the prevailing subculture when been labelled ‘mentally ill’ and turns to seek treatment at the psychiatric hospital. The personality of the person is then taken away at that stage and it is been replace by his/her new location (psychiatric hospital). The ‘mental ill’ patient accepts the prevailing subculture at the institution (psychiatric hospital) and learns and behaves according to the insanity role. The patients respond to the institution and the labelling is confirm whether he withdraws, rebels or play it cool. When the patient is discharged from the hospital, it makes it difficult to return to normal life.
Erving Goffman continues to argue that when one is branded as mental ill he/she goes around with a stigma which is been seen as a mark of inferiority and rejection even after treatment thereby making it very difficult to again fit into the society. They carry the stigma for life because the effect of stigmatization, labelling, stereotyping become very alarming.
In another development, factors such as acupuncture, counselling, food and healthy lifestyle, exercise to maintain but a few that could improve the well-being of the individual were focused by the social model. In other to promote the interest of all, they work with other organization in the society and ill practices that will put other people at a disadvantaged were discourage.
In conclusion, since their findings cannot be generalized because their research was on a small scale, the social construction approach work was criticized. This is because their research did not recognise the contribution immensely made by the medical approach and how it has help mankind. Moreover, Scheff, Szasz, and Goffman contribution raised mental illnesses definition by the society of and its labelling effects and stigmatization on people. It is very difficult to draw a line between what is abnormal and unacceptable behaviour from what is normal and acceptable behaviour so the medical and social approaches need to strike a balance between the ways they view mental illness. For example, it was ‘abnormal’ for single mother to be in a mental hospital in Britain but that behaviour will be seen as ‘normal’ in the formal Soviet Union.

REFERENCE
Goffman E. (1990). Stigma: Notes on the Management of spoiled Identity, 1st edition. Penguin Publishers, London. Pages 18-22
Taylor, S. and Field, D. (2007). Sociology of health and health care. 2nd Subedi J and Gallagher B. (1996). Society, Health and Disease, 1st edition. Prentice Hall Publishers, New Jersey. Page 217 edition. Hartnolls Limited Publishers, Cornwall.
Subedi J and Gallagher B. (1996). Society, Health and Disease, 1st edition. Prentice Hall Publishers, New Jersey. Page 217

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