The Medicalisation of Death

Essential evaluation of: regardless of whether health-related explanations predominate and how people negotiate and resist the medical model.

In order to illustrate the predominance of health-related explanations, a definition of the medicalisation thesis will be given and illustrated by the case of the treatment of terminally ill sufferers. The medicalisation of death and dying will be highlighted by a assessment of sociological literature from both feminist and non-feminist perspectives. The limits of medicalisation will be offered as a rationale for the resistance of the medifcal model. Finally, the techniques in which people negotiate and resist the medicalisation of death will be discussed such as the rise of pro-euthanasia groups, rising use of complementary medicine, and the recognition of the hospice movement.

The primary elements of the medical model of well being are the search for objective, discernable signs of illness, its diagnosis and remedy (Biswas, 1993). Consequently, by adhering to this reductionist view, the human physique is noticed as a biochemical machine (Turner, 1995) and wellness merely as an absence of disease, a commodity to be purchased and sold. The rise of hospitals with their goal of curing and controlling disease has led to the marginalisation of lay medicine, and a concentrate upon the individual rather than society as a bring about of ill health. Overall health education and promotion with their concentrate upon ‘victim blaming’ and individualism have extended the remit of the health-related profession from the hospital into the neighborhood. With medical imperialism the power of medicina has grown and medicine has all but replaced religion as an institution of social control. Illich (1976, p53) describes medicine as a: ‘moral enterprise…..[which] gives content material to very good and evil….. like law and religion [it] defines what is normal, suitable or desirable’.

Medicalisation is defined as:’a procedure of improved health-related intervention into areas that hitherto would be outdoors he medical domain’ (Bilton et al, 1996 p422). Places of life which could be viewed as ‘natural’ such as pregnancy, childbirth, unhappiness, ageing and death have been brought within the medical remit (Taylor & Field, 1997) and for that reason are increasingly viewed below the principles of the healthcare model. Certainly several of these ‘ailments’ can not be cured by health-related intervention but are nonetheless subjected to the ‘medical gaze’ Szasz (1964) believed that therapy of the mentally ill by drugs and electroconvulsiv therapy was not only unnecessary but a violation of human rights (cited in Scambler, 1991). Social issues such as youngster abuse, violence and…

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