The Medicalization Of Death Essay

4005 Words 17 Pages
The Medicalization Of Death

Critical evaluation of: whether medical explanations predominate and how individuals negotiate and resist the medical model.

In order to illustrate the predominance of medical explanations, a definition of the medicalisation thesis will be given and illustrated by the case of the treatment of terminally ill patients. The medicalisation of death and dying will be highlighted by a review of sociological literature from both feminist and non-feminist perspectives. The limits of medicalisation will be provided as a rationale for the resistance of the medifcal model. Finally, the ways in which individuals negotiate and resist the medicalisation of death will be discussed including the rise of pro-euthanasia
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Social problems such as child abuse, violence and alcoholism have become redefined as medical problems as medicalisation is a more effective way of controlling deviance than legal punishment (Scampbler, 1991). The medical profession have claimed victory over the eradication of many acute infectious diseases although critics would argue advances in social conditions and nutrition were more instrumental. People are now living longer and their expectations of health have changed. Whatever the cause, the pattern of disease has altered with the acute killers of the past being replaced with chronic long-term, often degenerative diseases for which there are no cures.

The effect of the medicalisation of increasing areas of life has increased the power of the medical profession and relatively decreased the power of their patients. Ther has been a: 'stripping away from human culture of ways of coping with pain, birth and death and their replacemnet by a sanitised technological medical intervention against which individuals and society are unable to fight back' (Jones, 1994 p456). Zola (1972 cited in Armstrong, 1989) maintains that this causes a loss of autonomy, creating passive patients who conform to whatever the medical profession dictate. This is damaging because: 'not only is the process masked as a technical, scientific, objective one, but one done for our own good'

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