Medical sociology and issues of aetiology

George W. Brown

in New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry

Second edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199696758
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191743221 | DOI:
Medical sociology and issues of aetiology

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David Mechanic, in his pioneering textbook, Medical Sociology, views human activity within an adaptive framework—as a struggle of human beings to control their environment and life situation. While this view informs the research to be outlined, there are a number of ways it differs in emphasis from much medical sociology. First, by its concern with particular disorders defined in medical terms. Second, by its use of the investigator rather than respondent to characterize phenomena—to decide, for example, whether an incident should be classified as a life event. Third, by the importance placed on context. In order, for example, for an investigator to make a judgement about the likely meaning of an event such as a loss of a job it is essential to know whether it cast the person in a bad light; its impact on the person's family; her chance of getting another job, and so on. It is such circumstances surrounding an event that usually give it meaning via the emotion they create. Finally, by recognizing that where appropriate such emotion should be taken into account: ‘A world experienced without any affect would be a pallid, meaningless world, and it is what gives us feedback about what is what is good or bad about our lives’.

Chapter.  7615 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychiatry

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