Fox 1 Lecture 14
Wednesday January 29, 2014
Social Psychology of Mental Health
• Not that long ago, mental health was only talked about in discussions of the
sociology of deviance
o Negative label and stigma
o “sociology of nuts, sluts, and perverts” (Liazos & Liazos, 1972)
• Changing terminology:
o Badness to sickness/illness (Conrad &Schneider, 1980)
Social Psychology of Mental Illness Symbolic Interactionism/Social
• Who and what problems are defined as mental illness or health?
• How can we/do define mental illness?
• Acknowledge the changing meanings, definitions, and constructions of mental
health and illness over time
o Historically, cultural, and socially
• Foucault (1965) was one of the first scholars to study historical constructions of
3 Paradigms in the History of Mental Illness & Health (Conrad & Schneider,
1) Sin Paradigm (17 century)
• Role of the church • Ex=witch trials
2) Crime Paradigm (Late 17 – 18 century)
• Secularization; move to criminalization
3) Disease Paradigm (19 Century)
• Medicalization; identifying and treating disease, illness of health-related diseases
• Movement towards “medicalization”
o Deviance, social problems, illness, etc., can be identified, treated (and
labelled) controlled/managed by the medical field
• Medicalization involves power
o Power to define, label, and control what is seen as mental illness or health,
and “appropriate” ways to deal or treat it
Fox 2 Lecture 14
• 3 assumptions of the medical model
o In this case, medical/biological; something within the individual
2) Labelling of the problem
3) Treatment or management
• Because this is rooted in social construction, what conditions, issues, symptoms,
behaviors, etc., are labelled or medicalized can change over time
o EX= Homosexuality
Conrad notes 3 important trends in medicalization:
o “The power and authority of the medical profession”
o Decision-making power to define what is or is not mental illness or health
and label it as such
o “Activities of social movements and interests groups” o Creation of support groups, movements or organizations that want to
“medicalize an issue”
o “Directed organizational or professional activities”
o Policies, guidelines (i.e., DSM) or defining and labeling of diseases,
treatments, protocols, etc.,
• Therefore, medicalization of mental illness and illness operates like the process
o WHO: Who are the claims-makers?
o WHAT: What claims are they making?
o WHEN/WHERE: What is the socio-historical context?
o HOW: What strategies are they using to press their claims?
o OUTCOME: Has it worked? Is it working?
o EX=Legalization of pot
• What does your textbook say about self-help movements?
• Do daytime medical talk shows, medical television dramas, etc., Web MD,
contribute at all to the self-help movement?
o The New Yorker wrote an article (Spector, 02/04/13) asking about Dr. Oz
“Is the most trusted doctor in America doing more harm than good?”
• Recall our discussion last week about stigma
• Stigma surrounding mental illness did not exist and does still exist in society
Fox 3 Lecture 14