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Parsonian Approach and The Sick Role

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Ariel Fuenzalida

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SOC2101  –  Parsonian  Approach  and  The  Sick  Role  –  October  24th     The Sick Role • What does it mean to be sick? Sickness and illness aren’t just a biological thing, there are social processes involved. • Sickness and illness carries a meaning o It challenges the way we define ourselves, it really is a life changing situation • Sickness is an experience o Start to ask questions about life, about ourselves… • Existential dimension – bigger questions come into play, a doctor cannot answer these questions, they are personal questions that we must struggle through one way or another • The meaning of illness becomes kind of a social question o What does illness mean to a society? • Example; Salem witch trials o In both Europe and in Puritan New England, cases of witchery were everywhere…people were fainting and had disordered speech and this meant that you were bewitched o people would have visions and other intense symptoms o outbreak of strange phenomena o interpreted in a particular way, seen as being caused by bewitchery/witches § 20 young girls were tried in court and deemed to be witches, 19 of them were hanged and 1 was killed by stones. o Emergence of this epidemic lead the entire community to speculate about the source o Hypothesis; ergotism – type of poisoning caused by a fungus § Experience euphoria, manifest bizarre/hysterical behaviour, have mystical imagery, dark dreams, catatonic stupors, speechlessness, grimace on their face, leads to either gangrenous or convulsive § Called ‘St. Anthony’s fire’ – gangrenous/gangrene § Convulsive ergotism lead to brain damage, people experience twitching, convulsions, sensations of ‘flying’, manic episodes, sexual obsession, hyper- religiosity, delirium, hallucinations… o Found out later on in the 1700’s that ergotism was caused by a fungus called calviceps purpurea that was found in rye which was used in a lot of wheat and bread foods. § LSA (lysergic acid) is found in this fungus and LSA is used to make LSD. o People read through the lens of their society’s world view…the society was very religious so they saw it as a religious cause, therefore, witchcraft and evil spirits.. • Sickness is not only upsettin
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