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McMaster University
Health, Aging and Society
Elena Neiterman

Chapter 10: Medicalization Brief History of Western Medical Practice: -medical practitioners and priests in the Tigris-Euphrates and Nile valleys were one -illness was a spiritual problem and was regarded as punishment for sins or for violations of the norms of society such as stealing, blaspheming or drinking from an impure vessel -Imhotep, the Egyptian pharaoh who built the stepped pyramid, medicine began to receive some separate recognition -medical practitioners could only treat external maladies; internal maladies were seen to be only treatable through supernatural intervention th th -Modern Western medicine appears to have been derived from Greece in the 4 and 5 centuries before Christ and from medieval Europe -early Greeks erected temples in honour of Hygeia, the Greek goddess of healing and those who were ill sought treatment at these temples -Hippocrates was a Greek physician who was distinguished by their efforts to secularize the concept of disease by making its treatment not the concern solely of priests and its focus not simply on the supernatural  He believed health depended on a harmonious blend of humours – blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile (originated in the heart, brain, liver and spleen)  Sickness resulted from an imbalance of any of the 4 listed above -2 types of practitioners, each catering to different social classes: private physicians cared for the aristocrats and both the public and private physicians tended to cater to the wealthier classes; the poor and the slaves usually received an inferior quality of medical care from the physician’s assistant -Galen (AD 130-201) though that every organ had a purpose and served a special function; his greatest contributions were his anatomical and physiological works and his systematic speculation -for medieval Christians, disease was a supernatural experience, as well as a physical experience; the Church was seen to be a source of healing and sinning was seen to be the source of illness -by the 18 century, scientific medicine was becoming distinguished from religious practice and folk medicine th -in the 19 century, particularly the last half, an enormous number of new discoveries occurred as did many dubious attempts at healing; most of these remedies did more harm than good -refer to page 250 for complete summary of history Medicalization – A Critique of Contemporary Medicine: -large part of the gross national product is spent on health care -Zola (1972) was the first to describe medicalization which by he said it’s a process whereby more and more of life comes to be of concern to the medical profession; portrays medicalization as an expanding attachment process with 4 components:  The expansion of what in life is deemed relevant to the good practice of medicine  The retention of absolute control by the medical profession over certain technical procedures  The retention of near-absolute access
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