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Chapter 10

HLTHAGE 1AA3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Traditional Medicine, Hygieia, Special Functions

Health, Aging and Society
Course Code
Elena Neiterman

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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
-Modern Western medicine appears to have been derived from Greece in the 4th and 5th 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
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 18th century, scientific medicine was becoming distinguished from religious practice and folk
-in the 19th 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 to certain areas by the medical profession
The expansion of what in medicine is deemed relevant to the good practice of life
The Medicalization of Human Behaviour:
-Conrad and Schneider (1980) have analyzed the impact of the medicalization process in a number of
areas; their research on hyperkinesis
This ‘disease’ has been discovered over the past ½ century or so
3 an 10 percent of the population gets affected by this
They have explained the processes by which these ‘normal’ behaviours became grouped and
categorized as indicators of ‘disease’
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