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Medicine: Social Friend or

Tiffany Chang
Sociology 001
Professor Alvarado
The Institution of medicine is highly involved in defining and treating illnesses
of members of a society

Psychiatry is a specific field of medicine that deals with behavioral, mental,

and emotional issues

Psychiatry has always been a field of controversy

1 in 5 adults in the U.S. reported to have experienced mental illnesses within

a given year

Controversy and stigma negatively impact proper handling of mental illness

History + Changes over time
Medicine has always been present in U.S. society but not necessarily
medicine dealing with mental health

Mental Health is a topic of taboo even today

1840s is the first noted observation of mental illness in the U.S. by Dorothea

Her observation of people with criminals and the environment they were
in was widely known

Late 1800s--Hospitals for mentally ill began to overflow and treatment didnt
seem to be working
History + Changes over time
1946-- President Harry Truman called for the National Institute of Mental
Health to conduct research into the brain and behavior

Mid 1950s--Dixs push for better treatment of mentally ill finally lead to

Instead of patients living in hospitals and treated like experiments (i.g.

Asylum-based care), they would be moved to a more community-
orientated care

1990s-- new generation of drugs are introduced to treat schizophrenia

To this day, people still debate over deinstitutionalization and the care based
around psychiatric patients
Social Perception
Media perception of medical professionals and institutions involved tend to be

Inaccurate representations of said professions and mental health can lead to

misunderstandings and stigma

Media and popular film tend to manipulate the notion of mental illness as
insanity or in relation to negative connotations

Despite that people consider the roles of doctors and nurses as appealing
occupations, psychiatrists are seen as the part of medicine that no one should
be involved in
Health Disparities
The Federal collaborative for Health Disparities Research of the U.S. stated
that mental health disparities was one of the four topics needed of immediate

Sexism, racism, ageism, etc--issues that people face which further creates a
gap between society and the actuality of the notion behind mental health and

Socioeconomic factors can prevent people from getting help so statistics may
portray inaccurate numbers

More people are likely to state that theyre unable to afford any type of health care and thus
are not counted in statistics involved in mental health
Psychiatry can be said to be more damaging than actually helping.
The social notion and stigma can cause the primary care sector to create
a power imbalance
Medialization can cause issues since it labels behaviors as neither biological
or medical
Diagnosis of mental illness can allow people to be held against their will
and insist therapy/treatment that may not be in the interest of the patient
Conflict of interest when prescribing psychiatric medication

For a period of time, people had questioned whether psychiatry was really
needed or not
Release of DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
Book 5) in 2013 created a huge social controversy because it normalized
mental health but also narrowed the scope too much

Dr. Allen Frances and thousands of mental health researchers and

clinicians petitioned against it

Reputation of psychiatry suffered greatly for it

People saw psychiatry as nothing more than people who handled

emotional, behavioral, and mental symptoms with one prescription after
another [4]

Rift between psychiatry and psychotherapy grew

Functionalist Theory
Health is an important part of society and the stability of said society

Sickness is a form of deviance

Those who are sick, mentally or physically, are incapable of contributing to

society and therefore require a policed, hence role of medical profession

The sick persons role is to be exempt from normal social roles and to not
being responsible for their sickness but to also try to get well [5]

Sick person should follow along with medical professional to get well as
soon as possible

If sick person is sick longer than appropriate, that person may be

Conflict Theory
There are issues that exist within the healthcare system

This is a result of a capitalist society

Pursuit of profit leader to commodification of health

Dominant group-- those who make decisions how the healthcare system will
be run

Can ensure they also have health coverage while controlling the profit
made and who has access

Health disparities are created from this

Conflict Theory
Medical professionals have more power in the professional/patient setting

This give them more benefits socially and economically

Inferior group--those of lower socioeconomic status are less likely to fight the
system and live in unhealthy environments or not have access

Females, certain racial and ethnic groups fall under this category

Those in rural areas have a severe lack of health care options available
to them despite that roughly 20% of the U.S. population live in here
Brain research is needed for the
development of medicine

Treating mental illnesses and addressing

mental health neutrally isnt something

Functionalist theory looks at how health

can fit into society properly without
disturbance to social structure

Conflict theory observes how health can

become oppositional forces in society
Work Cited
Boffey, Philip M. California: Reagan and the Mental Health Controversy. Science, vol. 161, no.
3848, 1968, pp. 13291331. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1725689.

Evolution of Medicine. Evolutionfomedicine-Fb, Best of Medicine, 2017, www.bestmedicaldegrees.com/evolution/.

Grof, Stanislav. Dilemmas and Controversies of Traditional Psychiatry. Dilemmas and

Controversies of Traditional Psychiatry, 1985, www.psychedelic-library.org/grof.htm.

Reidbord, Steven. A Brief History of Psychiatry. Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 20 Oct. 2014,

Siegler, Kirk. The Divide Over Involuntary Mental Health Treatment. NPR, NPR, 29 May 2014,

Safran, Marc A. et al. Mental Health Disparities. American Journal of Public Health 99.11 (2009): 19621966. PMC.
Web. 6 Oct. 2017.

Sociological Perspectives on Health and Illness. Sociological Perspectives on Health and Illness , Boundless