Medicine Health and Illness

In current norms particularly in western countries, health maintenance is at the hands of every individual with standards and health education supplied by the contemporary society in. But before all of these happened, with the knowledge confined to the ‘experts’, people tend to be dependent on physicians and whatever resources and methods of healing is available (Nettleton 2006). Through centuries, man explored things even unthinkable in order to restore health and salvage the dying and some, if discussed in the contemporary era, may seem ridiculous and ruthless. Porter (1997) revealed in his book an overwhelming history of global medical developments from the crudest practice to most sophisticated performance of medical and surgical procedures citing the earlier theories’ influence on the current medicine. What brought about the turning point is the Enlightenment legacy of the eighteenth century where progress is based on conscious reason and rational activity (Annandale 1998) weaning from the traditional healing beliefs associated with the heavens and gods or goddesses. For a long period, the biomedical model has been the sole, most reliable theory of medicine. This model states that the body can be treated separately from the mind like an engineer toiling over a machine. The birth of the ‘germ theory’ further made the practice centered to cells and its functions (Atkinson 1988, quoted in Nettleton 2006, pp. 2-3). Limiting the concept of health to only the body, the social and self outlook of the human was deemed irrelevant and left neglected. It was in early 1700s that medical practitioners learned the value of medical sociology wherein they considered the personal attributes of a person in judging its health condition (Annandale 1998). The alternative social approach developed widened the coverage of biomedicine from the rich to the poor patients and from the physical to mental and social aspect of each individual. Awareness on the effect of society and environment to the physical body further evolved the practitioners’ approach to biomedicine. Geographic location, gender, race, religious beliefs, activities and work are now considered in evaluating one’s health condition. And the treatment regimen for certain diseases related to these involves psychological, sociological and medical approaches (Turner 1995). With the biomedicine serving as the foundation of a strong body of knowledge and practice in medicine, health and illness in the contemporary era has been at its best shape throughout the years. It is with failures and success of early practitioners that we owe the convenience of today’s health. Greatness could not be nurtured overtime, just as the western medicine went through thousand of phases over centuries to be as refined as today. Porter (1997) strongly suggested that western medicine, amongst any other forms, is not only the most leading practice nowadays but also the most significant discovery and development of mankind. As he quoted what began as medicine of the west (Europe) is becoming the medicine of humanity. All the aforementioned evidence is just a speck compared to the entire history of biomedicine and with all these facts, one

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