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Meaning of Illness

Professional Articles — The Social Meaning of Illness
The article that I choose to use for this assignment was “The Measurement of Meaning in Illness” by Betsy L. Fife. I was assigned chapter 5, which dealt with the social meaning of illness. The chapter explored the idea of illness as a form of social control and considers the various models of illness and how they have changed over time.
The Sociological model of illness refers to the subjective judgment regarding the meaning of the condition or behavior. It defines illness by defining its abnormal and undesirable affects. Illness is also shown to be a social construction, or something that exists in the world because we have defined it as existing rather than it being an objective condition. This means that labeling a condition an illness will reflect the perceived undesirable affects of that condition. Therefor, when we label a person as ill, we are labeling them as undesirable. Illness is defined in terms of social normswhich are expectations within a given culture regarding proper behavior or appearance. From the sociological standpoint, illness is aform of deviance. Deviance refers to the behaviors or conditions that socially powerful persons within the culture perceive either accurately or inaccurately as immoral or as violating social norms.. Violations of social norms result in the enforcement ofnegative social sanctions, or any form of punishment from ridicule to execution. These social sanctions are enforced by social control agents such as parents, police, doctors and teachers.
Over time there were several theories that were developed to help explain illness. Modern theories of the causes of illness are divided into either personalistic theories or naturalistic theories. Personalistic theories of illness are derived from thoughts that an illness occurs when a god, witch, spirit or other supernatural power lashes out at an individual either deservedly or m…

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