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Social Perspective in Understanding Mental Distress - Essay Example

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The reporter states that the perception of mental health and mental distress in a society is shaped by the popular culture in that society which includes everyday language, art, and the media and the professional discourse such as social work and psychiatry…
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Social Perspective in Understanding Mental Distress
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Download file to see previous pages Several theories explaining mental illness exist and differ depending on the discipline concerned. The medical model is underpinned by the belief that mental health diagnosis involves the accurate naming of an objective disease process. The medical model is meant to provide practitioners with answers and certainties modeled on the scientific paradigm. But this system does not always provide objective professional judgment (Karben 2011).
The medical model heavily relies on the interpretation of human emotions and behavior with the diagnosis being influenced by subjective attitudes and beliefs. Most psychiatrists do not willingly admit the uncertainty surrounding the diagnosis as psychiatry is not an exact science. The uncertainty of the medical model has exposed it to challenges and dissent from within and outside the profession with many contesting the validity of the medical model of mental illness. Most sociologists and dissident practitioners contend that the emotions and behaviors called symptoms and illnesses by psychiatrists should not be treated as a pathological medical phenomenon; rather they are manifestations of socio-political forces that shape the lives of human beings (Karben 2011).
Therefore, the process of categorizing people as mentally ill should be social rather than a medical means of pathologizing emotions and behaviors deemed as unacceptable by society. While mental distress is real, mental illnesses are not entities as the medical model portrays them. Moreover, critics argue that formal classification and diagnostic systems are subject to limitations based on the methods used to create them, and psychiatric diagnosis is related to astrology as both systems attempt to define behavior and predict future events (Karben 2011). The social model of mental distress bases its explanations on independent life events that trigger breakdowns such as isolation or violence and social forces linked to class like unemployment and poverty.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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