The Biomedical Model of Health and Illness

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The Biomedical Model of Health and Illness

The most dominant theory in Modern Western medicine of health and

illness, held by many official health practitioners such as doctors,

consultants, and surgeons has been labelled the 'biomedical approach'

or by some as the 'biomechanical model'. The biomedical model presumes

that illness is always due to abnormalities in the body's workings. It

is the basis of modern Western medical practice. It works on the

theory that if a part of the body goes wrong it should be fixed or

replaced, in the same way that a machine would be repaired. It is a

reductionist view of illness. This means that it takes the simplest

possible cause of the illness and applies the simplest cure. It’s

unlike other models such as the social model as that looks to other

factors and focuses on them, such as culture, and social aspects.

The biomedical model has an emphasis on an Illness being treated and

hopefully cured, for example with the use antibiotics can be use to

treat infections. Biomedical treatments often involve the removal of

the cause, for example the virus or bacteria. The biomedical model is

based on the belief that there is always a cure and the idea that

illness is temporary, episodic and a physical condition. Modern

biomedicine rests upon two major developments, both of which remain

influential to this day. It is first important to consider the

Cartesian revolution, after the 17th century French philosophy René

Descartes. The Cartesian revolution encouraged the idea that the body

and mind are independent or not closely related. In this mechanistic

view, the body is perceived to function like a machine, ...

... middle of paper ...

...t social factors need to

be considered. However this “sick role” is a dangerous creation and

could lead to a subculture of “sickness” to which people are drawn to

because of the release from responsibilities. However this perspective

relies too heavily on the “over-socialised” concept of society. Not

everyone accepts and adopts the “sick role”, many would ignore the

role and soldier regardless, and for example many disabled people do


Overall at this point the evidence presented seems to be inconclusive

and unable to support a specific model, within this discussion.

Therefore it’s concluded that there needs to be more of a joint model

of health and ill health such as the new realists approach, which

takes into account both medical and social aspects of health; giving a

more well rounded definition of health.
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