It is common sense that our survival as individuals depends on the
survival of our physical bodies. However, common sense has been
medicalised. Terms such as 'road rage' and 'premenstrual syndrome'
sound like medical problems and suggest that it is affected
individuals, rather than experiences or circumstances that require
treatment. Without denying their importance, Rival Truths
challenges four basic common sense views of health and illness and
offers rival social psychological explanations. The primacy of
biological facts is challenged by looking at the effects of social
psychological influences mediated by stress. The assumption that
medical practices are scientific is challenged by evidence that
they also reflect and recreate social constructions. The assumption
that medical advances are the most effective way to combat disease
is questioned as their success may rely on changes in beliefs or
behaviour, and finally, critical analyses suggest that medical
treatment can sometimes be to the disadvantage of patients. Lindsay
St. Claire has helped to raise awareness that health problems might
be caused by social arrangements, not biological dysfunction.; Thus
social psychology might suggest new ways to enhance health status
which do not depend on medical breakthroughts. This book will be of
interest for health psychology students, medical students and
anyone involved in caring professions.
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