Putting a Name to It
Diagnosis in Contemporary Society
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Diagnosis constitutes the naming of an ailment or condition based on classifications that are embedded in extant medical knowledge. Diagnosis is a critical feature of medicine, simultaneously identifying what is wrong, providing a roadmap for treatment options, and assessing possible outcomes or prognoses. As the physician Michael Balint...
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I don't get sick very often. In fact, as I write these pages, I can't remember the last time I had a cold. But like most mortals, I have been sick before. One particular bout of illness marked me more than others. It was more than 20 years ago, but I remember things well. I had a low-grade fever, enlarged lymph nodes under my arms and in my groin, a strange...
Introduction: What's in a Name?
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The power of the diagnosis is remarkable. Receiving a diagnosis is like being handed a road map in the middle of a forest. It shows the way—but not necessarily the way out. It indicates what the path ahead is going to look like, where it will lead, the difficulty of the climb, and various potential turnoff s along the way. Perhaps it identifies the destination...
1. Lumping or Splitting: Classification in Medical Diagnosis
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Diagnosis is one of medicine's most powerful classification tools. Understanding classification must be part of the quest to understand the social context and implications of diagnosis more clearly. Classification provides a foundation for the recognition and study of illness: deciding how the vast expanse of nature can be partitioned into meaningful...
2. Social Framing and Diagnosis: Corpulence and Fetal Death
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Diagnosis is medicine's classification tool, and as we have seen, it cannot be considered in isolation from human deliberation and agency. Classification is a process that relies on the ability to distinguish same from different: clustering those things that resemble one another in a group, distancing those items that don't belong. The seemingly natural fit that...
3. What's Wrong with Me? Diagnosis and the Patient-Doctor Relationship
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Hippocrates wrote that "if [the doctor] is able to tell his patients when he visits them not only about their past and present symptoms, but also to tell them what is going to happen, as well as to fill in the details they have omitted, he will increase his reputation as a medical practitioner and people will have no qualms in putting themselves...
4. Beyond Our Ken? Contested Diagnoses and the Medically Unexplained
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When Phil Brown first called for a sociology of diagnosis in his 1995 paper "Naming and Framing," he used contested illness as the fulcrum of his argument. He claimed that it is precisely because lay and professional understandings of health and illness are different that the question of diagnosis is so important. The ways in which people experience illness do not...
5. Driving Diagnosis: Peddlers and Pushers
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In 2005 Peter Conrad referred to new driving forces that were expanding the scope of medicine and medical authority as the "engines of medicalization." Medicalization is one of only a few sociological terms that have managed to integrate themselves into popular and medical parlance (Furedi 2006). The process by which medical authority or explanations...
6. "There Is Nothing So Small as to Escape Our Inquiry": Technologies of Diagnosis
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John Locke was an empiricist and a skeptic. He firmly believed that medicine could advance only through experience and observation (Wolfe 1961). His medicine was typified by observed phenomena, external resemblances, and practical classification of diseases and their treatments. He maintained that the warrant of medicine was to save men from death...
Conclusion: Directions for the Sociology of Diagnosis
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The term compassion fatigue was first mooted in the nursing literature in the late 1980s. A Spanish nursing journal published a warning about its existence: "Contact with disease and death, with the suffering of the others . . . demands great psychological stability and creates tremendous stress in those professionals that live day to day with...
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Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 1 line drawing
Publication Year: 2011