Medical model


This is an overview on how psychological disorders are treated by Western health practitioners.

Definition of Medical model

Over the centuries, researchers have discovered  that many of the illnesses that afflict humans have biological origins, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and other organic agents.  Once the cause of an illness can be determined then experimentation is done to find the best way to manage it.  The result has been the discovery of penicillin, antibiotics and a vast array of medicinal treatments, fuelled by a billion dollar pharmaceutical industry, that are dispensed via doctors, to the populace in the hope of combating the vast number of diseases and other ailments that afflict human beings. 

Benefits of this definition

In the medical model there is usually a clearly defined causal agent and equally clearly defined medical treatment.  This model works well for biological ailments.  It's merits in relation to psychological disorders are questionable though.

The main event

In the 1960's there was an explosion in the discovery and implementation of psychoactive drugs, ones which have a marked effect on mood and cognition.   These soon spread into the psychiatric institutions, and because of the dramatic positive effects they had on many patients, this led to medical model type theories that attempted to link certain drugs to certain psychological disorders.  At the time, people with chronic disorders were housed in institutions.  The new discoveries and theories led to a process of gradual de-institutionalisation, whereby they were moved out into the community to live independently or in shared accommodation.  The drugs, it was hypothesised in many cases, restored chemical imbalances in the brain, an idea that fitted perfectly into the medical model.

It has since been found that the original theories were not entirely plausible, however the drugs continue to be used because they still do wonders for a great many people, although now, to be sure, a disproportionate number of the homeless on our streets are the very psychiatric cases who once resided in the institutions.

Personal example

Challenge to audience

Psychiatric illnesses need better than the medical model.  They need their own model.