Medicalization of Death

From UBC Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"Medicalization" is the process whereby normal human conditions are are defined and treated as medical conditions such that it becomes the subject of medical study, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment. Sociologists suggest that "medicalization" expands the goals of medicine whilst lowering the thresholds for diagnosis, and potentially puts individuals and society at risk. Other critics are concerned that the medicalization process locates the problem within the body only rather than the context and in turn does not fufill the needs of the individual but instead benefits corporates and quotas. [1]

Death and dying and death-related behaviour involve the causes of death and the nature of the actions and emotions surrounding death among the living; [2] hence a subject of medicalization. Within the medicalization process of death, the media can affect how illness and death is perceived. Specifically in terms of its prevalence, severity and outcomes.[3] It also influences our perception and intuition of death that results in the overestimation of cases of some causes of mortality; either in an exaggerated or underestimated form. The depiction of death in media reports ultimately shapes up the medicalization of death.

Death and the Human Experience

Death and the Human Experience is subcategorized within context, causes and over a lifetime: acute and chronic diseases, adolescence death, adulthood death, elderly death and palliative care. [2] Hence there is not a single definition to death and the human experience, is subjective and unique to individuals. It is not single dimensional and includes complex cultural beliefs and traditions, institutionalized social rituals, emotional and psychological response; a multidisciplinary experience.

Assisted Suicide

The Debate

The ongoing debate upon assisted suicide involves attempts to define both the nature of human life and on which societal principles are or should be based.[4] It raises issues critical in any new society paradigm and involve both individual and collective pasts (i.e. ethical, legal and culture norms passed down generations), present (changing the norms) and the future (how will this impact and shape up society). Assisted suicide bases claims of respect for individual rights. Some believe assisted suicide are matters of personal choice and morality that sole involves the individuals; technology and science utilized to avoid or relived individual suffering from disease and illness. On the other end of the spectrum, some object that these claims are of at least equal importance to society in respect to the formation and maintenance of values and meaning and the societal paradigm that bases them.

Others view that when it comes to making a deacon of ending one's life, there exists a grey area where it would be acceptable to refuse medical treatment even if that results in death. Some agree that they would accept the need to be given pain medications even if that would essentially shorten one's life but not acceptable to give a lethal injection and end life. Collective opinions make this topic an ongoing debate against both ethical and societal paradigm.

Death as depicted in the Media

Media affects how illness and death is perceived.

An assessment was made to investigate whether or not media reporting of illness and death represents national statistics and finds that the media has a significant impact on our perceptions of illness and death. [3] This in turn influences how patients may seek medical attention and their concerns when visiting medical professional. As often times medical information is falsified or reported under non-medical concerns. For example, articles depicting medical subjects may not be in-depth or medically termed correct and are often influenced by non-medical issues since it is built for a general audience.

Death and illness shaped by Media

Media reports and depictions of death has both a positive and negative impact on shaping the medicalization and normalization of death within medical context. As known, media largely influxes and shapes the public's understanding and perception of death and illness. Although estimations of the causality of deaths within the population bears little to no relation to official statistics but correlates with the frequency of media reports. Research shows that certain types of cancers are under or over represented in both the press and internet but very little is known of or represented about other more common causes of mortality. This discrepancy of representation between the actual incidence and media coverage of certain common causes of death over represents less severe causes to be more serious and threatening than an equally serious under-represented illness or disease. A disproportion in media exposure affects patient knowledge, understanding and concerns to ultimately affect their choices made upon assisted death and appropriate treatment.

Improvements made in executing educational information on the media concerning death and illness may enhance the dissemination of health information via this resource.

  1. Parens, Johnston, Erik, Josephine (2011). "Troubled Children: Diagnosing, Treating, and Attending to Context". Hastings Center Report. 41: S4–S31 – via Project MUSE.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bryant, Peck, Clifton, Dennis (2009). "Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience". ENCYCLOPEDIAS – via SAGE Publications.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Williamson, Skinner, Hocken, J. M. L., C. I., D. B. (2011). "Death and illness as depicted in the media". The International Journal of Clinical Practice. 65: 517 – via Wiley Online Library.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. Somerville, Margaret (2014). Death talk: the case against euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. McGill-Queen's University Press.