Sociologists define health as being the ability of a person to function normally and to perform normal duties in a regular manner on a daily basis (Browne, 1998). The healthy individual feels well. Illness, also called sickness, is a term applied to a person who does not feel well. Disease is attributed to causing sickness in an individual. It is possible to have a disease and feel well and it is possible to feel ill and not have a disease. Disease is usually attributed to a biological factor that is normally medically diagnosed (Browne, 1998). The medical diagnosis relies on the biological medical (biomedical) approach to disease that consists of the germ theory, the medical gaze and the medical specialist (Giddens, 2001).
Germ theory is the explanation for the cause of disease that was developed by doctors, utilising scientific means of investigation. Germ theory is based on the existence of antigens and their effect on the human immune system.
The germ theory views all disease as having an identifiable biological cause that is believed by Doctor's to produce the effect of illness in the human body (Browne, 1998, Cook, 1997, Giddens, 2001, Short, Sharman & Speedy, 1998). The cause of disease under the germ theory model must first be identified by the doctor, then separated from other body parts or systems and then finally treated in its smallest form (Giddens, 2001).
The medical gaze is the process in which Doctors engaged in the treatment of an ill person become focused exclusively on that sick individuals body and ignore their mind (Giddens, 2001, McLennan, Ryan & Spoonley, 2000, Short et al, 1998). The medical gaze appears to give doctors a form of knowledge and power as they are perceived by people within society as being the only authorities allowed to treat...