What part does reification play in the process of medical consultation?

Essay by geoffrey325University, Master's November 2002

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To answer this question, it must be realised that there are several parts to it that need to be understood. There appears to be little or no literature available on the specific question, however, by understanding the term 'reification' and then applying it to the medical consultation and process, I will answer the question. In this essay I will clarify the essence of the meaning of the term 'reification', give a brief historical outline of the medical 'industry' and show how this all combines to play a major part in the medical process and consultation.

If we accept that we are in a postmodern era, then the concept of the progression of civilisation can been seen in three stages leading to that. First there was the 'primitive world' which was primarily understood in terms of magic and superstition. Next came the 'pre-modern world' which was seen by religious belief and an all know God was the only authority of real knowledge.

And thirdly was the modern world that was seen as scientific and rational, this was when science was the only source of empirical knowledge. And this is the period reification reared its head (Stainton Rogers, 1991: 1-29).

Reification is central to Postmodernism and social constructionism, and is the process that turns concepts and ideas into solid things (Stainton Rogers, 1991:1-29). Reification treats ideas as though they have real, concrete existence and this in turn shows them as real and true objects of the world. They appear to be real because of the power of reification and an example of this comes from Wendy Stainton Rogers:

"Just as the fisherman lures a trout onto his hook by

Convincing it that some neatly tied feathers are a nice, juicy fly,

so too does reification lure us into seeing ideas as real...