Medical model of disability

The medical model of disability, or medical model, is based in a biomedical perception of disability. This model links a disability diagnosis to an individual's physical body. The model supposes that this disability may reduce the individual's quality of life and aims to diminish or correct this disability with medical intervention.[1] It is often contrasted with the social model of disability.

The medical model focuses on curing or managing illness or disability. By extension, the medical model supposes a compassionate or just society invests resources in health care and related services in an attempt to cure or manage disabilities medically. This is in an aim to expand functionality and/or improve functioning, and to allow disabled persons a more "normal" life. The medical profession's responsibility and potential in this area is seen as central.

History edit

Before the introduction of the biomedical model, patients relaying their narratives to the doctors was paramount. Through these narratives and developing an intimate relationship with the patients, the doctors would develop treatment plans in a time when diagnostic and treatment options were limited.[2] This could particularly be illustrated with aristocratic doctors treating the elite during the 17th and 18th century.[3]

In 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced a framework for working with disability, publishing the "International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps". The framework proposed to approach disability by using the terms Impairment, Handicap and Disability.[4]

  • Impairment = a loss or abnormality of physical bodily structure or function, of logic-psychic origin, or physiological or anatomical origin
  • Disability = any limitation or function loss deriving from impairment that prevents the performance of an activity in the time lapse considered normal for a human being
  • Handicap = the disadvantaged condition deriving from impairment or disability limiting a person performing a role considered normal in respect of age, sex and social and cultural factors

Components and usage edit

While personal narrative is present in interpersonal interactions, and particularly dominant in Western Culture, personal narrative during interactions with medical personnel is reduced to relaying information about specific symptoms of the disability to medical professionals.[1] The medical professionals then interpret the information provided about the disability by the patient to determine a diagnosis, which likely will be linked to biological causes.[1][2] Medical professionals now define what is "normal" and what is "abnormal" in terms of biology and disability.[3]

In some countries, the medical model of disability has influenced legislation and policy pertaining to persons with disabilities on a national level.[5][6]

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), published in 2001, defines disability as an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. Disability is the interaction between individuals with a health condition (such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and depression) and personal and environmental factors (such as negative attitudes, inaccessible transportation and public buildings, and limited social supports).[7]

The altered language and words used show a marked change in emphasis from talking in terms of disease or impairment to talking in terms of levels of health and functioning. It takes into account the social aspects of disability and does not see disability only as a 'medical' or 'biological' dysfunction. That change is consistent with widespread acceptance of the social model of disability.[8]

Criticism edit

The medical model focuses on individual intervention and treatment as the proper approach to disability. Emphasis is placed on the disability rather than on the systems and structures that inhibit the lives of people with disabilities. Under the medical model, disabled bodies are depicted as deviant, pathological, and defective, thus, best understood in medical terms. The history and future of disability are severely constricted, focusing solely on medical implications and ignoring very real social constructions contributing to the experience of disability. Alternatively, the social model presents disability less as an objective fact of the body and mind, and positions it in terms of social relations.[9]

Among advocates of disability rights, who tend to subscribe to the social model instead, the medical model of disability is often cited as the basis of an unintended social degradation of disabled people (otherwise known as ableism).[10] Resources are seen as excessively misdirected towards an almost-exclusively medical focus when those same resources could potentially be used towards things like universal design and societal inclusionary practices.[11] This includes the monetary and societal costs and benefits of various interventions, be they medical, surgical, social or occupational, from prosthetics, drug-based and other "cures", and medical tests such as genetic screening or preimplantation genetic diagnosis. According to disability rights advocates, the medical model of disability is used to justify large investment in these procedures, technologies and research, when adaptation of the disabled person's environment could potentially be more beneficial to the society at large, as well as financially cheaper and physically more attainable.

Also, some disability rights groups see the medical model of disability as a civil rights issue and criticize charitable organizations or medical initiatives that use it in their portrayal of disabled people, because it promotes a pitiable, essentially negative, largely disempowered image of people with disabilities rather than casting disability as a political, social and environmental problem (see also the political slogan "Piss On Pity").

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Fisher, Pamela; Goodley, Dan (January 2007). "The linear medical model of disability: mothers of disabled babies resist with counter-narratives". Sociology of Health & Illness. 29 (1): 66–81. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9566.2007.00518.x. PMID 17286706.
  2. ^ a b Bury, Mike (2001). "Illness narratives: Fact or fiction?". Sociology of Health & Illness. 23 (3): 263. doi:10.1111/1467-9566.00252.
  3. ^ a b Lawrence, Christopher (1994). Medicine in the making of modern Britain : 1700-1920 (Digital Printing ed.). London [u.a.]: Routledge. ISBN 9780415091688.
  4. ^ WHO, International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps,1980
  5. ^ Kanter, Arlene S. (2014-11-27). The Development of Disability Rights Under International Law: From Charity to Human Rights. Routledge. ISBN 9781134444663. Archived from the original on 2023-07-19. Retrieved 2020-11-01.
  6. ^ Mendes, Errol; Srighanthan, Sakunthala (2009-04-18). Confronting Discrimination and Inequality in China: Chinese and Canadian Perspectives. University of Ottawa Press. ISBN 9780776617800. Archived from the original on 2023-07-19. Retrieved 2020-11-01.
  7. ^ "International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health". WHO. Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  8. ^ dos Santos, Adriana Neves; Pavão, Sílvia Leticia; de Campos, Ana Carolina; Rocha, Nelci Adriana Cicuto Ferreira (1 June 2012). "International classification of functioning, disability and health in children with cerebral palsy". Disability and Rehabilitation. 34 (12): 1053–1058. doi:10.3109/09638288.2011.631678. ISSN 0963-8288. PMID 22107334. S2CID 207500685. Archived from the original on 21 April 2022. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  9. ^ Kafer, Alison (2013). Feminist, queer, crip. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0253009340.
  10. ^ Dirth, Thomas P.; Branscombe, Nyla R. (June 2017). "Disability Models Affect Disability Policy Support through Awareness of Structural Discrimination: Models of Disability". Journal of Social Issues. 73 (2): 413–442. doi:10.1111/josi.12224.
  11. ^ Goering, Sara (June 2015). "Rethinking disability: the social model of disability and chronic disease". Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine. 8 (2): 134–138. doi:10.1007/s12178-015-9273-z. PMC 4596173. PMID 25862485.

External links edit