PSYCH 626-Elements of health Psychology and Behavioral Health
June 1, 2015
Analysis of Health Views There have been many different perspectives of disease and how one becomes affected by this. Some people once thought that disease was a curse or caused by witches or demons. At another time in history, people thought that people who were diseased had a destiny of pain and agony or a punishment from lack of morals (Straub, 2012). Today, mental illness and disease can be attributed to one’s “unhealthy personality,” genetics, societal factors, and more (Straub, 2012, p. 6). Historical views of health and illness has definitely changed from the perspectives today. The causes of these changes in perspective will be examined.
Changes in the Historical Views of Health Dating back to the Ice Age and preindustrial times, a person who became ill or diseased was said to have been the cause of evil (Straub, 2012). People who became ill did not show any physical signs; however, were possessed by a demon, impacted by witchcraft, or had a weak religious belief system. During this time, people were treated through exorcism, sorcery, or even trephination—a primitive method of surgery (Pitsios & Zafiri, 2012). According to Straub (2012) and Pitsios and Zifiri (2012), archaeologists have uncovered prehistoric human skulls having unevenly shaped holes drilled by early medicine practitioners to let disease-causing demons to exit patients’ bodies. Historical records also reveal that trephination was a practiced form of medicine in Europe, Egypt, India, and Central and South America. Later, during the fifth and sixth centuries B.C.E., the foundation for Western medicine was founded by Hippocrates, when Greeks and Romans began to advance their information systems and technology. Hippocrates began to question the earlier beliefs of medicine, and argued that disease was a natural occurrence (Straub, 2012). He began studying the causes of disease, knowing that these could not come from superstitions and demons. Hippocrates’ humoral theory suggested that people become infected by disease when there is an imbalance among the four humors: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm (Green, 1985). In order to remain healthy and disease free, one must practice a healthy lifestyle of exercise, rest, diet, and avoidance of stress (Straub, 2012). During the first and second centuries C.E., healers built upon Hippocrates’ theories and expanded upon the humoral theory. Specifically, Galen, argued that the four humors each had their own elementary qualities that determined the traits of different diseases (Green, 1985; Straub, 2012). He furthered his theory by arguing drugs had specific qualities that would treat these diseases. While Western medicine was progressing, the ideas of disease in the Middle Ages reverted back to the thought that disease was caused by something supernatural, such as a demon. Illness and disease was a punishment from God for any “evildoing, and epidemic diseases, such as the two great outbursts of plague (a bacterial disease carried by rats and other rodents) that occurred during the Middle Ages, were believed to be a sign of God’s wrath” (Straub, 012, p. 10). Further, the Renaissance era regressed back to the scientific understanding of anatomy. Descartes believed in mind-body dualism, where the mental and physical states of a human body were different in nature. Following the Renaissance era, technology continued to advance, science became more heavily studied, and medicine progressed. During the later centuries, scientists began discovering exactly how the body was made and how disease impacted the make-up. Theories moved from internal causes of disease (anatomical theory) to cellular theory and the idea of spontaneous generation.
The Biomedical Model The biomedical model of medicine came about in the mid-19th century, and was used by medical