In the 5th of this series on the key principles of the biomedical model we look at reductionism, or the idea of dividing the body and health into systems and structures. So far we have covered specific aetiology, germ theory, Cartesian Dualism, objectivity and experimentation, and there are two more pieces in the biomedical jigsaw after this week’s look at one of the most important structural elements of healthcare practice. Early on in the history of medicine it was realised that the body and health were so complex that they would be better understood by being broken down into component parts. Ancient and pre-modern notions of health and the body had concentrated on broadly holistic … [Read more...] about What is the biomedical model #5
So far in this short series on the biomedical model, I have looked at three of its founding principles: specific aetiology, germ theory, and Cartesian Dualism. In this post we’ll examine one of the facets of modern medicine that is perhaps the most familiar and tangible concept for modern-day physiotherapists – objectivity and experimentation. In the previous post on Cartesian Dualism, I explored how the French 16th century philosopher René Descartes argued that there was no way to prove the existence of anything, because our dreams were so real we could never prove that we were not dreaming right now. What Descartes showed was that we could not trust our senses and that seeing … [Read more...] about What is the biomedical model #4
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been running a series of blog posts on the biomedical model. Biomedicine is, without doubt, one of the most powerful discourse affecting the way physiotherapists think and practice, but it is also rarely explained or explored. So over the next few blog posts I’ll be unpacking its essential features. The first two posts in the series focused on specific aetiology and germ theory. In this post, we’re going to tackle Cartesian Dualism. Cartesian Dualism gets it’s name from the work of the French skeptical philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) who, perhaps more than anyone, captured the zeitgeist of the Renaissance by defining a distinction between the mind … [Read more...] about What is the biomedical model #3
The CPN Executive met for the second time this year. Among other things we discussed the first Critical Physiotherapy Course, which kicked off with David Nicholls on The Architecture of Movement a few weeks ago. The course will have six more talks from six very exciting critical thinkers. We were impressed by the conversation that followed David’s talk. The success of the first session gives us hope that the course will spark innovative critical models for future physiotherapy. The recordings will also make a valuable archive of Critical Physiotherapy. The Executive would like to thank Tobba Sudmann for her superb chairing of the first session. The session would not have ran so … [Read more...] about A thank you from the CPN Executive
A couple of weeks ago, I posted the first of a series of short critical summaries of the biomedical model. The biomedical model is perhaps one of the most important theories underpinning physiotherapy, and yet it is rarely taught overtly in the physiotherapy curriculum. Clinicians don’t see it hiding behind their assessments and diagnoses. They don’t see it underpinning most of the treatments. And they don’t recognise it as a key driver of the kind of knowledge we accept to be true and false. So having a better understanding of how the biomedical model works would seem like a good idea. In the first post of the series, I briefly wrote about specific aetiology and the idea that one of … [Read more...] about What is the biomedical model #2
What does work mean to physiotherapists? A recent article in the journal Qualitative Health Research highlighted some of the different meanings of work for 12 women with cancer (link). One of the most interesting findings from the study was that there were many different kinds of work experienced by the women, including “illness work, body work, identity work, everyday work, paid employment and/or the work of maintaining income, and coordination work”. When you include things like the work of breathing and professional work, you have a concept that is both at the heart of physiotherapy practice, and yet almost entirely un-theorised. Work has a particularly interesting history, … [Read more...] about Different kinds of work
A lot is said about physiotherapy being biomedical and following 'the biomedical model', but what exactly is this, how and why does it underpin physiotherapy? Over the next few blog posts, I'll try to explain the idea of the biomedical model in a bit more detail and show why and how it has influenced physiotherapy. I'm going to tackle 7 key aspects of the model. There are more, of course, but these are considered by most people to be the main ones. Specific aetiology Germ theory Cartesian dualism Objectivity and experimentation Reductionism Normalisation Body-as-machine Understanding something about these will give you a stronger sense of why they're so … [Read more...] about What is the biomedical model #1?