The last in the series looking at the biomedical model focuses on perhaps the most important aspect of the model for physiotherapists – the body-as-machine. If you’ve read anything in critical physiotherapy over the last decade, you will almost certainly have come across the idea of the body-as-machine. Dating back perhaps as far as René Descartes and the idea that the body could be understood as separate from the mind, the body-as-machine became a specially powerful metaphor for medicine after the Industrial Revolution. Machinery, it seemed, provided the perfect metaphor for how body should work, because if industrialists could organise the production of food, fabrics, … [Read more...] about What is the biomedical model #7
Thus far, we’ve covered five of the main features of the biomedical model - the model that underpins so much of the theory behind the way physiotherapy functions. These have been: Specific aetiology, or the search for the specific cause of the patient’s signs and symptoms Germ theory and the belief that illness is caused by disease within the body Cartesian dualism and the mind-body split Objectivity and experimentation And reductionism, or the anti-holistic belief that the person can be understood as a collection of systems and structures In this penultimate post, we’ll look at normalisation. Normalisation is the belief that certain people, certain … [Read more...] about What is the biomedical model #6
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
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
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?