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By Anne Rogers, David Pilgrim

A former BMA clinical booklet of the yr award winner, this publication offers a sociological research of significant components of psychological overall healthiness and illness.

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Variables such as height, education and ownership of additional consumer goods act as indicators of these past histories. Health indicators comparing community samples over time consistently show a class gradient on a number of indicators throughout the life-span. For example, individuals who are considered to be more physically attractive at age of 15 have higher social mobility by the age of 36 than those considered less attractive (Benzeval et al. 2013). This life-span approach is able to suggest factors that are influential at different points or over periods of time in relation to mental health.

The only aspects of the social this medical view leaves intact are the environmental factors, which might putatively contribute to the aetiology of illness. However, this stance is one reflection of a deeper problem for both medicine and sociology; the problem of mind/body dualism. Baker and Menken create a unity between mind and body by asserting the single centrality of the skin-encapsulated body out of which each and every form of human ill emerges. Radical social constructivism generates another unitary position by arguing instead that ‘everything is socially constructed’.

This was the starting point in 1952 for DSM-I (Grob 1991), and it reflected the dominance at the time of psychoanalytical and social psychiatric ideas in both the academy and the clinic in the USA. Three main factions within the APA were emerging in the postwar period: biological psychiatrists, medical psychoanalysts and social psychiatrists. By the 1970s biological psychiatrists had consolidated their relationship with the pharmaceutical industry in the wake of the putative ‘pharmacological revolution’ of the 1950s (Healy 1997).

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