How has increasing medicalization in the UK changed the way we view death and why? The term ‘medicalization’ defines the process that links a lot of life’s problems with medical problems. Prior to the medicalization of death in the nineteenth century, death was known to be a biological process, in which it was more communal than just personal. Death was usually accompanied by cultural practices such as restrictions and practices in clothing, food and ritual and these resulted in offering comfort and strength to both the dying person and their loved ones. Medicalization began with improvements in medical technologies, it led to a better understanding of death i.e. the introduction of the stethoscope allowed us to determine the specific point of death resulting from the cessation of the heart beat and improvement in the ventilators/other forms of life-support machinery helped invent the concept of ‘brain death’ (Russell, 2009). These improvements have led the people to know death as ‘scary’ due to the increased understanding of bodily functions and disease diagnosis. Due to this, death is now not seen as a natural and important part of life but instead something unacceptable so people who are dying tend to go through this unavoidable experience usually on their own without any social support or comfort. Increasing medicalization of death meant that more people died in hospital beds rather than in their homes and went through intensive care before dying. In UK, this is due to the presence of NHS providing everyone comprehensive care free of charge, availability of doctors with specialist statuses, advance in medical technologies and availability of drugs, people often tend to see death as unacceptable and they seem to fight against it till the very end without caring about anything else. In some cases, death is also seen as way in which one can get out of their social and political responsibilities such as having to work, paying for several taxes and services, etc....
References: Russell, A. (2009) Lecture Notes: The Social Basis of Medicine. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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