St Petersburg College Social

Sociologist Allan V. Horwitz (2002) argues that many mental disorders are not really mental disorders at all – they can be more accurately termed normal responses to social stress, social deviance which may or may not be culturally supported, relationship issues, occupational problems or other problems associated with everyday living. O Connor (2002) counters that Horwitz s assertions basically represent a classification of mental disorders as problems that are socially constructed – or are developed in response to political, social, and economic pressure. Likewise, Thomas Szasz (1991) argued that mental illness is socially constructed and that so-called treatment of it bordered on abusiveness.

In a post of 200-250 words, discuss your thoughts related to the social aspects of mental illness or mental disorders. Do you think that mental illness is socially constructed? Do you believe that we have medicalized normal reactions to what are everyday stresses of living?

Advised resource

Social determinants of mental health.

Allen, Jessica1 (AUTHOR)
Balfour, Reuben1 (AUTHOR)
Bell, Ruth1 (AUTHOR)
Marmot, Michael1 (AUTHOR)
International Review of Psychiatry. Aug2014, Vol. 26 Issue 4, p392-407. 16p.
Document Type:
Subject Terms:
*MENTAL illness risk factors
*CHILD development
*FAMILY assessment
*HEALTH services accessibility
*HEALTH status indicators
*WORLD health
*SOCIAL context
A person’s mental health and many common mental disorders are shaped by various social, economic, and physical environments operating at different stages of life. Risk factors for many common mental disorders are heavily associated with social inequalities, whereby the greater the inequality the higher the inequality in risk. The poor and disadvantaged suffer disproportionately, but those in the middle of the social gradient are also affected. It is of major importance that action is taken to improve the conditions of everyday life, beginning before birth and progressing into early childhood, older childhood and adolescence, during family building and working ages, and through to older age. Action throughout these life stages would provide opportunities for both improving population mental health, and for reducing risk of those mental disorders that are associated with social inequalities. As mental disorders are fundamentally linked to a number of other physical health conditions, these actions would also reduce inequalities in physical health and improve health overall. Action needs to be universal: across the whole of society and proportionate to need. Policy-making at all levels of governance and across sectors can make a positive difference. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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Author Affiliations:
1UCL Institute of Health Equity, University College London, UK
Accession Number: