Social Construction Essay

2177 Words9 Pages
Social constructionism is the term that describes the way social reality and social phenomena are constructed (Hacking, 1999). The purpose of this essay is to explore how individuals who suffer from schizophrenia are labelled ‘abnormal’, as opposed to ‘normal’. The author will look at a theoretical model of social constructionism, which draws on personal experience with schizophrenia patients, and finally, consider how this can be applied to occupational therapy (OT) practice. This essay begins by discussing what is meant by ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’, as the distinction between ‘normality’ and ‘abnormality’ is not clear (Frued 1999; Seligman, Rosehan, 1997). We could argue that our concept of normality is derived from the media and that all children are labelled at birth with society as the perpetuating force behind a list of ‘isms’ (racism, sexism etc.) applied to all people who do not fit the mainstream idea of ‘normal’ (Seligman, Rosenhan, 1997). The notion of normality is crucial in this area of mental health, as constructed by the powerful and dominant groups in society, who have constructed the norm and portrayed disability as a deviation from the norm. The dominant view of disability classifies it as a problem, as abnormal, unnatural and deviant from the norm (Seligman, Rosenhan, 1997). Burr (1995) suggests that the construction was a reflection of ‘naturally occurring distinct types of human beings’ (cited in Hughes, 1998, p.67). Psychologists have attempted to define ‘abnormality’ in terms of a combination of the following: statistical infrequency, deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately and/or deviation from mental health. It is clear that defining abnormality is a complex ideology (Seligman, Rosenhan, 1997). These four concepts do not take into account cultural differences and fail to include the importance of biological influence,
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