Saturday, December 14, 2013

Functionalism or Structuralism in Rheumatology?

What is needed more in rheumatology? An approach from the functionalism viewpoint or from the one of structuralism?
When I studied social anthropology I have been interested in the question of whether functionalism or structuralism would serve the scientific purpose more. Let’s apply a few thoughts of this field to rheumatology.
Of course, we need an approach from structuralism as we deal often in changes of joints and bones. On the other hand, what do we get out of this angle in terms of social functioning? I think that rheumatic diseases are far more than a definition in terms of structuralism. Pain and inflammation have an impact on body and mind. And this impact also works on social functioning and social role, in family, community, and/or work. Pain and inflammation are better looked at from the functionalism point of view. You can see structural damages on X-ray charts or MRIs for instance, but these charts don’t tell you anything about the impact on how the patient in interacting with the physical and social environment. Yet, on a visit at the rheumatologist looking at X-ray charts and talking about possible damages take a lot of time. Also we tend to talk more about lab results than on issues concerning social functioning.

So this short note is striking a blow for an approach from the functionalism angle of view! Let’s use structuralism more for background information, but talk more about the impact on the disease on functioning. In this way I hope that we can restore normality to people, who have been overrun out of a sudden by a disease that will stay and work against them. Let’s talk more about what is possible in term of social functioning and what still needs attention.

No comments:

Post a Comment