Journalof Psychosomatic Research,Vol. 19, pp. 155 to 167. PergamonPress,1975. Printedin Great Britain
mann, 1973. E1.15. THIS book aims to iutroduce medical students and other health workers to the way in which a medical sociologist interprets the world about him. It consists of a series of essays of varying quality, the least satisfactory being the introductory ‘Sociologists Viewpoint’ in which the non-sociologist feels overwhelmed by complex technical arguments. In sharp contrast are the discussions on ‘Becoming Ill’, the Patient Role and the Patient-Doctor relationship. There is a lively account of differential responses to illness, and of the factors affecting becoming aware of symptoms and seeking help. A precis of Talcott Parsons views on the sick role is extended to the special situations of chronic and permar.ent illness. A sick person is normally exempt from certain normal social responsibilities, cannot be expected to get well by an act of will, but should want to recover as speedily as possible. Society is intolerant of the permanently sick, and the response to chronic illness may be to redefine it as normal health, or to employ such notions as malingering or irresponsibility. Robinson teases out the constraints affecting the perspectives and range of action available to the doctor when a patient asks him for help. For an audience unfamiliar with the possible contribution of sociology to medicine and psychiatry in particular, these essays provide a provocative introduction. PETER M.
DAVID MECHANK!: Politics,
and Social Science.
Wiley, New York. 1974. f7.30.
Politics, Medicine and Social Science, containing ten of Mechanic’s recently published articles and eight new pieces, explores various aspects of the relationship between social structure and the provision of medical care. In particular it focuses on the influence of ideology and scientific and technical advances on the priorities and organisation of medical practice. Anyone familiar with David Mechanic’s work will not be surprised to find that this is a long, detailed and expensive tome in which a great mass of research material is skilfully drawn together and presented in an easy to understand yet unstimulating way. The most interesting pieces are the previously unpublished ones. In these Mechanic gets away from the extensive bibliographies, the zero-order correlations and his unimaginative work on British general practice to discuss judicial action and social change, health education, a plan for the geographical distribution of doctors and finally, a viable national system of delivering health services. DAVID ROBINSON
E. K. ERIC GUNDERSONand RICHARD H. RAHE (Editors): Life Stress and Illness. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Ill. 1974. 264 pp., $19.50. To READERSof this journal many of the contributions in this volume will be familiar-but to the larger population of medical men the subject of Life Change and Illness Experience is still terra incognita. For them some more popular statement is necessary than this collection of basically technical papers. For the expert, a critical appraisal of the subject is now due. The book falls between two stools. DENIS LEIGH