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What are the positive and negative aspects of receiving an official label or diagnosis

Essay Questions

  1. What are the positive and negative aspects of receiving an official label or diagnosis?  From the perspective of the afflicted person?  For the family?  What about social stigma?  Are labels necessary or could we do without them?  What would be the consequences of a society with no labels for mental illness?  (BE SURE TO MAKE USE OF THE READINGS).
  2. At the end of her book, Hesse-Biber asks “Does change come from ‘inside out’ or do we have to change society to change individuals?”  What do you think?  Can individuals free themselves of depression and eating disorders by means of medication, support groups and therapy?  Or are people destined to experience mental distress so long as we live in a society marked by isolation, economic inequality and race, class, gender and sexual identity discrimination?  In other words, what power and responsibility do individuals have concerning their own mental health?
  3. At the beginning of the course, I described sociology as a way of viewing the world: it is a perspective, a lens for making sense of what is going on around us.  How would you describe a sociological perspective of mental health/illness? In general, what is the benefit of considering mental health/illness from a sociological perspective?  Is it just an academic exercise or does it have “real world” applications?  If so, discuss a few of those applications.  (BE SURE TO MAKE USE OF THE READINGS).


In general, the responses will be evaluated as follows:


  1. Each response should be written in an essay format (introduction, body and conclusion-writing matters!).
  2. Incorporation of specific examples from the relevant texts (you should demonstrate that you have a solid grasp of the material by drawing on the texts to support your claim, argument or analysis).
  3. Completeness of response (be sure to answer all aspects of each question).
  4. Each response should be 1-2 pages.
  5. Writing matters!  Please proof-read multiple times to insure that your paper is clear, and articulate.

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