Social Control Debate

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  • Created by: Summer
  • Created on: 11-04-14 20:38

Social Control

All societies have rules, norms and customs which are expected to be learned through socialisation. In general people conform to this without social control by using their own internal social control. However there are occasions when social control is thought to be needed; we will focus on aspects of the biological, learning and psychodynamic approaches and their issues with social control.

There are many different types of power which are possessed by therapists to aid social control (French and Raven 1960):

  1. Expert power- when a professional is given power in their field

  2. Reward power- they may have the power to reward or punish the client (TEP)

  3. Legitimate Power- where the therapist’s role is as an agent of society in shaping ‘appropriate’ behaviour

  4. Coercive Power- where a practitioner is able to force someone to undertake a therapy, this is often unethical but may be used in court cases/ sectioning and then continued as ethically as possible. neutral stimulus (i.e. alcohol or phobia) with a

  5. Referent Power- is when the pps gives the therapist power because they want to be like them; perhaps they have the skills the pps wants to get better or the therapist has charisma.

Drug Therapy as Control

Describe their use through clinical psychology and health psychology (overcome drug addiction by methadone) then evaluate by power, ethics and practical issues.

Power:  Clients still have the power to control if they take the drug, however court orders or sectioning can provide coercive power which removes this right. Expert power may also encourage the person to take the drugs.

E: Clinicians often prescribe psychoactive drugs to treat a disorder without fully explaining or considering the negative side effects for the client. These side effects can be severe and sometimes worse than the illness itself i.e. antipsychotics and tardive dyskinesia/ weight gain.

Drugs are often given when it is felt that the individual is unable to make it rationally, this has the implication of free will or being forced to take them by family members who gave consent in the individual’s place. Special guidelines are in place regarding the mentally ill, focusing on confidentiality and consent when undertaking research or in institutions. Often case conferences are held to ensure ethical practise, as it is felt that professionals are in the best position to make the decision, however there is still the issue of power over an individual.

P: Often clients are offered drug treatments as a first resort and not offered less controlling, and perhaps more effective, therapies unless drugs fail to work. E.g. depression is better treated by therapies than drugs. There is no way to monitor an individual’s condition as you will not know if they are getting better or if other therapies are required/ needs change.

Having to take drugs is time consuming and invasive, with no insurance that they will be cured of all ill health, as drugs often mask symptoms rather than tackling causes so are used to control patients as it is


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