The first aim of this chapter is briefly to introduce the key concepts and perspectives that underpin the chapters that follow. Its second aim is to explain their overall purpose and structure. In the first section “common sense” is defined, and the relationship between common sense and a particular way of thinking about health and illness, known as the “medical model”, is discussed. In the second section four common sense views of health and illness based on the medical model are identified and challenged, in order to outline four of the main purposes of this book. In the third section the biopsychosocial model of health and illness is introduced. As its name suggests, social psychological influences play an important role in this model. Their importance justifies the social psychological bases of this book. In the fourth section the focus is on social psychology itself. From the diversity of approaches in social psychology, four levels of analysis will be described in order to explain both the order of chapters and the emphasis of their content.
To state the obvious, human beings have physical bodies. By means of our bodies we move around in our world and interact with others. Our bodies influence how others perceive and interact with us and how we feel and think about ourselves. Indeed, our very survival as individuals depends upon the survival of our physical bodies. Most of us rejoice when we feel fit and healthy; most of us fear threatening pathological processes when we feel ill. The importance of the physical reality of our bodies is common sense in our society.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “common sense” in two relevant ways, which focus on individuals and communities respectively. In the first, common sense is “the endowment of natural intelligence possessed by rational beings; ordinary, normal or average understanding; the plain wisdom which is everyman's [sic] inheritance;” or “more emphatically, good, sound practical sense; combined tact and readiness in dealing with the everyday affairs of life; general sagacity” and “ordinary or untutored perception”. In the second definition, common sense is defined as “the general sense, feeling or judgement of mankind [sic] or a community”.
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Publication information: Book title: Rival Truths: Common Sense and Social Psychological Explanations in Health and Illness. Contributors: Lindsay Claire - Author. Publisher: Psychology Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 1.
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