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October 24th, 2001

The Sick Role

One of the things that stuck with me when I took Psychology classes in junior college? The concept of the sick role.

I recently caught a minor cold. It got me blowing my nose for a good half-day straight, and gave me restless sleeping… but other than that, my routine went on as normal. I consciously chose not to take up the sick role. The sick role is what happens when you finally say, “Aw, screw it, I’m sick” and admit it. Then you do what most sick people do: lay around all day and watch reruns of Ricki Lake.

I don’t like taking the sick role. I really don’t. While I can still do most of my work on the computer, my energy level is often so low that I just don’t feel like it. This week’s cold wasn’t enjoyable, but it also wasn’t severe enough to warrant taking up the sick role.

Some people claim they never get sick. I think that, instead, they might never take up the sick role. So what about you? Are you one of the “never get sick” folks, or do you just suck it up and carry around 50 pounds of Kleenex when a cold strikes? -pm

Posted in Everyday Life

FROM: Robert
DATE: Wednesday October 24, 2001 -- 9:16:54AM
In college, I wouldn't have missed class for anything short of hemorraging. I would admit that I was sick but I refused to give in, for whatever screwed-up reasons. Now that I don't care what I miss at work, hell, I feel sick all the time!

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday October 24, 2001 -- 9:25:29AM
I rarely get sick (I've had a cold once in the last three years) and the last time I was really sick was when I was in Vietnam and got some bad ice (they generally crack their own ice on the sidewalks). Man oh man, did I play the sick role, then... I had no choice, though. I was totally zapped of all energy for two days.

DATE: Wednesday October 24, 2001 -- 10:33:20AM
I generally feel pretty yucky all the time these days. Not sure why, really. I don't get really sick too often, though. Usually once or twice a year. I'll refuse to go to the doctor until I'm forced to. I usually refuse to acknowledge I'm sick for a while, too. I make a bad sick person.

FROM: Elizabeth
DATE: Thursday October 25, 2001 -- 12:24:46PM
I think that since we are all humans (well most of us anyway) we all get sick. And I also think that when you are sick you should let your body be sick and then let it heal itself. Sometimes we get sick because we are trying to do too much or because we are unhappy about something (or many things). Getting sick can be your body's way of telling you to slow down and/or take a break. Most of you manly men probably have not read the book "Women's bodies, women's wisdom" but it talks a lot about this.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Thursday October 25, 2001 -- 12:35:00PM
E--Hmmm...I'm interested in reading about women's bodies. Maybe I'll check out that book. :-)

FROM: Greg
DATE: Thursday October 25, 2001 -- 1:32:22PM
Women's Bodies - 302 chapters
Women's Wisdom - 1/2 page

Oh come on now, it's a joke!

FROM: Robert
DATE: Thursday October 25, 2001 -- 4:40:14PM
Greg--I'd like to believe it's merely a joke.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Thursday October 25, 2001 -- 10:51:30PM
Elizabeth -- I think you're right. Generally, if we get sick, it's not out of nowhere. There's some sort of stimulus... and not always just "catching it" from someone -- our body's immune system is pretty damn strong, so it's usually a number of things that combine to make one sick (stress, lack of sleep, "catching it," diet, etc.).

Listen to me. Dr. Ryan.

FROM: Pamela
DATE: Monday March 4, 2002 -- 4:39:57 pm
Just a note here on the theory of the 'sick role' itself which was written about by Talcott parsons - a structural functionalist. The role is NOT just about your 'choice' to act like a sickie or not as the original person suggested. The sick role was a way of talking about the 'social disequillibrium' that is created when someone gets sick and can't behave in the normal way. The idea of the SR (which is an analytical concept and assumed here to be operating at a sort of sub-conscious level -so people are not consciously asking themselves whether or not to play this role) - anyway the idea of the SR was to show that sick people take on that 'identity' to get the priveleges it offers - mainly that you are 'temporarily exempt from normal social roles and responsibilities' (like work or cooking), and that you aren't held responsible for being sick. But it also comes with obligations - the sick person must act as though the illness is undesirable and that their primary goal is to 'get better'. This may seem like a no-brainer but it can create issues when operational in a hospital setting where it translates to 'compliance' or obedience to what the staff requires of you - even if you the patient do not feel that that is what is appropriate for you. For example, not taking your painkillers would be non-compliant and a 'violation' of the sick role - meaning that you are jeopardizing the 'privileges' of that role for yourself. Anyway - just thought that might clarify things.

FROM: pamela
DATE: Monday March 4, 2002 -- 4:48:16 pm
here is a site with some information and references!

FROM: Bill
DATE: Monday March 18, 2002 -- 2:15:13 pm
Thanx Pam...that info. was much appreciated on the sick role:-)

FROM: Sancha
DATE: Thursday May 30, 2002 -- 10:17:56 pm
Oh Pam don`t be showin' off now

FROM: Miriam
DATE: Sunday August 25, 2002 -- 6:14:58 am
I think you have to find a happy medium somewhere. OK, you're sick, you're sick, but you don't have to take the sick role. It's something that is totally optional. Of course everyone enjoys a day off work...... but it's not something we have to conform to. We can accept the fact that we are sick without conforming to the sick role. To put it simply, next time you're sick, have some hot lemon and honey, be nice to your body, but try and keep going as per normal. Unless you have a huge exam coming up..........

FROM: Sharon Reid
DATE: Wednesday August 13, 2003 -- 1:58:27 am
My sister-in-law has well and truly taken on the sick role. I am a nursing student and have recently heard about the sick role. This person claims to have irritable bowel syndrome as well as depression and panic attacks. She will not go more than ten metres up the road and spends most of her time watching t.v and commenting on the programs on the net. She refuses all treatment to help with her "illness" and lives on the national health system in Australia. She does, however, manage to assist her father when he is not well, leaving the comfort of her house to cook and clean for him. If people in the sick role received less attention, one wonders how likely they would be to take it on. I feel like telling her to pull herself together, but she will reply "you don't know what it's like for me!" Thank goodness some of us actually make an effort to make something of our lives. I feel sorry for those other poor saps. On the other hand, we are the ones that are supporting them.

FROM: mike
DATE: Sunday September 7, 2003 -- 12:03:45 am
I was looking for a site just like this! I never get sick. I used to when I was little, but now I can't even remember the last time I was sick. I have also never seen my dad with a cold. I heard that ancestors who survived the black plague developed a gene that others don't have and have passed that gene down the family line. If anybody has heard about this I love to hear more info!

FROM: James
DATE: Tuesday January 6, 2004 -- 9:43:58 am
Thanks for this information on the sick role it will help me with my essay that i have to do for college

FROM: andy
DATE: Thursday January 8, 2004 -- 7:56:45 am
cheers guy,big thanks.that one assignment almost finished,dispite a massive no sicky

FROM: Paul
DATE: Thursday January 8, 2004 -- 10:53:39 am
Thanks for this information on the sick role it will help me with my essay that i have to do for college

You didn't pay the $500 licensing fee to use this material, bub.

FROM: Yuki
DATE: Wednesday November 10, 2004 -- 11:11:33 am
Thx so much that I get some idea of sick role for my presentation!!
May God bless you~

FROM: yrishg
DATE: Friday November 19, 2004 -- 8:56:24 pm
you[re sll full of shit

DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 3:43:49 pm

FROM: Bestman
DATE: Tuesday March 1, 2005 -- 11:34:39 pm
I think that the option of taking sick role or not taking it depends on the circumstances around you. Taking the sick role does not mean that other role is absent. You have the role as a student or employee, your role as the sole breadwinner in ur family.... these roles sometimes dont permit us to be in sick role....unless there is consideration of ur sickness or illness is being taken in by everyone else.

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Wednesday March 2, 2005 -- 2:52:11 pm
It rarely happens, but when I'm sick I'm sick and I stay home. I dislike when people work through illnesses and get the whole office sick. I sympathize with those who don't get paid sick days, though. When I was in that situation, I was a proponent of staying at work and coughing on the boss.

I recently played the sick role, spending the entire day in bed. As a result, I got whatever was going around over with in a day. We all get paid sick days here, but everyone else still came to work. Each by each, they fought it for a week and a half, feeling miserable the whole way through. Not to mention, they probably lost way more productivity overall than I did by dragging for over a week.

FROM: Wahula Doozlefrump
DATE: Friday November 4, 2005 -- 11:16:55 am
NO, the sick role is NOT where one accepts the fact that they are ill. The "sick role" is the play which one gives to a status, the structural fucntional consequence of being assigned a status (a position) in a group. The "sick role" may be adopted for the privileges it confers and the manipulative leverage it provides. It ain't just realizing "Hell, I readlly do have diararhea".

FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday November 4, 2005 -- 12:45:19 pm
Well, if anyone's going to correct a four-year-old Ping, it might as well be the esteemed Wahula Doozlefrump.

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