People can argue until Doomsday, and they do, as to whether medicine is, on the whole, a good thing or an outrageous scam. Obviously, it is an outrageous scam but so is religion and where does rationality get us there? Everyone can point to tens of thousands of instances where hospitals and physicians have saved our lives. Make that millions. However, we are addicted to the Fallacy of Dramatic Instances and victims of a fabulously successful promotional scheme by the Health Care INDUSTRY. [Please forswear the term "profession."] Sometimes, we do see well beyond the end of our noses — all the way to our fingertips. What are the facts about medicalization? Try these:
Medicalization is the process by which human conditions and problems come to be defined as medical conditions, and thus become the subject of medical study and treatment. Once a condition is classified as medical, a medical model of disability tends to be used in place of a social model.
The concept of medicalization was devised by sociologists to explain how medical knowledge is applied to behaviors which are not self-evidently medical or biological. The term “medicalization” entered the sociology literature in the 1970s in the works of Irving Zola, Peter Conrad and Thomas Szasz. These sociologists viewed medicalization as a form of social control by medical authority, and they rejected medicalization in the name of liberation. This critique was embodied in works such as Conrad’s “The discovery of hyperkinesis: notes on medicalization of deviance”, published in 1973 (hyperkinesis was the term then used to describe what we might now call “attention deficit disorder” – ADHD).
IN SHORT, WE HAVE ENTERED INTO THE AGE OF DISEASE MONGERING.
In his 1975 book Limits to medicine: Medical nemesis, Ivan Illich argued that the medical profession harms people through iatrogenesis, a process in which illness increases due to medical intervention. Illich saw iatrogenesis occurring on three levels: the clinical, involving serious side effects worse than the original condition; the social, whereby the general public is made docile and reliant on the medical profession to cope with life in their society; and the structural, whereby the idea of aging and dying as medical illnesses effectively “medicalized” human life and left individuals and societies less able to deal with these “natural” processes.
Marxists such as Vicente Navarro (1980) linked medicalization to an oppressive capitalist society. They argued that medicine disguised the underlying causes of disease, such as social inequality and poverty, and instead presented health as an individual issue. Others examined the power and prestige of the medical profession, including use of terminology to mystify and of professional rules to exclude or subordinate others. A series of publications by Mens Sana Monographs have focused on medicine as a corporate capitalist enterprise.
Conversation between doctor and patient/consumer.
The physician’s role in this present-day notion of medicalization is similarly complex. On the one hand, the doctor is an authority figure who prescribes pharmaceuticals to patients. However, in some countries such as the US, ubiquitous direct-to-consumer advertising encourages patients to ask for particular drugs by name, thereby creating a conversation between consumer and drug company that threatens to cut the doctor out of the loop. There is also widespread concern regarding the extent of the pharmaceutical marketing direct to doctors and other healthcare “professionals,” for example through visits by sales people, funding of journals, training courses or conferences, incentives for prescribing, and the routine provision of “information” written by the pharmaceutical company.
According to Nicholas Kittrie, a number of phenomena considered “deviant”, such as alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness, were originally considered as moral, then legal, and now medical problems. Due to these perceptions, peculiar deviants were subjected to moral, then legal, and now medical modes of social control. According to Franco Basaglia and his followers, whose approach pointed out the role of psychiatric institutions in the control and medicalization of deviant behaviors and social problems, psychiatry is used as the provider of scientific support for social control to the existing establishment, and the ensuing standards of deviance and normality brought about repressive views of discrete social groups.
Medical institutions code menaces to authority as mental diseases during political disturbances. According to Mike Fitzpatrick, resistance to medicalization was a common theme of the gay liberation, anti-psychiatry, and feminist movements of the 1970s, but now there is actually no resistance to the advance of government intrusion in lifestyle if it is thought to be justified in terms of public health. The crazed Michael Bloomberg, the man who crookedly got himself a third term as NY’s mayor, in defiance of the City’s laws, wants to stop people from drinking Coca Cola.
According to Thomas Szasz, “the therapeutic state swallows up everything human on the seemingly rational ground that nothing falls outside the province of health and medicine, just as the theological state had swallowed up everything human on the perfectly rational ground that nothing falls outside the province of God and religion.”
An editorial in the British Medical Journal warned of inappropriate medicalization where the boundaries of the definition of illnesses are expanded to include personal problems as medical problems or risks of diseases are emphasized to broaden the market for medications. The authors noted “Inappropriate medicalisation carries the dangers of unnecessary labelling, poor treatment decisions, iatrogenic illness, and economic waste, as well as the opportunity costs that result when resources are diverted away from treating or preventing more serious disease.”
Go to your favorite search engine and look up each of these AND WEEP.
(1) Iatrogenesis; (2) Interventionism (medicine)
(3) Sociology of health and illness; (4) Big Pharma
And, later, try some of these. First, do more groveling and boot licking. Let the man in the white gown pat you on the head when you ask him, “Doctor, will my son be all right?”
^ White, Kevin (2002). An introduction to the sociology of health and illness. SAGE. p. 42.
^ Conrad P (October 1975). “The discovery of hyperkinesis: notes on the medicalization of deviant behavior”. Soc Probl 23 (1): 12–21.
^ Ajai R Singh, Shakuntala A Singh, 2005, “Medicine as a corporate enterprise, patient welfare centered profession, or patient welfare centered professional enterprise?” Mens Sana Monographs, 3(2), p19-51
^ Ajai R Singh, Shakuntala A Singh, 2005, “The connection between academia and industry”, Mens Sana Monographs, 3(1), p5-35
>^ Kittrie, Nicholas (1971). The right to be different: deviance and enforced therapy. Johns Hopkins Press.
^ Conrad, Peter; Schneider, Joseph (1992). Deviance and medicalization: from badness to sickness. Temple University Press. p. 36.
^ Szasz, Thomas (Spring 2001). “The Therapeutic State: The Tyranny of Pharmacracy”. The Independent Review V (4)
^ Offman A, Kleinplatz PJ (2004). Does PMDD Belong in the DSM? Challenging the Medicalization of Women’s Bodies. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 13
^ Moynihan, Ray; Heath, Iona; Henry, David (13 April 2002). “Selling sickness: the pharmaceutical industry and disease mongering”. BMJ. 324(7342): 886–891.
Peter Conrad, The Medicalization of Society: On the Transformation of Human Conditions into Medical Disorders (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007)
Allan Horwitz and Jerome Wakefield, The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry has Transformed Normal Sadness into Depressive Disorder (Oxford University Press, 2007)
Christopher Lane, Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness (Yale University Press, 2007)
Illich, Ivan (July 1975). “The medicalization of life”. Journal of Medical Ethics 1 (2): 73–77.