The condition that is heavily medicalized that I chose to discuss is ADHD.  I feel that the reason that this condition is medicalized in the U.S. culture is because people
believe that there is always a cure for something, in this case being hyperactive.  ADHD is defined as “a problem with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a  combination” of the three.  As stated before, it is our culture’s thinking that there is a cure for everything, which in this case is an over-active, inattentive child.  I’m not trying to discredit the condition as a whole, as I know a number of people that have those issues.  I also knew people growing up that went through a phase in their youth of being constantly active and distracted, but grew out of it as they became older.  Some of those kids were given medication and others weren’t, it all depended on their parents and doctors.  What I just previously described is the cultural force of the disease.  Politically and economically there is a lot to gain from the over medicalization of ADHD.  Drug companies that produce ADHD medications have a lot to gain economically with the prescribing of their medications.  Physicians that prescribed medications from specific drug companies often receive kick-backs from those companies.  Politicians that lobby for these drug companies often receive campaign donations in return.

The advertisement that I chose is for the ADHD drug Concerta.  The strategy for this ad
employs the use of a young boy, boys are more commonly diagnosed with the disorder, attempting to concentrate on doing his homework, difficulty concentrating is a common ADHD symptom and complaint.  The ad plays on the ideology that all students should be quite, respectful, under control, and receive good grades.  The medical information is presented in lettering significantly smaller than the rest of the text and at the bottom of the page.  The only method used to draw attention to this information is the bolded statement “Important Safety Information” that comes before it.  There are no doctor/patient interactions found in the text or in pictures, but the ad does state to “contact your healthcare professional about Concerta.”


Concerta Advertisement:



Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

1 thought on “ADHD

  1. I agree with much of your analysis of the ad for Concerta. I also agree that though the disorder can be a real disability for certain children, the symptoms resemble much of what it just means to be a kid. Typically, when you are six years old, you do not want to be locked in a room with one adult and 20+ other kids for 8 hours a day. I know I would much rather be climbing the dirt piles outside than writing a book report on the US presidents. It is definitely important to note that the ad features a boy. Our culture typically raises us to fulfill the gender roles pretty early, and that means boys are energetic and free and girls want to be responsible like mommy. My favorite thing is that the first mistake Alex makes is he leaves his backpack on the bus. I am pretty sure every person I have ever known in their grade school days left their backpack somewhere on accident. Likewise, he is disruptive in the library. I’m with you on that one, imaginary Alex. Libraries make me totally uncomfortable, but I don’t have ADHD. In contrast to the bent trail of ‘symptoms’ of ADHD is the nice and neat trail of things Alex COULD be doing if he were on this medication. Now, mom’s not getting a call from the teacher.

    Analyzing the ad in this way really highlights our cultural dependency on medication. Assuming imaginary Alex does not actually have a learning disorder, he has become a regular kid whose mom doesn’t want to put in the effort to teach him responsibility. Instead, mom called doctor and asked for a little pill to do that for her. Now when Alex is at a friend’s house and acting up, mom can say it’s not his or her fault, he has a disorder. It’s biology. A major part of medicalization is taking the blame off of us, if you think about it.

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