In the U.S., we have a tendency of taking blame away from a person suffering from a condition by attributing it to biological causes. Although personal choices can play a role in health, such as eating junk food and becoming obese, we have medications available to fix just about any situation. Depression, a mental condition, is the state of feeling alone, hopeless, sad, as well as many other emotions, to the degree that normal life becomes nearly impossible to enjoy or even just get through. There are a wide range of symptoms and outcomes, and it may even lead to suicide. I think that it is important and useful that we label it as a real disease because blaming the individual (who may be feeling hopeless) could be very dangerous and only worsen their situation. By clearly marking it as a mental illness and offering a wide variety of medications and treatments, the person is able to focus on getting better which is a very important source of hope. We label many diseases this way because we view all individuals as equal, not just under the law but biologically. Even those born with debilitating conditions are given the same opportunities, and so the condition is never their fault but just a sort of challenge that can be conquered with help from the health community, often in the form of medications or intensive treatment from a professional.

To treat depression, usually tricyclic antidepressants are prescribed. This type of medicine helps to improve the production of two chemical messengers, known as neurotransmitters, in the brain, norepinephrine and serotonin. Simply put, it helps the patient to feel happy and optimistic. There are a few other options if that type of medicine is not useful. I have included a link to a website of an antidepressant, Viibryd. It is made of vilazodone and comes in four different dosage sizes. Like just about every other antidepressant ad, it contains a photo of a woman who looks upset, with her eyes cast down, all by herself. This helps the depressed individual to relate to the character so that they feel understood. Other marketing strategies include optimistic statements and kind, soft messages rather than direct or cold ones. It’s important to connect to the audience on a level that is not threatening or offensive or invasive and to swoop them up and make them feel cared for and having a better future. This communication style is similar between doctors and patients, too, ensuring that the person feels important. The relationship is almost matching that between a mother and small child (of our culture), full of support and unconditional love in the form of tender care.

Advertisement for Viibryd:

Information Source:

Web M.D., Depression Health Center. Retrieved from:

Obesity – A Disease?

Obesity is biomedicalized in U.S. culture because mass media has become overly obsessed by it and now it is in the realm of a disease, disorder, something that has to be fixed. Consumers are preoccupied with it and concerned about it.  They want to take a pill, have surgery, do whatever it takes to alleviate the problem.  In the lecture, it was stated that biomedicalization is concerned with enhancement of bodies even if it means medical intervention.

Even the website address implies it is something that has to be “cured”. It gives you strategies to lose weight, 101 tips on what you can do to achieve a satisfactory weight loss. There is a presense of medical information, they talk about health disparities. They discuss the psychological reasons for obesity and mention experts (or so they say) in the field of obesity. They even discuss homeopathy, herbs, prescriptions for weight loss and bypass surgery for the extremely obese. They tell us we live in a society based on appearance, they talk to us as if they need inform us of these things and it is news to us.  They name celebrities that have been helped and even promote these celebrities diets and their books. These advertisements try to appeal to your sensibilities by acting like they are giving you the tools to make your own decision regarding the best way to go about losing weight. Another part of their ad is disturbing, they appeal to Hispanic and Latino obesity as if these particular nationalities have more of a problem with obesity. 

They also show a doctor’s stethoscope in the corner of the ad as if to say that doctor’s recommend their methods and they are endorsed by physicians.  There is also a cross next to the stethoscope perhaps symbolizing a physician recommendation.



Erectile Dysfunction

I personally think that erectile dysfunction is one of the most overly medicated illnesses in the United States and in Western Culture. I think it is pretty easy to understand why this is considered an illness and why we are so quick to medicalize it. Erectile Dysfunction strikes right at the heart of the male psyche. It ruins the idea that a male must be fertile and virile. It strikes at male dominance and vitality. Western Culture is still slighted to male dominance even though we are making strides to fix this. The reasons for making this illness something that requires biomedical intervention is largely cultural. Men want a way to feel young and virile again, especially if they feel like their illness at all makes them feel less than whole. When a drug was found that could help men deal with erectile dysfunction it gained huge popularity because there was finally a chance that men could fix their problem.


Commercial for Viagra:


It is very easy to do an analysis of this commercial. It shows men rejoicing, showing new vitality, and just being generally happy. This plays off of a lot of cultural values existing in western culture. First is the idea that a person must be sexually active in order to be happy. We idolize sex in our culture, make it something that must be achieved in order to be “normal” and that if you are not having sex or are incapable of performing then you are by definition “abnormal”. The commercial also shows the created and accepted social roles that we place in our society. Men must be able to perform sexually to be normal. How many commercials do you see about female sexual performance enhancers? Not very many, our society focuses on how females look, but how men perform. There is very little actual medical information giving in the commercial, and only in writing at the very end of the commercial. There is also no doctor patient interaction at all, even though it is a prescribed drug.

Erectile Dysfunction

I think this disorder is medicalized because it’s just another easy way for pharmaceutical companies to make money off of people. I also think that once so many people complain about a certain issue physicians and scientists want to find a way to help so they try to find a solution. A plus side to something being medicalized is that it makes people feel like they’re not alone, and that they aren’t the only person who has this issue. I think that makes it easier for people to admit they have a problem and easier for them to get help if they choose to do so.

The commercial that I found was for a drug called Cialis. The type of advertising they use is direct to consumer. They are trying to get new patients and potential customers to buy their drug because it’s better than all the rest. They definitely make it seem like erectile dysfunction is bad, and it means something is wrong with you and that you should get it fixed immediately. I’ve always thought it was funny how every commercial for a certain drug on TV has more serious side effects than the actual “disorder” you’re starting out with. Just like in this commercial, it says that the side effects can include headache, muscle ache, drop in blood pressure, and you have need to seek medical attention. All of that sounds a lot worse than having erectile dysfunction to me. All throughout the commercial they are showing two people who are clearly in love having a good time, and they do that so it will distract you from all the health conditions that can result from taking their medication. At the end they tell you to talk to your doctor so when the time comes, “you can be ready.” It’s a very cheesy commercial.


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)

Erectile Dysfunction

I choose to analyze the illness of erectile dysfunction in our culture and why it is a biomedical approached is considered to be necessary to treat it. In our culture, the inability to get an erection is seen to lessen the masculinity of a man and as a result people are desperate to prevent this. The social effects from this illness could be devastating and make one the subject of ridicule or quite possibly hurt their station in the workplace. On a political level, erectile dysfunction is not really considered to be a pressing issue; however the drug companies who make money from ED medication do have a political influence and seek support in their endeavors to keep ED as a medical condition. This has a large economic impact as there is a lot of money to be made from selling this medication and men in our culture are willing to pay quite a bit to be rid of this condition. This diagnosis of ED as an illness influences the sufferers to seek treatment, which is usually pharmaceutical, and alters their perception of the condition. It also puts more stress on the patient since they now have another issue that can lead to potential problems if not treated.

Like many people in our culture, when I think of erectile dysfunction I immediately remember a Viagra commercial. The commercial itself uses the metaphor of things getting in the way of two peoples relationship and likens erectile dysfunction as one of those. The people then choose to throw all of these things, such as the television remote and magazines out the window before starting to dance. While listing the warnings and side effects it shows the two people going into a room and shutting the door with an obvious allusion to sex. This plays on our cultures ideas about sex and that every man should be able to have sex as the situation arises. The social roles shown are an older man still being able to have fun and enjoy life (successful), if he can still have sex. It presents medial information in the sense that it tell the side effects and warning in while it builds up the commercial. This commercial portrays doctor patient interactions by suggesting you consult a doctor to see if Viagra is a viable way to treat your erectile dysfunction.

Erectile Dysfunction

I have chosen the condition of erectile dysfunction. The
reasons for erectile dysfunction being biomedicalized are vast and
multidirectional. In terms of culture, there is a premium and expectation
placed on sexual performance, especially when speaking of gender roles. There
are female sexual “enhancers” on the market, but overwhelmingly, when it comes
to sexual performance, the focus is on men. There is a large market for men who
feel pressure to perform. Erectile dysfunction drug companies capitalize on
this market very well with promises of “mind blowing” enhancement. When
discussing any kind of pharmaceutical, politics seem to be involved as well.
Drug companies back specific candidates and parties with promises of policy
reform or economic favors. Defining erectile dysfunction or any kind of ailment
for that matter as an illness has benefits for many groups. Economically, any
kind of illness is profitable for drug companies. The more legitimate an illness
seems to be, often the more profitable the drug will be.

The link that I found was for the drug Viagra. Viagra is probably
the most common and well known treatment for erectile dysfunction. The
advertising strategy was direct and obvious. Take Viagra, and your life will
essentially turn around. You will be running up and down your street full of
joy and all of life’s other problems will seem obsolete. Again, the cultural
value of men performing sexually is a big player in the advertisement. Most of
the men in the commercial seemed to be successful average guys.  The commercial showed middle aged men to elderly men. This makes sense as this is the common age range of men with erectile dysfunction. Medical information was absent from the advertisement. This was not surprising considering what the advertisement was even for, did not show up until the end. The statement, “talk to your doctor”, ended the video adding to the assumed legitimacy of the drug.


Acne is a very much medicalized in western culture and advertisement has mad it’s a medical illness that needs medicine. Cultural influences like media and popular culture are what I believe reframed it into illness. In the media you seem people with “flawless” skin which instills the belief the viewer’s skins show be as immaculate as the person TV. Anytime there are countless number of commercials shown for acne treatments.. It’s not even seen as part of a teen’s life anymore but as an illness that needs to be taken of fast. I heard before with the acne treatments that are out there no one should have it anymore. Acne treatment companies make billions of dollars selling their products and millions are spent and advertisement. Also celebrities are a major part of getting people to buy acne treatments. “Jessica Simpson was paid six figures alone to appear in Pro Activ commercials to help convince the consumer.  The company spends about $125 million a year buying time for its infomercials on channels like VH1 and MTV as well as Web sites like Facebook”. (Acne, the Billion Dollar Business Analyzed)

The advertisement I chose to analyze is commercial the acne treatment Skin ID who has the famous celebrity actress Hayden Panettiere as a spokesperson. The advertising strategy is having the Hayden talk to the audience on a personally level and she even reveals her skin id. They also have testimonies for the general population so you can it doesn’t just work for a celebrity but it can work for anybody. The cultural ideology is that anyone can have clear skin if they just buy this product. Also it also speaks on the cultural value of having clear skin. The social roles show that having acne is unacceptable and show be treated at any cost. The commercial presents medical information through charts and comparing it to the Proactiv. The Skin ID showed dermatologist talking about how good the product. They have people who use Skin ID: they talk about how it helped them and show their before and after pictures.

Works Cited

Acne, the Billion Dollar Business Analyzed. (n.d.).



I would say that obesity is very medicalized in U.S. culture.  Part of the reason for this, I think, is because it so easily can be medicalized.  The rate of people becoming obese just keeps increasing, and there are so many ways companies can come up with “treatments” for it.  Culturally with busy lifestyles, fast food, less exercise, and spending so much time in front of T.V.s and computers is leading to so many people getting this “illness”, but culture also puts so much pressure on looking good and being thin that we need a “treatment”.  Economically any company that can benefit from making obesity an illness that requires biomedical intervention is going to profit, so it is in their best interest to go along with it.  Weight loss pills or surgeries can be huge money makers. And considering obesity can lead to pretty bad stuff it is not too hard to convince people they need to do something about it early and then give them an easy way out with some kind of pill.

The ad I found was for PhenObestin.  It had a guy’s voice in the background giving all the information. I think some of the advertising strategies here were to give all the information really quickly.  It started with a thin women smiling, and the voice saying “this could be you” and then throughout the rest it always has someone who is wearing pants that are too big trying to show how much weight they lost.  It focused on the more visual aspect with bar graphs showing how much weight someone lost per month trying to show big results.  There was also the strategy of them trying to make it seem like you are getting a good deal by always showing graphics offering free shipping, buy 3 get it 20% off, and mention something and get an extra 15% off,  35% off.  They also make sure to mention key words like rapid weight loss, and made sure to point out that there are no empty promises here.  When it comes to cultural values I think they exploited our culture’s need to look good.  The people in the ad weren’t like the ones with the before and after photos, instead they are like athletic, good looking people who go to the gym quite a bit.  As far as medical information goes, there basically wasn’t any.  They mentioned it was an appetite suppressant and that it used “100% PURE pharmaceutical ingredients”.  There were also no doctor patient interactions in the ad most likely emphasizing that you don’t need a prescription for it, or because a doctor wouldn’t approve of it. Either or.



Although the use of Cigarettes
(and smokeless tobacco products) have been declining for years the dependency
on nicotine  is still a “problem” for
about twenty percent of the United States
adult population.  It is claimed
by some that alcoholism is a disease. Alcoholism is not a disease, alcoholism
is a dependency and dependency is a choice. So like alcoholism nicotine is not
a dieses but a choice, so this does not fit this assignment in absolute sense
the production of smoking cessation drugs that have resulted does.

The first drugs for nicotine
dependency; the transdermal patch first hit the prescription market in the
early 1990s overtime nicotine gums hit the market and in the fullness of time
the requirement for a prescription was withdrawn by the FDA.  The patch and gum were simply replacing the
nicotine found in tobacco with an tobacco free delivery device. Non tobacco drugs
have been introduced by pharmaceutical companies, including the drug Zyban.

The marketing strategy used by
advertising agencies is that stopping smoking is hard in fact stopping smoking
by yourself is basically imposable.  The social
roles and cultural ideology in this “condition” and its intertwined with the
drugs that have been reduced to rectify the “problem”.  Smoking has become much less culturally
significant in the United States to the point that is seen as some sort of
social boogey man by the “chattering class”.  This has led to many people to wanting to stop
smoking (that and obvious health detriments). This has been combined with a
culture of a pill for everything (that may have started to rear its head in
full by the 1960s [see the idea of a happy pill]).

There is not much in the way of
doctor patient interaction because most of the products are offered over the
counter. However of one of the non-nicotine drugs such as zyban all you have do
is ask for a prescription and you will get one.

As a former heavy smoker I know
you do not need anything but a small amount of willpower for a few days.

One of the leading names in
nicotine replacement products has its own YouTube page with a variety of ads to