The role of medications in American society has become far more important in recent years and this not only because of our improvement of health care. The mass media outlet of advertisement has been a constant bombardment of medications that treat pills as magic, much like penicillin was considered as ‘magic bullets’ for deadly diseases. Medicalization is the control over bodies and behaviors through medical interventions and was mostly noted from 1950-1985 (lecture 5.2). Medicalization became an important proponent of social control and after World War II doctors were given the power to make this diagnosis because it was generally believed that biomedicine is the best indicator and healer of such ailments. Biomedicalization is the enhancement of bodies and behaviors through medical interventions and has been seen in since 1985 (lecture 5.2). Biomedicalization is different from medicalization in that it tries to improve the social interactions of people by implementing healthcare on certain ailments. A good example of this is the use of rogaine or hair growth for men, or having prosthetics limbs given to people. America’s current belief about medications shows our dedication to have the best genetic/biological advantage to prevail over our everyday obstacles. It also shows how our society values instant gratification and the direct disconnect that many people have with how our body actually works when we are sick. In the reading, “The Commodification of Celebrity Health,” there is a talk about how Paula Deen’s diagnosis of Type II diabetes and hiding it from the public was directly motivated by her desire to keep making money off of people eating her unhealthy food. According to the article, medicalization scholars say that athletes, actors, and other notable figures have to maintain the ideal physical and mental image that fits the American cultural beliefs. In the film, “Pill Poppers,” there is the discussion about how pills are almost magical, and that there is a low success rate but if one works, then the effects are incredible. Even though this documentary shows our dependence on drugs, the narrator still uses words like “magical” to describe the current state of medications in America.
In the advertisement for Abilify (aripiprazole), there is a clear indication that depression is widespread and that antidepressants are not good enough to deal with depression. Adding the drug Abilify will help when taken with antidepressants and is considered a drug add-on. The social roles were very clear in the commercial as well. The commercial shows a cartoon doctor helping the patient with depression out of a hole in the ground. The hole in the ground is signifying the idea that depression is engulfing the girl and she cannot escape without a doctor’s help. While the cartoon characters are interacting on screen, the health benefits are advertised on the screen as well as having a voice over that talks about how to use the drug in the most effective fashion. The commercial made a note to speed up side effects and only say them at the very end of the commercial, so there is not much attention on the negative aspects of the drug. The doctor-patient interaction was very positive and the doctor was the savior in the commercial. He was helping the patient out of the hole and was offering help to the woman. The patient trusted the doctor wholeheartedly and took his advice as the final answer to solve her problem with depression. The commercial also used other advertisement techniques, like separating family from health professionals in the commercials and stating that the doctor is the only source for advice and using a personal battle with depression (first person narrative).
Karim – The Commodification of Celebrity Health” “anthropologies.” : The Commodification of Celebrity Health. http://www.anthropologiesproject.org/2013/03/the-commodification-of-celebrity-health.html (accessed July 29, 2014).
Pill Poppers (BBC Documentary)