The roles of medications in American society have been on the rise and will continue to be so ever since scientists figured out that different compounds put together can make new and useful things. Medicalization (1950 – 1985) has control over our bodies and behaviors through medical intervention (Lecture 5.2). A good example of this is the creation of penicillin, also known as “magic bullets”. This pill was designed to stop infections, it aided soldiers in World War II, and also gave way to what science was becoming capable of. The role of medicalization was to normalize the body through the absence of disease. Soon after, biomedicalization (1985 – present) was introduced. This is the enhancement of our bodies and behaviors through medical intervention (Lecture 5.2). Instead of normalizing the body, it increases efficiency and enhances the body. An example of this is Viagra. Viagra is a pill that was created in hope that blood vessels would relax. Scientists later found that it gave way to multiple, simple erections in males. It was soon given to males who suffered chronically, the inability to perform sexually. Shortly after, it was being purchased by all males who did not suffer from erectile dysfunction. Culturally, as stated by Professor David Healy in “Pill Poppers”, if we are falling short of one hundred percent perfection, that the pill will help and in essence we are ill. This clearly shows how people view their wellbeing. With the intervention of medicine, we are able to become successful and maintain our “perfect” wellbeing.

This advertisement that I have viewed on television numerous times is for insomnia. The product that they try to sell is a pill called Lunesta.

The cultural views for this show that if you are experiencing wakeful nights or have a hard time falling asleep that you should take this pill. They do not stress that you should limit your caffeine intake, read a book, or take a warm bubble bath before going to bed, but that you should go straight to taking a pill that will get the job done. In “Pill Poppers” a man discusses how he was prescribed a pill for sleeping problems. He was only supposed to take it for six to eight weeks and instead took it for 20 years. This goes to show how easy they are to obtain and also that they are thought to be harmless – no one thinks about the long lasting effect.

Socially everyone thinks the pill is for them even with the forty seconds of telling the consumer about the side effects and warnings. It is easy to obtain (by presenting the symptoms to your doctor in a convincing way) and at one point everyone may take these kind of pills.

The advertisement starts off my discussing the symptoms someone may experience. Then the woman speaker says, “Sleep is here on the wings of Lunesta” if you having trouble falling asleep. After twenty seconds of that it goes on to discuss forty seconds of side effects and what you should not do. The presentation of the medical information is towards the end.

There is no doctor, patient interaction. The advertisement says to talk to your doctor and find out if Lunesta is right for you.

Other advertising strategies that are used are the actions of the characters. They seem irritable in the beginning and then with the help of Lunesta they sleep soundly. It also shows them waking up refreshed and ready for the day which is how people want their night and morning to go. This makes the product more realistic.



“Pill Poppers (BBC Documentary) [Video].” (accessed July 30, 2014).

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Alexis Rife says:

    Insomnia, for many years, was not considered an illness. Troubled sleep could be caused by any number of factors, extreme stress for example. Not until we entered the age of biomedicalization and medications for everyday aches and pains and problems did we view insomnia as a legitimate illness that can be treated. This reflects the pill-popping culture that we have grown into where a pill is the easiest, fastest, and safest means of treatment. In terms of the economic forces that have remolded our ideas of illness, a culture where everyone is addicted to taking pills may be a good thing. When people are addicted to pills, they cannot stop buying them which increases demand. Insomnia is now considered an illness in our culture because it can be treated rather effectively with medication. Also, in our society today, the very term illness does not strike the general population as anything very serious which plays into the belief that it can be treated quite easily. As you described in your post and in the ad, all one has to do to get their hands on a prescription is convince their doctor that they need it. Nowadays, anything remotely resembling a defect in what is considered normal is termed an illness and often necessitates biomedical intervention.

    Conrad, Peter and Deborah Potter, “From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories,” Social Problems 47 (2000): 559-82. Accessed July 31, 2014.

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