The roles of medication in both the medicalization and biomedicalization eras provide insight into the ever changing ideas of well being, health, and success. The medicalization era, which occurred from the 1950’s to 1985, focused on “control over bodies and out behaviors thru medical intervention.” People relied on medicines to be the quick fix to curing and treating illnesses and diseases that once would kill someone. It was the idea that medicines would store the sick to being healthy again so people could resume normal life again. Doctors in this era were seen as almighty gods who could control someone’s health by writing prescriptions for magical medicines. Patients would not dare try to question their doctors, as they as peasants to the almighty could not possibly have the power and knowledge to understand illness and disease. The behavior of taking magical pills to heal all, as seen in the video “Pill Poppers”, was first established in this era. People developed faith in their doctors and too any pill or tablet that was prescribed.

The idea of pill popping carried on into the biomedicalization era, which occurred in the 1980’s to the present. The biomedicalization era took the idea that medicine was made to heal, and developed the idea of medicine into something that can be used to improve or enhance everyday life. Medicine was not only used to treat disease, such as strep throat and infection, but was also used to treat a more sociocultural illness, such as ugliness and behavioral problems. Today, patients can go have surgery to correct the bump in their nose that society or themselves think is ugly. People suffering from inability to do well in school can be given Ritalin to enhance their educational experience. The human body is seen as customizable, like the many cars lining the streets of American houses. People now pop pills to be better, stronger, less painful, rather than just to heal. This tells me that society has reached an all time low where we value appearance over health and wellness. It states that to be successful and have good well being, one must do all they can to be better than everyone else, usually driving people to medicines and surgeries that are elective, not necessary for health. People are putting themselves at risk for infection by going under the knife for visual pleasure. People are taking pills not needed for their health to be more smart, despite the chemical interactions it may have in the body.

This is the advertisement I found for a medicine used to treat PMS.

From this ad, it is inferred that women are very grouchy and crude when their about to get/ are on their period. Culturally, men are suppose to just tend to the needs of women suffering from PMS. Socially, women are always suppose to be angry with men when suffering from PMS, and men will never understand this anger. This ad does not really provide any actual medical information, not even to how milk could help PMS. I think that this ad may infer that women will not seek help by a doctor for PMS because during this time they are too stubborn. The ad tries to make fun and  make PMS hyperbolic.

Cullers, Rebecca. AdWeek. Accessed July 30, 2014.

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  1. Paige Smith says:

    Culturally, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is considered an illness. Menstruation is one of the most natural physiological processes that a woman’s body can endure and with it come some side effects, on in particular being cramping from the shedding of the uterine lining. Advertisements for birth control and medications like Midol claim to relieve the symptoms of PMS, making women feel “pleasant.” From a social standpoint, PMS is seen as an undesirable and miserable condition where a woman is too emotional or mean to be taken seriously. However, based off of research from other cultures around the world, American women are considered the only group to claim symptoms of PMS leading me to believe that premenstrual syndrome is culturally based (1). It could be argued that American society saw an opportunity to capitalize on menstruation by charging money for pads, liners, and tampons; medications like Midol which claim to relieve menstrual symptoms; and birth control which also claims to minimize the symptoms of PMS along with regulating the birth cycle. The women in the advertisements for these products are shown as miserable, lethargic, and bloated before they are introduced to the product that will make them feel happier, more confident, and more productive. This correlates to society’s traditional view of how a woman should behave: clean, nurturing, emotional, and pleasant. Anything out of the ordinary is sometimes used to discredit her opinions or her capability to be in control of a business or program. Western medicine also plays a big part in contributing to PMS by creating medicine (like Midol mentioned above) to alleviate symptoms of PMS. As discussed in the Conrad article, we have turned a nonmedical problem into a problem. While there is no denying that symptoms of PMS can be exhibited in some women, me included, it was not meant to be an illness.

    Kissling, Elizabeth. Is PMS Overblown? That’s What Research Shows. Ms. Magazine, 2012. Accessed August 3, 2014.

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