Medications have become the epitome of the American medical culture. When we think about doctors, we think about the medications they can prescribe. When we get sick, almost impulsively we ask ourselves, “What kind of medication do I need?” Looking at it from a societal perspective, medication and the medicalization of our conditions are solely dependent on doctors and the medical system in and of itself. We barely ever look back to think about how our ancestors or grandparents cured the flu, but instead seek automatic medical attention-thinking that it’s the best and most logical solution when we get sick. As is stated in the article by Conrad and Potter – From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories “Life’s troubles are often confusing, distressing, debilitating, and difficult to understand…. In some instances a diagnosis can be a… self-labeling that provides a new public identity…” When we get sick and life’s troubles are too much to take, we tend to expand the level of our sickness. No longer do we have the flu, but we self-diagnose and we now have pneumonia. Automatically, we seek medical attention or drink pills of different sorts that claim to alleviate the symptoms that are making our lives even harder to deal with. These actions however, display the loyalty one has to the betterment of their health. As is well known, when you are sick your daily life is hindered and the norm becomes the norm you can no longer perform. Not being able to work because of a sickness means that our jobs are put at risk. Success is hard to come by when you can’t perform tasks that are dependent on you.


For this week, I chose arthritis as a condition that I believe is highly medicalized in our society. Arthritis is no doubt, a serious condition that can affect not only adults, but children as well. However, I want to talk about arthritis when it comes to older individuals, not children. When it comes to arthritis, I have witnessed first hand, how medical attention is the first response for many. In my point of view arthritis is common at old age and should definitely be treated, but automatic medications and thinking that it will solve the problem and cure one for life is not a plausible concept. We as humans are not meant to live forever, and as we get older our bodies develop differently and the strains we put on them become more intense as time goes by.


The medication I chose, Celebrex, is one that claims to alleviate the pain caused by arthritis as well as menstrual craps and other forms of arthritis. Culturally, arthritis in this commercial is being portrayed as a thing of common knowledge. As if the video is telling you, “Hey! What are you doing, why are you not getting help? This medication can change your life!” The ideology behind this is that arthritis is a strain on daily life, that it can be fixed or at least at least help alleviate the pain for a certain amount of time- enough time for you to get back on track. The idea that arthritis prevents you from preforming daily motions and that Celebrex can change that is the social role it plays. Celebrex, as per the video, is a medication that is totally natural to use and that one should not be ashamed of using because others see the difference or are also using the same medication (the other couple that is shown).


As for the medical information presented, I thought the video was very clever as it outlined some other medications that increase the chances of stroke, but Celebrex does not. The commercial makes sure to include all the risks that may come if you take Celebrex under conditions that are not outlined for that specific treatment. Not only this, but the commercial informs the viewer/audience of the benefits of Celebrex and tosses in some ‘scientifically proven’ information. All this information is presented to you as if the speaker were your friend telling you about the newest adventure park, and making sure you know the risks that may go with it instead of as a almighty doctor who knows better than you. They get down to the details, but appeal to you as another person who can help.


Watching the advertisement made me feel as though I was almost dumb for not having spoken with my own doctor about it and enduring the pain on my own and I am nowhere near having arthritis nor am I near the age appeal group. The actor looks so peaceful and relived as he walks outside with his wife. The music gives you the sense of gradual growth and makes you happy and light just as the medication will potentially make you feel. Not only this, but the gentleman is enjoying the scenery and interacting as well-as if arthritis puts a pause on the relationships one develops with others. The commercial asks you to sit down and talk with your own doctor about Celebrex and the benefits. Imagine yourself, in the middle of some bone discomfort and thinking to yourself that maybe Celebrex could be the right medication for you too because maybe that ongoing pain is arthritis. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how our society medicalize various conditions and decides what they should do about pain, illness, etc… So much of our medical decisions are based on what we see or hear instead of our past cultural initial reactions. Medical doctors are no exception to this either.







This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Hannah Porter says:

    I agree with your post that arthritis can be a serious condition and should be treated but that people in general rush to medications too fast. As it stated in the Conrad article society tends to self diagnose ourselves, which creates either an excuse or new identity of why we are how we are. For example, someone who has sore fingers might automatically jump to the conclusion that it’s arthritis and are anxious to be put on medication before they even consult their doctor. Some cultural forces that are playing a role in this commercial that require biomedical intervention for this condition are that the commercial makes it appear as that you won’t be able to stay active if you have arthritis and that it will change your whole life but if you take this medication you’ll always feel great and be able to do whatever activity you want. It also uses one of newton’s laws of physics to explain the reason for this medication, which potentially causes more patients to try this particular drug. Some political forces are that this medication does not increase the patients’ risk of stroke like many other arthritis medications do. Some economic and historical forces that also play a role in this commercial is that this drug is portrayed as having a history of providing great results for so many others and that whoever tries it will get the relief they are searching for with fewer health risks than other drugs, which makes this the smarter and more economic choice.

    Conrad, Peter, and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children To ADHD Adults: Observations On The Expansion Of Medical Categories.” Social Problems 47: 559-582. (accessed August 3, 2014).

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