Americans are relying heavily on medications more so now than ever before. Over the course of a lifetime, the average person may be prescribed more than 14,000 pills and be taking five or more pills every day by age 70 that will possible save and extend their life by decades according to Pill Poppers. A reason for this is that many people are falling into the trap of a sedentary lifestyle with little time or desire to exercise and eat healthy. And rather than making simple changes to their lifestyles to increase their chances of living a long, healthy life, people search for quick fixes. Furthermore, people are increasingly finding these so called quick fixes in pill popping as fostered by the shift from taking medication to normalize the body (medicalization) to fueling our obsession with enhancing the body (biomedicalization). As mentioned in lecture this week, commercialization of medicine and the pharmaceutical industry promote these services and products as a way for people to solve their own problems. Additionally, sufferers are seeking a medical diagnosis, with commonly a prescription resulting, to allow for them to accept the sick role providing them with a culturally acceptable explanation that “will both legitimate their troubles and provide them with an understanding of their problem” (Conrad). What this says about our culture is that we highly value being healthy and idealistically believe that pills are the magical solution.
Several advertising strategies can be seen in this commercial for Pristiq, a drug that treats depression. This commercial largely focuses on a young woman’s daily performance before Pristiq and after. Where as before she was sad and defeated and was continually winding up a doll (a metaphor for her exhaustion caused by depression), after Pristiq she is in the act of running a business and smiling, laughing and socializing with her customers. The drug implies your depression is due to a hormonal imbalance (which can easily be fixed with Pristiq). And this commercial advertising Pristiq is very persuasive in that it uses language such as “affecting chemical levels in the brain” which is appealing to future consumers because the American culture views health in terms of biology. It is also implied that if you are experiencing any of the symptoms recounted in the beginning of the commercial (all of which can be normal feelings to experience) are abnormal behavior and can be corrected biologically with medications. In addition to hearing the life threatening conditions that could result, you are encouraged to look for their ad in Redbook, call their number, visit their website and talk to your doctor to learn more about Pristiq.
Conrad, Peter, and Deborah Potter. From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Some Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories., 2000.