In this week’s lecture, medicalization is defined as a process whereby normal variations in human health and behavior are reframed as symptoms of an illness hat require biomedical interventions. In American society, medications are viewed as a means to ease symptoms of an illness. For example, Tylenol is often taken to reduce one’s fever. The example used in this week’s lecture was the medicalization of menstruation. As described through the definition of medicalization, menstruation, a normal biological process, is often treated as an illness. This is further encouraged by giving symptoms, diagnosing, and seeking treatment often in the form of medications. What does the tell us about our culture? Understandably, we prefer to be healthy individuals and generally seek out ways to promote our health. However, I think in the context of medicalization, we could make the argument that this culture has begun to obsess over seeking medical treatment to the point where people are offering medical advice and treatment in situations that, in the past, were never considered health concerns. We idealize perfection comfort and go to extremes to achieve that state.
The condition I chose to look into was age-related memory loss. As people age, it is common to become slightly forgetful. By this I mean, taking a few extra seconds to remember where you parked your car or when a loved one’s birthday is. Severe memory loss is completely different from the condition I am talking about. However, mild memory loss is something I believe to be medicalized. People are taking something that is completely normal with age, and viewing it as if it is a severe as dementia.
I found an ad for a supplement called Prevagen. The availability of Prevagen, along with many other brands, to improve short-term memory tells us that the culture values perfect memory and that culture also values consistency throughout the aging process. The aging process has evolved to be a dreaded time period that is looked down on – even though it is a completely natural process. The social roles that Prevagen presents encourages the elderly to be uncomfortable in their forgetfulness. Prevagen is presented as a completely safe option and to have no know side effects, however their website says to consult a doctor before taking Prevagen to discuss the possible interactions with other medications.