Since the acceptance of medications and pharmaceuticals as a part of modern medicine they have continued to grow in usage. Today it would seem that there is a drug for every ailment (you might think) you have. Depression? Here is a pill. Tired? Here is a pill. Can’t sleep? Here is a pill. Can’t focus? Here is a pill. Everyday medications help countless people get over small and large illnesses, but are we over prescribing and consuming drugs? Taking pharmaceuticals has become a huge part of western culture. I think that this actually says a lot about our cultural values and ideologies. Many of the problems we now diagnose and prescribe drugs for can often be addressed (or avoided entirely) with a healthy lifestyle. I think this indicates a lack of motivation or maybe a desired shift in responsibility, an easy way out per say. People often don’t want to face their own problems (or maybe the work necessary to fix them) and the option to take a drug that would solve those problems becomes quite tantalizing. To be clear I think that there is practical application for some of these drugs, but I also think that they are all too often being used as a scapegoat for people. In the article From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults it tells of how in adults ADHD is often self diagnosed. They say “hey that sounds like me” and come to a physician looking for that diagnosis. I think this a very dangerous way to look at medicine because there are some very obvious biases associated with it which could lead to misdiagnosis and other things. It is a distortion of medicine and how a physician’s diagnosis should happen.
I chose obesity as the medical condition with which is heavily medicalized (and in my opinion over medicalized). Here is an advertisement for Xenical. http://www.newyou.com.ph There is a very strong cultural drive (at least in western countries) to be thin. The advertisements show women in sports bras with toned abs and measuring tapes around their waists implying their stomachs used to be this much bigger. It is very much the social role of physicians to make, or at least educate, their patients on becoming healthier. It is also the social role of obese patients to take their physician’s advice and work to become more healthy. There seems to be very little medical information on the advertisement. In fact I think I saw on another advertisement for this drug that it did not even require a prescription. Drugs that do require a prescription often ask the target audience to “ask your doctor if ______ is right for you!” I said this before but I don’t think that it is a good system to having patients seeking out their doctors for specific drugs, rather the doctor should prescribe what he thinks is the best drug for treating the issue. This is a much more complicated problem though and no time at all to discuss it.
Conrad, Peter, and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories.” Social Problems 47, no. 4 (2000): 559-82. doi: