Medications in American society help the medicalization of many different diseases, such as ADHD. The article written by Conrad and Potter about ADHD talked about all the different ways in which a disease like ADHD can be expanded. Some of these include activist groups, and changes in the DSM, but most importantly, the drug companies help to legitimize this expansion. When an illness starts to become more widely noticed by medical professionals, they tend to begin prescribing certain medications to try and alleviate the symptoms. These medications then become advertised throughout the country and make it “okay” to have this disease. It makes the public feel like they can ask their doctors for it and that there is a solution to their problems. This shows that American culture’s outlook on our health and wellness is based largely on pharmaceutical companies and how they advertise medications. Most people today know about illnesses through commercials or billboards posted on the highway, not by mouth of doctors or other specialists.

Here is a link to an ad for Adderall:

The advertising strategies in this ad are to attract parents of children with ADHD or trouble focusing on school work. It features a cute young boy on the front holding a baseball mitt and above him is the acronym ADHD, which usually stands for attention deficit hyperactive disorder, but instead stands for “Already Done with my Homework, Dad.” This advertisement is trying to tell parents that it is “okay” or “normal” for children to have ADHD, and they can get help by talking to their doctor and getting a prescription for Adderall. It also tells the parent that it is their responsibility to seek out help from a doctor. The medical information is shown at the bottom of the ad in smaller print and not in bold so the audience would only see it if they took the time to get close up and read it. It also portrays a friendly doctor-patient relationship.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Matt Waldrop says:

    Hi Jacqueline –

    I thought your post was very interesting on attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). I agree with you that the advertisement is portrayed in a mild manner, showing a happy kid with a baseball mitt. I thought one of the bullet points for Aderrall was very interesting; the one where it says “improves academic performance”. People are going to see this and want their child to take this drug for that reason, even if the child is doing perfectly well with ADHD. I think that is a strategic economic move for the drug company to get more money, as you don’t see any study shown to support the statement. This ad is clearly old, and also mainly targeted at children. It could have been due to the success of ads like these that the illness of ADHD in adults came to be. Now there are ads like these which are clearly targeting adults for ADHD. This might lead people to think that ADHD is more of a disease that cannot be outgrown and needs lifetime treatment to manage it. To contrast your post a bit, while it is “okay” to have ADHD, it is only “okay” if you take medication to treat it. So if a parent sees a child that is on the hyper side, their first thought is going to be that child needs some adderall. This might be a bad thing in the long run for our society.

Leave a Reply