Medications play a huge role in American society. As I mentioned in the reflection post for this week, there are numerous people who rely on drugs for some sort of biological alteration. Drugs use with medicalization in context were to fix the “issues” of people through the concept of control. The drug was seen as a tool to stimulate change for a given issue, while with biomedicalization in context it is not just about bringing about change for a particular issue that is seen as a health concern, but instead it is more about the enhancement of a person by chemical aid. It’s not about just keeping you biologically healthy in the strict sense, but more about keeping your mental state where you want it to be, for example in the lecture the example used was that of Rogaine for hair loss. The loss of hair will not kill you or harm you except for your emotion.

We now view the health system and medical technologies as means for bettering ourselves beyond what we were physically give. The link in this week’s learnings about Ritalin goes to show you that drug use can be applied for multiple reasons. The drug was mainly used for regaining control over ADHD sufferers, but people who do not have ADHD found the drug useful as a cognitive enhancement. We are trying to find ways to improve the human condition beyond what our genetics have given us. It makes me wonder when the time will come when we will pop a pill and be able to dramatically change ourselves in any particular way. Will we will be hybrid humans! Success can be measured not by the normal ability but by the potential enhanced ability of people. Furthermore a good example from the week’s materials was from the information on contraceptives and their use and marketing towards managing a woman’s menstrual cycle. With a different marketing campaign the same drug used to help prevent pregnancy is now used for making a woman’s life manageable and “normal”.

I wanted to bring forth a drug commercial used for depression and analyze it. The following link is to the drug called Zoloft.

The short advertisement uses language making it sound like if you have certain symptoms (which I might add are symptoms everybody has at some time) then you might be suffering from depression and you are not normal because of it. Of course the cause for depression is not known the drug found a fix for it due to an imbalance of chemical transmitters in the brain… The drug is needed to fix the problem you have in your brain if you are experiencing these listed symptoms. The ad mentions that there is a need to see a doctor… I love the part at the end when they say, “When you know more about what’s wrong, you can help make it right.”

Their language makes sense because of the value we emphasize on the biomedical culture.  We value the fact that they used terms like “chemical imbalance” because we believe that everything has a biological component to it. According to the drug company, if you experience said emotions then you have a biological problem that needs to be corrected and that you are not living a normal life because of it and it is your right.

The social roles found in the ad were that between the patient and the doctor. The drug is prescription based and enforces the biomedical culture we have discussed in the reflection for the week.


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  1. Elaina Clark says:

    Like the ADHD illness examined in Conrad’s (2000) article, depression started with very specific symptoms and time frames. For depression, people were diagnosed after having symptoms of insomnia, impaired social function, and inability to concentrate along with sadness for more than 2 weeks (Pies, 2009). In the article about ADHD, ADHD was initially seen as just a psychatricillness children get, and not seen as a biological disorder. It was seen as a developmental process that they would eventually grownout of. Then, it turned into a medical diagnosis that anyone could get. Depression, before developing into depression, was basically categorized as “sadness”, which was deemed to be only temporary. Now, it is considered a medicalized biological condition of chronic sadness.

    A lot of different factors affect the medicalization of depression. Culturally, I think people feel like they have depression because of the way our society medicalizes illnesses. For example, let’s say someone just lost a loved one. It’s only natural to feel a sense of sorrow when you experience this loss. Often, sadness can provoke other symptoms, like loss of appetite, restlessness, etc. They flip on the TV and see a commercial for depression. Like you mentioned, the narrator often starts off with, “Do you have this, this, this and this? You could be depressed.” You realize you have these symptoms so therefore you must be depressed. When diagnosing sadness, external factors, such as a loss, aren’t accounted for. Instead, the symptoms are correlated with the illness, thus medicalizing “proper sadness” as “depression” (Pies, 2009).

    Socially, it is seen as more acceptable if it is related to a biological malady as opposed to a psychiatric one. This is because people see a biological illness as one that can’t be controlled, whereas when people think of psychiatric illnesses they feel there is something wrong with the person, and that it’s their own behavior and thoughts that make them this way.

    Economically and politically, people who experience medical illnesses are entitled to benefits in today’s society. For example, in Conrad’s (2000) article, he explains how adults (and children) with ADHD have filed claims to receive financial benefits for education and work. They are also allowed to receive other benefits, including untimed tests, additional time to complete tasks, and even office equipment and organizational schemes (Conrad, 2000).

    Peter Conrad and Deborah Potter. University of California Press, “From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories.” Last modified 2000. Accessed August 4, 2013.

    Pies, Ronald. Physicians Postgraduate Press Inc, “Depression or “Proper Sorrows” – Have Physicians Medicalized Sadness?.” Last modified 2009. Accessed August 4, 2013.!po=37.5000

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