On the Transformation of Human Conditions into Treatable Disorders Peter Conrad Over the past half-century, the social terrain of health and illness has been transformed. What were once considered normal human events and common human problems—birth, aging, menopause, alcoholism, and obesity—are now viewed as medical conditions. For better or worse, medicine increasingly permeates aspects of daily life. Building on more than three decades of research, Peter Conrad explores the changing forces behind this trend with case studies of short stature, social anxiety, "male menopause," erectile dysfunction, adult ADHD, and sexual orientation.
Antonio MaturoPh. Brown University Address correspondence to: This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract The article illustrates the main features of the concept of medicalization, starting from its theoretical roots.
Although it is the process of extending the medical gaze on human conditions, it appears that medicalization cannot be strictly connected to medical imperialism anymore.
The growth of research and theoretical reflections on medicalization has led to the proposal of other parallel concepts like pharmaceuticalization, genetization and biomedicalization.
These new theoretical tools could be useful in the analysis of human enhancement.
Human enhancement can be considered as the use of biomedical technology to improve performance on a human being who is not in need of a cure: Bionic society, Biomedicalization, Human enhancement, Medicalization, pharmaceuticalization, Risk Introduction The manipulation and transformation of human nature by biomedical technology is increasing.
According to the Foucauldian scholar Nikolas Rose, molecular manipulation is the main trait of our society: Therefore, it can be said that we are living in a society which is becoming increasingly bionic. That is, biology and genetics are seen as the main forces which affect human life, with social factors playing a minor role.
Medicalization, and its developments, is the main component of the bionic society of today. Medicalization can be defined as the process by which some aspects of human life come to be considered as medical problems, whereas before they were not considered pathological.
Forty years ago Ivan Illich [ 17 ] made an accurate analysis of the iatrogenesis of many illnesses. According to Illich, social iatrogenesis is the proliferation of diseases caused by the extension of medical categories on everyday life.
One practical example of social iatrogenesis given by Illich is the lowering of levels of tolerance for psychological discomfort or sadness, which brought about a steady increase of the diagnosis of depression Horwitz and Wakefield, [ 15 ].
In the same period, Foucault [ 10 ]considered the process of indefinite medicalization to be one of the main features of society. He stressed the role of doctors in deciding what was normal and what was pathological. In the words of Zola: From sex to food, from aspirins to clothes, from driving your car to riding the surf, it seems that under certain conditions or in combination with certain other substances or activities or if done too much or too little, virtually anything can lead to medical problems Zola,p.
In more recent times, Peter Conrad Conrad, [ 8 ] has proposed to consider medicalization in three respects: When the physician, in interaction with the patient, redefines a social problem into a medical one for example, homosexuality was listed as a pathology in the DSM until These engines are consumers, biotechnology and managed care.
Engines of Medicalization Consumers Consumers are a factor of medicalization because health is increasingly becoming, and has become, a commodity Turner, [ 32 ]. People are increasingly using medical terminology in order to analyse their own health influenced from watching TV and browsing the internet Barker, [ 4 ].
Also, advertisements encourage people to consider health needs that otherwise they would not have thought about.
Technology Technology is a driving factor of medicalization for many reasons. First, new diagnostic tools mean more chances to discover illnesses. Yet, often the risk factors are considered as pathological and therefore treated.Every 1% increase in medicalization collocates was associated with a.
unit (95% CI. 02,) increase in negative age stereotypes per decade, or a % increase over years in the elderly-synonym sample. The medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth is an occurrence that started in the 19th century and still continues today.
It is taking the normal natural occurrence of pregnancy and childbirth and making it an illness in need of medical attention.
For thousands of years women have given birth.
Importantly, despite medicalization being recognized more than forty years ago, governance of medicalization has been poorly addressed; the need to do so now is made even more compelling by recent medical and technological advancements involving genomics and distributed health information occurring in developed countries.
medicalization is a process whereby more and more every life has come under medical domination, influence and supervison How did Conrad () descibe medicalization? Describes a process by which nonmedical problems become defined and treated as medical problems, usually in .
Every 1% increase in medicalization collocates was associated with a.
unit (95% CI. 02,) increase in negative age stereotypes per decade, or a % increase over years in the elderly-synonym sample. Medicalization, and its developments, is the main component of the bionic society of today. Medicalization can be defined as the process by which some aspects of human life come to be considered as medical problems, whereas before they were not considered pathological.
In sociology, medicalization is not .