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Medicalization: The Study Of Deviance Essay

1764 words - 7 pages

In the world that we live in today, many people would find it difficult to imagine living in a world where medicine and treatment are not readily available. The replacement of religious explanations to medical and scientific explanations has become a means of social control. If a person is in pain, they can easily set up an appointment with a doctor and receive some sort of medical diagnosis. However, there are certain instances where a problem has not been medicalized, or recognized as a medical problem, and their issue will be dismissed completely. The movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest delves into the idea of medicalization and how it can be used for the good, or for the bad, in terms of the “sick role.” Medicalization in the “deviant” world can help people define whether their behavior is an illness; however, it can also cause great amounts of trouble by keeping the person under “control” with treatments, or through labeling the person within a society as “deviant.”
Medicalization is a process in which certain medical problems and troubles are defined and classified as a medical illness. In terms of deviance, medicalization can occur to a sickness that deviates from the assumed social state of health—something that is not classified as normal. However, in order to define an “abnormal” behavior as medical, there needs to be a demand that some form of treatment should exist, and a licenses professional should provide that treatment (Conrad, 1992, p. 210). There is also what Chalfant and Noble refer to as the “the medicalization of deviance,” which implies a shift from a legal perspective to a medical one (1979, p.792). These so-called “deviant” problems can be associated with alcoholism and drug abuse. On the other hand is de-medicalization, which is when a behavior that was once seen as a medical problem is removed from the world of medicine (e.g. homosexuality).
The rise of medicalization has been affected by many social factors, and has caused a winning-and-losing situation for those caught in the middle. In Peter Conrad’s article The Shifting Engines of Medicalization, he explains how medicalization was constructed by three certain factors: first, the authority within the medical profession; second, the activities of social movements and interest groups; and third, the rise in behavioral pediatrics in terms of medical control of childhood diseases, and directed organizational professional activities (Conrad, 2005, p. 4). There have been debates that some things should no longer be treated as an illness in the medical sphere. Conrad explains how the pharmaceutical industries are more aggressive in promoting their products to physicians and to the public, which is empowered by the consumers becoming increasingly active in their demand for medical services and treatments (2005, p. 5, 9). Companies are marketing diseases (creating “epidemics” and drug scares within a society) and then selling the drugs to treat those diseases...

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