Medicalization

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Medicalization is defined as the process where human problems thought of previously as outside the sphere of medicine are then defined as medical problems. In this essay I will first discuss some of the examples of medicalization, being the medicalization, demedicalization and partial remedicalization of homosexuality and the medicalization of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). I will then discuss the social expectations formed around our behaviour when we are sick through using the example of Talcott Parson’s sick role. Lastly I will discuss a specific concept within medicalization that also reveals how we can consider diseases to be socially constructed. The specific concept I will discuss is known as ‘normalization’ which describes the process where the range of human behaviours or attributes considered normal becomes increasingly limited. This can reveal the social construction of diseases in that healthy people may be perceived as ill or deviant through having a characteristic or feature that is deemed as falling outside the range of normal. Some examples of this I will discuss are parents of children with idiopathic short stature giving their children hormone growth treatments and cosmetic surgery procedures.
In this first paragraph I will discuss the medicalization, demedicalization and partial remedicalization of homosexuality. When homosexuality was first medicalized it revealed the movement from badness to sickness in the process of medicalization. As an example the roots of the medicalization of homosexuality can be traced to Hungarian physician K. M. Benkert who argued against the criminalization of homosexuality, as he claimed that it was ineffective as homosexuality was present at birth and was therefore the result of an unchangeable sexual desire. K. M. Benkert provided the basis for the first conception of homosexuality as an illness rather than as an act of immorality, by arguing that homosexuality is out of someone’s control as it



Bibliography: -Dew, Kevin and Allison Kirkman. Sociology of health in New Zealand. Melbourne: Oxford University press, 2002. - Dew, Kevin. “Sociology: Foundations and concepts.” Lecture, SOSC 111, Victoria University of Wellington, August 16, 2012. - Conrad, Peter. The medicalization of society: On the transformations of human conditions into treatable disorders. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2007. -Bradley, Dave. “Disease mongering or medicalization.” Science base science news and views. Accessed September 27, 2012. http://www.sciencebase.com/science-blog/disease-mongering-and-medicalization.html -“Sociological perspective on health,”Cliff notes [ 2 ]. Kevin Dew, “Sociology: Foundations and concepts” (lecture, SOSC 111, Victoria University of Wellington, August 16, 2012). [ 5 ]. Peter Conrad, The medicalization of society: On the transformations of human conditions into treatable disorders (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2007), 97. [ 30 ]. “Sociological perspective on health,”Cliff notes, accessed September 23, 2012, http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/Sociological-Perspective-on-Health.topicArticleId-26957,articleId-26936.html [ 31 ] [ 38 ]. “Lecture 3: The sick role,”authorstream, accessed September 23, 2012, http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/liamgr-50598-Lecture-3-sick-Role-Parsons-1951-illness-Roles-Rights-Obligations-Sickness-the-s-Education-ppt-powerpoint/ [ 39 ]

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