The Medicalization of Society
Over the past century an increasing number of human problems have
come into the jurisdiction of the medical profession. This process has been termed the medicalization of society. We will examine core theoretical and empirical texts that examine this issue, especially the origins and consequences of medicalization. While we will read books and articles from several disciplines, the approach to this course remains ultimately sociological.
This course will be organized as a seminar. Students are expected to have
completed the readings and be ready to discuss them for each class. The class will be divided into two groups, and members of each group will be required to submit a 4 to 5 page reaction paper based on the readings every other week (for a total of five such papers). In addition, each student will research an aspect or case of medicalization, which will be presented to the class and handed in as a formal paper at the end of the term. In terms of grading, the following formula will be used: the reaction papers will count 30%, the presentation and class participation 20%, and the final paper 50%. Readings: Peter Conrad, The Medicalization of Society: On the Transformation of Human Conditions into Treatable Disorders, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007 Michel Foucault, Birth of the Clinic, Vintage, 1965. Allan V. Horwitz and Jerome Wakefield, The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder, Oxford 2007 Mieka Loe, The Rise of Viagra, NYU Press, 2004. Richard Wertz and Dorothy Wertz, Lying In: A History of Childbirth, expanded edition, Yale University Press, 1989. Christopher Lane, Shyness: How a Normal Behavior Became a Sickness
Course packet containing approximately 40 articles and chapters, marked * in the syllabus.
Adele E. Clarke et al. Biomedicalization: Technoscience, Health and Illness in the U.S. Duke University Press, 2010.
Peter Conrad and Joseph W. Schneider, Deviance and Medicalization: From Badness to Sickness, Temple University Press, 1992.
Jeremy A. Greene, Prescribing by Numbers: Drugs and the Definition of Disease, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007. British Medical Journal, special issue on medicalization (“Too much
medicine”), Volume 324, Issue 7342, April 13, 2002. All articles available on line from bmj.com. Note letters and comments for each as well.
Edward Shorter, From Paralysis to Fatigue: A History of Psychosomatic Illness in the Modern Era, Free Press, 1992. Course Outline and Readings
Introduction: Medicalization and Medical Social Control
Readings: Conrad, “Medicalization and Social Control”*
Zola, “Medicine as an Institution of Social Control”*
MOS Chapter 1, 7-8
The Medical Gaze Readings, Foucault, Birth of the Clinic
Lupton, “Foucault and the Medicalization Critique”*
Lock, “Medicalization: Cultural Concerns.”*
III. The Role of the Medical Profession: Medicalization of Childbirth
Readings: Wertz and Wertz, Lying In
Halpern, “Medicalization as a Professional Process: Postwar
IV. The Medicalization of Deviance: Alcohol, Opiates and Addictions
Readings: Conrad and Schneider, D&M Chapters 4-5**
E. Armstrong, “Diagnosing Moral Disorder: The Discovery and
V. The Medicalization of “Normal Sadness”
Readings: Horwitz and Wakefield, The Loss of Sadness (Chs. 1-3, 5-6, 9)
Rose, “Disorders without Borders? The Expanding Scope of
Demedicalization: Masturbation and Homosexuality
Readings: Conrad and Schneider, D&M Chapter 7**
Fox, “The Medicalization and Demedicalization of Society”*
Englhardt, “The Disease of Masturbation: Values and the
Remedicalization: Male Circumcision…”*
MOS, Chapter 5
VII. Expanding Medical Categories: ADHD and PTSD
Readings: Conrad, “Discovery of Hyperkinesis: Notes on the
Conrad, MOS, Chapter 4 Scott, “PTSD in DSM-III: A Case of the Politics of Diagnosis and Disease’* Summerfeld, “The Invention of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the
Barsky and Borus, “Somatization and Medicalization in the
VIII. Medicalization and Gender: Anorexia, Menopause and PMS Readings:
Reissman, “Women and Medicalization”* Riska, “Gendering the Medicalization Thesis”*
Figert, “The Three Faces of PMS: The Professional,
Gendered, and Scientific Structuring of Psychiatric Disease”*
Bell, “Sociological Perspectives on the Medicalization of
Lock, “Ambiguities of Aging: Japanese Experience and the
MOS, Chapter 2
IX. Medicalization, Gender and Viagra Readings:
Loe, The Rise of Viagra
Fishman, “Manufacturing Desire: The Commodification of
Carpiano, “Passive Medicalization: The Case of Viagra and
Hartley, “’Big Pharma’ in our Bedrooms: An Analysis of the
Medicalization of Women’s Sexual Problems.”*
Conrad and Leiter, “Fom Lydia Pinkham to Queen Levitra”*
Medicalization and Enhancements: HGH, Prozac and Cognition Drugs
Readings: Conrad, MOS, Chapter 4
Elliot, “Pursued by Happiness and Beaten Senseless: Prozac and
Kaw, “Medicalization and Racial Features: Asian American
Greely et al. , “ Towards Rseponsible Use of Cognitive-enhancing
Sandel, “The Case Against Perfection.”*
Conrad, et al. “Estimating the Costs of Medicalization.”*
Moloney, et al. “The Medicalization of Sleeplessness: A Public
Barker, “Electronic Support Groups, Patient-Consumers, and
Medicalization: The Case of Contested Illness”*
Welch, “The Medicalization of Life”*
XII. Current Issues: Constraints, Supports and New Directions
Conrad, “Medicalization, Genetics and Human Problems”*
Clarke, et al. “Biomedicalization: Technoscientific
Davis, “How Medicalization has Lost its Way”* D. Armstrong, “The Rise of Surveillance Medicine”*
Moynihan et al, “Selling Sickness”: the pharmaceutical industry
BMJ, pp. 886-91.
XIII. Bringing Medicalization Together: A final case
Readings: Lane, Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became an Illness (Chap. 1-4) Conrad, MOS, Chapter 6
The rise of managed care The end of pharmaceuticals The increasing incarceration of drug offenders and the rise of Palliative Care (as examples of partial Demedicalization?) Alternative Mediciine, Contested Illnesses, Addiction Other cases: Obesity, Infertility, Transgender, Sleep Disorders, etc.
Classes 9 to 14 will consist at least in part of students presenting their research projects to the class. Office: 102 Pearlman Phone: 736-2635 Email: Office hours: Tuesday 3:00-4:00 and Thursday 1:00-2:00 and by appointment. Any student with a documented disability who requires specific accommodations should come to see me immediately.
Academic dishonesty is taboo in this class and will be responded to according to university regulations.
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