Medicalization

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 251
  • Published : April 25, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
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 has a genetic basis. Therefore as it is something that an individual is born with, it cannot be changed and punishing an individual for homosexual acts would be ineffective. A therefore more effective way of treating homosexuality would be to classify it as an illness. Another example that can be used in support of this is that Richard Kraft-ebbing, one of the most prominent figures in the nineteenth century medical field in this domain also argued for a genetic basis for homosexuality, arguing that homosexuality is the result of congenital weaknesses in the nervous system and should therefore be treated therapeutically. He asked for societies understanding instead of their sympathy, and revealed that in the early stages of the medicalization of homosexuality the intentions were for individual’s protection against legal oppression. Homosexuality was not actually medicalized officially until many years later. For example it was not included in the DSM, (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders), until the year 1952 but was more clearly defined as a disorder in the 1968 edition. The emergence of the first stage in its demedicalization was with the 1960’s gay liberation movement, where gay activist’s criticised scientific evidence against homosexuality, and managed to convince the APA (American psychiatric association) to remove homosexuality from the DSM. The movement was led by two movements the Gay activist alliance and the Gay liberation front, where their intentions were to seek the oppression against gays and to develop tactics to combat them. Despite homosexuality’s removal from the DSM, a couple of factors have hinted at its remedicalization. Examples of a couple of factors that have been viewed as having the potential to remedicalize homosexuality, is a small vocal group of psychoanalysts called NARTH (National association for research and therapy of homosexuality) who believe that homosexuality is the result of unhealthy childhood development and...
tracking img