Entering The Post Modern: Biomedicalization
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Politics and Activism

Entering The Post Modern: Biomedicalization

Medicalization: (verb) to view [something] in medical terms; to treat as a medical problem, especially unwarrantedly.

Entering The Post Modern: Biomedicalization

Biomedicalization is considered postmodern, yet we have not fully accepted that medicine is entering a postmodern era. We do accept, however, that we are “progressives” in the field of medicine. The amount of advancements we have made in the United States leave us with the idea that we are able to find and create drugs that can cure and inhibit diseases.

Laura Mamo and Jennifer Fishman emphasize the exemplification of medicalization in the gendered body of a male, through the pharmaceutical use of Viagra, to promote an erection. Meanwhile, women use pharmaceuticals such as birth control or Plan B, which lead them to continue taking pharmaceuticals in order prevent pregnancy.

Anne E. Figert and Susan Bell offer great interpretations of the terms "medicalization"and "biomedicalization" through a gendered body: with the use of Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction. In contradiction, Conrad in his article Continuity uses the term "demedicalization" to express the detriments of becoming so reliant on pharmaceuticals in treating what makes onlookers feel uncomfortable. The most innate, as well as most intimate, actions, such as the realization of being homosexual, should not be looked upon as a detriment, unless the one diagnosing treatments (whether or not having the ability or power to diagnose) is one on the same playing field.

Conrad brings up in his piece "like masturbation, homosexuality is an example of almost complete demedicalization.”1 It’s interesting that Conrad says that due to the fact that masturbation, the act of pleasuring oneself, was once considered “under Freud’s influence [...] masturbation was deemed a clinical problem.”1 If the one person who revolutionized psychology was able to make a claim that bold, then who wouldn’t follow along with it? Nowadays, masturbation is actually encouraged to such an extent that if one is unable to develop an erection, don’t worry! The pharmaceutical companies have a cure to all your bodily issues, whether they are your own or not!

Give Viagra to a man who struggles with erectile dysfunction, and it promotes the use of “techno science and the biomedical industrial complex that have increasingly infiltrated into people’s conceptions of health, illness and the body, and what it means to be ‘human’.”2

Even Ellen finds it funny:

On that note, I find it false that Conrad would make a bold statement as to claiming masturbation to be "almost demedicalized"; indeed, I find it the exact opposite. The use of Viagra is specifically geared towards men and their struggles with erectile dysfunction, yet women fuel the pharmaceutical mill by the use of birth control, to prevent the female body from getting pregnant. Birth control in the 21st century has its benefits in helping women treat their premenstrual syndromes.The issue that arises are in line with the social stigmatism within the word "syndrome" used towards women’s PMS. A woman is considered "crazy" while on her period; a monthly reminder that she is not pregnant, while men feel inferior to their "natural" alpha male appearance if they can’t achieve erection. Even if masturbation has not changed as Conrad states, “the definition and social response to it did change.” 1

Pharmaceutical companies are smart. They figure out people’s insecurities within the body, and as long as there are different people within society, there is no stopping these advertisements and social constructs from progressing towards biomedicalization.

The human body has become a commodity: what we thought to be the closest thing we have to nature is actually reliant on man-made drugs and what we think to be beneficial to our health. Pharmaceutical companies feed off human insecurities - hence a world headed towards biomedicalization and the promoted use of pharmaceutical drugs and outside resources other than what has originated within the body.

“The process of medicalization can be conceived of in modern terms of engineering, control, and rationalization, the process of biomedicalization can be conceived of in postmodern terms of networks, spirals and complexity.”3 Humans now have twisted the body to become something that relies on pharmaceuticals in order to allow their bodies to go back to a socially acceptable homeostatic state.


1 Continuity; Homosexuality and the Potential for Remedicalization pg. 97

2 Body and Society Vol. 7 No. 4 pg. 14

3 Big Pharma and Big Medicine in the Global Environment: pg. 457

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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