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Sociology Of Health And Illness Essay

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What is Medicalization and why is professional and public concern about medicalization on the increase? (Conrad 2005) During the 1970’s medicalization first came into light in social scientific literature. “Medicalization consists of defining a problem in medical terms, using medical language to describe a problem, adopting a medical framework to understand a problem, or using a medical intervention to “treat” it.” (Conrad, pp.209-232, 1992) Sociologists believe medicalization to be a method of social control and view it in very much a negative way as it can often turn non-medical everyday natural elements of our existence into medical problems that need to be treated medically. While supposedly the aim of medicalization is to cure illness, relieve pain and eliminate suffering, it can often create an even bigger problem and prompt illnesses that were never there in the beginning. Professional and public concern about medicalization is on the increase as it is becoming more and more apparent in today’s society and people are becoming more and more reliant on it to solve their problems. With the existence of medicalization, people no longer have as high a pain threshold and can no longer deal with life’s suffering and unhappiness without the aid of medicine. In today’s world it seems that any problems a person may have can be ‘cured’ or eliminated by medicalization. If we are unhappy we can take anti-depressants, if we cannot sleep we can take sleeping tablets etc. We as humans are no longer able to cope with the natural occurrences of life because of medicalization. For Ivan Illich, an Austrian philosopher, medicalization is a process of ‘iatrogenesis’. Iatrogenesis is the “inadvertent and preventable induction of disease or complications by the medical treatment or procedures of a physician or surgeon.” (, 2014) Iatrogenesis is when illness is caused and created by medicine itself and according to Illich, it operates on three different levels, clinical, social and cultural. Clinical iatrogenesis is the damage or harm done to patients by unsafe, toxic or ineffective treatments. Social iatrogenesis is when medicalization encourages society to invest in curative, preventive, industrial and commercial medicine, and leads people to believe they are un-well by inducing stree, lowering pain thresholds and by generating new painful needs. Finally, cultural iatrogenesis is the attempt to prevent and treat natural elements of life such as birth and death by interfering with them and fighting against the natural progression of life. Medicalization is becoming more and more commercial and market driven, making patient’s consumers in a competitive market. Medicalization cannot be healthy for society as it is becoming more and more powerful and weakening humankind which would most certainly cause pro...

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