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The Medicalization of Society: On the Transformation of Human Conditions into Treatable Disorders

The Medicalization of Society: On the Transformation of Human Conditions into Treatable Disorders

Paperback

By (author) Peter Conrad

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  • Publisher: JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 18mm | 295g
  • Publication date: 8 June 2007
  • Publication City/Country: Baltimore, MD
  • ISBN 10: 080188585X
  • ISBN 13: 9780801885853
  • Edition: 1
  • Sales rank: 236,996

Product description

Over the past half-century, the social terrain of health and illness has been transformed. What were once considered normal human events and common human problems-birth, aging, menopause, alcoholism, and obesity-are now viewed as medical conditions. For better or worse, medicine increasingly permeates aspects of daily life. Building on more than three decades of research, Peter Conrad explores the changing forces behind this trend with case studies of short stature, social anxiety, "male menopause," erectile dysfunction, adult ADHD, and sexual orientation. He examines the emergence of and changes in medicalization, the consequences of the expanding medical domain, and the implications for health and society. He finds in recent developments-such as the growing number of possible diagnoses and biomedical enhancements-the future direction of medicalization. Conrad contends that the impact of medical professionals on medicalization has diminished. Instead, the pharmaceutical and biotechnical industries, insurance companies and HMOs, and the patient as consumer have become the major forces promoting medicalization. This thought-provoking study offers valuable insight into not only how medicalization got to this point but also how it may continue to evolve.

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Author information

Peter Conrad is the Harry Coplan Professor of Social Sciences at Brandeis University. He is the coauthor of Deviance and Medicalization: From Badness to Sickness and coeditor of The Double-Edged Helix, also published by Johns Hopkins.

Review quote

An accessible yet nuanced introduction to a fascinating and important topic. Readers do not need any background in medicine or academic sociology to appreciate Conrad's inquiry, and the experience of living in the 21st century United States is enough to understand what he's talking about. -- Benjamin J. Lovett Metapsychology 2007 Conrad's fine work investigates and illuminates this baleful phenomenon. -- A. Mark Clarfield, MD, FRCPC JAMA 2007 This is an enjoyable and thought-provoking book. -- H. Russell Searight PsycCRITIQUES 2007 The text is useful, especially for medical students... Recommended. Choice 2008 Recommended reading for practicing physicians, or better yet, for physicians in training. The so-called gatekeepers need to be reminded (or initially trained to understand) that reductionist medical perspectives are problematic and that the best solutions account for the social complexity that is inherent in the human condition. -- Michael Fendrich, Ph.D. New England Journal of Medicine 2008 An invaluable synopsis of 30 years' scholarship... Clearly written and presented so that it should be accessible to students in both sociology and health studies... An immense contribution to medical sociology. -- Robert Dingwall Society 2008 Conrad's accomplishment is significant. The Medicalization of Society is simply the most lucid treatise on the patterns and consequences of medicalization to date. It is also a much needed warning about the darker side of medicalization. -- Regina Smardon Culture 2008 This is an extremely interesting, timely and thought-provoking book, which will have a wide appeal amongst academics. Medical sociologists will welcome the opportunity to see Conrad's various writings brought together in one volume, and will appreciate the way he has revisited and updated his own work. -- Susie Scott Health Sociology Review 2008 The issues raised by this monograph are important, complex, and increasingly relevant for all of us who live in the modern world. -- S. Elizabeth Whitmore Themelios 2008 Peter Conrad's book is largely comprised of a series of case studies used to illustrate the changing nature of medicalization... With his 30-year history of studying this topic, Conrad is just the right person to take on the task, and this book represents a significant contribution to the area. -- Heather Hartley Contemporary Sociology 2009 Peter Conrad is the doyen of studies in medicalization. From his work on hyperactivity in the 1970s to his more recent research on 'geniticization' Conrad has documented the twists and turns of medical involvement in an ever increasing range of human problems. In this new book he does more than offer a reprise of his work or of the field. Rather, he sets out an illustrated framework for understanding and studying medicalization, with a view to future possible developments as well as current debates. -- Mike Bury Sociology of Health and Illness 2009 This short, tightly written, highly readable book deals with issues, often previously regarded as normal aging or personality flaws, that have moved under the domain of medicine... An important book that will find many readers among the general public as well as among physicians... highly recommended as required reading for medical school courses. -- Charles V. Ford Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2010