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Lecture 8

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University of Toronto St. George
Candace Kruttschnitt

th Lecture 8 - Medicalization SOC313H1S – March 6 , 2013 What is Medicalization?  Refers to the process by which non-medical problems become defined and treated as medical  Conrad – emergence of medicalization; 1970s marked the beginning of social science literature featuring medicalization o Critics of psychiatry first questioned it – known as Medical Social Control (MSC) o Definitional issue is the key:  consists of defining a problem in medical terms  using medical language to describe a problem,  adopting medical framework to understand the problem,  and using a medical intervention as treatment o Examples include alcoholism, ADHD, child abuse, homosexuality, etc.; homosexuality was seen as a personality disorder o Natural life processes have become medicalized, as well.  Parsons – first to conceptualize MSC; 1950s theorist; labelling theory is a big part of the notion’s popularity Why Medicalize Problems?  Medicine has replaced religion as a dominant moral compass; sins have now become sicknesses o Replaced religion as a social control institution  Medical profession holds a lot of weight; money to be made fixing problems; lay people’s causes and media can be aligned with the medical profession to gain credence  Power of the medical institution; mechanism of social control o Howitz – extensively studied and analysed MSC; suggests that the prevailing focus of social control has been on the CJS and punishment systems; refers to therapeutic social control  Therapeutic Social Control – trying to return patients to normality through manipulating symbolic systems; fixing a person’s personality; “victims” of an illness; shifting moral focus, as the deviance is no longer in the person’s control o Goals: i) make sense of the behaviour, and ii) transform the behaviour  Horwitz drew on Donald Black and M.P. Baumgartner – trying to predict when MSC will occur; what factors can be predictors? o Relational distance: the closer the relationship predicts more likely to see therapeutic interventions (inversely correlated) o Socio-economic status: SIS is directly related to MSC; higher the social class means greater likelihood of seeking medicalization and utilizing medical language; LSES have higher rates of mental illness, however; LSES tend to define deviance in terms of personal flaws rather than illness (ex. Laziness) o Gender: women’s deviance is more likely to be medicalized; women are more likely to seek therapy; differences between men and women are becoming less pronounced, thus his difference should shrink Medicalization Process:  Odd behaviour is often unnoticed by family members; outside help is often only sought if things get really bad  Available resources are important  Community stigma may reduce likelihood of seeking help o Being defined as mentally ill can cause a lo
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