Medicalization of Deviance

950 Words4 Pages
Medicalization of Deviance Medicalization is an issue that is dear to the sociology of medicine. It occurs when we use medical terms to address non-medical issues, and treat them as medical problems such as illnesses or diseases. Medicalization is the process by which human problems come to be defined and treated as medical conditions, and come under the authority of doctors and other health professionals to study, diagnose, prevent, or treat. The term has been used more often in the critique of medicalization, than as a neutral term simply describing something that has become medical. It is has been called "the process whereby more and more of everyday life has come under medical dominion, influence, and supervision", and "defining behavior as a medical problem or illness and mandating/licensing the medical professionals to provide some type of treatment for it". Medicalization can occur on at least three distinct levels: conceptual, institutional, and interactional. On the conceptual level, a medical vocabulary is used to define the problem at hand; few medical professionals need to be involved, and medical treatments are not applied. On the institutional level, organizations may adopt a medical approach to treating a particular problem. And on the interactional level, medical professionals diagnose and provide treatments. During the 1970's, the term medicalization crept into the social scientific literature. It has come to have more subtle meanings. A number of case studies of the medicialization of deviance were published in the 70's on hyperactivity in children, mental illnesses, child abuse, and alcoholism as a disease. Medicalization of deviance takes the actions that are considered socially deviant and classifies them as a sickness. This uses pharmaceutical drugs to alter deviant behaviors. Behaviors once considered "badness" are viewed, through
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