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Medicalization

  • By: Heather J. Carmack
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Medicalization is the process of transforming nonmedical health issues into medical problems in order to provide diagnosis and treatment. This process is accomplished by using medical language and a biomedical framework to articulate the problem. The nonmedical health issue is reframed as a deviation from the norm, requiring treatment to help patients return to “normal.”

Medicalization became a part of sociology research in the 1960s, primarily as a result of the growing field of psychiatry. In the 1960s, psychiatry was attempting to identify, diagnose, and treat a variety of behaviors once seen as immoral, sinful, or criminal. One of the most popular examples of this is the medicalization of homosexuality. Psychiatrists redefined homosexuality as a medical condition, rather than a sinful act, proposing a number of ...

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