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Michel Foucault (1926—1984) French philosopher


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A process whereby a normal activity, such as pregnancy and childbirth, evolves into a situation that requires, and even becomes dominated by, specialized medical care. Maternity nurses and midwives aim to prevent this. Other aspects of medicalization include invention of terminology to describe what had previously been considered everyday aspects of life, allied to creation of specialists and therapeutic regimens to “treat” the invented disease entities. Thus, misbehaving adolescents suffer from “oppositional conduct disorder” requiring treatment by psychiatrists and support staff; and age-related declining sexual potency becomes erectile dysfunction disorder, treated by drugs that generate large profits for their manufacturers. Medicalization accounts for an increasing burden of the rising costs of health care.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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