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Medicalization Activity and Classification Paper

Medicalization Activity and Classification Paper


. People with cancer: a) Rank: Strongly Agree

b) Reasons: Cancer is widely recognized as a biological disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth. It has identifiable physiological causes, symptoms, and requires medical intervention such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The medical community has established clear guidelines and protocols for its diagnosis and treatment.

2. Depressed people: a) Rank: Neither Agree nor Disagree

b) Reasons: Depression can be both a medical condition and a psychological one. It involves a complex interplay of neurobiological factors, life experiences, and social context. While there are medical treatments like antidepressant medications, the boundary between the medical and psychological aspects is blurred. Some cases might require medical intervention, while others might benefit from psychotherapy or lifestyle changes.

3. Obese people: a) Rank: Neither Agree nor Disagree

b) Reasons: Obesity is a condition influenced by a combination of genetic, metabolic, environmental, and behavioral factors. While it can have medical implications such as increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and joint problems, it’s also influenced by social factors like diet and physical activity. The classification as a medical condition might vary based on the degree of obesity and associated health risks.

4. People who are attracted to members of their same sex: a) Rank: Strongly Disagree

b) Reasons: Sexual orientation is a natural variation in human sexuality and is not inherently a medical condition. Classifying same-sex attraction as a medical issue perpetuates historical stigmatization and discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals. Medicalizing sexual orientation is not supported by scientific consensus and undermines efforts towards acceptance and inclusion.

5. People who are sexually attracted to children: a) Rank: Strongly Agree

b) Reasons: Pedophilic disorder, characterized by sexual attraction to prepubescent children, is recognized as a mental health disorder by the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). This classification is based on the potential harm to children and society. It requires professional intervention, as it poses a serious risk to individuals and society as a whole.

6. People with racist beliefs and feelings: a) Rank: Neither Agree nor Disagree

b) Reasons: Racism is a social and cultural issue rather than a medical condition. While racist beliefs and feelings can impact mental health and contribute to societal disparities, they are fundamentally rooted in social constructs and ideologies. Addressing racism requires social, educational, and policy interventions rather than medical treatment.

Reflective Analysis: Upon reviewing the reasons for ranking each condition, it’s evident that some reasons are based on biological or physiological factors, while others are rooted in social constructs, norms, and moral judgments. The distinction between what is classified as medical and what is not is influenced by historical, cultural, and societal contexts. For instance, conditions like depression and obesity straddle the line between medical and psychological/social classifications, highlighting the complex interplay between biology and society in shaping our perceptions of health and illness. The activity underscores how societal norms and cultural beliefs influence the medicalization of certain conditions, reflecting the social construction of illness, health, and medicine.

Medicalization Activity and Classification Paper



This week we looked at medicine from a social constructionist standpoint.  While people often think of the field of medicine in purely biological terms, medical sociologists point out the many ways in which our social meanings and interactions with people define and shape their practices and outcomes.  A key concept of this lens is medicalization, or the process through which something becomes defined as medical in nature and requiring medical assistance.

For this week’s activity, you will explore the concept of medicalization by thinking about your reasons for classifying something as medical or not.  A key part of this is thinking thoroughly about your reasons for placing something into one category or another.  Take notes, as you will submit your reasons for credit (note, this isn’t a right or wrong activity but rather one that helps us see the social construction of thought and knowledge.  Feel free to play “devil’s advocate” so you can capture a range of answers.

You are also welcome to do this activity with a partner.

Medicalization Activity Instructions

Below is a list of six different conditions.  Think about if you feel each condition is like a disease or illness:

“ (e.g. people with cancer)”  have a medical condition, like a disease or illness.

As you move through the list,

a) rank each on a scale of agreement:

Strongly Agree Neither Agree or Disagree           Strongly Disagree.

b) provide reasons for your ranking.

  1. People with cancer
  2. Depressed people
  3. Obese people
  4. People who are attracted to members of their same sex
  5. People who are sexually attracted to children
  6. People with racist beliefs and feelings

Last, look at all your reasons for ranking each condition.  Did you use any of the same reasons to justify something being medical and something being not medical?  How does this relate to social constructions of illness, health, and medicine?

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