AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. December 2011, Volume 13, Number 12.

Ethics Poll

Are Americans "Medicalizing" Being Alive?

The Ethics Poll is a snapshot of the opinions of interested readers.

Medical sociologists, among others, have described a trend toward "medicalizing" normal variations in physical and mental health. For example, addiction, short stature, obesity, shyness, overuse of the Internet, and even picky eating are now being defined and treated as medical problems. Check all of the following statements that you think accurately describe this trend toward medicalization.
You are describing your frustration with the illness of a family member to your doctor, who, it so happens, had a family member with the same illness. Do you want the physician to tell you how he or she managed the problems you are experiencing?
Poll results reflect the opinions of visitors to the site who voluntarily answer the poll questions. Those visitors do not represent a random sample of our readers. The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.