Medicalization: current concept and future directions in a bionic society

Mens Sana Monogr. 2012 Jan;10(1):122-33. doi: 10.4103/0973-1229.91587.


The article illustrates the main features of the concept of medicalization, starting from its theoretical roots. Although it is the process of extending the medical gaze on human conditions, it appears that medicalization cannot be strictly connected to medical imperialism anymore. Other "engines" of medicalization are influential: consumers, biotechnology and managed care. The growth of research and theoretical reflections on medicalization has led to the proposal of other parallel concepts like pharmaceuticalization, genetization and biomedicalization. These new theoretical tools could be useful in the analysis of human enhancement. Human enhancement can be considered as the use of biomedical technology to improve performance on a human being who is not in need of a cure: a practice that is increasingly spreading in what might be defined as a "bionic society".

Keywords: Biomedicalization; Bionic society; Human enhancement; Medicalization; Risk; pharmaceuticalization.