Medicalization is the shifting of the perception of benign states–e.g., mild anxiety, minimal elevation of blood pressure, to the perception that these states are in fact diseases requiring therapy.
Redefining a behaviour as an illness or disease
A term for the erroneous tendency by society–often perpetuated by health professionals–to view effects of socioeconomic disadvantage as purely medical issues.
This tendency arises when the terms health care and medical care are “…used interchangeably, reflecting a cultural view that they are synonymous…’health care’ and ‘medical care’, however are not synonyms. Health care permeates all aspects of daily life. It centres on the prevention of illness. Health care includes social elements such as good housing and sanitation, a safe work environment, stable interpersonal relationships, sufficient income, and education. Medical care, in contrast is only one aspect of health care. It centres on the diagnosis and treatment of disease after (emphasis added) it has developed.…By viewing social problems as medical problems, we arrive at the erroneous conclusion that reform of the medical care system is the best route to improved health.”
Reference NEJM 1993; 329:130ed