Chapter 1.B.2--Medical Technology and Sociology

Further developing the idea of overmedicalization of the human condition, see Nortin M. Hadler, The Last Well Person (McGill-Queen's Univ. Press, 2004).

On the technological imperative in medicine, see R.A. Deyo & D.L. Patrict, Hope or Hype: The OBsession with Medical Advances and the High Cost of False Promises (2005).

Here is another view of what ``health'' and ``illness'' might mean:

[H]appiness meets all reasonable criteria for a psychiatric disorder. It is statistically abnormal and consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms. . . . [H]appiness is usually characterized by a positive mood, sometimes described as ``elation'' or ``joy,'' although this may be relatively absent in the milder happy states, sometimes termed ``contentment.'' The behavioral components of happiness . . . suggest that happy people are often carefree, impulsive, and unpredictable in their actions, . . . including a high frequency of recreational interpersonal contacts and prosocial actions toward others identified as less happy. . . . There is excellent experimental evidence that happy people are irrational. . . . Happy people have been shown to exhibit various biases of judgment that prevent them from acquiring a realistic understanding of their physical and social environment. . . . Acceptance of these arguments leads to the obvious conclusion that happiness should be included in future taxonomies of mental illness. . . . I humbly suggest that the term ``happiness'' be replaced by the more formal description major affective disorder, pleasant type, in the interests of scientific precision and in the hope of reducing any possible diagnostic ambiguities.
Richard P. Bentall, A Proposal to Classify Happiness as a Psychiatric Disorder, 18 J. Med. Ethics 94 (June 1992).

For a thoughtful analysis of why people make widely different decisions about investing in their own health, and what can be done about this, see Barak Richman, Behavioral Economics and Health Policy: Understanding Medicaid's Failure, 90 Cornell L. Rev. Law Rev. ___ (2005).  He concludes that "offering medical care alone is unlikely to benefit a Medicaid population that suffers from multiple sources of poor health.  . . . [S]upplementing the delivery of medical care with services that appreciate the behavioral context of poor health could significantly improve health outcomes without requiring expensive care."

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