Tagged: medicine

Cancer is Not a Pink Ribbon (part 1)

As a belated nod to ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’ (October, in the USA), and the plethora of pink, breast-cancer-sponsored items now on sale,  I want to talk about the rise of the pink ribbon campaign and the concept of ‘pinkwashing’. Breast cancer and the pink ribbon campaign is probably one of the biggest success stories, in terms of its ability to raise awareness and ultimately, save lives. Breast cancer activism started in the 1980’s, in part as a reaction to...

Fugue as Method: Episode 2 – How Scholars Have Applied a Fugal Method

Episode 2 “When I am growing up…we girls, big and little, have at our command four languages to express desire before all that is left for us is sighs and moans: French for secret missives; Arabic for our stifled aspirations towards God-the-Father, the God of the religions of the Book; Lybico-Berber which takes us back to the pagan idols-mother-gods-of pre-Islamic Mecca.  The fourth language, for all females, young or old, cloistered or half-emancipated remains that of the body” (Djebar 1985,...

A sociological understanding of online health behaviours

  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMedicine_Drugs.svg The 2006 Online Health Search, a US survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, showed that “prescription or over-the-counter drugs” was the fifth most widely searched health topic on the Web.  The most recent study, conducted by the Pew Project in September 2012, found that 72% of Internet users they surveyed say they looked online for health information within the past year. As well as providing knowledge, the Web is also a retail opportunity which allows...

The Good and Bad News about HIV Infections

This week, great news emerged out of Mississippi: an infant, previously infected with HIV, has been cured of the virus. This development indicates promise for the future. We have now entered an era with the possibility of curing a once incurable disease. This is certainly a time to celebrate the progress of modern medicine and its ability to save the lives of millions of people. However, alongside this great news, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has released new data...

Women, Sexuality, and the HPV Vaccine Part 3

In the past month, I have posted about the feminization of the Gardasil, the vaccine that prevents 70% of Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-related cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts. I started with the historical development and approval of the vaccine and continued with an examination of the research guiding girls-only vaccination strategies. In this post, I will conclude my discussion of Gardasil with some observations about the marketing and advertising of the vaccine, the continued focus on girls and women...

Gender, Sexuality, and the HPV Vaccine: Part 2

  In mid-October, I posted about a recent study that assesses the relationship between rates of sexual activity-related outcomes and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. The researchers found that injection of the vaccine is not associated with elevated rates of sexual activity-related outcomes in young girls, specifically pregnancy, contraceptive counseling, and sexually transmitted infection testing and diagnosis. While removing the stigma around the vaccine will help girls and women, I asked why the vaccine continues to be associated with women,...

The Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge: The New AAP Policy on Male Circumcision

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a revised policy statement regarding male circumcision. Unlike previous policies on the issue, this one got a lot of media attention, probably because male circumcision itself has been in the news more than usual. The past few years have seen increasing mobilization against male circumcision (for example, intactivists (the term activists fighting for genital integrity have given themselves) tried to ban the practice in the city of San Francisco last year, though...

Rosie O'Donnell Reminds Us About Women's Heart Health

Last week, media sources reported that Rosie O’Donnell had a heart attack. Though Rosie explained that she did “google” her symptoms, she did not believe she was having a heart attack and never called 911. Like many women, Rosie explained that she did not know enough about female heart issues, specifically identifying the problem and getting immediate medical attention. Rosie hopes she can use her fame and platform to raise awareness about heart attacks and issues in women. While Rosie...

Illness or Deviance: A Contested Space Between Criminal Justice and Medicine

Foucault wrote that the nineteenth century ushered in a new way to inspect the body; recognizing that medical personnel had placed the patient under “perpetual examination” (1975). His interest, however, was on the discourse that produced, maintained, and extended the medical look or “gaze” (1975). The “clinic,” for Foucault, became an apparatus of examination; a site of knowledge production bound by rules and regulations. It became an authoritative institution where the individual became the object of scrutiny (Long, 1992). Following...

The wide usage of antipsychotic medications may indicate social rather than biological etiology

There are many lessons to take away from the New York Times article linked below that describes a rambunctious little boy whose life was nearly ruined by anti-psychotic medications. Increasing numbers of children have been prescribed this class of drugs as of late for conditions ranging from Tourette Syndrome to bipolar disorder, which psychiatrists have begun to diagnose in children at younger and younger ages. There is controversy surrounding the very ability to diagnose these conditions in young children and...

the normative influence of prescription drugs – why do placebos work so well?

Inquiries as to whether many of the drugs that millions of Americans take are any more effective than say, a sugar pill, or any other placebo pill used in clinical trials are on the rise. Sadly, especially with many anti-depressants, it does not seem as though there is any clear evidence that the drugs are more effective than the placebos and this may also be an issue in non-psychotropic drugs. What if a blood pressure medication wasn’t any more helpful...

What does calling something a disorder do? the case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

By Dena T. Smith This week’s Science Times reported that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, (which causes the symptoms one might imagine, given the name of the condition) a set of symptoms with unidentified etiology, has been linked to a virus. This possible cause may potentially shed some light on the mysterious derivations of the syndrome, which many sufferers would like to see conceptualized as an illness or disease. While the story of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a fascinating and sometimes disturbing one, for sociologists,...

Nature or Nurture as a complex interplay: the debate over the depression gene

By Dena T. Smith In the last several decades, the field of medicine has become increasingly dominated by biological thinking. Psychiatry, a sub-field aimed at treating mental illness is largely focused on the genetic causes of a wide range of conditions. This perspective stands in opposition to the notion that environmental factors cause symptoms – that changes in biology and/or neurochemistry are dictated by certain situations and conditions to which an organism is exposed. Depression is one illness category under...

Health Care Reform? If it’s not too “costly.”

By Dena T. Smith Health care reform is in the foreground of the American political landscape. Politicians in favor of transformation face staunch opposition and must convince the public and their fellow representatives in congress of both the imminent need and potential effectiveness of a major overhaul.  Classical studies on altruistic behavior inform us that actions aimed at helping others, such as supporting health care reform, are more likely when we experience empathy for the person(s) in need. Estimates as to how many...

Multiple Births as Media Spectacle

by theoryforthemasses In the past week considerable debate has emerged over the birth of a set of octuplets to a California woman. Controversy has surrounded both the doctors who facilitated the births as well as the mother herself, who is single, unemployed, and has six other children. The attention that is being paid to this family by both the media and ordinary people who are eager to share their opinions on fertility treatments and parental responsibility has created nothing short...