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Book and Media Reviews
November 7, 2007

The Medicalization of Society: On the Transformation of Human Conditions Into Treatable Disorders

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(17):2070-2075. doi:10.1001/jama.298.17.2070

This slim volume describes, dissects, documents, and demystifies a striking phenomenon that I observed during my second stint as a summer camp physician. Almost 3 decades ago, fresh out of residency, I made my first foray into the wilds. I returned to this interesting type of practice several years ago and was amazed by what had changed. This time, on reviewing the children's medical charts, I suddenly found that lurking behind a facade of apparent good health was hidden illness that had not been evident years ago: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, dyslexia, eating disorders, milk allergies, as well as other disorders. How could I have been so blind the first time? In discussions with colleagues who also took on this kind of work, it became clear that these new pathologies were widespread.