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April 15, 1983

Use and Abuse of Medicine

Author Affiliations

Medical College of Wisconsin Milwaukee

JAMA. 1983;249(15):2096. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330390088050

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Growing criticism of medical care from certain scholarly quarters became somewhat more intense in the last decade, and the word "medicalization" was coined to imply that medicine had spread too broadly into areas that do not concern it. Medicine, the critics feared, had invaded community life and was now influencing both health care policymakers and the citizenry. Was this criticism valid or overstated? In this thoughtful, well-edited volume, clinicians, historians, and anthropologists attempt to answer this question using case studies from their own disciplines. The results are mixed.

A goodly amount of the anthropological material describes health care commingled with community life in primitive and traditional nonwestern societies. Such integration seems to show positive results. As an example of this beneficial union of medicine and the society it serves, an in-depth study of couvade (the experience of pregnancy-related symptoms by the mates of expectant women) is presented. This and other

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