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Framing disease: The example of female hypoactive sexual desire disorder

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  • Jutel, Annemarie

Abstract

Disease classification is an important part in the process of medicalisation and one important tool by which medical authority is exerted. The demand for, or proposal of a diagnosis may be the first step in casting life's experiences as medical in nature. Aronowitz has written about how diagnoses result from social framing mechanisms (2008) and consensus (2001), while Brown (1995) has demonstrated a complex range of interactions between lay and professionals, institutions and industries which underpin disease discovery. In any case, there are numerous social factors which shape the diagnosis, and in turn, provide a mechanism by which medicalisation can be enacted. Focussing on diagnostic classification provides an important perspective on the human condition and its relationship to medicine. To illustrate how layers of social meaning may be concealed in a diagnosis, this paper uses as heuristic the relatively obscure diagnosis of Female Hyposexual Desire Disorder which is currently surfacing in medical and marketing literature as a frequent disorder worthy of concern. I describe how this diagnosis embodies long-standing fascination with female libido, a contemporary focus on female hypersexuality, and commercial interest of the pharmaceutical industry and its medical allies to reify low sexual urge as a pathological disorder in women.

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  • Jutel, Annemarie, 2010. "Framing disease: The example of female hypoactive sexual desire disorder," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(7), pages 1084-1090, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:70:y:2010:i:7:p:1084-1090
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dumit, Joseph, 2006. "Illnesses you have to fight to get: Facts as forces in uncertain, emergent illnesses," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 577-590, February.
    2. Jutel, Annemarie, 2006. "The emergence of overweight as a disease entity: Measuring up normality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(9), pages 2268-2276, November.
    3. Aronowitz, Robert, 2008. "Rejoinder to commentaries on "Framing disease: an underappreciated mechanism for the social patterning of health"," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 20-22, July.
    4. Leonore Tiefer, 2006. "Female Sexual Dysfunction: A Case Study of Disease Mongering and Activist Resistance," PLOS Medicine, Public Library of Science, vol. 3(4), pages 1-1, April.
    5. Aronowitz, Robert, 2008. "Framing disease: An underappreciated mechanism for the social patterning of health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 1-9, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Olafsdottir, Sigrun & Pescosolido, Bernice A., 2011. "Constructing illness: How the public in eight Western nations respond to a clinical description of "schizophrenia"," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(6), pages 929-938, September.
    2. Padamsee, Tasleem Juana, 2011. "The pharmaceutical corporation and the 'good work' of managing women's bodies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(8), pages 1342-1350, April.
    3. Jutel, Annemarie, 2016. "Truth and lies: Disclosure and the power of diagnosis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 92-98.

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