email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAlways Forever MaybeAmerica UnzippedAmerica UnzippedAmerica's Sexual TransformationAmerican EugenicsAmerican GirlsAmerican HookupAn Interpretation of DesireAnarchism & SexualityAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveAnthony GoicoleaAnticlimaxArt and HomosexualityArt/PornAssuming a BodyAutoportraitBachelors and BunniesBecoming OrgasmicBehind the Red DoorBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBetween Mom and JoBeyond Diversity DayBeyond SexualityBeyond SpeechBeyond ToleranceBig Porn IncBill HensonBodies in DoubtBody ImagesBonkBoys & SexBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBrothelBuying SexCase Studies in Communication about SexCase Studies in Sexual DevianceCaught in the WebCelibaciesChildren and SexualityChildren and the Politics of SexualityChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChristy ReportClay's WayClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthClose toYouClumsyCold HitCollege SexComing of Age in AmericaConfessions of the Other MotherCybersexCyborgasmDare... to Make Love with 2, 3, 4... or MoreDare... to Try BisexualityDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeadly ButterflyDebating Same-Sex MarriageDeep GossipDeparting from DevianceDesire, Love, and IdentityDigital DiariesDilemmas of DesireDirty MindsDirty StoriesDisorders Of DesireDisorders of Sex Development:Doing ItDoing ItDoing It Down UnderDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDude, You're a FagEarly Embraces IIIEmerald City BluesEmotionally InvolvedEnjoying Guilty PleasuresErotic CapitalErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEveryday PornographyEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorExploring TranssexualismFade to BlackFagbugFaking ItFamilies Like MineFast GirlsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.Fire on the Mountain DVDFor Lesbian ParentsFor The Bible Tells Me SoForbiddenFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Shame to SinFuckologyGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGender in the MirrorGender OutlawsGeography ClubGetting OffGetting RealGetting the Love You WantGirls & SexGirls Gone MildGirls Gone SkankGLBTQGoddess WorshipGoing DownGood GirlsGood PornGood Sex IllustratedGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexGuide To Getting It OnHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHard to GetHardcore from the HeartHear Us Out!HeterosyncraciesHit & MissHomosexualitiesHookedHooking UpHow Sex Became a Civil LibertyHow Sex ChangedHow Sex WorksHow To Be GayHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Make Love Like a Porn StarHow to Think More About SexHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenHysterical MenI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'll Be Your MirrorIf Men Could TalkImpotenceIn a Queer VoiceIn Praise of the WhipIn the Mood, AgainInsatiable WivesIntense Games DVDInvestigating Young People's Sexual CulturesIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalItís Your HourJane Sexes It UpJock SturgesJust Between UsKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Gone WildLegalizing ProstitutionLegalizing ProstitutionLet's Get This StraightLets Talk about SexLetters to Penthouse Vol. 50Likely to DieLittle ChicagoLoose GirlLosing Matt ShepardLoveLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLove Lust DesireLove SickLustMad for FoucaultMagical ThinkingMaking American BoysMaking Babies the Hard WayMaking Chastity SexyMaking Peace with PornMaking ScenesMale SexualityMalefemaleMaster BreastsMating in CaptivityMedicalized MasculinitiesMelancholia and MoralismMenMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities MiddlesexMoney ShotMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy HeartbeatMy Horizontal LifeName All the AnimalsNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew Sex Now DVDNightswimmingNone of the AboveNormalNormalNot GayNot My ShameNot The Marrying KindNot Under My RoofNothing PinkOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOpenOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmologyOrgasmsOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOverexposedPeekPeriod PiecesPervPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePhilosophy of Love, Sex, and Marriage: An IntroductionPhilosophy of Sex and LovePin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornographyPornography, Sex, and FeminismPosition Of The Day PlaybookPray the Gay AwayPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProblem GirlsPrudePsychopathia SexualisQueer PhilosophyRapeRape Is RapeRated X - A Journey Through PornRazmatazRecruiting Young LoveRedefining GirlyRedefining RapeRegulating SexRelax, It's Just SexRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRethinking RapeRunning with ScissorsSatan's Sex BookScreening SexSelling Sex ShortSexSex & Single GirlsSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex and WarSex at DawnSex by NumbersSex DetoxSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in AntiquitySex in CrisisSex in the World of MythSex ObjectSex OffendersSex on the BrainSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, Family, and the Culture WarsSex, or the UnbearableSex, Therapy, and KidsSex, Time and PowerSextasySexting and Young PeopleSexual ArtSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual DisordersSexual EcstasySexual EthicsSexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Orientation and School PolicySexual PleasureSexual PredatorsSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShameShamelessShy GirlSlutWalkSmall FavorsSmutSocial Control of Sex OffendersSome Assembly RequiredSplit ScreenStir-FryStraight to JesusStrange BedfellowsStripped BareSurviving Sexual ViolenceSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTalk to Me FirstTechniques of PleasureTestosterone RexThe Anthropology of SexThe BabiesThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe BodyThe Breast BookThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe Busy Couple's Guide to Great SexThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Dangerous Art of Blending InThe Education of SophieThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Erotic EdgeThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Essential KamasutraThe Evolution of BeautyThe Fate of GenderThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Happy Hook-UpThe Hite ReportThe Humble Little CondomThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Illustrated Story of OThe Incurable RomanticThe Love CureThe Madness of WomenThe Men They Will BecomeThe Mirror of LoveThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Moral Panics of SexualityThe Naked Truth About SexThe Nature of Sexual DesireThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Only Girl in the CarThe Order of the Poison OakThe Origins of SexThe Other HollywoodThe Other PlaceThe Other Side of DesireThe Perils of MasculinityThe Perversion of YouthThe PervertThe Phenomenology of Sex, Love, and IntimacyThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary ReadingsThe Pleasure's All MineThe Politics Of LustThe Porn TrapThe Pornographer's GriefThe Pornography IndustryThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Shared HeartThe Sleep of ReasonThe Smart Girl's Guide to PornThe State of AffairsThe Story of SexThe SurrenderThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Tenth CircleThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Trauma MythThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Vagina MonologuesThe ValleyThe Violence of CareThe Virgin BlueThe Virginity ClubThings Tom LikesThings We Didn't Talk About When I Was a GirlThinking KinkThinking XXXToo Hot to HandleTransTransTransgender Children and YouthUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebUntrue VirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Does Consent Really Mean?What Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?What's Wrong with Homosexuality?When Jeff Comes HomeWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Who Has What?Who's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWilhelm ReichWired for IntimacyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWomen and MadnessWritten in the FleshYou Know Me WellZen Sex

Related Topics
Medicalized MasculinitiesReview - Medicalized Masculinities
by Dana Rosenfeld and Christopher Faircloth (Editors)
Temple University Press, 2006
Review by Tony O'Brien, RN, MPhil
Jun 19th 2007 (Volume 11, Issue 25)

The premise of this collection of writings is that medicalization theory, so prominent in problematizing women's health, has ignored the medicalization of men's bodies.  In their introduction editors Rosenfeld and Faircloth acknowledge that this is a startling hypothesis, given the volume of scholarship on medicalization.  Men's behavior as a health risk has become standard fare in health related research (failure to seek medical advice, risk taking, substance use), but as Rosenfeld and Faircloth argue, it is most improbable that men's bodies have completely escaped the medical gaze.  The lack of research in masculinization presents two problems: one is to explain and theorize this absence, and the other is to fill the gap with studies that bring examples of the phenomenon to light.  Most of this book addresses the second of these problems, with the editors presenting a theoretical framework to guide the development of research and analysis.

Successive contributors show that the price of the normalized male body as the benchmark for scientific investigation has been the glossing over of increasing medicalization of men.  The book covers a wide range of issues, from the relatively mundane but not unimportant issue of "treatment" for baldness, to the more ethically disturbing medicalization of boyhood through the psychiatric label of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Readers will be familiar with the celebrity endorsements for Viagra and Cialis.  You only have to open your inbox to experience the saturation marketing of these drugs.  Other issues, such as the study of anatomy, do not present themselves so readily to the man in the street.  And while most academics have read of the decades long Tuskegee syphilis experiment, few will have given this issue the degree of analysis provided in this book.

Medicalized Masculinities contains eight chapters, each brief enough to be read in an hour or so, and sufficiently self contained to be read independently.  The editors provide an introduction with an historical overview of medicalization scholarship and theoretical approaches.  The remaining chapters examine specific examples of medicalization.  The contributors are either sociologists or health researchers taking a sociological analysis.  The tenor of the book is critical, especially of medicine, but the theoretical frameworks, broadly Foucaldian, are sensitive to the complicity and active contribution of a wide range of interests in the medicalization process.  The medicalization of masculinity is not a case of unilaterally imposed medical authority.  As the case of ADHD shows, medicine has been captured by education, advocacy groups, medical technology, and other influences, and has been passive in accepting the word of teachers and mothers that increasing numbers of young boys are mentally ill and need treatment.

Behind the whole process of medicalization stands the pharmaceutical industry, ready with a range of persuasive arguments aimed not necessarily at medical professionals, but increasingly directly at the public.  Medicalization is so much more efficient if patients present to doctors already convinced they have a medical problem and aware of the necessary treatment.  Direct marketing, while appealing to medical discourse, is not necessarily supportive of medical authority, creating a central contradiction in the medicalization process.  If anything, many of the examples in this book point to a decline in the power of medical professionals in the definition of illness.  The rewards of a profit driven health sector, especially in the US, ensure that there is little in the way of professional resistance to the undermining of medical authority.

Following Rosenfeld and Faircloth's introduction, the first two chapters explore the male virility drugs Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.  Linked to a socially conditioned and pervasive male desire for youth and sexual performance, these chapters show how clever marketing creates the "problem" of the sustained erection.  Canny marketing draws on new claims for virility drugs to expand markets, and to medicalize sexual concerns for wider (and younger) groups of men.  Lisa Moore and Heidi Durkin tackle the issue of forensic analysis of male body fluids, arguing that this new area of science is increasingly displacing women's testimony, as DNA provides a positivist alternative to the "untrustworthy" narratives of female victims.  This is an intriguing argument, as there are clearly cases in which science has identified offenders who might otherwise have escaped justice.  DNA evidence has also exonerated many men who have spent long terms in prison following flawed convictions.  Moore and Durking show that enthusiasm for these advances needs to be tempered with wider awareness of its effects.

Julia Szymczak and Peter Conrad discuss the newly invented male "diseases" of andropause and baldness.  Both these "conditions" are driven by extensive market interests, and represent a commercialization of medicine.  As other contributors also show, this form of medicalization is by no means imposed by doctors on a skeptical male public.  Men themselves actively contribute through their readiness to seek medical solutions to life issues.  Szymczak and Conrad predict that this process will continue as more wealthy baby boomers hit old age.  The chapter on anatomy is interesting in that it brings to light an often secretive area of medicine, the use of cadavers for teaching medical students.  This is a chapter which would fit easily into a text of feminist critique of medicine, as it explores the masculinist assumptions of traditional approaches to teaching anatomy.  Alan Petersen and Sam de Bere introduce some new advances in anatomy which have the potential to displace the traditional dissection room with simulations, live subjects, and virtual technology.

The longest chapter in the book presents an extended analysis of ADHD in the United States.  Authors Nicky Hart, Noah Grand and Kevin Riley assemble a large array of evidence that points to ADHD as an expression of upper middle class anxiety about the socialization of boys, built on massive changes in the female labor force and reduced availability of female labor in the domestic sphere.  Sales of the ADHD drug Ritalin have skyrocketed in response to these changes.  The argument is compelling, that ADHD is largely socially constructed, and confined to a minority of boys predominantly of wealthier than average families.  Anne Marie Hickey's study of black masculinity draws heavily on the Tuskegee syphilis experiment to show that this travesty has left a legacy of culturally entrenched racial stereotypes and distrust of the medical profession.  One reason for this is that the Tuskegee experiment was not confined to the year in which it began (an impression created by many reports that talk of the "1932 Tuskegee experiment", but it continued for decades, even surviving the Nuremberg trials.  Hickey's chapter illustrates that medicalization of masculinity is not a uniquely late twentieth century phenomenon.  The final chapter is an exploration of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric category that has more than its share of critics.  Marisa Smith posits an interesting contradiction: that medical discourse in the area of PTSD is somewhat Janus faced.  Analyzing responses to group therapy for Vietnam veterans, Smith argues that views of masculinity are simultaneously problematic in contributing to PTSD, and yet plastic enough to provide part of the solution.

Inevitably there are areas of medicalization not covered.  Suzuki in his history of madness in Victorian in England (Madness at Home) documented recognizable male models of madness, and Elaine Showalter (The Female Malady) described neurasthenia as "male hysteria".  The medicalization of homosexuality is another example, also illustrating one of the books minor themes, demedicalization, as various "disorders" are reinterpreted.  The more contemporary example of body dysmorphic disorder, while perhaps not a classical example of medicalization of masculinity, is certainly one that idealizes a particular male body, and rests on the social construction of the male body.  Another issue deserving research is the medicalization of risk, especially in the psychiatric labeling of sexual offenders.

Medicalized Masculinities brings together a disparate set of examples.  Together they support Rosenfeld and Faircloth's hypothesis that men's bodies are becoming increasingly medicalized, and that this issue has been ignored, sometimes because such a hypothesis has not fitted accepted theories of gender politics or medicalization.  The issues of medicalization for men may be different than those for women.  Clearly a grand theory of male domination will not apply here.  The book is not excessively theoretical; the contributions are clearly written and well argued.  The editors have done a good job in producing an even and accessible introduction to the medicalization of masculinity, and have provided ample references to classical works and current research.  Medicalized Masculinities will be a valuable reference work for postgraduate health related courses.  It will be of interest to health sociologists, but should be read by anyone with an interest in gender issues in health care, as well as by health practitioners in the specific areas addressed.


© 2007 Tony O'Brien


Tony O'Brien, RN, MPhil, Senior Lecturer, Mental Health Nursing, University of Auckland


Welcome to Metapsychology.

Note that Metapsychology will be moving to a new server in January 2020. We will not put up new reviews during the transition. We thank you for your support and look forward to coming back with a revised format.

We feature over 8300 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our Google Group!

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716