Framing disease: the example of female hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Frigidity (Psychology) (Diagnosis)
Frigidity (Psychology) (Development and progression)
Pub Date: 05/01/2010
Publication: Name: Reproductive Health Matters Publisher: Reproductive Health Matters Audience: General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Family and marriage; Health; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Reproductive Health Matters ISSN: 0968-8080
Issue: Date: May, 2010 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 35
Accession Number: 236247758
Full Text: 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 experiences as medical. There are many social factors which shape a diagnosis and provide a mechanism by which medicalisation can be enacted. This paper uses the diagnosis of female hyposexual desire disorder, which is currently surfacing in medical and marketing literature as a frequent disorder worthy of concern, to illustrate how layers of social meaning can be hidden in a diagnosis. The article describes how this diagnosis embodies long-standing fascination with female libido, a contemporary focus on female sexuality as a desired attribute compared to the Victorian view where women's sexual impulses had to be controlled. Commercial interests on the part of the pharmaceutical industry and its medical allies are leading to low sexual urge being seen as a pathological disorder in women. This diagnosis enables expansion of medical authority, legitimises how deviance is understood, defines normality, creates identity and enables production of and provision of treatment. It reinforces an inadequately challenged combination of assumptions and observations about sexual function which consequently serve as a basis for commercial and medical exploitation. (1)

(1.) Jutel A. Framing disease: The example of female hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Social Science and Medicine 2010;70:1084-90.
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