Pubdate: August 1999
Source: Harper's Magazine (US)
Copyright: 1999 Harper's Magazine Foundation
Contact:  666 Broadway, New York, New York, 10012
Fax: (212) 228-5889
Author: Stephen Sweet
Note: Headline by MAP


Joshua Shenk's insightful analysis would have been even more resonant had
he considered the way in which so many of our current diseases are socially
constructed. A classic study by the sociologist Peter Conrad suggests that
the maker of Ritalin marketed to physicians "hyperkinesis" as a disease
before marketing their cure to the same audience.  The medicalization of
rambunctiousness has proven to be a tremendously profitable business, with
profound consequences on how schools respond to inattentive children.

The same type of causality holds true for the slightly less alarming but
still dreaded disease advanced by Listerine advertisements, "halitosis,"
otherwise known as bad breath.

When mass marketing of pharmaceuticals is commonplace, increasingly,
invention is the mother of necessity.

Stephen Sweet
Ithaca, N.Y.

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