The biomedical paradigm enjoys growing importance in our society. Biomedicine (e.g., Genetics) seems to occupy the position once held by religion and politics. In this context…
The biomedical paradigm enjoys growing importance in our society. Biomedicine (e.g., Genetics) seems to occupy the position once held by religion and politics. In this context, every trivial problem of daily life is thought to require an appropriate remedy, and perfect health becomes a paramount value, especially within the upper class.
Medicalization is not only promoted by doctors. Today, other engines of medicalization are also available. These include pharmaceutical companies through marketing, advertising, and disease mongering; active consumers who seek a pharmacological solution – a magic bullet – to solve non-organic problems; technology, because highly sensitive diagnostic tools can now detect potential abnormalities even in very low quantities; and the culture of risk, which is connected to the evolution of diagnostic tools, because it is now always possible to be at risk of something.
The parts of life today considered pathological or quasi-pathological are ever increasing shyness, sadness, imperfect blood pressure, or glucose levels. Progressing editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) – the text from which diagnoses of mental illnesses are made – reveal a growing number of syndromes. These “diseases” are diagnosed on the grounds of certain symptoms and the number of weeks they last (quantification). Smartphones, with their tremendous capacity for data collection, contribute to a growth in self-diagnoses. For example, invited to log our every moment of sadness through a “trustworthy” avatar from our app (gamification), we can easily make too much of normal moments of discomfort, immediately seeing them – with a simple computation – transformed into something pathological in need of a cure.
Contemporary society is characterized by extreme acceleration (Rosa, 2010). Time has become a scarce resource and individuals are forced to adhere to the demands of speediness…
Contemporary society is characterized by extreme acceleration (Rosa, 2010). Time has become a scarce resource and individuals are forced to adhere to the demands of speediness. This condition is connected to the increased performance now required in many areas of daily life, an increase so profound that some authors refer to ours as a “doping society.”
This chapter argues that the practice of quantification exponentially increases the “managerializing” of the user. In this sense, the quantified-self (QS) can be thought of as something that helps people to organize their activities in the manner of the market. Individuals thus become self-entrepreneurs who, in keeping with the standard aims of neoliberalism, make use of their collected data in a fashion analogous to the way results are determined in a corporation’s Research & Development department. The self becomes an assortment of analyses by which measures of behaviors and habits are made, all in the name of producing an “objective report” on the user’s characteristics. The ultimate aim of all this is to improve certain parts of life so as to increase and optimize our productivity.