Honors College Thesis


The Impact of Medicalization on the Authority of Women Healers Public

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  • In the West, the growth of the modern, androcentric medical establishment can be shown to be correlated with the decline in women’s authority and status in the healing arts. As the world of science and medicine expanded exponentially, the understanding of the body changed through the studies of anatomy and physiology. The male body became the “normal” example of a healthy body, and functions occurred that in the female body (e.g., child birth and menstruation) were considered diseases. The process by which non-medical problems become defined and treated as medical problems, usually in terms of illness and disorder, is called “medicalization” – a process that has often negatively affected women. The decline in numbers and influence of women healers is related to the advent of medicalization of women’s bodies. As a result, components of political, social, and moral struggles become embodied in women’s physiological beings. Scientists create truths about sexuality, and women’s bodies incorporate and confirm these truths. These truths, sculpted by the culture in which biologists practice their trade, eventually refashion our cultural environment.
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