Sexual behaviour and its medicalisation

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7354.45 (Published 06 July 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:45

Many (especially economic) forces promote medicalisation

  1. Leonore Tiefer, clinical associate professor of psychiatry (LTiefer@mindspring.com)
  1. New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10003, USA
  2. INSERM U 569, 94276 Le Kremlin Bicêtre Cedex, France

    EDITOR—The subject of the medicalisation of sexual behaviour requires an even larger perspective than that offered by Hart and Wellings,1 one specifically identifying socioeconomic trends and agents. For example, the addition of sexual dysfunctions to the American psychiatric nomenclature in 1980 came at a time when psychiatry needed to become more biological and quantitative to participate in new American insurance reimbursement plans. The Masters and Johnson list of disorders, focusing on dissatisfaction with genital arousal and orgasm but omitting “soft” problems of pleasure or intimacy, fitted these quantitative and biological needs but popularised standards for sexual satisfaction that are overly genital and performance oriented.2

    The involvement of urologists in male sexual problems in the 1980s came about because of specialists' needs for new topics and …

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