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Medical science is oppressive

Illness and wellness are mere taxonomies of power

Woke World

This article is taken from the June 2024 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

“Illness” is a social construct, defined solely (and in negative terms) against its antithesis: “wellness”. Society, in other words, has created the category of “illness” as a means to impose power on those who do not conform to cultural norms of what it means to be “well”.

A person can only be said to be “ill” if one accepts societal expectations that “wellness” is the norm and that it is inherently a positive experience. Illness and wellness are mere taxonomies of power, inculcated by the hegemonic and oppressive discourses of “medical science”. Referring to someone as “ill” or “unwell” is simply the medicalisation of human diversity.

These assumptions deny the performative nature of illness and wellness towards a neoliberal goal

The notion of a “treatment” or a “cure” is, therefore, a form of erasure, through which illness is othered and dehumanised. The hierarchical dichotomy of “well” and “ill” are co-constituting, each one creating the other through a process of performativity.

Just as heterosexism posits the supremacy of heterosexuality to queerness, healthism situates wellness as the default experience of humanity in order to stigmatise illness as inherently deviant. These assumptions deny the performative nature of illness and wellness towards a neoliberal goal: individual autonomy as a means to secure labour for the capitalist system.

For the benefit of society, we must do the following:

♥ Close all hospitals and any other institutions that perpetuate healthism.

♥ Reject all forms of biological science as white, heterosexist, patriarchal constructs and ban the study of all branches of medicine, including anatomy, biochemistry, endocrinology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience and pharmacology.

♥ Re-educate children to embrace and celebrate illness rather than seeking a “cure”. If a child is “diagnosed” with a “disease”, this narrative must be countered by helping them to understand that illness should not be subordinated to the performance of “wellbeing”, and that they should be actively engaged in disrupting the cultural norms of healthism.

♥ Rebuke those who claim to be “in need of medical attention” as identity-traitors. Such internalised healthism is a form of complicity with systemic medicalisation.

♥ Resist the oppression of health normativity in everyday language. Criminalise pleasantries such as “How are you?” and “Are you well?”

♥ Stop taking aspirin.

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