PREFACE
•••
A group called Freedom from Fear can serve as a brief illustration and
entry point into the mutually transforming relations between medical
subjectivity and consumer society that underlie and inform this book. It’s
one example of the patient advocacy and support groups that character-
ize the scene of health and medicine today. The group is a not-for-profit
organization whose mission is to raise awareness about anxiety and
depression and their treatment. Since its inception in 1984 it has become
a national advocacy organization with many chapters and a significant
media presence in the United States. A large amount of its funding
comes from pharmaceutical organizations, which may help to explain its
growth. The group promotes a range of drug and behavioral therapies
and conducts awareness-raising activities, such as running the National
Anxiety Disorders Freedom Day—a major media event. Here, medi-
cal education becomes indistinguishable from marketing, and health is
thought to require consumer identification, as even the group’s founder,
Mary Guardino, advises: ‘‘One of the things I’ve found when you’re
reaching consumers is you have to have a good tag line. You have to give
them a quick message that raises their curiosity and interest and says,
‘Wow! That could be me!’ ’’∞
I first came across Freedom from Fear when Guardino was inter-
viewed for Selling Sickness, a documentary that investigates the relations
between medical science, the pharmaceutical industry, and contempo-
rary society.≤ Couched in a genre that is increasingly well adapted to the
intrigues of the contemporary pharmaceutical industry—detective jour-
nalism and exposé—the documentary forms part of a mounting critique
of ‘‘disease-mongering.’’≥ This term was coined by a loose coalition of
activists and medical professionals to describe the rapid expansion of
disease categories driven by the profit motives of pharmaceutical corpo-
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