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Health (London). 2004 Jan;8(1):61-80.

Medicalization, ambivalence and social control: mothers' descriptions of educators and ADD/ADHD.

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University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.


Conrad notes that non-medical personnel often accomplish the routine, everyday work of medicalization. This is particularly so in the case of Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, where teachers, special educators and school psychologists identify, assess and administer medication to 'problematic' children. Drawing on data from interviews with Canadian and British mothers of ADD/ADHD children, this article explores mothers' perceptions of educators' roles in medicalizing children who are different, comparing medicalization in two divergent sites. In Canada, where ADD/ADHD is a highly medicalized phenomenon, and teachers have few alternative forms of social control available to them in classrooms, it appears that educators are prepared to identify problem children and press for medical treatment with remarkable vigor. In Britain, where medicalization remains incomplete, and where teachers and special educators have more stringent alternative forms of social control available to them, educators were often described as gatekeepers who will refuse the label or to administer medication.

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