Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"The Etiology and Treatment of Childhood"

by Jordan Smoller, University of Pennsylvania.

A reader tipped me off to this satire (link above), after noting my earlier posts regarding medicalization, labeling, and childhood. It's completely satirical but one of the funniest "papers" I've read regarding the medicalization (and criminalization) of childhood.

Here's Smoller's "sociological explanation" for the "disease" known as Childhood:

"Sociological Model: Emile Durkind was perhaps the first to speculate about sociological causes of childhood. He points out two key observations about children:

- the vast majority of children are unemployed, and

- children represent one of the least educated segments of our society. In fact, it has been estimated that less than 20% of children have had more than fourth grade education.

"Clearly, children are an "out-group." Because of their intellectual handicap, children are even denied the right to vote. From the sociologist's perspective, treatment should be aimed at helping assimilate children into mainstream society. Unfortunately, some victims are so incapacitated by their childhood that they are simply not competent to work. One promising rehabilitation program (Spanky and Alfalfa, 1978) has trained victims of severe childhood to sell lemonade."

He even throws a shout-out to Thomas Szasz, he of the "mental illness is a myth" fame:

"As a counterpoint to such theories, some experts have claimed that childhood does not really exist. Szasz (1980) has called "childhood" an expedient label. In seeking conformity, we handicap those whom we find unruly or too short to deal with by labeling them "children."

Make sure you also check out his "reference" page:

Flintstone, F., & Jetson, G. (1939). Cognitive mediation of labour disputes. Industrial Psychology Today, 2, 23-35.

Tom, C., & Jerry, M. (1967). Human behavior as a model for understanding the rat. In M. de Sade (Ed.). The Rewards of Punishment. Paris: Bench Press.

Gumbie, G., & Pokey, P. (1957). A cognitive theory of iron- smelting. Journal of Abnormal Metallurgy, 45, 235-239.

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