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The control of childhood: ways of the medicalization

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Tatiana Andrade Barbarini
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Master's Dissertation
Press: Campinas, SP.
Institution: Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Maria Lygia Quartim de Moraes; Carlos Roberto Soares Freire de Rivorêdo; Maria Helena Oliva Augusto
Advisor: Maria Lygia Quartim de Moraes

Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a child mental disorder which has been increasingly drawing attention from medical clinics, schools and media. Being in constant active, seeming aloof and not obeying adults' orders are some signs, along with so many others, that indicate a child is a potential ADHD bearer. When it is considered that ADHD has a genetic neurological dysfunction cause, the problem becomes restricted to the individual, in his/her biological constitution. This gives psychiatrists authority to diagnose and prescribe treatments - the use of psycho stimulant drugs being the main one. However this approach disregards important social, historical, cultural, economical, and political questions. Therefore, in this dissertation I aim to analyze and understand ADHD, its diagnosis, its drugs and the medical (psychiatric) treatment given to children in order to denaturalize them and reveal their relations with contemporary society. In this way, some themes are investigated, such as the disorder clinical definition, the processes of social medicalization and the pathologization and stigmatization of some children's behaviors, and these children's images, establishing the dialogue among ADHD, society, and childhood. The methodology chosen covers an ethnographic qualitative research, with methods and techniques of participative observation at "Ambulatório de Psiquiatria Infantil do Hospital das Clínicas da Universidade Estadual de Campinas"; semi-structured interviews with health professionals from the above-mentioned clinic, children from six to twelve years old diagnosed as ADHD bearers and treated there, and their parents or legal guardians; as well as by interpreting children's drawings. Thus, from bibliographic and field research, it is understood that ADHD and its medicamental and psychiatric treatment are complex phenomena which surpass Biology and Medicine field limits because of their social, historical, and cultural roots. They are connected to a society which values the child as a developing human being into an active adult life, and conforms them to socially defined principles and rules about proper behaviors. This conformation gives little room to child expression and, moreover, label, punish, and try to correct deviant children, among them, children with ADHD. Hence, it is possible to understand ADHD and its treatment (especially medicamental one) as mechanisms of bio-power (AU)

FAPESP's process: 09/06839-7 - The control of childhood: ways of the medicalization
Grantee:Tatiana de Andrade Barbarini
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Master