Developmental Disabilities as Medicalization : Focusing the Process of Interpretation in the Educational Setting

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  • 医療化現象としての「発達障害」 : 教育現場における解釈過程を中心に
  • イリョウカ ゲンショウ ト シテ ノ ハッタツ ショウガイ キョウイク ゲンバ ニ オケル カイシャク カテイ オ チュウシン ニ

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Since the later half of the 1990s, lack of adaptability of children to the educational setting has been explained through the new medical category of "developmental disabilities." In this paper, medical intervention is conceived of as "medicalization," and the educational setting is focused on and inspected. In particular, the paper focuses on "developmental disabilities" as a medical diagnosis characterized by uncertainty, situational dependence and feelings of resistance toward labeling, and clarifies how these characteristics are interpreted in the educational setting. Section 1 reviews previous studies that look critically at the elements of medicalization, pointing out the characteristics and problems of "developmental disabilities" as medicalization. (1) The elements of "developmental disabilities" are vague despite the fact that they are medical concepts, and consequently there is a lack of scientific grounds, standardized tests and treatment. This enables interpretation by a diverse range of knowledge. (2) These disabilities function as a form of "risk management." This study dynamically analyzes how these\ medical diagnoses are interpreted in the educational setting, with the aim to approach the reality of medicalization. Section 2 summarizes the research method which was used in the interview research of nine teachers. Section 3 examines medicalization in children, first from the viewpoint of responsibility and the role and position of children. The viewpoint of medical treatment has made rapid advances through the intervention of institutionalized medicine. Medical labeling exempts parents and teachers from responsibility, based on the assumption that the problem is a "disability." In this way, the children are obliged to play the "sick role." Parents and teachers sometimes display feelings of rejection or resistance toward medical labeling. In addition, uncertainty regarding the cause of the "developmental disability" creates difficulties in medical practice. However, the feelings of rejection and the medical uncertainty can be minimized by medical practice and interpretation in the educational setting.


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