The medicalization of the psychic suffering: considerations about the psychiatric discourse and its effects on Education

This study offers a critical analysis of the changes observed in the treatment of psychiatric suffering in recent history, noting the contribution from factors such as: the standardization of symptoms brought by the successive editions of the DSM series (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the results of researches in neuroscience that attempt to establish the psychic functioning upon organic bases, and the huge development of psychopharmaceuticals as a result of massive financial investments. The combined action of this group of factors had as its effect the loss of the notion of sense/meaning of the symptoms and subjective sufferings, which belongs to classical psychiatry, and the growing medicalization of the individuals in contemporary society. The text seeks to outline a picture of how a new truth about the psychic sufferings was produced, and expands this analysis by showing that the medicalization procedures developed for the treatment of the adult population were extended also to children. It reviews the evolution of the treatment of children, marking the interaction between pedagogy and medicine in the constitution of child psychiatry. In addition to that, the text tries to reveal the effects of this truth upon the subjects, identifying the way in which the technical discourse (particularly influenced by the medical-psychological discourse) has been given a place in the contemporary world, and how its has influenced education. It underlines, as products of this process, the banalization of existence, the naturalization of suffering, and the blaming of individuals for the accidents of life, and argues that the psychologization of school may nowadays be replaced by the psychiatrization of school discourse. The articulation knowledge/truth/power is investigated here from the texts of Michel Foucault.

Medicalization; Child; Subjectivity; Education


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