Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 267–285 | Cite as

From Disabled Students to Disabled Brains: The Medicalizing Power of Rhetorical Images in the Israeli Learning Disabilities Field

  • Ofer KatcherginEmail author


The neurocentric worldview that identifies the essence of the human being with the material brain has become a central paradigm in current academic discourse. Israeli researchers also seek to understand educational principles and processes via neuroscientific models. On this background, the article uncovers the central role that visual brain images play in the learning-disabilities field in Israel. It examines the place brain images have in the professional imagination of didactic-diagnosticians as well as their influence on the diagnosticians' clinical attitudes. It relies on two theoretical fields: sociology and anthropology of the body and sociology of neuromedical knowledge. The research consists of three methodologies: ethnographic observations, in-depth interviews, and rhetorical analysis of visual and verbal texts. It uncovers the various rhetorical and ideological functions of brain images in the field. It also charts the repertoire of rhetorical devices which are utilized to strengthen the neuroreducionist messages contained in the images.


Brain imaging Medicalization Sociology of neuromedical knowledge Neurocentrism Critical rhetorical analysis Critical discourse analysis Social construction of learning disabilities 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sociology Department and Civics DepartmentOranim Academic College of EducationKiryat-TivonIsrael

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