Medicine is a highly legitimate business and its professional empire has colonised many strictly non-medical fields of interest. One of the most important, if not the most important, development in the field of deviance has been the ‘medicalisation’ and ‘psychiatricisation’ of social problems: crime, it is said, is an illness; youthful unrest is a maturational phase; political dissent is the result of personality quirks of ‘mindless militants’; a poor employment record flows from a disorder of character; poor families, or ‘problem familes’, are low on something called ‘interpersonal maturity’. Some critics will say that the worst thing to happen to deviance theory was medicine.
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