Shaping Children: The Pursuit of Normalcy in Pediatric Cognitive Neuro-enhancement

  • Jenny KrutzinnaEmail author
Part of the Advances in Neuroethics book series (AIN)


Within the broad field of human enhancement, pediatric cognitive neuro-enhancement appears to arouse particular interest. The increasing importance of cognitive capacities in our contemporary and cultural context appears to be the main reason for the focus on cognition as the preferred trait of enhancement, while the choice of pharmacological means is based on factors of feasibility, accessibility, and cost. While the ethical issues arising in the adult context have already been extensively covered in the literature, pediatric neuro-enhancement brings with it additional ethical challenges requiring further attention. Although there are numerous important ethical considerations, the focus of this chapter is on the pursuit of normalcy as the goal in pediatric neuro-enhancement. Parental attempts to shape children are not new, and the resources available for them to do so include widespread and mostly uncontroversial tools, such as education. The increasing use of psychotropic drugs, however, reveals the significant impact of the concept of normalcy, which has resulted in a trend to medicalize what used to be considered “normal” (childhood) behavior. In this context, special challenges are posed by psychiatric disorders, where the familiar treatment-enhancement distinction continues to be relied upon to justify interventions in children. Drawing on the examples of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it will be argued that children are already being enhanced within psychiatric practice and that this is incompatible with an understanding of disability under a mixed model.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Administration and Organization TheoryUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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