The Pediatric Forum |

"Bet You I Will" Risk

Howard Fischer, MD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998;152(9):930. doi:.
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Michaud et al1 discuss experimental behavior in adolescence and touch on an important point but do not consider its implications. They talk of "Health Imperialism" and state that certain behaviors—formerly considered illegal or immoral—"are now considered to reflect ill health." Thus, deviant behavior causes illness; social responsibilities in pathogenesis are ignored.

This view of things, I think, is not limited to the interpretation of the origin of problems during adolescence. Violence against people of all ages, ie, child abuse, domestic violence, and geriatric abuse, has become increasingly "medicalized." Physicians want to help their patients regardless of the origin of the problem, and regardless of the tools at our disposal. We treat (with the most limited success) our patients for social problems. The root causes of these social problems, however, need to be addressed by the formulators of public policy and law, and by those who allocate public funds. Unfortunately, when legislators see social problems being addressed (however ineffectively) by physicians, they may convince themselves that "things are being taken care of" and abdicate their responsibilities.

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