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Troubled Children: Diagnosing, Treating, and Attending to Context

Troubled Children cover

March-April 2011
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More and more children in the United States receive psychiatric diagnoses and psychotropic medications—this is not news. With those increased rates of diagnosis and pharmacological treatment come sometimes intense debates about whether those increases are appropriate, or whether healthy children are being mislabeled as sick and inappropriately given medications to alter their moods and behaviors. Some of these debates are inevitable, given the conceptual issues surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders in general and the application of these diagnostic categories and treatment modalities to children in particular. In this report, we will describe many of those complexities, paying close attention to the ineradicable role that value commitments play not only in decisions about the appropriate modes of treatment, but also in diagnosis.

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Erik Parens and Josephine Johnston, “Troubled Children: Diagnosing, Treating, and Attending to Context,” Special Report, Hastings Center Report 41, no. 2 (2011), childpsychiatry.thehastingscenter.org.