Inside the child's head: Histories of childhood behavioural disorders

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Laurence, Jennifer and McCallum, David (2009) Inside the child's head: Histories of childhood behavioural disorders. Studies in inclusive education, 4 . Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, Netherlands.


Inside the Child’s Head traces the emergence of biomedical diagnoses of behavior disorders in children. It provides a new critical counterpoint to the kind of ‘myth-or-reality’ debate on childhood disorders. Social policy debates about ADHD for example, inasmuch as they are conducted around essentialist dichotomies of ‘the biological’ and ‘the social’, lead into a philosophical cul-de-sac. The authors suggest that understanding and acting upon childhood disorders lie not so much in elucidating grand philosophical and etiological questions, or in pinning our hopes on new scientific discovery of what is going on ‘in the child’s head’, as in the historical possibilities of the present-day make-up of this ‘inside’. The book provides an account of the historical contexts in which the biomedical and social bases for disorders have been formulated, showing that both sets of understandings draw on common phenomena and use similar instruments to reach their conclusions. Outlined are a series of formative locations whence particular and localized governmental problems to do with managing discrete populations rub up against fairly inauspicious technical solutions, focused on pivotal events in specific institutional and social spaces. These include changes to the spatial organization of classroom; changes in the science of policing social space; the war-time development and extended clinical deployment of the electroencephalograph; the hand-in-hand emergence of computer and cognitive science; and the effects of the computer itself on the way we conceptualize brain-space. The book treats the appearance of the child with behavior disorder as an achievement of various agencies of science-and-government, rather than an initial encounter for discovering scientific truths

Additional Information

Noted as volume 1 of series, title page verso

Item type Book
Official URL
ISBN 9789087907006, 9789087907013
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > SEO Classification > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute for Sustainability and Innovation (ISI)
Keywords ResPubID18205, behavioural disorders, biomedical diagnoses, children
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