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DEN OFFENTLIGA OHÄLSAN: En historisk studie av barnpsykologi och–psykiatri i svensk media 1968 – 2008
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Department of Child Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0968-5734
2020 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [sv]

Svenska barns och ungas psykiska ohälsa har blivit en omdiskuterad fråga i den svenska offentligheten med rapporter och studier som visat på en tilltagande ohälsa. Samtidigt har kritiska röster i media menat att den uppfattade ökningen bland annat berott på förändrade diagnostiska kriterier och normer gällande hälsa och ohälsa. Media har därmed utgjort en viktig arena för påståenden om, förklaringar av och argumentationer kring barns och ungas psykiska ohälsa.

I den här avhandlingen granskas diskussionerna i svensk media om barns och ungas psykiska ohälsa ur ett historiskt perspektiv genom att belysa hur barnpsy-experter och -professionella såsom psykologer, psykiatrer och terapeuter har diskuterat, definierat och förklarat barns och ungas psykiska ohälsa. Materialet som undersöks är utgåvor publicerade under olika delar av tidsperioden 1968–2008 av svensk dagspress samt den svenska föräldratidningen Vi Föräldrar. Avhandlingens teoretiska och analytiska ramverk har utformats utifrån Aktör-nätverksteori.

Analysen visar att mediediskussionerna om barns och ungas psykiska ohälsa inbegripit flera former av barnpsy-expertis, med skilda definitioner, förklaringar och uppfattningar gällande psykisk ohälsa, och som därtill skiftat över tid och mellan medieformat. Dessa har omfattat allt från en alarmistisk inramning av barns och ungas psykiska ohälsa till en hållning där nästan alla uppfattade problem framställdes som normala och övergående inslag i barns utveckling.

Snarare än att se psykisk ohälsa bland barn och unga som ett över olika kontexter enhetligt och sammanhängande fenomen illustrerar avhandlingens resultat nödvändigheten att förstå mediediskussionerna om, och oron över, barns och ungas psykiska ohälsa mot bakgrund av specifika, och historiskt skiftande, former av barnpsy-expertis. Inte minst eftersom olika former av barnpsy-expertis kan ha viktiga konsekvenser för hur såväl föräldrar som barn och unga själva begripliggör psykisk ohälsa.

Abstract [en]

The mental ill-health of Swedish children and young people has become a hotly debated issue in the Swedish public sphere, with reports and studies showing an increase in ill-health. At the same time, critical voices have argued that the perceived increase is, among other things, due to changing diagnostic criteria and health norms. Media has thereby been an important arena for explanations of and arguments about the mental ill-health of children and young people.

In this dissertation, the media discussions on the mental ill-health of Swedish children and young people are examined from an historical perspective, with a focus on how “child psy” experts and professionals such as psychologists and therapists discussed, defined and explained children’s and young people’s mental ill-health. The material consists of issues published during the years 1968–2008 of Swedish daily newspapers as well as of the Swedish parenting magazine Vi Föräldrar [Us Parents]. The thesis's theoretical framework and analytical orientation draw primarily on Actor-network theory.

The analyses show that the media discussions on the mental ill-health of children and young people encompassed several forms of “child psy” expertise. These included different definitions, explanations and notions regarding mental ill-health and ranged from an alarmist framing of children's and young people's mental health to an attitude where almost all perceived problems were interpreted as normal, healthy and transient aspects of children's development.

Rather than seeing mental ill-health among children and young people as a coherent phenomenon that is stable across contexts, the dissertation illustrates the need to understand the media discussions, and the concerns about, the mental ill-health of children and young people in the light of specific, and historically changing, forms of “child psy” expertise. Especially as different forms of “child psy” expertise can have important consequences for how parents, children and young people themselves understand mental ill-health.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2020. , p. 94
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Sciences, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 781
Keywords [en]
child psychology, child psychiatry, expertise, experts, media, actor-network theory, history of science, child studies, public debate, public sphere, history of childhood
Keywords [sv]
barnpsykologi, barnpsykiatri, media, dagstidningar, föräldratidning, expertis, aktör-nätverksteori, experter, vetenskapshistoria, barnstudier, samhällsdebatt, offentlighet, barndomshistoria
National Category
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-163096DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-163096ISBN: 9789179299194 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-163096DiVA, id: diva2:1384941
Public defence
2020-02-14, Vallfarten, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-01-13 Created: 2020-01-13 Last updated: 2020-01-20Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Brains and psyches: Child psychological and psychiatric expertise in a Swedish newspaper, 1980–2008
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Brains and psyches: Child psychological and psychiatric expertise in a Swedish newspaper, 1980–2008
2019 (English)In: History of the Human Sciences, ISSN 0952-6951, E-ISSN 1461-720X, no 3, p. 76-99Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Most children and families have not had direct contact with child psychological and psychiatric experts. Instead they encounter developmental theories, etiological explanations and depictions of childhood disorders through indirect channels such as newspapers. Drawing on actor–network theory, this article explores two child psychological and psychiatric modes of ordering children’s mental health discernible in Sweden’s largest morning newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, during the years 1980 to 2008: a psychodynamic mode and a neuro-centered mode. In the article I show how these two relatively contemporaneous modes greatly differed in how they enacted children’s mental health. The psychodynamic mode stressed the parents’ role in structuring and affecting the child’s unconscious and saw them as the primary cause of any mental illness. In contrast, the neuro-centered mode highlighted that mental issues were related to the child’s brain and proposed different solutions depending on whether the child’s brain functioned in a ‘normal’ or ‘atypical’ manner. Each mode moreover suggested differing contexts to their discussions, with the psychodynamic mode solely discussing the parental milieu while the neuro-centered mode mainly focused on how society affected children with ‘atypical’ brains. The two modes thus had significantly diverging implications for the reader on how to understand and manage children and their psychological well-being. I further argue in the article for the relevance of actor–network theory in historical studies of psychology and psychiatry.

Keywords
childhood, actor–network theory, history of child psychology and psychiatry, media, Sweden
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-159357 (URN)10.1177/0952695118810284 (DOI)000478601400004 ()
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2014-0925
Note

Funding agencies: Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare [Forte 2014-0925]

Available from: 2019-08-09 Created: 2019-08-09 Last updated: 2020-01-13
2. “Don't worry”: Figurations of the child in a Swedish parenting advice column.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>“Don't worry”: Figurations of the child in a Swedish parenting advice column.
2019 (English)In: History of Psychology, ISSN 1093-4510, E-ISSN 1939-0610, ISSN 1939-0610Electronic,1093-4510PrintArticle in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Materials such as popular books, magazines, and newspapers have historically been important for the circulation of psychologists’ and psychiatrists’ expertise in the public sphere. In this article, I analyze an advice column published in the Swedish parenting magazine Vi Föräldrar [Us Parents], featuring the child psychologist Malin Alfvén. Drawing on the concept of figurations (Castañeda, 2002), denoting the process of outlining and defining an entity, I show how the expert framed the child-related problems brought up in the submitted letters as transient and a normal part of children’s development. In fact, most problems were considered beneficial for both parents and the child. Instead of interpreting children’s behavior through a medical framework, Alfvén’s explanations drew on 3 naturalizing figurations of the child: as being one of several kinds of children; as going through phases and ages; and as being a unique individual. For instance, a child could be rowdy and temperamental because he was a willful kind of child, not because, as suggested by some parents, he suffered from a neuropsychiatric disorder. I conclude by contrasting these findings to the claims made by some scholars that “psy” experts have contributed to an increasing medicalization of childhood as well as to a framing of children’s development as overwhelmingly determined by parents’ care. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Washington, D.C., USA: American Psychological Association, 2019
Keywords
*Anxiety, *Childhood Development, *Magazines, *Parents, *Parenting, Child Psychology, Experience Level, History of Psychology, Newspapers, Psychologists
National Category
Pediatrics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-163095 (URN)10.1037/hop0000138 (DOI)
Conference
US
Available from: 2020-01-13 Created: 2020-01-13 Last updated: 2020-01-13

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The full text will be freely available from 2020-01-24 10:09
Available from 2020-01-24 10:09

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