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The Century of the Child: The Mental Hygiene Movement and Social Policy in the United States and Canada


reviewed by Charlotte G. Borst 1991

coverTitle: The Century of the Child: The Mental Hygiene Movement and Social Policy in the United States and Canada
Author(s): Theresa R. Richardson
Publisher: State University of New York Press, Albany
ISBN: 0791400212, Pages: , Year: 1989
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In the early twentieth century in the United States and Canada, physicians, public health officials, and social reformers moved to create a science of mental health based on the idea of “mental hygiene.” Theresa Richardson argues that mental hygiene was more than just an extension of the twentieth-century public health movement. Instead, she maintains, it encompassed the medicalization and popularization of psychiatry within the framework of the modern institutional state. The mental hygiene movement combined nineteenth-century child saving with the twentieth-century idea of using scientific methods to ensure healthy children and thus to prevent dysfunctional, dependent adults. The mental hygiene paradigm originated with the premise that society could be perfected through the socialization of children. Healthy, happy children, argued the hygienists, were society’s best assurance of a rational and productive adult population. The promotion of this scientific approach was assured and abetted by the active participation of the newly prominent... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 92 Number 4, 1991, p. 666-667
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 371, Date Accessed: 10/24/2017 7:13:45 AM

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About the Author
  • Charlotte Borst
    University of Alabama at Birmingham

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