Deconstructing child and adolescent mental health: questioning the‘taken-for-granted’…

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BRADLEY SK and CARTER B. Nursing Inquiry 2011; 18: 303–312 Deconstructing child and adolescent mental health: questioning the ‘taken-for-granted’…We present a critical deconstructive reading, seeking to problematise ‘taken-for-granted’ assumptions in child and adolescent mental health (CAMH). The start point for this critical reading is conventional ‘history-telling’ within CAMH. The aim is not to take issue with the detail in such histories but to critically examine the texts, so as to highlight constructions that structure the presentation of conventional histories and possible purposes that such constructions may serve. The argument is that such conventional histories leave key questions not just unanswered, but unconsidered – a tendency that can be seen throughout the CAMH literature more generally. Therefore, we then pursue critical discussion of how ‘taken-for-granted’ constructions of CAMH enabled psychiatry to successfully expand its power and influence to establish hegemony over ‘problem children’. We do not claim any closure to this critical reading; that is, we do not claim that our critical deconstructive reading is the only reading possible. Similarly, it is not presented in any sense as ‘final word’. Rather our hope for this work is that it might stimulate readers to question the ‘taken-for-granteds’ that we present, and indeed others that they might identify themselves. In so doing, it is our hope that creative dialogue might ensue.

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