Ever since medical doctors such as John D'Arcy first began to appear on television screens, be heard on radio and be quoted in print commenting on social, economic and political aspects of Australian life it became apparent that medicalisation of the media and everyday life was well underway in Australia.
All behaviour commonly thought of as unacceptable (and even some behaviours previously falling within 'normal' ranges) quickly became defined as some form of deviance, psychopathology or physical illness. Nevermore so than when applied to those without a large measure of social or political power ie., children and the poor, which had previously only suffered under moral labels such as "lazy" and "bad".
If you are under voting age or come from a socio-economic band found at the bottom of the pecking order then it is highly likely that many aspects of your life are now considered to be so dysfunctional that the state must step in to regulate your behaviour - as instanced by the Australian Government's staged national roll out of a scheme quarantining at least half of the fortnightly cash transfer amount received by certain welfare recipients.
That Australia was not alone in experiencing this domination by the world view of health professionals was obvious when one noticed that internationally this phenomena was being debated, including such issues as the cross-over between moral and medical explanations of criminal behaviour, the medicalisation of sleep and fads in diagnosis which saw some previously rare diagnoses cluster in ways that surprised many epidemiologists.
One only has to look at the increased incidence of multiple personality diagnoses (an estimated 10 per cent of the 1991 North American adult population had a DSM-III-R dissociative disorder of some kind) in the years since The Three Faces of Eve was first picked up by the world-wide media to realise that something may be amiss.
Much of this past discussion was confined to the halls of academia and often only broke free of those constraints via humour, instanced in the late 1980's by an early version of The Etiology and Treatment of Childhood which can now found on the Internet and, more recently by George Monbiot's A Modest Proposal for Tackling Youth.
In the current century this medicalisation of the human condition is so entrenched that some in the principal offending professions became a mite uncomfortable and now posit the theory that we are all to blame for this state of affairs:
Originally, the concept of medicalisation was strongly associated with medical dominance, involving the extension of medicine's jurisdiction over erstwhile 'normal' life events and experiences. More recently, however, this view of a docile lay populace, in thrall to expansionist medicine, has been challenged. Thus, as we enter a post-modern era, with increased concerns over risk and a decline in the trust of expert authority, many sociologists argue that the modern day 'consumer' of healthcare plays an active role in bringing about or resisting medicalisation.
However, this concern has not halted the inexorable march forward of this universal redefinition of life.
In 2010 it seems that children are being further defined by the concept of criminal behaviour and in June this impressively titled study was released by the British Home Office; Experimental statistics on victimisation of children aged 10 to 15: Findings from the British Crime Survey for the year ending December 2009, England and Wales.
This study seeks to define the following scenario as a crime in law:
At home, two siblings are playing and one of them deliberately smashes the other's toy.
Now before you start shaking your head or roaring with laughter (because after all everything is so normal and sane in your particular corner of the national garden) think about the ramifications of this penchant for defining so much of the human condition as deviance, dysfunction, congenital defect or criminal activity.
Think about what the Gillard Labor Government's e-health national database of all Australian citizens (privately endorsed by the Federal Coalition Opposition ) may actually permanently contain by way of label or opinion concerning your own health, lifestyle decisions and family dynamics.
These digital records will not only affect how you are viewed today and tomorrow by officialdom in all its many guises, they might also affect how competent the state deems you to be as you enter frail old-age and whether control of your assets/financial affairs are assumed by another.