Document Type

Article

Publication Year

2018

Journal Title

Rhetoric of Health & Medicine

ISSN

2573-5063

DOI

10.5744/rhm.2018.1005

Abstract

We examined medico-legal collaboration regarding dangerous sex offenders where state legislators have adopted statutes that determine the criteria for commitment to and discharge from civil commitment programs. The application of these statutes relies on medical diagnoses of pathologies such as paraphilia, anti-social personality disorder, and pedophilia along with prognoses for cure or recidivism. In our study, we examined court opinions from commitment hearings and observed a trial in federal court on the constitutionality of these commitments. We found that one result of this medico-legal collaboration is the marginalization or othering of sex offenders by essentializing, dividing, shaming, and impeaching them. We also found that this group attempted to resist othering by rhetorical strategies such as providing evidence of change in character, distinction within the othered group, and proof of internal controls over unacceptable impulses. Finally, we discovered that such othering relies heavily on medical expertise, even though some medical practitioners may disagree with, or be hesitant in, their roles in this medico-legal collaboration.

First Page

90

Last Page

131

Num Pages

42

Issue Number

1-2

Publisher

University of Florida Press

FIle Type

PDF

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