The terms “impaired physician” and the “disruptive physician” are used as labels of deviancy. As deviants who allegedly threaten the very core of medicine (patient care) and the business of medicine (profit) they must be stopped at all costs. Belief in the seriousness of the situation justifies intolerance and unfair treatment. The evidentiary standard is lowered. Aided by a “conspiracy of silence” among doctors in which impaired colleagues are not reported necessitates identification of them by any means necessary. Increase the grand scale of the hunt.
The Medical Profession, Moral Entrepreneurship, and Social Control
Sociologist Stanley Cohen used the term “”moral panic” to characterize the amplification of deviance by the media, the public, and agents of social control.1 Labeled as being outside the central core values of consensual society, the deviants in the designated group are perceived as posing a threat to both the values of society and society itself. Belief in the seriousness of the situation justifies intolerance and unfair treatment of the accused. The evidentiary standard is lowered.
Howard Becker describes the role of “moral entrepreneurs,” who crusade for making and enforcing rules that benefit their own interests by bringing them to the attention of the public and those in positions of power and authority under the guise of righting a society evil. 2
And according to cultural theorist Stuart Hall, the media obtain their information from the primary definers of social…
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3 thoughts on “The Medical Profession, Moral Entrepreneurship, Moral Panics and Social Control”
because of my upbringing, I had to give a great deal of thought to the politics of human relations – to why and how people attain and use ‘power.’ I remember reading in The Magus ‘My father’s temper was like a big red dog – he not so much lost it as loosed it.’
You, too, seem extremely sensitive to how power functions and to the ugly aspects of it, to the injustices perpetrated on the basis of it. You have obviously given this aspect of human relations a lot of thought.
If only a lot more people were and did likewise but it is extremely difficult to acknowledge and engage with the depth and ugliness of dirt in human psyches.
I have checked the words I remembered from long ago against those in The Magus and think the correct text is worth repeating here
‘Like all men not really up to their job, he was a stickler for externals and petty quotidian things; and in lieu of an intellect he had accumulated an armoury of capitalised key-words like Discipline and Tradition and Responsibility. If I ever dared – I seldom did – to argue with him, he would produce one of these totem words and cosh me with it, as no doubt in similar circumstances he quelled his subalterns. If one still refused to lie down and die, he lost, or loosed, his temper. His temper was like a red dog, and he always had it close to hand.’
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Excellent Phil- apt and accurate as always. God bless you!
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For many years I sought out holistic medicine. I still do. I hope that many doctors change their role as Big Pharm doctors to our healers. It’s long overdue. You have a conscience and you need to be in medicine, Michael. (I visit Northampton Wellness Center in MA annually)
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