Medico-Legal Collaboration Regarding the Sex Offender: Othering and Resistance

Rhetoric of Health & Medicine, Vol. 1, pp. 90-131, 2018, DOI:10.5744/rhm.2018.0005

43 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2018 Last revised: 23 Jul 2018

See all articles by Mary L. Schuster

Mary L. Schuster

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law

Brian Larson

Texas A&M University School of Law

Amy Propen

College of Letters and Science

Date Written: April 7, 2018

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, antisocial 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.

Keywords: Medico-Legal Collaboration, Sex Offender, Civil Commitment, Medical Diagnosis and Prognosis, Legal Statutes, Resistance, Othering

Suggested Citation

Schuster, Mary L. and Larson, Brian and Propen, Amy, Medico-Legal Collaboration Regarding the Sex Offender: Othering and Resistance (April 7, 2018). Rhetoric of Health & Medicine, Vol. 1, pp. 90-131, 2018, DOI:10.5744/rhm.2018.0005, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3158332

Mary L. Schuster

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Brian Larson (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States

Amy Propen

College of Letters and Science ( email )

UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States
(805) 893-8000 (Phone)

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