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"I never wanted to be a quack!"

Thursday 1 July 2010

GavelTarryn Phillips, from the Anthropology and Sociology department of the University of Western Australia, has published a paper about Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and the law.

The paper is entitled "I Never Wanted to Be a Quack!" and subtitled "The Professional Deviance of Plaintiff Experts in Contested Illness Lawsuits: The Case of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities". It was published in the Medical Anthropology Quarterly.

Peter Evans, convenor of the South Australian Task Force on MCS, says that the paper "describes how the medical profession ostracises practitioners who advocate for people with MCS. Australia generally does good quality social research. This paper is spot on."

Here's the paper's introduction:

When medical practitioners act as expert witnesses for the plaintiff in contested illness lawsuits, they can be stigmatized by their professional community. Drawing on ethnographic research surrounding the condition multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) in Australia, this article focuses on: how plaintiff experts specialize; their rationale for deviance from the professional norm; and structural constraints to medical advocacy. By diagnosing and treating the condition as organic, these experts oppose the accepted disease paradigm of the medical community and therefore face professional isolation and peer pressure. They rationalize their continued advocacy within a moral discourse, which includes a professional aspiration toward altruism, an ethical commitment to “truth,” and the explicit emphasis that financial gain is not a motivation. For their deviance the experts have been confronted with professional disillusionment and emotional drain. Ultimately, the medical profession is disenfranchising experts who may be vital characters in the quest for understanding about environmental illnesses.

The full document can be downloaded as a PDF:


"I Never Wanted to Be a Quack!" (PDF, 122KB)


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