The Politics of Primary Prevention

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Primary prevention is the only effective strategy for reducing the future incidence of mental/emotional problems. But arguments about methods of reducing the rate of future problems have begun to raise questions that are more political, ideological and ethical than they are methodological. Prevention efforts may focus on safe strategies like individual behavioral change programs or alternatively on stronger non-voluntary group-mandated programs. Another dimension currently under debate is whether programs should be aimed at reducing risks for specific ldquomental diseasesrdquo or at efforts at fostering social competence to resist susceptibility to stress generally. Still another more general issue is the relevance of early childhood trauma like abuse and neglect in producing later emotional problems. Political conservatives favor the organic (biological, genetic) approaches to prevention that do not require social change while radicals argue for reducing social class inequalities and reducing poverty, exploitation and injustice.

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The Journal of Primary Prevention, v. 19, issue 2, p. 117–127