Cover image for A doctor of their own : the history of adolescent medicine
A doctor of their own : the history of adolescent medicine
Prescott, Heather Munro.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xi, 238 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


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Item Holds
RJ550 .P74 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Parents have known since time immemorial, and social scientists have agreed since the turn of the century, that adolescents are a people unto themselves--a "distinct developmental category." Yet it was not until the 1950s that a medical specialty specifically for teenagers came into being. In this book, Heather Munro Prescott shows how the mid-twentieth-century emergence of adolescent medicine resulted from a combination of social changes that reached far beyond the field of medicine--changes that placed teenagers themselves at the center of the national agenda.

The first book to trace the history of adolescent medicine, A Doctor of Their Own draws on oral histories of physicians in the field, patient records from adolescent medical facilities, medical and popular advice literature, and letters from teenagers and their parents. Prescott examines the interplay between the emergence of adolescent medicine and changes in American family relationships, youth culture, popular perceptions about young people, and the social experience of adolescence. With special attention to the role of young people themselves in the shaping of this new discipline, her book follows the development of adolescent medicine from its origins in the work of J. Roswell Gallagher at Boston Children's Hospital in the 1950s to its uncertain prospects today, when, despite heightened recognition of their specific medical needs, most teenagers still receive inadequate health care.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The transition from youth to adulthood was not appreciated as a distinct developmental state in life until late in the first half of the 20th century. A product of urban social and cultural changes, it arose from the flourishing industrial-capitalist economy that followed WW II when the term "teenager" was first coined in the 1940s and adolescents came to be recognized as a distinct group of consumers. At the same time, the emerging field of mental hygiene identified and began to study the behavioral problems of urban youth. This, coupled with market changes in medicine brought about by medical specialization, prompted pediatricians to expand into adolescent medicine. Prescott (history, Central Connecticut State Univ.) traces this evolution. She reviews the social and medical events that focused the national agenda on addressing problems unique to teenagers, and she relates the early work of the founder of adolescent medicine, J. Roswell Gallagher, and his clinic at the Boston Children's Hospital in 1952. The final chapter tracks the conceptual changes in adolescent medicine since the 1960s up to its establishment as a board-certified medical subspeciality of pediatrics in 1991. A well-written analysis and clear narrative of the development of adolescent medicine. General readers; undergraduates; graduates; professionals. G. Eknoyan; Baylor College of Medicine