What once was sick is now bad: The shift from victim to deviant identity for those diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Erin Dej


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is constituted by different networks and institutions. I demonstrate that while the symptoms associated with FASD do not differ from childhood to adulthood, their conceptualization and thus societal and governmental responses to individuals with FASD changes dramatically. This work is theoretically grounded in Rose’s work on psy-identities and Hacking’s concept of a looping effect, which suggests that the way an individual and their associates make sense of an identity manipulates the identity itself. In order to unpack the reconstruction of the FASD identity in adulthood, I have identified two linked but distinctive loops – that of the promising child and the deviant adult. These two loops help conceptualize the different institutions, stakeholders and knowledges that take interest in the ‘FASD child’ and those that constitute the ‘FASD adult’ identity within the criminal justice system.


fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; identity; psy-discipline; looping effect

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