Medicalizing the Seven Deadly Sins

Joel Best, University of Delaware

Crime is one metaphor for constructing deviance and social problems, but it must compete with other metaphors. At an earlier stage in Western history, sin offered a dominant metaphor for interpreting deviance. Over the past century, disease has emerged as an important rival interpretive scheme. This paper examines the rhetoric by which behaviors once constructed as sins as reinterpreted as medical problems.

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Updated 05/20/2006