Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 341–350 | Cite as

Parents Whose Children have Oppositional Defiant Disorder Talk to One Another on the Internet

  • Juanne N. Clarke
  • Gudrun Van Ameron


This paper presents the results of a qualitative frame and discourse analysis of an electronic support group or blog site where parents (usually mothers) discuss managing their children with either medically or mother diagnosed oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). This is a particularly important topic in an era of e-scaped medicine characterized by powerful circulating discourses around medicalization, children’s mental health issues, mother blame and intensive mothering. The findings document that the mothers adopt a medicalized understanding of ODD, on the one hand, in that they use the terminology, and borrow from, discourses regarding other mental and developmental issues such as depression and ADHD. For example, they focus on biological causation and brain chemistry as causative. On the other hand, their understanding of ODD does not reflect the symptoms necessary for a medical diagnosis. They support one another in this paradoxically medicalized conception of ODD through particular social support strategies in which they reinforce to one another that they are not to blame, that others don’t understand and that (with blog support) they are not alone. The implications of this for theories of medicalization, mother blame and intensive mothering are discussed. Some practical and clinical consequences are considered.


Electronic support groups Mothering Intensive ODD Medicalization Oppositional defiance disorder Blog interaction Blogs 



I would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for funding for this project. This work was financially supported by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, under Grant Number 410-2011-2099. The author had full control of all primary data and agrees to allow the journal to review the data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

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