The "Discovery" of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Lessons in the Practice of Political Medicine

By Abraham B. Bergman | Go to book overview

6
SENSITIZING PROFESSIONALS

A basic premise of our "humanization" campaign was that SIDS parents were treated badly because of ignorance rather than malice. In the early 1970s most laymen had never even heard of "crib death." Health professionals fell into two general categories. Either they knew nothing or, if they had heard of the entity, held the belief that, "since nothing was known about 'crib death,' there was nothing that could be done about it." Our educational mission was aimed at making two main points: SIDS was a distinct disease entity that could be identified through a postmortem examination; and that something could be done, alleviation of guilt.

Our educational technique consisted of simple consciousness raising. When the plight of SIDS parents could be graphically illustrated, we could invariably count on a compassionate response from both laymen and health professionals. Our task was to cast out a large net and draw in as many "converts" as possible. Given our limited resources, we had to be selective about our targets. Highest priority was placed on educating those most likely to come in contact with SIDS, namely physicians, nurses, social workers, firemen, policemen, clergymen, and morticians. Our NSIDSF chapters understandably wanted to "get the word out" to any ears that were listening. Judie Choate and I were constantly urging them to direct their educational efforts toward these target groups, rather than passing out pamphlets at state fairs.

-50-

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The "Discovery" of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Lessons in the Practice of Political Medicine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Appendixes x
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 1
  • 2 - What is Sids? 8
  • 3 - Disturbing the Peace 18
  • 4 - The Battle Plan 29
  • 5 - The Power of Warren Magnuson 41
  • 6 - Sensitizing Professionals 50
  • 7 - The Mondale Hearings 57
  • 8 - Campaigning on the Local Level 68
  • 9 - Our Nader Report"" 81
  • 10 - The Satisficers 93
  • 11 - House Hearings 101
  • 12 - Senate Hearings: Second Round 107
  • 13 117
  • 14 - Implementation: Pushing on a Rope 124
  • 15 - Keeping the Foundation Afloat 136
  • 16 - Collaborating with Nimh 146
  • 17 - A Dual System for Helping Families 152
  • 18 - The Mobilization Contract 163
  • 19 - Calling the Cops 172
  • Epilogue 184
  • Glossary of Names 197
  • Appendix I 203
  • Appendix II 206
  • Appendix III 209
  • Appendix VI 211
  • Appendix V 214
  • Appendix VI 216
  • Appendix VII 218
  • Appendix VIII 221
  • Index 233
  • About the Author 239
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