Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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Since the early studies of sociology, crime has been considered normal. It was though to be impossible for any society free of it to exist. In his essay title "Defining Deviancy Down", Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan states that "By defining what is deviant, we are enabled to know what is not, and hence to live by shared standards."(Moynihan, p.17) The complication with deviancy in this case comes when societies choose to overlook or not notice behavior that would usually be controlled, disapproved or punished. According to Moynihan, this is what the United States has been doing as of late. The deviant behavior recognized in today's society has increased beyond levels of normality based on earlier standards. Because communities cannot afford to be recognized at this abnormal level, deviancy in such areas have been and continue to be re-defined in order to exempt such conduct. Moynihan presents us with three categories of redefinition in these regards; they are the altruistic, the opportunistic, and the normalizing. The altruistic category can be illustrated by the deinstitutionalization movement within the mental health profession that appeared in the 1950's. The opportunistic category "is seen in the interest group rewards derived from the acceptance of "alternative" family structures" (Moynihan, p.19) and the normalizing category is to be observed in the growing acceptance of unprecedented levels of violent crime. The deinstitutionalization movement began in 1955, when Averell Harriman, was governor of New York, the commissioner of mental hygiene was, Dr. Paul Hoch. Dr. Hock described of a development of tranquilizers in one of the state mental hospitals. It appeared to be an effective treatment for many psychotic patients and increased the number of patient discharges. In that same year the Joint Commission on Mental Health and Illness was formed to "formulate "comprehensive and realistic recommendations" in this area, which was then a matter of considerable...
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