What lies at the intersection of law and psychiatric nursing? Exploring the process of judiciarization in the context of mental health





Foucault, pastoral power, mental health, psychiatric nursing, justice system involvement


In this article, our aim is to provide a critical analysis of the phenomenon of judiciarization of people suffering from a mental illness and its impact on nursing practice. To explore the issues inherent to this phenomenon, we employed the methodology of discursive analysis greatly inspired by the work of French philosopher Michel Foucault. The results of this analysis push our reflection on the experiences and practices that take place at the psychiatric and judicial interface, engaging in a critic of underlying goals of public protection, social control, and coercion being incorporated to nursing practice. While acting in seemingly humanistic and therapeutic roles of care, nurses are simultaneously and inevitably fulfilling a mandate to social control which, to date, remains relatively under documented.


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Author Biographies

Etienne Paradis-Gagné, Université de Montréal

Etienne Paradis-Gagné is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Nursing, Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada. He holds a PhD in nursing from the University of Ottawa (2019). During his nursing career, he has worked in the field of psychiatry and forensic psychiatric nursing. His research interests fall within these fields of nursing. He is particularly interested in the issues of coercive care, the interface between mental health and justice, and social vulnerability.

Jean-Daniel Jacob, University of Ottawa

Dr. Jean Daniel Jacob is Associate Professor at the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa. His work draws on critical and sociopolitical approaches in the fields of psychiatric nursing and also addresses questions related to power, ethics and violence risk management. As a member of the University Chair in Forensic Nursing (2009-2018), he is currently working on a number of projects that address the use of control measures in psychiatry. Dr. Jacob is currently serving as Chair of Droits-Accès Outaouais’ Board. 

Pierre Pariseau-Legault, Université du Québec en Outaouais

Pierre Pariseau-Legault explores the marginal spaces in which so-called "vulnerable" people live and studies the particularities of relational work in the context of coercion. He also studies how socio-legal norms intersect and contribute to the legitimacy of professional interventions. The aim of my work is to strengthen the ethical competence of health professionals working with vulnerable people and to improve psychiatric & mental health nursing advocacy in the context of coercion.


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How to Cite

Paradis-Gagné, E., Jacob, J.-D., & Pariseau-Legault, P. (2020). What lies at the intersection of law and psychiatric nursing? Exploring the process of judiciarization in the context of mental health. Witness: The Canadian Journal of Critical Nursing Discourse, 2(2), 3–19. https://doi.org/10.25071/2291-5796.72