Document Detail


The psychiatric report as moral tool: A case study in a French district court.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  24973573     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
Mental health evaluation within a legal setting is widely seen as a power to judge. The aim of this paper is to challenge this current thesis, which was popularised by Michel Foucault, who encapsulated the notion in a brief sentence: "The sordid business of punishing is thus converted into the fine profession of curing" (Foucault, 2003: 23). On the basis of an ethnography of a French district court (between September 2008 and May 2009, n = 60 trials) including interviews with judges (n = 10) and psychiatrists (n = 10), we study the everyday penal treatment of sexual offenders using psychiatric reports. Our findings show how (i.) the expectations of the judges select the psychiatrists' skills (based on the following criteria for their reports: accessibility of knowledge, singularization and individualization of content) and (ii.) reframe the psychiatric report as a moral tool. The clinical reasoning of forensic psychiatrists in their reports offer moral affordances due to their clinical caution regarding the risk of recidivism (therapeutic and criminological reversal, moral prevention). Both the judges' evaluation and the psychiatrists' clinical authority are shaped by a moral economy of dangerousness, which eclipses the idea of lack of criminal responsibility. In conclusion, we show that these unintended effects are necessarily of interest to most clinical practitioners engaged in work as expert witnesses.
Authors:
Fabrice Fernandez; Samuel Lézé
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2014-6-16
Journal Detail:
Title:  Social science & medicine (1982)     Volume:  116C     ISSN:  1873-5347     ISO Abbreviation:  Soc Sci Med     Publication Date:  2014 Jun 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2014-6-28     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8303205     Medline TA:  Soc Sci Med     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  41-48     Citation Subset:  -    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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