The knowledge and power of forensic psychiatry
Psychiatric assessments furnish knowledge on possibilities to cure patients, improve their autonomy, reduce the risks of relapse and protect society. Their potential to influence historical change with regard to civil and penal coercion measures, however, has hardly been investigated to date.
Project description (completed research project)
We have investigated the impact of psychiatric assessments on the taking of civil measures (guardianship and deputyship as well as administrative detention, custodial sentences for purpose of assistance) as well as penal measures (therapeutic measures) between the 1940s and today. How do experts qualify behavior medically and morally? Which forms of treatment and which institutions do they prescribe? And what kind of a say do the patients wish to have with regard to the measures prescribed? This project addressesthese questions by examining 600 psychiatric assessments and a series of files of persons for whom measures were prescribed consecutively or overlappingly. We compared three cantons (Vaud, Geneva, Valais) with regard to their institutions, legislation, policies and cultures.
The summary of the results for this project are available here:
Knowledge and power. The practices of forensic psychiatrists relating to compulsory social measures. A comparative study of the cantons of Vaud, Geneva and Valais (1940–the present).