Who and What Does Involvement Involve? A Multi-Sited Field Study of Involvement of Relatives in Danish Psychiatry

Jeppe Oute Hansen, A. Petersen, L. Huniche

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This article gives an account of aspects of a multi-sited field study of involvement of relatives in Danish psychiatry. By following metaphors of involvement across three sites of the psychiatric systema family site, a clinical site and a policy sitethe first author (J.O.) investigated how, and on what grounds, involvement of relatives is perceived in Danish psychiatry. Paradoxically, the current understanding of involvement of relatives fails to take into consideration the perspectives of the relatives per se and families that were being studied. By analyzing involvement from a discourse theoretical perspective laid out by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, the aim of this study is to show how the dominant discourse about involvement at the political and clinical sites is constituted by understandings of mentally ill individuals and by political objectives of involvement. The analysis elucidates how a psycho-ideological discourse positions the mentally ill person as weak, incapable, and ineffective. By contrast, the supporting relative is positioned as a strong, capable, and effective co-therapist. Furthermore, the analysis considers how this dominant discourse of involvement is constituted by a broader discourse of neoliberalism and market orientation, which justifies involvement as a subtle institutionalization of social control. The article highlights that the role of the relative as a co-therapist may be contested by the families' discourse, which emphasizes issues concerning the responsibility toward the mental health of the ill individual as well as toward the psychological milieu of the family.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
Volume36
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)953-962
ISSN0161-2840
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this