To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Therapeutic institutions of violence: conceptualising the biographical narratives of mental health service users/survivors accessing long term “treatment” in England

Stephen J. Macdonald (Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Education and Society, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK)

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

ISSN: 2056-3841

Article publication date: 5 August 2020

Issue publication date: 22 July 2021

60

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to conceptualise the residential and psychiatric hospital as a space where criminality and social harms can emerge. Because of recent media scandals over the past 10 years concerning privately-owned hospitals, this study examines the lived experiences of service users/survivors, family members and practitioners to examine historic and contemporary encounters of distress and violence in hospital settings.

Design/methodology/approach

The study consists of 16 biographical accounts exploring issues of dehumanising and harmful practices, such as practices of restraint and rituals of coercive violence. A biographical methodology has been used to analyse the life stories of service users/survivors (n = 9), family members (n = 3) and professional health-care employees (n = 4). Service users/survivors in this study have experienced over 40 years of short-term and long-term periods of hospitalisation.

Findings

The study discovered that institutional forms of violence had changed after the deinstitutionalisation of care. Practitioners recalled comprehensive experiences of violence within historic mental hospitals, although violence that may be considered criminal appeared to disappear from hospitals after the Mental Health Act (1983). These reports of criminal violence and coercive abuse appeared to be replaced with dehumanising and harmful procedures, such as practices of restraint.

Originality/value

The data findings offer a unique interpretation, both historical and contemporary, of dehumanising psychiatric rituals experienced by service users/survivors, which are relevant to criminology and MAD studies. The study concludes by challenging oppressive psychiatric “harms” to promote social justice for service users/survivors currently being “treated” within the contemporary psychiatric system. The study intends to conceptualise residential and psychiatric hospitals as a space where criminality and social harms can emerge. The three aims of the study examined risk factors concerning criminality and social harms, oppressive and harmful practices within hospitals and evidence that violence occurs within these institutionalised settings. The study discovered that institutional forms of violence had changed after the deinstitutionalisation of care. These reports of violence include dehumanising attitudes, practices of restraint and coercive abuse.

Keywords

Citation

Macdonald, S.J. (2021), "Therapeutic institutions of violence: conceptualising the biographical narratives of mental health service users/survivors accessing long term “treatment” in England", Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 179-194. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCRPP-02-2020-0027

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles