Regulating Madness in a Mental Health Court

  • Sue-Ann MacDonald School of Social Work, Université de Montréal
Keywords: mental illness, mental health courts, governmentality, discourses, subjectification, responsibilization


This article explores the regulation of people with mental illness who are accused of committing minor crimes (e.g. mischief, minor theft, assault, uttering threats, etc.) and viewed as disturbing the public order. The results are drawn from a study of a Mental Health Court (MHC) in Montréal (Canada), illuminating the perceptions and experiences of MHC actors who are involved in its operation. Deploying a multi-method design inspired by institutional ethnographic methods, this study sought to explore the inherent tensions in regulatory penal practices that oscillate at varying degrees between prevention, punishment and therapeutic intentions. It is argued that MHCs symbolize a new form of governmentality, in an eff ort to create disciplined subjects by reigning in madness and controlling marginality.

Author Biography

Sue-Ann MacDonald, School of Social Work, Université de Montréal

Sue-Ann MacDonald is an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work at the Université de Montréal.

How to Cite
MacDonald, Sue-Ann. 2016. “Regulating Madness in a Mental Health Court”. TSANTSA – Journal of the Swiss Anthropological Association 21 (May):26-37.