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Neither Bad Nor Mad: The Competing Discourses of Psychiatry, Law and Politics

by Deirdre Greig Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Pub Date:
Pbk 288 pages
AU$79.00 NZ$81.74
Product Status: In Stock Now
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This text looks at what happened when the government of Victoria, Australia, enacted special legislation to detain one person with a severe antisocial personality disorder on the grounds of his presumed dangerousness, despite the fact that he did not fit within the ordinary criteria of mental illness or criminality. In doing so, it interfered with the law's protection of civil rights and also with professional distinctions between a certifiable mental illness and the broader concept of mental disorder. The ensuing legal process highlighted the ambiguous, contingent and negotiable nature of the boundary between badness and madness. The issues raised by this case transcend a government's singular action, highlighting matters such as the duty of care in a forensic setting; diagnostic uncertainties; debates about treatment; the responsibility of politicians to protect the community; and the difficulties inherent in translating clinical concepts into an acceptable legal format. ''Neither Bad Nor Mad'' analyses the interaction between psychiatry and the law in an account of one case with extensive ramifications.

Bad, mad and dangerous to know; ''A Macabre Dance to his Well-known Tune'' - the pathway of resistance; a flurry of activity - the political reaction to a dangerous person; bad or mad? The credibility of psychiatry; a malleable boundary and the bridging manoeuvres; the Supreme Court - David versus Goliath; the social audience and a master puppeteer - representations, images and the media; the prism of dangerousness.

The author is keenly aware of the profound societal, ethical and philosophical issues that arise in and around the `no man's land' occupied by personality disordered individuals...this book, like the `diagnosis' of its essential character, has no national boundaries. The subject-matter is representative of a clinical situation that could arise and has arisen in many jurisdictions. The `bad or mad' conundrum confronts the very credibility of psychiatry and its knowledge base...the potential readership of this book has no established parameters and will appeal to many. This book is highly recommended.
Deidre N. Greig is a Fellow in the Department of Criminology, University of Melbourne, and has a background in social work with a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science. Her teaching and research have focused particularly on issues surrounding the interaction of psychiatry and law, and she is a committee member and former president of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law. Areas of special interest include the use of indefinite sentencing, the role of the psychiatric and legal professions, police interactions with the mentally ill, and the impact of private prisons.