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Michael Gulayets. Sociology, Grant MacEwan College, Edmonton, AB.

Everyday Forms of Resistance in a Forensic Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic

Individuals found ‘Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder’ (NCR) face powerful and established legal and psychiatric forms of regulation. This suggests a considerable imbalance of power between the individual and these institutions. But closer inspection often reveals subtle instances of resistance. This presentation explores acts of resistance undertaken by individuals found NCR within a forensic psychiatric outpatient clinic. Through the analysis of interactions between individuals found NCR and psychiatric professionals, this research finds that resistance in this setting does not take the form of organized or collective movements, but rather what may be called ‘everyday forms of resistance’. The presentation examines examples of everyday forms of resistance focusing on both the tactics and targets of resistance. The analysis reveals that, in order to be discharged from their legal obligations, individuals found NCR must strike a balance between resisting psychiatric expertise and practices and exhibiting responsible behaviour – what I term ‘responsibilised resistance’. The presentation concludes with the implications of resistance within this setting.

Kathleen Kendall. School of Medicine, University of Southhampton

Dorothy Proctor. Activist and Author, Toronto, ON

Testing the Limits of Justice: Human Experimentation in Canadian Prisons I

In this presentation we critically examine human experimentation conducted in Canadian prisons during the second half of the twentieth century. Drawing on archival research, legal documentation, interviews and first-hand accounts, we argue that human experimentation upon incarcerated populations was at the nexus of three key factors: strategies to manage risk, psy-science technologies and corporate interests. ‘Therapeutic’ experimentation was legitimated on the grounds that it helped to discover the cause and cure of criminality and mental illness. These studies included the administration of painful electric shocks, sensory deprivation, LSD and other drugs. ‘Non-therapeutic’ experiments were carried out in conjunction with pharmaceutical companies and other big businesses. In these trials, prisoners were used to test such products as vitamins, aspirins, antibiotics, enema packs, food additives and pesticides. Finally, experiments designed to improve methods of ‘prison management’ employed solitary confinement and sensory deprivation. We will conclude with a consideration of how this experimentation has informed current practices.

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