Cutting Knowledge: The Pathologization of Self-Injury in Correctional Discourse

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  • This thesis critically examines correctional discourse on prisoner self-injury produced by the Correctional Service of Canada’s (CSC) Research Branch between 1990 and 2012. Grounded in the extant clinical and correctional discourse that has historically constructed self-injury as practiced by manipulative, violent and/or suicidal prisoners, through a discourse analysis this thesis identifies that a new surge of research published since 2010 demonstrates a shift to predominately pathological explanations that aim to reduce the deviant behaviour to the manifestation of a mental illness. This domination of the ‘psy-sciences’ as ‘intellectual technologies’ (Rose, 1990, 1996b) bars sociological or otherwise non-psy understandings of self-injury, while political accountabilities result in the displacement of responsibility for self-injury from the prison to prisoners’ mental illness. It is argued that irrespective of methodological approach (quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods), the CSC’s conceptualization of prisoners who engage in self-injury was pre-determined by their ideological alignment with the psy-sciences.

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  • Copyright © 2014 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2014


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