, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 195–216 | Cite as

Transforming subjectivities in psychiatric care

  • Toril B TerkelsenEmail author
Original Article


This paper is based upon ethnographic fieldwork in a Norwegian psychiatric unit practicing a psycho-educational treatment of young adults diagnosed with schizophrenia. An aim of the programme is that patients learn to detect and monitor their ‘symptoms’ in order to obtain ‘insight into their own illness’, thus transforming themselves into self-governed and self-responsible subjects who are able to cope with life outside institutions. The programme is constituted within a medical framework with a strong emphasis on medicine compliance. I explore the dynamics of power relations inherent in the programme, referring to Foucault's descriptions of discipline and normalization through pedagogy and examinations. His concepts of governmentality and self-technologies have proved useful as a frame for a critical evaluation of such programmes. However, subjectivities cannot be read off directly from educational technology, and my data from everyday, mundane settings in the institution reveal paradoxes and contradictions, which are accounted for in this study.


schizophrenia psycho-education foucault power-knowledge governmentality subjectivity 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universitetet i AgderNorway

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