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The use of recovery model in forensic psychiatric settings: a Foucauldian critique

Faculty Advisor




forensic nursing, Foucault, neoliberalism, pastoral power, recovery

Abstract (summary)

Recovery, a model of care aimed at patient-led nursing practice emphasizing autonomy, hope and self-determination, has in recent years been adapted for the secure forensic psychiatric setting. Often referred to as ‘secure recovery’, this model suggests the aims of recovery are achievable even in highly restrictive settings. This paper will adopt a Foucauldian perspective to offer a critical analysis of recovery in forensic settings. In providing recovery-oriented care, nurses utilize pastoral power in guiding patients to institutionally preferred outcomes. Akin to Christian religious conversion, nurses engage in a neo-religious conversion of patients to a neoliberal subjectivity of homo-economicus. This path of recovery is grounded in an ethos of personal responsibility and self-government, inseparable from the greater context of neoliberal governmentality. Despite attempts at transforming forensic nursing practice into more egalitarian directions, recovery remains a coercive practice, and fails to meet the overall goals of this paradigm in secure settings.

Publication Information

Johansson, J. A., & Holmes, D. (2022). The use of recovery model in forensic psychiatric settings: A Foucauldian critique. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 31: 752-760.


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