The Virtue of Defiance and Psychiatric Engagement

ISBN : 9780199663866

Nancy Nyquist Potter
240 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jun 2016
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What is defiance, and when does defiant behaviour impede one's ability to aim at flourishing? People who are defiant can present perplexing challenges etiologically, diagnostically, and responsively. But in order to understand accurately when defiant behaviour is good, or bad, or neither (when it emerges out of mental illness), a fresh perspective on defiance is needed. This book offers a nuanced and complex look at defiance, taking seriously issues of dysfunction while also attending to social contexts in which defiant behaviour may arise. Those living in adverse conditions such as oppression, systematic disadvantages, and disability may act defiantly for good reasons. This perspective places defiance squarely within the moral domain; thus, it should not be assumed that when professionals come across defiant behaviour, it is a sign of mental dysfunction. Potter argues that defiance sometimes is a virtue, meaning that a disposition to be ready to be defiant when the situation calls for it is part of living a life with a realistic understanding of the aim of flourishing and its limits in our everyday world. Her work also offers theoretical work on problems in knowing that can impede understanding and responsiveness to those who are, or seem to be, defiant. Clinicians, teachers, social workers, nurses, and others working in helping professions are invited to engage in different ways with defiance so as to better understand and respond to people who express that defiance. Case studies, a framework for differentiating different forms of defiance, a realistic picture of phronesis-practical reasoning-and an explanation of how to give uptake well are some of the topics covered. The voices of service users strengthen the author's claims that defiance that is grounded in phronesis is just as much a part of moral life for those living with mental disabilities as for anyone else.


Nancy Nyquist Potter: Introduction
1 Nancy Nyquist Potter: Family Resemblances: Compliance, The Right to Refuse Treatment, Noncompliance, Resistance, Reactance and Defiance
2 Nancy Nyquist Potter: Theorizing Defiance
3 Nancy Nyquist Potter: Good Defiance and Flourishing
4 Nancy Nyquist Potter: Interpreting Defiant Behavior in Children: Constructs, Norms, and Intersectionalities
5 Nancy Nyquist Potter: Bad and Good Defiance: Practical Reasoning as Guide
6 Nancy Nyquist Potter: The Virtue of Giving Uptake in Psychiatry

About the author: 

Nancy Nyquist Potter has published extensively in philosophy and psychiatry and is an international speaker in this area. Her current focus is on the connections between theories of knowledge and ethics, with special attention to nosological and diagnostic issues. She is co-PI with Mona Gupta, M.D. on a CIHR grant to study types of knowing that psychiatrists draw on in making diagnoses. Her last book-length publication was a critical analysis of borderline personality disorder (Oxford University Press, 2009). Professor Potter serves on hospital ethics committees and works as psychiatric ethics discussant at University of Louisville Psychiatry.

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