Expanding our understanding of sovereign power: on the creation of zones of exception in forensic psychiatry

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to engage with the readers in a theoretical reflection on nursing practices in forensic psychiatric settings. In this paper, we argue that practices of exclusion in forensic psychiatric settings share some common ground with Agamben's description of sovereign power and, consequently, the possible creation of zones of exception in this environment. The concept of exception is, therefore, purposely used to shift our thinking, highlight the political forces surrounding exclusionary practices in forensic psychiatric nursing, and explore the ethical tensions that arise for nurses who become entangled in the control of these zones of exception. We argue that ethical and political discussions regarding this phenomenon are necessary if we wish to further understand the complexities of this field of practice and promote constructive change.

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