Case Management: Treatment of Mental Illness and Formation of the Subject

Radek Carboch

OBJECTIVES: To explore the shaping of subject in the treatment of mental illness. The text answers the question: Through which power relations is the subject formed in the practice of case management? THEORETICAL BASE: The analysis is based on Michel Foucault’s studies of the genealogy of the modern subject and changes in the technologies of power. It is inspired by the basic principles of the actor-network theory. METHODS: Data were collected during ethnographic research (participant observation, semi-structured interviews) conducted in two branches of the Péče o duševní zdraví (Care for the Mentally Ill) Pardubice. OUTCOMES: Different ways of treating mental illness are associated with different strategies of subject formation. In the practice of case management, the shaping of relations through the strategy of liberal governmentality opens space for the autonomous behavior of people living with mental illness and reduces the negative effects of the asymmetry of psychiatric power. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: Understanding social support through the analysis of power relations highlights the importance of particular ways of subject formation and the different potentials of strategies of disciplination and liberal governmentality.

mental health, case management, power relations, liberal governmentality, disciplination