Uncharted territory

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Publication Date: 
Mon, 2013-10-07

The research team has been pleasantly surprised by the response to their findings. “People are really, really interested and want to engage,” says Daley. Their academic articles have been incorporated in three university courses so far, and the team has met with one organization to come up with ways to move the research into concrete outcomes within institutions. “It’s a pleasure to have people engage with something that’s produced through research. It speaks to working with the community.” She notes that collaborating with the Empowerment Council built the voices of community members into the research.

“This work provides empirical evidence for longstanding feminist theoretical critiques of psychiatry,” says Daley. “It offers a feminist, critical race, post-colonial framework for challenging psychiatry’s role in regulating gender and sexuality.”

Daley wants to continue researching the ways that psychiatric narratives “reproduce and sanction idealized versions of particular femininities and masculinities: white, heterosexual, middle-class notions of femininity and masculinity, and marginalized femininities and masculinities mediated by sexuality, race and class.”

She hopes to look at more charts of women psychiatric in-patients and an equal number of men’s charts, to study how femininities and masculinities are constructed through psychiatric practices. The project will continue to focus on ways to share the findings with health care institutions and communities to encourage critical self-reflection for mental health care providers and improved health practices for people using psychiatric services.

Jane Shulman is a Montreal-based health researcher and journalist. She has worked as CWHN's webinar producer and director of knowledge exchange.

Journal article (abstract only):

Andrea Daley, Lucy Costa & Lori Ross (2012): (W)righting women: constructions of gender, sexuality and race in the psychiatric chart, Culture, Health & Sexuality: An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care, DOI:10.1080/13691058.2012.712718