holmes d.&murray s.j. (2011) Journal of Nursing Management 19, 293–301
Civilizing the ‘Barbarian’: a critical analysis of behaviour modification programmes in forensic psychiatry settings
Aim Drawing on the works of Erving Goffman and Michel Foucault, this article presents part of the results of a qualitative study conducted in a forensic psychiatry setting.
Background For many years, behaviour modification programmes (BMPs) have been subjected to scrutiny and harsh criticism on the part of researchers, clinicians and professional organizations. Nevertheless, BMPs continue to be in vogue in some ‘total’ institutions, such as psychiatric hospitals and prisons.
Method Discourse analysis of mute evidence available in situ was used to critically look at behaviour modification programmes.
Results Compelling examples of behaviour modification care plans are used to illustrate our critical analysis and to support our claim that BMPs violate both scientific and ethical norms in the name of doing ‘what is best’ for the patients.
Conclusion We argue that the continued use of BMPs is not only flawed from a scientific perspective, but constitutes an unethical approach to the management of nursing care for mentally ill offenders.
Implications for Nursing Management Nurse managers need to be aware that BMPs violate ethical standards in nursing. As a consequence, they should overtly question the use of these approaches in psychiatric nursing.