Performing (Non-) Compliance Body, Subjectivity and Medication in Psychiatry


Medication and its compliance is regarded as the cornerstone for therapeutic relationship and efficacy by the contemporary psychiatry. From the perspectives of the patients, however, the question of being compliant or not with psychiatric medications is a serious and complicated issue beyond what psychiatry can figure out. As the recipient subject of psychiatric medication, patients always think, act on, re-act and even resist to psychiatric medications and its symbolic meanings through their bodies, which reflect not only biology but also personal sufferings, idiosyncracies and subjectivities embedded within their local moral worlds. More often than not, medication compliance or non-compliance does not work in a fashion of either-or manner for patients, but rather in a strategic and performative way, which indicates the struggle between subjectivity, illness and medical governmentality. Based on a long-term ethnographic investigation in a chronic psychiatric ward, this study presents two cases to show that compared to the simplistic view about patients and their (non-)compliance generally hold by medical staffs, what a more realistic and intricate picture of patients’ compliance or not could be. By studying the (non-)compliance issues from both sides of psychiatric treatment, an insight into the nature and reason behind the dilemma of medical non-compliance in psychiatry can be gained, a deeper understanding and appreciation of patients’ agency and subjectivity within medical contexts can be made, and even a better idea for overcoming this dilemma can be obtained as well.

Author Information
Shu-Chung Lii, School of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taiwan
Chun-Lin Chu, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan
Ya-Huei Huang, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2017
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon