The Virtue of Defiance and Psychiatric Engagement

The Virtue of Defiance and Psychiatric Engagement

Nancy Nyquist Potter

Print publication date: Jul 2016

ISBN: 9780199663866

Publisher: Oxford University Press


The Virtue of Defiance and Psychiatric Engagement argues that defiance sometimes is a virtue even for those with mental illnesses. It also argues that defiance is sometimes mistaken as a sign of mental disorder when it may have other, reasonable explanations. This book offers a nuanced and complex look at defiance, taking seriously issues of mental disorders while also attending to social contexts in which defiant behavior may arise. Arguments are presented for how to understand defiance as different from noncompliance, resistance, and other related concepts, and how defiance is related to living a life with a realistic understanding of a flourishing life and its limits in our everyday world. A framework for differentiating different forms of defiance is offered, and a realistic picture of phronesis—practical reasoning—is presented that makes room for clinicians as well as patients to assess the degree to which defiance is reasonable. The concept of intersectionality as it relates to child development is worked through to highlight some of the challenges clinicians face when interpreting defiant behavior. Particular attention is given to issues of race and gender as factors that need to be considered when evaluating defiant behavior as reasonable, virtuous, bad, or symptomatic. Practical applications for psychiatric engagement are threaded throughout this book through case studies and personal narratives. The virtue of giving uptake is introduced to assist psychiatrists in being responsible and ethical knowers when working with people who are or seem to be defiant.