Agonizing Identity in Mental Health Law and Policy (Part I)

(2015) 38:2 Dal LJ 619

25 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2017

Date Written: April 19, 2015


In this two-part paper, the author explores the significance of identity in mental health law and policy. In this as in other socio-legal domains, identity functions to consolidate dissent as well as to effect social control. The author asks: where do legal experts stand in relation to the identity categories that run so deep in this area of law and policy? More broadly, she asks: is “mental health” working on us — on the mental health disabled, legal scholars, all of us — in ways that are impairing our capacity for social justice? In the first part of the paper, the author considers the Foucauldian exhortation to undertake a “critical ontology of ourselves” and asks what it would mean to take this curious exhortation personally, with regard to one’s mental health. In the second part, which will appear in the next issue of the Dalhousie Law Journal, she builds out from these insights toward a political taxonomy of mental health identities.

Keywords: Mental Health Law and Policy

Suggested Citation

Wildeman, Sheila M., Agonizing Identity in Mental Health Law and Policy (Part I) (April 19, 2015). (2015) 38:2 Dal LJ 619, Available at SSRN:

Sheila M. Wildeman (Contact Author)

Schulich School of Law ( email )

6061 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2

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