Panoptic Power and Mental Health Nursing—Space and Surveillance in Relation to Staff, Patients, and Neutral Places
Mental health nurses use manifest and latent approaches for surveillance and observation of patients in the context of mental health care. Patient spaces in mental health organizations are subtly linked to these different means of surveillance. This article investigates these approaches, focusing in particular on the variety of spaces patients occupy and differences in the intensity of observation that can be carried out in them. The aim is to elaborate on space and surveillance in relation to the patients? and nurses? environment in psychiatric nursing care. Places where patients were observed were operationalized and categorized, yielding three spaces: those for patients, those for staff, and neutral areas. We demonstrate that different spaces produce different practices in relation to the exercise of panoptic power and that there is room for maneuvering and engaging in alternatives to ?keeping an eye on patients? for nurses in mental health nursing. Some spaces offer asylum from panoptic observations and the viewing eyes of psychiatric nurses, but the majority of spaces in mental health nursing serve as a field of visibility within which the patient is constantly watched.