Ryan J. Dougherty

An ethnography of outpatient commitment


I am conducting an ethnographic analysis of moral distress in outpatient commitment related to psychiatric medications. My analysis interrogates moral discourses of psychiatric coercion as well as explores how concerns related to patient violence and vulnerability shapes moral reasoning in clinical decision-making. I relate these understandings to highlight the assumed roles of psychiatric services in the broader landscape of governance and social welfare policy.

This project, housed at the UCLA Center for Social Medicine and Humanities and directed by Drs. Joel Braslow and Philippe Bourgois, is a mixed methods evaluation of involuntary outpatient psychiatric services in Los Angeles County.

Upcoming publications

Dougherty, R. J., Kelly, R., Meldrum, M., Erickson, B., Starks, S., Castillo, E., Neary-Bremer, C., Calderon, R., Ohman, R., Bourgois, P. & Braslow, J. (In preparation). Capturing contradictions on the frontline: ethnographic observations of violence perpetration and victimization in involuntary outpatient commitment. 

Video presentations