Therapeutic for Whom

When one mentions for whom the law might be therapeutic, the therapeutic jurisprudence lens again provides no answer and no particular limit. Growing as it did out of mental health law (Wexler, 1993a), therapeutic jurisprudence began its exploration with the impact of the law on respondents in commitment cases and on mental patients within the legal system. However, scholarly interest soon spread to examining the law's therapeutic or antitherapeutic impact on criminal defendants (Gould, 1993; Wexler, 1993c, 2001), victims (Feldthusen, 1993), jurors (Shuman et al., 1994), mental health professionals (Poythress and Brodsky, 1993), personal injury plaintiffs (Shuman, 1993), and employees with disabilities (Daly-Rooney, 1996).

There may, of course, sometimes be a clash whereby a legal rule is therapeutic for one person or participant and antitherapeutic for another (Wexler, 1995). Once again, therapeutic jurisprudence merely sheds light on this issue and does not resolve the normative debate. Instead, that normative analysis can be undertaken and then addressed to the legal or political arena. Of course, finding a convergence of interests—for example, the earlier example of presumptive arrest rather than mandatory arrest to balance the therapeutic effects between defendants and victims of domestic violence— is the hoped for goal, although it is understandably not always reachable (Slobogin, 1995).

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