17 T. M. Cooley L. Rev. 125 (2000)
Therapeutic Jurisprudence: An Overview

handle is hein.journals/tmclr17 and id is 133 raw text is: THERAPEUTIC JURISPRUDENCE: AN OVERVIEW
DAVID WEXLER'
Therapeutic jurisprudence is the study of the role of the law as a
therapeutic agent.2 It focuses on the law's impact on emotional life and
on psychological well-being.3 These are areas that have not received
very much attention in the law until now. Therapeutic jurisprudence
focuses our attention on this previously underappreciated aspect,
humanizing the law and concerning itself with the human, emotional,
psychological side of law and the legal process.
Basically, therapeutic jurisprudence is a perspective that regards the
law as a social force that produces behaviors and consequences.4
Sometimes these consequences fall within the realm of what we call
therapeutic; other times antitherapeutic consequences are produced.5
Therapeutic jurisprudence wants us to be aware of this and wants us to
see whether the law can be made or applied in a more therapeutic way
so long as other values, such as justice and due process, can be fully
respected.6
It is important to recognize that therapeutic jurisprudence does not
itself suggest that therapeutic goals should trump other ones.7 It does
not support paternalism, coercion, and so on.8 It is simply a way of
looking at the law in a richer way, and then bringing to the table some
of these areas and issues that previously have gone unnoticed.'
Therapeutic jurisprudence simply suggests that we think about these
issues and see if they can be factored into our law-making, lawyering,
or judging.
Therefore, therapeutic jurisprudence is the study of therapeutic and
1. David Wexler is a Lyons Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at the
University of Arizona. He is also a Professor of Law and Director of the International Network
on Therapeutic Jurisprudence at the University of Puerto Rico. The Network maintains a
website, which includes a comprehensive therapeutic jurisprudence bibliography, at
<http://www.law.arizona.edu/upr.intj>.  The author may be reached by e-mail at
<dwexler@compuserve.com>.
2. DAViD B. WEXLER& BRUCE J. WINICK, LAW IN THERAPEUTIC KEY: DEVELOPMENTS
IN THERAPEUTC JUISPRUDENCE xvii (1996) [hereinafter KEY].
3. See id.
4. See id.
5. See id.
6. See id.
7. See id.
8. See id.
9. See id.
10. See id.

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