Making Up Excited Delirium

Seantel Ara Blythe Anaïs


This article examines the emergence of a medical condition increasingly cited as a cause of death in fatality inquiries in Canada: Excited Delirium. Beyond the association between excited delirium and police use of electrical weapons known as Tasers, one common concern about the medical condition is whether or not it is “real.” Bypassing strictly realist or purely constructivist accounts, this article uses the conceptual language of historical ontology and science and technology studies to investigate how excited delirium is enacted within and between disparate medico-legal sites. Contributing to sociologies of death and dying and category formation, it attends to the textually-mediated practices of legal and medical experts in the United States and Canada that labour to produce excited delirium as a coherent medical condition rather than a “diagnosis of exclusion” reached upon autopsy.


Excited delirium, fatality inquiries, historical ontology, science and technology studies

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