The scope of psychiatric ethics

Sidney Bloch and Stephen A. Green

in Psychiatric Ethics

Fourth edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780199234318
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754548 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

The scope of psychiatric ethics

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Perusal of the new edition reveals that psychiatrists grapple with a broad range of vexing ethical problems. Although these differ according to the type of psychiatry practiced, certain themes are pervasive. These include: how to assess the moral costs and benefits of an intervention; how to maintain confidentiality in the face of competing loyalties; how to seek patients’ consent for a procedure or treatment; how to define the boundaries of their professional task without recourse to hubris or undue timidity; how to strike a balance between the ethos of contractual equality and a benevolent paternalism; how to satisfy the interests of patients, their families and the broader community especially when they clash; how to avoid discriminating against or exploiting patients; and how to advocate for patients, many of whom are disenfranchised and powerless.

As editors, we are confident that our contributors help to shed light on these themes which impinge on the practitioner, and in which elements of the human, the contingent and the ambiguous are interwoven.

Chapter.  2923 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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