Models of mental disorder: how philosophy and the social sciences can illuminate psychiatric ethics

Anthony Colombo

in Empirical Ethics in Psychiatry

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199297368
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754586 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Models of mental disorder: how philosophy and the social sciences can illuminate psychiatric ethics

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The principle aim of this chapter is to discuss the development and implications for psychiatric ethics of a new empirical research initiative that combines linguistic analytic philosophy and social science methodologies.

More specifically, this chapter demonstrates how a particular empirical study, designed to evaluate the influence of implicit models of mental disorder on shared decision-making within community-based multi-disciplinary teams, used philosophic and social scientific ideas in order to: clarify the distinction between explicit and implicit models and their role in conceptualizing the definitional problem of mental disorder; develop an intuitively powerful models-grid heuristic in order to represent an ‘ideal type’ formation of the territory covered by the term mental disorder; design an empirical approach which recognizes and values the contribution of all participants by generating a ‘level playing field’ between patients and practitioners; elucidate the range of implicit model patterns used by the study's multi-agency groups in order to define the high-level concept ‘mental disorder’; and facilitate the transition of research into practice by using the empirical data on models in order to draw out some ethical implications of current approaches to shared decision-making. Each of these issues will be critically considered throughout this paper with strong emphasis placed on discussing the research findings and their potential implications for psychiatric ethics.

Chapter.  8542 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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