abstract Ryan Tonkens proposes that my Kantian approach to suicide intervention with respect to the mentally ill (2002) wrongly assumes that the suicidally mentally ill are rational and are therefore rational agents to whom Kantian moral constraints ought to apply. Here I indicate how the empirical evidence concerning the suicidally mentally ill does not support Tonkens' criticism that the suicidally mentally ill are irrational. In particular, that evidence does not support the conclusion that such individuals are (...) systemically practically irrational so as to undermine the attribution of at least minimal rational autonomy to them. A Kantian moral framework, albeit one developed in a non-ideal direction, remains applicable to such individuals. (shrink)
In Nazi Germany, approximately 200 000 mentally ill people were murdered under the guise of euthanasia. Relatively little is known regarding the fate of the Jewish mentally ill patients targeted in this process, long before the Holocaust officially began. For the Nazis, Jewish mentally ill patients were doubly cursed since they embodied both “precarious genes” and “racial toxin”. To preserve the memory of the victims, Yad Vashem, the leading institution dedicated to documentation of the Holocaust, actively collects (...) information and documents the fate of victims in an open online database. Recently, a list of approximately 1200 names of Jewish mentally ill euthanasia victims has been compiled from hospital archives. Their fate remains unknown to surviving family members. Given the duty to preserve medical confidentiality, can this list be publicised for public interest and for notifying families—publicising names and death circumstances, including where “killed” would immediately indicate that the person had had a mental illness? Does the right to medical confidentiality lapse upon death? Is time elapsed since death a factor? Can opposing obligations of preserving victims’ memory over-ride medical confidentiality? What if a family member objects to a grandparent’s name being exposed on the list of mentally ill patients? This article considers these issues as well as the “rational” and “non-rational” factors in ethical decisional making surrounding this unique dilemma. Several possible solutions are proposed including preserving the list in a locked database for access by families and researchers, publicising in the media that such a list exists, publishing the information online without any identifiers and submitting the information to historians, allowing them to process the data as they see fit. (shrink)
It is well known that today jails and prisons house many seriously mentally ill citizens who in prior decades have been treated in mental hospitals and community mental health programs. This paper begins with a brief review of the history of support for mental health programs at the federal level and then, using the State of Oregon as an example, describes the new state era of mental health services which is characterized by the increasing use of the criminal justice (...) system as a cornerstone of the treatment of many seriously and chronically mentally ill individuals. Are there any solutions to our current dilemma? The paper ends with this question, and the reader must determine if any of the suggestions posed in this discussion are realistic and/or feasible given the current fiscal and political climate. (shrink)
sirThis is the third time hospitalised mentally ill patients have voted in Israeli elections.In 1996 the law was changed so that patients, including those in psychiatric hospitals, could participate in elections while hospitalised.Until that year, hospitalised patients could participate in elections only if released from the hospital to vote at their local polling stations.The ability of mentally ill patients to participate in the democratic process has aroused interest over a long period of ….
In recent years, the homeless population has received much attention as authorities attempt to comprehend this phenomenon and offer solutions. When striving to establish a relationship with the homeless person, many problems arise. We encounter this dilemma when respecting the right of the mentally ill to dwell neglected in the streets and simultaneously observe their inability to comprehend provisions such as housing, shelter, medical and mental care which contribute to their human dignity. The polarities of autonomy versus involuntary treatment (...) are highlighted when treating the homeless population. (shrink)
The concept of citizenship is becoming more and more prominent in specific fields, such as psychiatry/mental health, where it is constituted as a solution to the issues of exclusion, discrimination, and poverty often endured by the mentally ill. We argue that such discourse of citizenship represents a break in the history of psychiatry and constitutes a powerful strategy to counter the effects of equally powerful psychiatric labelling. However, we call into question the emancipatory promise of a citizenship agenda. Foucault's (...) concept of governmentality is helpful in understanding the production of the citizen subject, its location within the 'art of government', as well as the ethical and political implications of citizenship in the context of mental health. (shrink)
Scant consideration has been given to the ethical implications of the policy of closing down psychiatric hospitals in favour of community care. The recent adherents of this policy in government have been enthusiastic in encouraging its implementation. This paper has three sections: a brief resumé of the history and principles of community care for the mentally ill; a discussion on the merits and de-merits of psychiatric care in the hospital and in the community; and an outline of some preliminary (...) categories for ethical analysis. (shrink)
Given the dramatic rise in the frequency of nursing research that involves eliciting personal information, one would expect that attempts to maintain the balance between the aspirations of researchers and the needs and rights of patients would lead to extensive discussion of the ethical issues arising. However, they have received little attention in the literature. This paper outlines and discusses some of the issues associated with qualitative research. The discussion converges on the specific case of phenomenological research, which involves the (...) invasion of participants’ personal worlds, and draws attention to some of the ethical issues that arise when the participants are psychiatric patients. (shrink)
Competency to be executed evaluations are conducted with a clear understanding that no physician-patient relationship exists. Treatment however, is not so neatly re-categorized in large measure because it involves the physician's active provision of the healing arts. A natural tension exists between what practices may be legally permissible and what are ethically acceptable. We present an overview of the existing positions on this matter in the process of framing our argument.
Mental illness may be manifested in the impairment of understanding or of volitional control. Impairment of understanding may be manifested in delusions. Impairment of volitional control is shown when a person is unable to act in accordance with good reasons that he himself accepts. In order for an impairment of understanding or of self-control to exculpate, the offence must be causally connected with the impairment in question. The rationale of exculpation in general, which applies also to the case of mental (...) illness, is that the offence does not indicate a morally bad attitude in the offender. A consequence of this rationale is that Kenny is wrong to hold that no injustice would result from the elimination of the legal defence of diminished responsibility. (shrink)