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Forensic psychiatry in Europe

  • Harvey Gordon (a1) (a2) and Per Lindqvist (a3)
Extract

The European Union now includes 27 member states. The Council of Europe stretches even further with 45 member states. A comprehensive definition of Europe geographically embraces all of Eastern Europe, including the western part of Russia and the western part of Turkey. Increasing mobility and national cooperation within Europe requires enhancing mutual knowledge and understanding of the context of evaluation and treatment of mentally disordered offenders and similar individuals who manifest antisocial behaviour and violence. A recent study confined to the previous 15 member states of the European Union provides a useful baseline for subsequent European comparisons (Salize & Dressing, 2005).

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
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Forensic psychiatry in Europe

  • Harvey Gordon (a1) (a2) and Per Lindqvist (a3)
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eLetters

U.S. forensic psychiatrists and the code of medical ethics

Abraham L. Halpern, Psychiatrist
09 November 2007

We read with great interest and appreciation the article "Forensic psychiatry in Europe" by Harvey Gordon and Per Lindqist (Psychiatric Bulletin, November 2007, 31, 421-424).

The wide variety of forensic psychiatric practices in the 45 member states of the Council of Europe is not unlike what exists in the 50 statesof the U.S., each with its own criminal code and set of laws that frequently require the involvement of forensic psychiatrists. Indeed, the article could have been titled "Forensic psychiatry in Europe and America."

In the section on "Ethics in forensic psychiatry" the authors call attention to reports of differences in the canons of ethics pertaining to American and British forensic psychiatrists. The fact is that one or two prominent American forensic psychiatrists visiting the U.K. have misinformed our British colleagues that forensic psychiatrists in the U.S. follow principles of ethics that are different from the code of medical ethics applicable to

psychiatrists everywhere. We feel it is important for our British colleagues to know that the vast majority of American forensic psychiatrists do not subscribe to the notion that the so-called "forensicist" operates outside the medical framework and does not act as a physician. Forensic psychiatrists throughout America would agree with Drs. Gordon and Lindqvist that the knowledge and expertise on which the psychiatrist bases his work "is that of medicine and psychiatry and the ethical framework is that grounded within his profession."

In rejecting the overtures by "forensicists" that a special code of ethics for them be adopted, the Ethics Committee of the American Psychiatric Association has declared that "psychiatrists are physicians, and physicians are physicians at all times."

Abraham L. Halpern, MD, FRCPsych(Hon),Professor emeritus of psychiatry,New York Medical College720 The Parkway, Mamaroneck, NY, USA 10543-4227Tel: 914-698-2136; Fax: 914-698-0412

John H. Halpern, MD,Assistant professor of psychiatry,Harvard Medical SchoolMcLean Hospital115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478-9106

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