“Prince was far too stressed out to fly says royal shrink … Bungling Prince Charles was lashed by a top psychiatrist last night” (Airs, 1994). This colourful fragment from a national tabloid illustrates one of the less savoury aspects of the increasing visibility of psychiatry in the media. The College Public Education Committee (PEC) was established in 1988 and has monitored press references to the College. In the three years prior to its establishment, it was able to find only seven press references to the College. A more recent survey, from September 1992–1993, found 736 such references (D. Hart, Royal College of Psychiatrists, personal communication). This dramatic increase has been partly due to the increasing politicisation of health care in general. However, a significant role has been played by the PEC. It has established an efficient machine which not only disseminates information from the College to the media, but also responds to inquiries from the media. On the whole, the results of this sort of activity are beneficial, the main complication being that of misrepresentation. We tend to be painfully aware of the dubious practices of the media, in particular the iniquities of the tabloid press. However, we also need to consider the possible ethical blunders that we may commit. The whole enterprise of speaking or writing about psychiatry in the public arena has generated several areas of ethical concern.
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