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Medical incapacity, legal incompetence and psychiatry

  • Thomas Szasz (a1)
Extract

Much of my professional career has been dedicated to showing that psychiatric coercions and excuses are incompatible with respect for individual liberty and responsibility (Szasz, 1961, 1997). Thus, I was both pleased and displeased to read the criticisms of mental health legislation by Zigmond (1998) and Szmukler & Holloway (1998). It is gratifying to see such views appear in the pages of so respected a publication as the Psychiatric Bulletin, the more so as no American psychiatric journal exhibits similar open-mindedness toward debating a subject that most psychiatrists consider taboo. At the same time, it is frustrating to see psychiatrists grappling with problems intrinsic to psychiatry's legal and social mandate, yet refusing to acknowledge the nature and implications of that mandate.

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Copyright
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.
References
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Bloch, S. & Chodoff, P. (eds) (1991) Psychiatric Ethics (2nd edn). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fulford, K. W. M. (1989) Moral Theory and Medical Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fulford, K. W. M. (1998) Replacing the Mental Health Act 1983? How to change the game without losing the baby with the bath water or shooting ourselves in the foot. Psychiatric Bulletin, 22, 666 668.
Roy, A. (ed.) (1986) Suicide. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins.
Sayce, L. (1998) Transcending mental health law. Psychiatric Bulletin, 22, 669 670.
Szasz, T. S. (1961) The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct New York: Harper Collins.
Szasz, T. S. (1989) Law, Liberty and Psychiatry: An Inquiry into the Social Uses of Mental Health Practices. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
Szasz, T. S. (1997) Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
Szmukler, G. & Holloway, F. (1998) Mental health legislation is now a harmful anachronism. Psychiatric Bulletin, 22, 662 665.
Warnock, M. (1989) Philosophical foreword. In Moral Theory and Medical Practice. Pp. vii ix. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zigmond, A. S. (1998) Medical incapacity act. Psychiatric Bulletin, 22, 657 658.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Medical incapacity, legal incompetence and psychiatry

  • Thomas Szasz (a1)
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