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The ethics of unsolicited diagnosis of mental disorder in acquaintances: benefits and dangers

  • Edward W. Mitchell (a1)
Summary

I examine here the activity of ‘unsolicited diagnosis' of psychiatric disorder – the act of informing a person that they show signs and symptoms of mental disorder, outside of a patient-professional relationship. Whether unsolicited psychiatric diagnosis is a legitimate ethical activity for psychiatrists (and other healthcare professionals) in which to engage is an issue founded upon the trade-off between potential benefits and harm to the recipient of the diagnosis. However, potential harm specific to a psychiatric diagnosis (such as issues related to stigma, confidentiality and paternalism) suggests that making unsolicited diagnoses of psychiatric disorder is even more ethically fraught than making unsolicited diagnoses of physical disorder.

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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.
Corresponding author
Edward W. Mitchell (mitchell@fulbrightmail.org)
Footnotes
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See editorial, pp. 281–282, this issue.

Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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BJPsych Bulletin
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The ethics of unsolicited diagnosis of mental disorder in acquaintances: benefits and dangers

  • Edward W. Mitchell (a1)
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