european psychiatric association


Ethical Principles and Dilemmas in Psychiatry

Led by Prof. Dr. Meryam Schouler-Ocak, chair of the EPA Committee on Ethical Issues, this one-hour webinar took place on Tuesday 6 February from 14:30 to 15:30 (CET) and featured the following speakers:

  • Dr. Jan Wise, NHS Consultant in General Adult Psychiatry (United Kingdom) – Biography
    Termination of Pregnancy: Good Intentions Pave the Way – an Analysis of a High Profile Recent Case in the UK:” Most countries allow women to terminate a pregnancy at some stage, with boundaries at which it becomes a criminal act varying.  Whilst a desperate act, culpability and guilt are distinct from the consequences of a guilty act – Actus Reus.  A case from the criminal division of the justice system of England & Wales will serve to illustrate the perils of this moral maze.
  • Prof. Dr. Rutger Jan van der Gaag, MD PhD (1950), Emeritus Professor of psychiatry (Netherlands), psychosomatics and psychotherapy (Latvia) – Biography
    Mental Pain and Suffering poses an Ethical Dilemma to each Psychiatrist: A Dilemma is a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially ones that are equally undesirable. The Physicians Plegde (2017) may or not help, when it comes to serious choices between quantity and quality of live in regard of the patient’s will that should be respected. Psychiatrists are in the position of assessing individuals capacity to decide. Mental suffering is terrible. This is illustrated by the theoretical question addressed to individuals that have endured both cancer and depression, choosing for cancer if they were to have one or the other again. A psychiatrist should prevent suicide. But how to deal with the question of the patient that asks for assisted dying because his/her suffering is unbearable and psychiatrist cannot offer prospects of improvement or recovery. A poignant dilemma to be discussed.

Watch the webinar video for more insights