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Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2006 Sep;19(5):544-6.

The ethics of forensic psychiatry.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.



Forensic psychiatrists find themselves at the crossroads of disparate ethical demands stemming from their basic identification as physicians versus obligations of their professional activities that often involve working for third parties and upholding the principles of law. Ethical demands in law may collide with those of the ethics of medicine.


This review focuses on theoretical articles in which the two ethical paradigms impacting the forensic practice are discussed. In addition, this review includes some articles that bring new insights into old problems such as coercion and articles dealing with an emerging controversy, the use of medical information or medical personnel in interrogations.


The controversy on the two paradigms under which forensic psychiatrists operate has not been exhausted; no definite position has been advanced about the virtues of one over the other or how best to reconcile the two. Old issues such as coercion remain topics of concern and new areas of debate such as intelligence interrogations, which eventually will have an impact on forensic psychiatry, are now starting to permeate the ethical discourse.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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