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Int J Eat Disord. 2012 Jul;45(5):627-34. doi: 10.1002/eat.22002. Epub 2012 Feb 13.

The stigma of "mental" illness: end stage anorexia and treatment refusal.

Author information

  • 1Center for Bioethics and Humanities, SUNY Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University College of Law (courtesy), Syracuse, NY, USA. campbela@upstate.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To answer the questions of whether psychiatric patients should ever be allowed to refuse life-sustaining treatment in favor of comfort care for a condition that is caused by a psychiatric disorder, and if so, under what conditions.

METHOD:

Case discussion and normative ethical and legal analysis.

RESULTS:

We argue that psychiatric patients should sometimes be allowed to refuse life-sustaining treatment in favor of comfort care for a condition that is caused by that psychiatric disorder and articulate the core considerations that should be taken into account when such a case arises.

DISCUSSION:

We also suggest that unwillingness among many, especially mental health professionals, to consider seriously both of these questions risks perpetuating stigmatization of persons with psychiatric disorders, i.e., that the "mentally" ill should not be allowed to make significant decisions for themselves-a-a stigmatization that can result in persons with mental disorders both being prevented from exercising autonomous choice even when they are capable of it, and being denied good comfort care at the end of life--care which would be offered to patients with similarly life-threatening conditions that were not deemed to be the result of "mental" illness.

Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

PMID:
22331823
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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