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Cult Med Psychiatry. 1993 Sep;17(3):363-83.

Psychiatry and ethics: the problematics of respect for religious meanings.

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Center for Biomedical Ethics, Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-6196.


Over the past two decades American psychiatrists have had to address the emergence of an increasingly fervent religious pluralism. Particularly in cases of socially controversial new religious movements (NRMs), distressed families have pressured psychiatrists to assess the mental state of recruits to such sects, often labeled "cults." At this inevitably acrimonious interface between family values and religious liberties, psychiatrists have for the most part resisted pressures to medicalize religious conversions. This article provides an historical review of American psychiatric response to NRMs with respect to nosology and practice. It introduces this response in the more general context of ethics and the problematics of respect for religious meanings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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