Introduction Psychiatry and Law—General Issues
The practice of psychiatry is in large part regulated by law, but this is a relatively recent development. Up until the mid-1960s the law made few demands on us. Our day-to-day practice was not heavily monitored by government agencies, nor did negative outcomes in treating patients put us in jeopardy of being sued for malpractice. Before legal regulation of psychiatry expanded so rapidly, psychiatrists viewed their relationship to the law as one in which they provided valuable assistance. The law allowed psychiatrists to assist society in the social control function of restraining and treating deviant and disorderly people. We were given considerable power to define our own role in managing the behavior of the mentally ill, and for the most part society appreciated our efforts. The courts also asked psychiatrists for assistance in resolving conflicts which were influenced by the mental status of one or both parties in litigation. Here the psychiatrist was expected to be an expert witness. Few psychiatrists volunteered to be expert witnesses, but when they did their services were usually welcomed.
KeywordsLegal System Legal Regulation Federal Court Expert Witness State Court
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.