Ethics in Psychiatry Training

  • Dominik Groß
  • Frank SchneiderEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Mental Health and Illness Worldwide book series (MHIW)


This chapter begins with a section “Introduction to Clinical Ethics” that defines key terms from the field of clinical ethics and goes on to present and explain the most important ethical concepts.

The main part of this chapter consists of two sections (“General Ethically Relevant Aspects of Psychiatry” and “Psychiatry and Society: Ethical Aspects of an Interdependent Relationship”). Section “General Ethically Relevant Aspects of Psychiatry” discusses ethically relevant aspects of the relationship between psychiatrists and patients. It starts with a critical normative analysis of patient autonomy in the psychiatric context. This is followed by a discussion of coercive measures in psychiatry and on suicidal ideation, geriatric psychiatry, and addiction medicine. The chapter then focuses on the topic of research ethics. It discusses the opportunities and risks of clinical psychiatric studies that must serve the interests of both medical progress and individual patient safety, before going on to explore ethical aspects of psychiatric genetics and population genetics. This is followed by consideration of patient-relevant tools to support decision making in the field of clinical ethics – namely clinical ethics counseling and advance healthcare directives. The final part of section “General Ethically Relevant Aspects of Psychiatry” offers a critical normative analysis of the recent developments neuroenhancement and wish-fulfilling psychiatry.

The second main section, “Psychiatry and Society: Ethical Aspects of An Interdependent Relationship,” is dedicated to the social and regulatory functions of psychiatrists and thus to the relationship between psychiatry and society. It starts with some basic remarks on the role of psychiatrists in society and on ethical misconduct in the history of psychiatry. Using the example of what happened during the Third Reich, it offers a critical discussion on the reappraisal of historical accountabilities. The chapter then goes on to look at the present and future of psychiatry, demonstrating the potential for conflict between psychiatrists’ clinical role of working for the good of individual patients and their public role of ensuring the good of society on the basis of three examples of ethical relevance: forensic psychiatry, stigmatization, and equality of access.


Medical ethics Role conflict Coercive measures Autonomy Decision-making capacity Historical reappraisal 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical SchoolRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and PsychosomaticsRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

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