Our Response To Mental Illness: Analysis - Philosophy Of Psychology - Essay

1677 words - 7 pages

As people with mental illness may be suffering either as a direct result of their illness or
indirectly through their difficulties in successfully integrating into society (Hart, 2017), it is
important that the institutional, societal and individual responses to these persons are critically
analyzed and evaluated to determine whether the goals of these responses are appropriate,
whether these responses are successful in working towards the goals, and more importantly, if
the goals, actions and reasonings can be justified on ethical grounds. In this essay I will be
exploring mental health through an ethical lens, in order to highlight significant issues that stem
from the influence that the current models for the classifications, diagnosis and treatments of
mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders have on how patients are perceived and addressed on a
societal, institutional, and individual level. I will begin by addressing the problematic
implications that arise from the biological implications and criterions, reinforced by ideas based
on the disease model and deterministic perspective, that serve as a foundation for classifying,
identifying and responding to mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders. I will then recapulitate
the importance of recognizing the respective capacity and limitations of an individual’s
autonomy and free will, and the ethical issues that reinforce a greater emphasis on the role,
influence and weight of individual autonomy in determining the appropriate direction to take
when addressing and treating a mental illness or disorder. This critical analysis of the role of
autonomy and free will in mental health reveals problematic issues of ethical concern regardless
of whether the concluding judgement made by clinicians recognize the person to be functioning
autonomously or that their autonomy is compromised. These issues make it necessary for a
reassessment of the clinician vs. patient relationship regarding whether or not a moral dimension
is just as necessary as an empirical one, when making judgements that hold great value in
determining an appropriate response to the individual patient’s needs. After exploring and
evaluating the impact that a moral dimension may have on a clinician’s ability to appropriately
respond to the patient, I will highlight proposed improvements based on ideas such as the
standpoint theory, sharing partial perspectives, the project of empathy and having goals like the
augmenting of free will.
One of the most concerning assumptions regarding psychiatric disorders are that they are
perceived to be a form of disease (Bentall, 1992). A popular approach towards the definition of
diseases, involves identifying a pathological process implicated in a disturbance of body or
behavior (Bentall, 1992). The disturbance of body or behavior can be translated into any
deviation from the norm that occurs due to some form of biological disadvantage. There are
issues of concerns regarding both parts of t...

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