2016/17 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue
IDEA5305M Autonomy, Rationality and Psychiatric Issues
15 creditsClass Size: 30
Module manager: Dr Rob Lawlor
Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable
Year running 2016/17
This module is not approved as an Elective
ObjectivesThe aim of this module is to examine the ethical issues that arise in psychiatry. Most of these issues turn on the question of the justification, or lack of it for compulsion or coercion with respect to the mentally ill. What is it about mental illness, as opposed to physical illness, that is thought to justify, sometimes, overriding the ill person's autonomy? However there is also the connected question of the relation of mental illness to badness, and the issue as to why mental illness may sometimes excuse bad actions, and the module also introduces you to consideration of that issue.
In order to examine these questions one central concern is to try to understand the concept of mental illness, (and of illness). Secondly, the significance of competence, and the value of autonomy to these issues also means that this module provides some space for slightly further examination of that latter concept, so important in modern medical ethics.
Thus the module examines a number of key questions, for example:
1. What is autonomy? Does respect for autonomy mean doing what the patient wants? What if the patient is being unreasonable? What if the patient's competence is in doubt? How should competence be determined? When if ever would it be defensible to impose a treatment on a mentally ill or retarded patient?
2. How is mental illness to be defined? Is there any significant difference between mental illness and physical illness? In what way can we explain the relation of mental illness to absence of autonomy? How can the mentally ill be distinguished from the merely eccentric? How should the distinction between mad and bad be drawn?
3. People suffering from mental illness or retardation are especially vulnerable to undue interference and exploitation. How can health professionals strike a suitable balance between allowing them some freedom and control over their own day to day living and yet protecting them from doing harm and from suffering harm?
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
Explain and evaluate different measures of competence; Appreciate the case for and against medical paternalism in the context of mental illness and impairment; Understand something of the history and complexity of notions of autonomy and respect; Understand the role of consent, proxy consent and best interests in the context of psychiatric illness.
Topics such as:
Defining mental illness; social control, tolerance and deviant behaviour; autonomy, rational choice and consent; competence and the right to refuse treatment.
|Delivery type||Number||Length hours||Student hours|
|Private study hours||134.00|
|Total Contact hours||16.00|
|Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)||150.00|
Private studyDetailed study of required readings plus advance preparation of discussion questions for seminars. Independent reading and research for the preparation of assessments.
Opportunities for Formative Feedback1 x 3,000 word assignment and 1 x Annotated Bibliography 500 words
Methods of assessment
|Assessment type||Notes||% of formal assessment|
|Essay||1 x 3,000 words||90.00|
|Report||Annotated Bibliography 500 words||10.00|
|Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)||100.00|
Reading listThe reading list is available from the Library website
Last updated: 11/04/2017
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