In forensic psychiatric practice, forensic psychologists are involved in diagnostic assessments, court reporting and clinical treatment of mentally ill offenders (or suspects). In this practice, a variety of ethical tensions and problems arise. During this course you will get to know the most salient ethical issues for forensic psychologists and get acquainted with what may be called ‘the ethical stance’, that is you will learn to reflect on these issues. Moreover, this course will show you how ethical issues and questions differ from science and scientific questions and how professional ethics can contribute to careful and responsible practices. To this end, we will focus on four different issues. 1. In the last years, criminal responsibility has been controversially discussed. This does not only hold for suspects who suffer from a psychological or psychiatric condition, but also in general it has been doubted that people could ever be held responsible for their deeds. Increasing evidence about the genomic and neurobiological underpinnings of human behavior, have prompted some to conclude that free will would be an illusion and that therefore holding each other responsible would be awkward. We will critically discuss the meaning of free will and responsibility and try to figure out when and for which reasons these concepts remain sensible. 2. The practice of a forensic psychologist is characterized by the so- called double role. One role is connected to the state and involves the fact that the relationship with the client is not based on a free agreement, but is initiated by the state and connected to the process of criminal justice. This is the professional’s role as an agent of the state. The second role is given by the professional obligation to do good for the patient/client. This is the therapeutic role. In practice, these two roles might conflict and corresponding ethical dilemmas might emerge. For example: How to deal with confidentiality, privacy and secrecy, central elements in doctor-patient relationships, if one –also- has to report to the court? In this course you will get to know the dilemmas connected to these ‘two-hats’ and discuss how to properly deal with them. 3. During his or her stay in forensic psychological institution, a patient may be subjected to coercive interventions. Compulsory treatments or measures might be applied. In this course you will critically discuss and reflect on the use of coercion in forensic psychological practice. Ethical aspects that are crucial in this regard are the requirement to respect the bodily and mental integrity of the individual at stake, harm to or the safety of the patient him- or herself, as well as harm to others and public safety issues. 4. As a professional you may also get involved in scientific research in which forensic patients may serve as research participants. Scientists have to adhere to certain, well-defined research ethical requirements, with informed consent as its cornerstone. Given the involuntary character of the situation of forensic patients, specific questions arise, which will be discussed in this class.
Doelstellingen van dit vak
Knowledge of: Professional ethics of forensic psychology, criminal responsibility in relation to behavioural genetics and neuro-imaging, privacy and confidentiality, ethical dilemmas in forensic psychology, professional- patient/client relationship, coercion and pressure in forensic care, forensic research ethics.
- D. Horstkötter