World Psychiatric Association Ethics Committee, Guidelines
Concerning Specific Situations (1996).
Concerning Specific Situations
The World Psychiatric Association Ethics Committee recognizes the need to
develop a number of specific guidelines on a number of specific situations.
Five such specific guidelines are stated below. In the future, the committee
will address other critical issues such as the ethics of psychotherapy,
new therapeutic alliances, relationship with the pharmaceutical industry,
sex change and the ethics of managed care.
- EUTHANASIA: A physicianís duty, first and foremost,
is the promotion of health, the reduction of suffering, and the protection
of life. The psychiatrist, among whose patientare some who are severely
incapacitated and incompetent to reach an informed decision, should
be particularly careful of actions that could lead to the death of those
who cannot protect themselves because of their disability. The psychiatrist
should be aware that the views of a patient may be distorted by mental
illness such as depression. In such situations, the psychiatristís role
is to treat the illness.
- TORTURE: Psychiatrists shall not take part in any process
of mental or physical torture, even when authorities attempt to force
their involvement in such acts.
- DEATH PENALTY: Under no circumstances should psychiatrists
participate in legally authorized executions nor participate in assessments
of competency to be executed.
- SELECTION OF SEX: Under no circumstances should a psychiatrist
participate in decisions to terminate pregnancy for the purpose of sex
- ORGAN TRANSPLANTATION: The role of the psychiatrist
is to clarify the issues surrounding organ donations and to advise on
religious, cultural, social and family factors to ensure that informed
and proper decisions be made by all concerned. The psychiatrists should
not act as a proxy decision maker for patients nor use psychotherapeutic
skills to influence the decision of a patient in these matters. Psychiatrists
should seek to protect their patients and help them exercise self-determination
to the fullest extent possible in situation of organ transplantation.