Oral Presentation Australasian Association of Bioethics & Health Law and New Zealand Bioethics Conference

WORKSHOP (60 minutes):  What is, and isn't, anti-psychiatry -- and why it matters in 2019 (1001)

David B Menkes 1 , Vajira Dharmawardene 2 , Jon Jureidini 3
  1. Waikato Clinical Campus, University of Auckland, Hamilton, NZ
  2. Department of Psychiatry, Teaching Hospital, Ratnapura, Sri Lanka
  3. Department of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia

We are three psychiatrists from different parts of the world, with rather different clinical and academic roles. In this session, we aim to develop a working definition of “anti-psychiatry”, and to consider its present relevance and impacts on clinical practice and public mental health.

We have chosen a recent publication by the UN Human Rights Council to focus discussion; the UN Special Rapporteur’s 2017 Report (1) is highly critical of the contemporary role of psychiatry around the world and has attracted commentary from us (2,3) and others. Drawing on examples from the Report, we will engage the audience in considering the extent to which the Rapporteur’s views may be considered “anti-psychiatry”. We plan to extend the discussion by including concepts of social vs biological causation, psychiatric treatment models, stigma and human rights abuses experienced by those with mental illness.

1) UN Human Rights Council (2017) Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Available at: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/34/32

2) Dharmawardene V, Menkes DB (2019) Responding to the UN Special Rapporteur's anti-psychiatry bias. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 53:282-283

3) Cosgrove L, Jureidini J (2019) Why a rights-based approach is not anti-psychiatry. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 53:503-504