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Abstracts: Ethics, History and Mental Disorder

Trevor Turner (Homerton University Hospital)
Dogma or Stigma?: Why Are Psychiatrists So Bad At Trying To Be Good?

Attempts by psychiatrists to record, evaluate, or write about the historyof their own profession have tended to be dogmatic statements ofunderstandable - even heroic? - achievement, stolid accounts of technical lives or attempts at justifying a medical model of psychological disorder. In particular, clinicians experiencing stigmatised attitudes in their daily lives are readily discomforted by critical historical scholarship deriving from social or social constructionist discourses. A sense of rejection, linguistic confusion and professional distrust have impaired the potential for dialogue between historians and practising psychiatrists, the ethics of enforced treatment being a central theme. Negotiating between differing versions of historical reality becomes a paradigm for the frustrations of involvement in the experience of psychosis.