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15 - Rights of the ‘Mad’ in Mental Health Sciences

from Part Two - Human Rights Issues

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2012

Ranjita Biswas
Affiliation:
Jadavpur University
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Summary

aapnara shudhu monke bandhte jaanen, monke bujhte paren na

(all you psychiatrists know is how to rein in minds; you don't understand the mind)

The above is a statement made by a ‘patient’ in a psychiatric hospital. The ‘patient’, whom we cannot name due to a certain code of confidentiality, had been under a long period of treatment in the same psychiatric hospital. Every time the ‘patient’ was called for an interview with the psychiatrist, he came with a small notebook. The notebook contained pages of ‘incoherent’ ramblings from which he would try to read out excerpts (only excerpts) for us. Each time the ‘patient’ made a demonstration of his ‘psychosis’ in an explicit manner, the number and dose of medicines increased. In the subsequent sessions the ‘patient’ appeared more groggy and slurred. But every time the ‘patient’ looked capable of continuing his (broken) dialogue with the psychiatrist … continue the dialogue in the hope of establishing his sanity. Until, finally, somewhat in exasperation the ‘patient’ made the above statement.

What would the psychiatrist do? How would s/he respond to the charge? The doctor-patient relation (here the relation between the ‘psychiatrist’ and the ‘mentally ill’ or the more fashionable ‘mentally challenged’) has been an area of intense debate. The doctor has been described as the expert, godlike or godsend, who bestows health or life. The patient is said to be a layperson, who entrusts faith, belief and the authority in the doctor to make decisions and judgments on his/her behalf.

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Chapter
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Applied Ethics and Human Rights
Conceptual Analysis and Contextual Applications
, pp. 193 - 218
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2010

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