Lecture 2: Mental Disorder and the Law
Legal vs Ethical issues
Laws-set of rules about behaviour you must follow, ambiguous
What are laws?
Aset of rules of how you must behave and must not behave Rules about behaviour that are
codified Based on ethics and morals What you HAVE to do Dictates social interaction with each
other Prof. argues that almost all laws dictating private behaviour are gone Trudeau wanted laws
to stay out of people's bedrooms Violence is the most salient example of a social interaction that
is illegal The legal system determines whether the defendant is culpable or mental ill Do
defendants who are deemed culpable still received rehabilitation? In Canada and in scandinavian
countries, YES; in the U.S., NO What the judge and what the mental health practitioner say are
-hinds dilemma: man couldn’t afford drug to save his wife.
-morals are fluid, vary from culture and time. Ie/things immoral 5- years ago are acceptable
-ethics-set of core values doing the right thing, guideline you should follow
• people in social conflict. Thomas szasz-argues that pyschological issues are not medical,
there are people who are not functioning probably, are able to get along with other people,
get a job and do normal things-social conditions. Pyschopathology doesn’t get treated
unless interferes with somebody else known as social conflict because that’s a legal issue.
Ie/ cutting somebody else ut if given conscent then maybe.
• power of mental health professionals- there power in the legal system, mental stability,
dysfunctional behaviour break the rules of law and caused by mental dysfunction. Ie/
substance abuse disorder and taking a drug that impairs judgement and reaction time and a
car accident has hurt someone else because of that-broke the law and have a mental
disorder. Will still be in jail despite the mental disorder. Doctor has to testify for the mental
disorder if responsible for their actions. The only power they have in the legal system is as
witnesses. For individual to get out of jail is judge or jury only but will take consideration
of psychology as they cannot claim a person to be legally insane.
Canadian Legal System: not changeable,
• Constitutional law- charter of rights and freedoms, rules you must follow, highest limit on
the types of law. Only country that documents people with health issues that have rights, at
the federal level. People with mental disorders have to be protected by government.
• Stautory law: provincial level and municipal level. Can be changed and differ from
provinces. People with mental disorders- cant cover everything, decisions have to be made
until they become significant.
• Common law: all three terrirtories, 9 out of 10 except quebec which has civil law. What is
legal but no ethical addressed here. Judge's or jurys intrepretation of stautory laws.
Frequently ambigious not by accident because of the hind's dilemma. Common law comes
from precedence. When decisions are made about mental disorders that become a law. To
intrepret consitituion that includes parents contry-government is responsible and their
authoirty to care for all individuals-leads to a dilemma ie/people on the streets but the constitution says everyone has the right to make own decisions-conflict. People living on
streets are mentally ill but they have constitutional rights.
o Parents patriate (responsibility and authority to care)
o Involuntarily commitment (civil and criminal): occurs when someone is perceived
to have mental illness so taken out of society and harmful to others and yourself, havt
done the act but possibility may happen so must be isolated- civil involuntarily
commitment, part of common and stautory law. Criminal-is apart of constitutional
and stautory law. Putting in a secure mental health facility.
• Must be suffering from a mental disorder
• Unwilling or incabable of consent- consent to treatment
• Be at risk of harming (self or others)
• Rules here in ontario- someone suffering from substance abuse, thinking
about homicidal thoughts is eligible for commitment, not a disorder. If you are
committed involuntarily must be assessed and treated, can refuse treatment in
ontario, only three provinces. Someone who is committed in ontario only 72
hours, differs between provinces, if they refuse treatment having stayed can
leave. People assessing can have them committed further for one to three
months and can be extended.
Substitute decision maker (advocate): cant make decisions for themselves, automatically
signed to somebody during assessment and treatment, after 72 hours.Advocates are trained
professionally. Can be a psychologist, social worker
• Capabe wished principle-advocate works under this. The advocate tries to do what is
right for the patient and considers patients wishes.
• Compulsry treatment orders- three provinces. If advocate is satisfied even though patient
is still disordered they can be released if they promise as an out patient to conitue in
therapy at regular intervals.
Pychologist environment -ethics: have ethical obligations and still get in trouble not with the
• Clinical: interacting with a client or a patient
• Research: researcher tells participant what is expected and then consent form is signed
and you participate and can discontinue experiment any time even after leaving. If didn’t
tell you then ethical not legal issue.
• Teaching: similar codes guideline of ethics,
• Forensic-ethical obligation in court and legal obligation otherwise purjury.
• Adminstration-adminstering psychological data, gathering data of testing, collect data on
people, not analyze
Informed consent: quasi-legal
• History: government requires this, because in past people have been treated without
consent medically and psyc