Medical College of Wisconsin
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Philosophical and ethical issues at the forefront of neuroscience and genetics: an overview for psychiatrists. Psychiatr Clin North Am 2009 Jun;32(2):437-49 PMID: 19486824

Pubmed ID





This review has touched upon some of the major ethical issues surrounding emerging technologies in neuroscience and genetics. Although at first glance these issues may seem somewhat peripheral to the clinical practice of psychiatry, we suggest that they may have unanticipated effects upon the care of patients with mental illness. Certainly, the philosophical issues surrounding free will are of tremendous consequence to persons who commit crimes while suffering severe symptoms of mental illness. In addition, the opening up of a lucrative new "enhancement" market for the sale of new therapies could divert commercial resources away from the development of therapies for mental illness, although it is also possible that some enhancements will have secondary benefits as treatments for disease. Social acceptance of enhancement therapies could have a beneficial, normalizing effect on public attitudes toward those who receive mental health treatment. On the other hand, a moral backlash against enhancements as "quick fixes" that deprive individuals of authenticity could have a secondary effect of increasing the stigma of mental health treatment. For all of these reasons, it has become increasingly important for psychiatrists to be informed about and active participants in the public conversation about neuroethics. Psychiatric patients appear to have much at stake in these ethical debates, and psychiatrists have valuable expertise to offer as professionals with intimate knowledge of the human mind, its limitations, and its potential.

Author List

Hoop JG, Spellecy R


Ryan Spellecy PhD Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin


2-s2.0-66149151358   3 Citations

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Biomedical Enhancement
Decision Making
Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical
Personal Autonomy
Philosophy, Medical
Risk Assessment
Social Change
jenkins-FCD Prod-310 bff9d975ec7f2d302586822146c2801dd4449aad