Hall of Mirrors: Toward an Open Society of Mental Health Stakeholders in Safeguarding against Psychiatric Abuse
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This article explores the role of an international open society of mental health stakeholders in raising awareness of values and thereby reducing the vulnerability of psychiatry to abuse. There is evidence that hidden values play a key role in rendering psychiatry vulnerable to being used abusively for purposes of social or political control. Recent work in values-based practice aimed at raising awareness of values between people of different ethnic origins has shown the importance of what we call “values auto-blindness” – a lack of awareness of one’s own values as a key part of our background “life-world” – in driving differential rates of involuntary psychiatric treatment between ethnic groups. It is argued that the vulnerability of psychiatry to abuse stems from values auto-blindness operating on the judgments of rationality implicit in psychiatric diagnostic concepts. Acting like a “hall of mirrors,” an international open society of mental health stakeholders would counter the effects of values auto-blindness through enhanced mutual understanding of the values embedded in our respective life-worlds across and between the diverse perspectives of its constituents. The article concludes by noting that a model for the required open society is available in the contemporary interdisciplinary field of philosophy and psychiatry.
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- Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice, St. Catherine’s College, Oxford
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