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THE MEDICAL MODE OF MENTAL ILLNESS: ETHICAL ISSUES FOR THE SOCIAL WORKER.


15763. THE MEDICAL MODE OF MENTAL ILLNESS: ETHICAL ISSUES FOR THE SOCIAL WORKER.

Drawing on a review of the current psychiatric, psychological and social work literature, this paper provides a synthesis of the argument that the medical model as now construed is often an inappropriate and erroneous model for the treatment of emotional issues. While noting the likelihood of a biological bias or predisposition for some of the currently defined major mental illnesses, it is argued that the existing medical model of mental illness all too often functions as little more than an exercise in biological reductionism. Focusing especially on the "soft diagnoses," the analysis advances arguments concerning the questionable reliability and validity of DSM diagnostic categories as well as arguments concerning the extent to which the medical model serves to disempower clients (by removing their sense of control and focusing their attention on uncontrollable biological forces as the sole "cause" of their "illness"), and how clients would be better served through an alternative model. Following from this analysis, and drawing upon the ethic of informed consent as it is encompassed within the National Association of Social Worker's (NASW) (1999) Code of Ethics, it is argued that it is morally incumbent upon social workers to inform clients of both the questionable validity of their psychiatric diagnosis and that the medical model is only a theoretical orientation which has not been scientifically proven. KEYWORDS: social workers ethics psychiatric diagnosis medical model mental illness. APA Style. 33 pages, 109 footnotes, 38 bibliographic sources. 8,518 words.
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