The Ethics of Human Experimentation in Psychiatry: Toward a More Informed Consensus

Timothy Howell, Robert L. Sack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, the expansion in medical research has been accompanied by a growing concern for human rights, and a proliferation of government regulations. These concurrent developments have generated a deepening uneasiness about the future of human experimentation in psychiatry. This troubled state of affairs points out the desirability of a moral consensus that will respect the concerns of those involved. Toward that end, we offer a method for assessing the arguments now crowding the literature and propose a set of paradigms of human experimentation- the scientific, authoritarian, market, fiduciary, collegial, and socialwhich appear to lie behind the clash of perspectives. It is our hope that these paradigms can contribute to a fair and sympathetic examination of the conflicting positions. While this in itself cannot guarantee a moral consensus, it can facilitate a clearer organization and understanding of priorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-132
Number of pages20
JournalPsychiatry (New York)
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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