While the ancient Greeks argued that logic, not instinct, was what gave rise to knowledge, most people today use a combination of both. Just as a cop follows a lead on “instinct” or a mother knows her child is sick through “intuition”, humans rely on an illogical gut reaction to compliment logic in the decision making process. Ignoring this gut reaction in favor of pure logic can cause humans to draw irrational conclusions, as is the case with Backlar. Furthermore, ignoring this visceral reaction causes Backlar to defy society’s view of justice in favor one more easily dismissed by logic in her article, and causes her to not only act against her human instinct, but to also practice a lower quality of medicine. Because it contradicts her profession, society’s view of justice, the instinctual feeling of what is right, I reject Barker’s conclusion that the criminally insane should be viewed as felons. In her article, Backlar tells the story of being a naive provider in a criminal psychiatric ward and feeling shocked upon hearing a more senior provider refer to patients as felons. Backlar then goes on to describe her transition from shock to acceptance as she begins to believe this senior provider is correct and that the patients are in fact felons. Throughout the article, Backlar repeats this conclusion, arguing that because the guilty and the criminally insane are all convicted criminals, they should all be given the same level of baseline treatment by the justice system. This conclusion defies Backlar’s medical profession, whose duty it is to treat patients. In any scientific process, bias introduces a systematic error in results. Thinking of patients as felons constitutes judgment of the patients and judging patients introduces a bias into care. This bias will lower the quality of care provided to the patients and will contradict the very reason Backlar is with her patients to begin with. This bias is why some medical personnel working in corrections settings choose not to know what crimes the patients they treat have committed. Viewing a patient you are assigned to treat as a felon introduces a judgment that medical personnel are not called on to provide. The job of any health care provider is to treat the patient. Using logic to formulate the argument that the patients are felons denies the true connotation of the word. “Felon” is more than its dictionary definition; it is a stigma in our society. To refer to a person as a felon is to pass judgment on them, and judging a patient because of his or her personal background would lower the standard of care. It is because of this compromising of the quality of medical care that I reject Backlar’s conclusion that the criminally insane are guilty felons. Beyond the bias that referring to a patient as a felon introduces, calling patients felons is also wrong because it implies their guilt. This argument gets at the root of Backlar’s true question in the article: should the criminally insane be punished or treated? Are the criminally insane culpable or innocent? Instead of choosing from the two options, I propose a third: to not categorize the criminally insane on the basis of their disease state, but on the basis of their individual case. The justice system does not say every drug crime should be
Your Name Date Course Response to Patricia Backlar’s Ethics in Community Mental Health Care: Criminal Behavior and Mental Disorder: Impediments to Assigning Moral Responsibility One of the most interesting aspects of the argument Patricia Backlar makes in her article “Ethics in Community Mental Health Care: Criminal Behavior and Mental Disorder: Impediments to Assigning Moral Responsibility” is the epistemological lineage she draws her logic from…
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