“Tarasoff” Defendants: Social Justice or Ethical Decay?

    Volume 39, Issue 1 (January 1994)

    ISSN: 0022-1198

    CODEN: JFSOAD

    Page Count: 8


    Leong, GB
    Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of California-Los Angeles School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA

    Silva, JA
    Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX

    Eth, S
    Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of California-Los Angeles School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA

    (Received 2 November 1992; accepted 24 May 1993)

    Abstract

    In 1976, the California Supreme Court ruled in Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California that a duty to protect arises when a psychotherapist's patient poses a serious danger of physical harm to an identifiable third party. Discharging this duty by the issuance of a warning breaches the confidentiality of the psychotherapist-patient relationship. However, the potential benefit to society offsets the possible harm caused by the breach of confidentiality. Until recently, such warnings have served little purpose outside of possibly preventing harm. However, the cumulative effect of three recent California Supreme Court cases has been to permit the use of these confidentiality breaches in criminal proceedings to fulfill prosecutorial goals. Nonetheless, the cost of achieving social justice may be at the expense of other important ethical values for both the psychotherapeutic professions and society in general.


    Paper ID: JFS13573J

    DOI: 10.1520/JFS13573J

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    Title “Tarasoff” Defendants: Social Justice or Ethical Decay?
    Symposium , 0000-00-00
    Committee E30