“Ethical Problems in Psychiatric Research” article was published by Lehrman and Sharav in The Journal of Mental Health Administration in 1997, addressing the morality of experiments on patients with low mental capacity. The scientific work analyzed several intervention cases for treatment like NIMH-funded research and projects exploring schizophrenia where individuals’ conditions significantly worsened (Lehrman & Sharav, 1997).
The article raises the ethical issue of conducting studies on people with mental diseases with risks of a relapse. Indeed, Lehrman and Sharav (1997) claim that “these studies appear not to meet the ethical standards of the Nuremberg Code, the Declaration of Helsinki, the Belmont Report, the Code of Federal Regulations” (p. 231). The further discussion addressed the reasons for the harmful funded research and the description of possibly fatal consequences for mentally ill individuals.
The article was published more than two decades ago, and both research and ethical regulations have changed since then. Lehrman and Sharav provide examples of individuals’ experiences without anonymity and disclose the studies’ methods on which they agreed. These actions go against the most recent Ethical Code principles as they do not respect people’s rights and dignity (American Psychological Association, 2017). Furthermore, the described experiments are immoral as psychiatric patients frequently have fragile mental states, and ruining them by intervention breaks the principles of beneficence and nonmaleficence (Lehrman & Sharav, 1997).
Lastly, psychiatric disorders, followed by impaired judgment, make people unable to give informed consent, and including them in any scientific research is against their autonomy. These Code of Ethics violations cannot be tolerated because medical and pharmaceutical studies must not harm individuals, especially those who could not give their permission.
The article provides evidence-based relation between violations and the ethical standards failed to consider. The examples of patients who faced severe outcomes of participating in funded research emphasized assessing the conditions and possible changes in mental state (Lehrman & Sharav, 1997). Another valuable finding of the study is that neuropsychiatric experiments on humans require strict ethical regulation, and the facilities, funders, and journals must take responsibility for the consequences (Lehrman & Sharav, 1997). From a moral perspective, any informed consent must include all possible outcomes, and be discussed with a person in a normal mental state, and their representative for a case of impaired judgment capacity.
American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Web.
Lehrman, N. S., & Sharav, V. H. (1997). Ethical problems in psychiatric research. The Journal of Mental Health Administration, 24(2), 227-250. Web.