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The psychiatric profession and the Australian government: the debate over collective depression syndrome among asylum-seeking detainees

Citation

Bostock, WW, The psychiatric profession and the Australian government: the debate over collective depression syndrome among asylum-seeking detainees, Psychology Research and Behaviour Management, 2 pp. 121-127. ISSN 1179-1578 (2009) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright Statement

© 2009 Bostock, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd. This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

Official URL: http://www.dovepress.com/

Abstract

Psychiatrists have long had involvement with the political process, both individually and as a profession. They have made valuable contributions to debate over such issues as war, conflict, terrorism, torture, human rights abuse, drug abuse, suicide and other public health issues. However, they have also been complicit in some gross atrocities. Over several years there has been debate over the Australian Government’s treatment of asylum seekers, and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists took the unusual step of publicly criticizing the Australian Government’s policy on grounds of its toxicity leading to a diagnosis of collective depression syndrome, particularly among child detainees, but also adult detainees. The official Ministerial response was to deny that collective depression exists and to assert that the concept is meaningless. Can this intervention by psychiatrists be interpreted as a product of earlier political behaviors by psychiatrists? The willingness of psychiatrists to cooperate with other professions, notably psychologists, pediatricians, physicians and lawyers, is noted, as is presence of minority voices within the Australian psychiatric profession. The significance of the debate over the mental condition of asylum-seeking detainees is that its outcome has implications for how Australia sees itself and is seen by the rest of the world, that is, its national identity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:collective depression syndrome, psychiatric profession, political intervention,
Research Division:Studies in Human Society
Research Group:Policy and Administration
Research Field:Arts and Cultural Policy
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Government and Politics
Objective Field:Government and Politics not elsewhere classified
Author:Bostock, WW (Dr William Bostock)
ID Code:61212
Year Published:2009
Deposited By:Government
Deposited On:2010-03-01
Last Modified:2014-12-04
Downloads:302 View Download Statistics

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