The struggle to maintain neutrality in the treatment of patient with pedophilia

Ethics Behav. 2005;15(2):182-90. doi: 10.1207/s15327019eb1502_6.


This article explores the ethical concept of neutrality through use of a psychiatric clinical vignette. In this case a psychiatry resident is faced with the treatment of a patient who was found by the FBI to be in possession of child pornography. Although not accused of any other crimes, the patient was a fugitive from the law and requesting treatment for pedophilia. Faced with the pressures of limited resources and anxiety about the patient's dangerousness to others, the resident and his supervisor tried to strike a balance between the ethical principles of neutrality and beneficence. Through this vignette, the importance of neutrality, as well as how it can be compromised by other pressures such as expediency and anxiety, is explored.

MeSH terms

  • Beneficence
  • Dangerous Behavior
  • Erotica
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Law Enforcement
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / ethics
  • Patient Advocacy / ethics
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Pedophilia / therapy*
  • Physician-Patient Relations / ethics*
  • Psychiatric Department, Hospital
  • Psychiatry / ethics*
  • Suicide Prevention