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Harold J. Bursztajn, MD

Harold J. Bursztajn, MD

Dr Bursztajn is President, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, American Unit; Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Founder of the Program in Psychiatry and the Law, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston.


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Henryk Ross

As I’ve seen in my parents’ remarkable journey from the doomed Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland, and in my psychiatry practice, photographs have immense power to heal.

The authors explore possible reasons why young people in the West leave their families, friends, and home culture to join terrorist organizations.

The grief that the Shoah brought to its victims would make its reappearance even at happy times long afterwards.

I was 9 years old in December 1959 when I left and 60 in July 2011 when I returned to Lodz, Poland. My return—a journey through time as well as space—was a continuation of a trip from my home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I teach and practice clinical and forensic psychiatry, to Berlin, where I gave a number of presentations at a conference of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health (IALMH).

When working with patients who are at high risk for relapse or misuse of prescription medications, careful documentation of the informed consent process is a helpful risk management tool.

Questions have also been raised about the extent of industry influence on the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic and treatment guidelines—namely, its DSM and Clinical Practice Guidelines.

In response to increasing public distrust and congressional concerns regarding pharmaceutical company influence on medical research and education, professional organizations have taken steps to phase out or regulate industry-sponsored educational support. A related problem is industry funding of philanthropic organizations, such as patient advocacy groups. Thus, when the office of Sen Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) recently reported that the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill received substantial pharmaceutical funding, there was concern among the membership’s psychiatric patients and their families.

Following trends in medicine, psychiatry is faced with limited resources and third-party administration of resource allocation. This has affected psychiatric practice in many ways and altered the doc-tor-patient relationship. Trends toward resource-sensitive, third-party–related psychiatric practice may be accelerated by the current social concerns regarding the economy. Thus, an awareness of social context and the growing recognition that autonomy-enhancing alternatives to paternalistic care are fundamental to improve both the effectiveness and accessibility of care in limited-resource environments are each becoming vital for an informed clinical and risk-management practice perspective.1

Physicians are often conflicted regarding prescription medications for pain, especially pain complicated by insomnia and anxiety. Concerns that patients may become addicted to medications, exacerbated by limited time available to get to know patients, can lead to underprescribing of needed medications, patient suffering, and needless surgery. At the other extreme, pressure to alleviate patients' distress can lead to overprescribing, needless side effects, and even addiction.

Recent discoveries in neuroscience have ramifications for all aspects of clinical and forensic practice, including diagnosis, treatment, and testimony in civil and criminal justice cases.

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