2018-2019 Bioethics Brownbag & Webinar Series

As of August 18, 2018: The East Fee Hall entrance is closed and inaccessible until further notice due to ongoing construction. The main West Fee entrance and the central loading dock entrance are open and accessible from Wilson Road. More information.

September 19 calendar icon

Therapeutic Privilege in Psychiatry? The Case of Borderline Personality Disorder

Dominic A. Sisti, PhD
Director, The Scattergood Program for Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care
Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

September 19, 2018
12 - 1 pm; C102 Patenge Room, East Fee Hall

Event Flyer
Blog Post
View Recorded Webinar

Abstract
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that effects 2-3% of the population, is highly stigmatized, and is often comorbid with other mental disorders. Although no pharmaceutical interventions exist, long-term psychotherapy has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of BPD. Nonetheless, behavioral health care professionals often hesitate to discuss BPD with their patients even when it is clear they have this disorder. Why do psychiatrists, in particular, fall silent? In this talk, Dr. Sisti will sketch the history of BPD and describe ethical arguments for and against therapeutic nondisclosure. Dr. Sisti will summarize empirical data regarding psychiatrist nondisclosure of BPD, including recent research conducted by his team at Penn. Dr. Sisti will argue that diagnostic nondisclosure, while well-intentioned, can have long-term negative consequences for patients, caregivers, and the health system more generally. As a form of therapeutic privilege, nondisclosure of BPD is ethically inappropriate.

Bio
Dominic Sisti, PhD is director of the Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care and assistant professor in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds secondary appointments in the Department of Psychiatry, where he directs the ethics curriculum in the residency program, and in the Department of Philosophy. Dominic’s research examines the ethics of mental health care services and policies, including long-term psychiatric care for individuals with serious mental illness and ethical challenges in correctional mental health care. He also studies how mental disorders are defined, categorized, and diagnosed with a focus on personality disorders. Dr. Sisti's writings have appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as JAMA, JAMA Psychiatry, Psychiatric Services, and the Journal of Medical Ethics. His work has been featured in popular media outlets such as the New York Times, NPR, Slate, and The Atlantic. Dr. Sisti received his PhD in Philosophy at Michigan State University, working under the supervision of Professor Tom Tomlinson. A native of Philadelphia, Dominic received his Master’s degree in bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania and his bachelor’s degree from Villanova University.

 

October 10 calendar icon

Ending Medical Self-Regulation: Does Less Physician Control Improve Patient Safety and Protect Patient Rights?

Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD
Director of the Health Law Institute
Mitchell Hamline School of Law

October 10, 2018
12 - 1 pm; E4 Fee Hall

Event Flyer
Webinar Instructions

Abstract
Medicine has long been one of the most self-regulating of all professions. In the 1970s, the new field of bioethics was designed to challenge this prevailing system. As Senator Ted Kennedy explained at the founding of Georgetown’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics, “Human life is too precious and the decisions regarding it too important to leave to any one group of specialists.” Still, even fifty years later, medicine remains largely self-regulating. And patients have suffered. In this presentation, Professor Pope discusses recent initiatives to constrain the scope of physician discretion and how these initiatives improve patient safety and protect patient rights. He will place particular emphasis on the growing transition from traditional informed consent to shared decision-making with patient decision aids.

Bio
Thaddeus Mason Pope is Director of the Health Law Institute and Professor of Law and at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is also: (1) Adjunct Professor with the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at Queensland University of Technology; (2) Adjunct Associate Professor with the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College; and (3) Visiting Professor of Medical Jurisprudence at St. Georges University. Professor Pope has over 140 publications in: leading medical journals, law reviews, bar journals, nursing journals, bioethics journals, and book chapters. He coauthors the definitive treatise The Right to Die: The Law of End-of-Life Decisionmaking. And he runs the Medical Futility Blog (with over three million page views).

 

February 13 calendar icon

Should We Be Reaching for Immortality?

Tom Tomlinson, PhD
Professor
Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences
Department of Philosophy
Michigan State University

February 13, 2019
12 - 1 pm; C102 Patenge Room, East Fee Hall

Event Flyer
Webinar Instructions

Abstract
Whether by chipping away at the diseases of aging one-by-one, or by altering the fundamental biology of aging, medical research seems to be reaching for one over-arching goal: indefinitely extending the human lifespan. Living a longer, healthy life seems like an unqualified good. So long as life is good, who wouldn’t want to live as long as possible? The question turns out to be more complicated than it sounds. Dr. Tomlinson will be explaining some doubts, from both the individual and societal points of view.

Bio
Tom Tomlinson was the Director of the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences from 2000-Fall 2018, has written and spoken on a wide variety of bioethical issues since 1981, and has provided clinical ethics consultation services for a number of hospitals in Michigan. He received his PhD in Philosophy from MSU in 1980, and is happy to have mentored students who have embarked on successful careers in bioethics. This talk marks the beginning of a possible book project tentatively titled The Lure of Immortality.

 

March 13 calendar icon

Female Cosmetic Genital Surgery: Social and Ethical Considerations

Devan Stahl, PhD
Assistant Professor
Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences
Department of Pediatrics and Human Development
Michigan State University

March 13, 2019
12 - 1 pm; C102 Patenge Room, East Fee Hall

Event Flyer
Webinar Instructions

Abstract
In recent years, there has been an upsurge in plastic surgery for women who wish to alter the look and feel of their genitalia. The women who undergo these procedures claim they are empowering, but critics worry such surgeries pathologize normal genital appearance. Several surgeons are also using social media to document these surgeries, granting them greater visibility and legitimacy. This talk will discuss the latest innovations in female cosmetic genital surgery, the history behind the medical community’s involvement in defining women’s sexuality, and the ethical and social challenges these surgeries present.

Bio
Dr. Devan Stahl is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Ethics in the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences at Michigan State University. She received her Ph.D. in Health Care Ethics from St. Louis University. Dr. Stahl teaches medical students and residents in the College of Human Medicine and performs ethics consultation services at hospitals in Lansing, Michigan. Her research interests include medicine and the visual arts, theological bioethics, and disability studies. Dr. Stahl’s recent book, Imaging and Imagining Illness: Becoming Whole in a Broken Body, examines the power of medical images and their impact on patients and the wider culture.