Behavior: Therapists and Threats

A dissenting judge said the ruling "will cripple the use and effectiveness of psychiatry." The American Psychiatric Association agrees. Last week it submitted an amicus curiae brief for a rehearing of a case that is alarming psychotherapists across the country. By a 5-to-2 vote, the California Supreme Court recently ruled that doctors or psychotherapists who have reason to believe a patient may harm someone must notify the potential victim, his friends, relatives or the authorities.

The ruling stemmed from a 1969 murder case. While receiving outpatient psychiatric help at a campus hospital, Prosenjit Poddar, then 26 and a student at the University...

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