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May 19, 1978

Psychosurgery and the Medical Control of Violence: Autonomy and Deviance

Author Affiliations

University of Kentucky Lexington

JAMA. 1978;239(20):2178. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280470090037

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Interest in the legal and philosophic questions raised by the biomedical treatment of mental illness and social deviance continues apace. Much of what has been written for the layman or the professional has been both superficial and sensational. Professor Schuman, professor of law and psychiatry at Wayne State University, has tackled these questions (I use the term advisedly) in a refreshing manner that does justice to both the material and his audience. The author has chosen psychosurgery as a focus for investigation because of his involvement in the Detroit psychosurgery case in 1973 (Kaimowitz vs Department of Mental Health). He thus speaks from experience.

Some basic questions pervading all of medical treatment are examined: the possibility of informed consent by persons in legal custody, what constitutes scientific evidence, and the notion of causation in understanding human behavior. Next, Professor Schuman examines, critically, how these concepts have been used in the