Sunday, April 08, 2007

Psychiatry, Psychology, and the Law -- an online course with Jeffrey Schaler, May 2007

Psychiatry, Psychology, and the LawJLS-596 N01L
American University
Instructor: Jeffrey Schaler
May 14, 2007 to June 25, 2007

"This on-line course deconstructs concepts of mental illness, explanations for disease and behavior, and legal policies based on diverse explanations for both. It also investigates the insanity defense as legal fiction. In addition, it studies due process and involuntary commitment procedures and why and how society creates and welcomes the union of medicine and state, pharmacracy, and paternalistic practices based in psychiatric and psychological theories and practices."

The course is offered by American University in Washington, D.C. You can negotiate with your college or university for credit. If you are already a student at American University, check with your advisor or the appropriate person in charge about credit for this summer course. You must register through American University. Click to register.

This is an opportunity to study the ideas of Thomas Szasz, Jeff Schaler, and others concerning the myth and meaning of mental illness; the various explanations offered for mental illness--including theological, biological, psychological, and sociocultural explanations; and the various consequences of those explanations in diverse policy arenas including legal policy (involuntary commitment, the insanity defense, competency to stand trial, testamentary capacity, and general consequences for liberty and responsibility); clinical policy (including various biological "therapies," the meaning of psychotherapy, different types of psychotherapy, similarities between psychotherapy and religion, etc.); public policy (including various forms of formal social control, paternalism, how the state attempts to protect people from themselves in the name of public health and medicine; the consequences of drug prohibition, court-ordered treatment for addiction and First Amendment rights, problems facing doctors in terms of prescribing opiates for pain control, etc.); and various elements of social policy (the difference between formal and informal social control; conformity, compliance, and obedience to authority, etc.).

In the next week the full syllabus for this course will be available HERE. If you're interested in receiving a copy of the syllabus by email once it's ready, write to me at the following email address (written as is to avoid spam): schaler (at) See past syllabi and evaluations by students of Schaler's teaching by clicking HERE

This is going to be an intense course with lots of reading, discussion, a mid-term examination, a final examination, and a paper. The course is taught through BlackBoard. You can only access the course by being registered as a student for it. For information on how to register, click at this url


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