The Virtuous Psychiatrist: Character Ethics in Psychiatric Practice

Jennifer Radden, John Sadler

Research output: Book/ReportBook

82 Scopus citations


Drawing on the role morality developed in previous applications of virtue ethics to professional practice, The Virtuous Psychiatrist shows that the ethical practice of psychiatry depends on the character of the practitioner. The book is built upon three key tenets: ethics is important to any professional practice, including psychiatry; the settings within which psychiatry is practiced impose ethical demands on its practitioners that are distinctive enough to warrant a separate analysis; and an emphasis on character and moral psychology in a virtue theory significantly augments our understanding of the ethical demands of psychiatric practice. In addition to the ethical guidelines imposed on every biomedical practice, the ethical practitioner should cultivate additional traits of character or virtues. These include gender sensitive virtues. Implicated in the normative presuppositions of psychiatric practice and lore, gender stands in for other such categories including race, class and ethnicity; it is also a factor at once unremittingly controversial, and inescapably tied to the self identity often at the heart of the therapeutic project. Virtues can and should be taught - that is, instilled, deepened and augmented. The setting where trainees are learning the ideals and responses of their particular professional role, it is emphasized, is where such virtues can be habituated, using pedagogical techniques associated with moral education, such as training in empathic emotions. Psychiatric training should address trainee's character alongside practice skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages240
ISBN (Electronic)9780199866328
ISBN (Print)9780195389371
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010


  • Biomedical ethics
  • Character
  • Empathic emotions
  • Gender
  • Habituation
  • Moral psychology
  • Professional ethics
  • Psychiatry
  • Role morality
  • Virtue ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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