John Toulmin Lecture: The Unexamined Life – Insight and the Law

All are invited to the John Toulmin Lecture in Law and Psychiatry which will take place on Wednesday 23 March 2016, 18.30 – 19.30, Edmond J Safra Lecture Theatre, Strand Campus, King’s College London. With a reception to follow.

This year’s lecture is being given by Anthony David, Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry and Vice Dean, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London.

The Unexamined Life: Insight and the Law

Insight or self-awareness has an important place in culture. In ancient Greece, Socrates is purported to have said that the unexamined life (one without self-reflection and insight) is not worth living. In the psychiatric context, insight includes the particular awareness and acceptance that one has a mental disorder and to see that disorder within a biomedical framework. Extreme lack of insight or refusal to see one’s predicament through the lens of illness can bring people into conflict with society and the law, sometimes in dramatic ways.

The concept of insight is not without its critics with some claiming that it is merely ‘agreeing with the doctor’. Within medico-legal settings such as English Mental Health Act tribunals, the attempt to justify involuntary treatment and deny appeals on the grounds that the individual ‘lacks insight’ has been scrutinised. In this lecture I will try and convey the richness of the construct of insight and why it retains an appeal to many psychiatrists. I will outline some of the neuroscientific contributions to understanding insight and self-reflection and also how and where it might go wrong.

All are welcome but places are limited. Please book your place here.


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