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Redefining mental invasiveness in psychiatric treatments: insights from schizophrenia and depression therapies
  1. Craig Waldence McFarland1,
  2. Justis Victoria Gordon2
  1. 1 Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2 Department of Stem Cell & Regenerative Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Mr Craig Waldence McFarland, Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; craigmcfarland{at}

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Over 50% of the world population will develop a psychiatric disorder in their lifetime.1 In the realm of psychiatric treatment, two primary modalities have been established: pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Yet, pharmacological interventions often take precedence as the initial treatment choice despite their comparable outcomes, severe side effects and disputed evidence of their efficacy. This preference for medication foregrounds a vital re-examination of what it means to be invasive in medical treatments, namely in psychiatric care. De Marco et al challenge the standard account of invasiveness, presenting considerations that transcend the traditional criteria of physical intrusion.2 Through case studies centred on treatments for schizophrenia and depression, we aim to (1) reinforce De Marco et al’s challenge to the standard account of invasiveness and (2) extend the dialogue to the moral imperative of redefining mental invasiveness. Our aims are to broaden the definition of mental invasiveness, aligning with De Marco et al’s emphasis on context sensitivity, and to include the severity of side effects as a critical factor in this assessment.

Redefining what is considered invasive in psychiatric treatment has profound implications for patient care and medical decision-making. Labelling treatments, namely medications, as invasive encourages both patients and healthcare providers to approach these options with a heightened level of scrutiny and care. This is …

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  • Contributors CWM and JVG were directly involved in the creation of the article and each provided substantial contributions. CWM, as the lead author, was primarily responsible for conceptualising the main thesis, conducting the initial literature review and drafting the manuscript. JVG assisted in the editing of the article and expanding initial ideas, ensuring clarity and coherence in the ideas presented. Both authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work submitted.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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