Psychiatric Annals

EDITORIAL 

Sexual Harassment and Psychiatry

Jan Fawcett, MD

Abstract

This month's issue of Psychiatric Annals on Psychiatry in Sexual Harassment is guest edited by Robert Simon, MD. and Carl Malmquist, MD. MS. It chronicles the increased incidence of sexual harassment issues that have been arising in therapy with patients and the increased likelihood of legal action and involvement of psychiatrists as export witnesses in these actions. When a patient presents with a "victimization issue" and raises questions of pursuing legal remedies, the clinician is challenged to be supportive with the patient - at the same time maintaining enough neutrality to help the patient make judgments that are in their longterm best interests.

The First contribution in this series, entitled "Brief Personal Reflections on Sexual Harassment," by Elissa R Benedek. MD, C.J. Voight. MD, and Diane E. Heisel. MD, sets the stage with a background on the changing attitude and scrutiny of harassing incidents that were viewed quite "casually" in the past. Some general advice for both treaters and expert witnesses is offered. A helpful article on "Potential Costs and Benefits of Sexual Harassment Litigation" is presented by Sharyn A. Lenhart, MD. and Diane K. Shrier, MD. This article emphasizes that ? thorough "cost/benefit analysis" based on a careful understanding of realistic goals and possible outcomes of litigation be reviewed before any decision is made to pursue litigation - and provides a list of factors to be carefully considered.

Our guest editors, Robert I. Simon, MD, and Carl P. Malmquist, MD, MS, provide a well-matched set of complementary articles on the standards lor psychiatric expert consultation and testimony in sexual harassment litigation. Simon's article on "The Credible Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation in Sexual Harassment Litigation" presents standards, while Malmquist counters with "The Use and Misuse of Psychiatry in Sexual Harassment Cases." Taken together, this collection is a veritable manual for the psychiatrist considering a role as an expert or with a patient contemplating the proper response to a harassment situation.

NEW FEATURES COMING UP

I'm happy to announce a new feature coming soon in Psychiatric Anna/s. Stephen Stahl. MD, PhD, will be contributing a monthly column entitled "Psychopharm Snapshots." This unique feature will present the latest knowledge in our evolving understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in the actions of various psychotropic medications across the spectrum of disorders we treat as clinicians. Dr. Stahl is convinced that these mechanisms can be presented efficiently and understandably for clinicians through his color illustrations using icons to represent iieuropsycho pharmacologie mechanisms. He takes the same approach in his new book, Essential Psychophannacology. After studying his novel approach, I'm sure many of us will want the book itself as a reference and learning text. I'm looking forward to this educational, enjoyable series. Be sure to look for "Psychopharm Snapshots!"

And don't forget to submit any interesting, unusual case or clinical situation - a triumph or a problem - you want to write up for our feature "Grand Rounds." The purpose of this column is to provide an interactive format for practicing clinicians to present their experiences and elicit comment from others. Write up your latest interesting case (with appropriate disguise for confidentiality purposes I. add some references if you can, and see what others think about it. After all, isn't this why we're doing practice, so we can marvel at the endless variation and challenge?…

This month's issue of Psychiatric Annals on Psychiatry in Sexual Harassment is guest edited by Robert Simon, MD. and Carl Malmquist, MD. MS. It chronicles the increased incidence of sexual harassment issues that have been arising in therapy with patients and the increased likelihood of legal action and involvement of psychiatrists as export witnesses in these actions. When a patient presents with a "victimization issue" and raises questions of pursuing legal remedies, the clinician is challenged to be supportive with the patient - at the same time maintaining enough neutrality to help the patient make judgments that are in their longterm best interests.

The First contribution in this series, entitled "Brief Personal Reflections on Sexual Harassment," by Elissa R Benedek. MD, C.J. Voight. MD, and Diane E. Heisel. MD, sets the stage with a background on the changing attitude and scrutiny of harassing incidents that were viewed quite "casually" in the past. Some general advice for both treaters and expert witnesses is offered. A helpful article on "Potential Costs and Benefits of Sexual Harassment Litigation" is presented by Sharyn A. Lenhart, MD. and Diane K. Shrier, MD. This article emphasizes that ? thorough "cost/benefit analysis" based on a careful understanding of realistic goals and possible outcomes of litigation be reviewed before any decision is made to pursue litigation - and provides a list of factors to be carefully considered.

Our guest editors, Robert I. Simon, MD, and Carl P. Malmquist, MD, MS, provide a well-matched set of complementary articles on the standards lor psychiatric expert consultation and testimony in sexual harassment litigation. Simon's article on "The Credible Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation in Sexual Harassment Litigation" presents standards, while Malmquist counters with "The Use and Misuse of Psychiatry in Sexual Harassment Cases." Taken together, this collection is a veritable manual for the psychiatrist considering a role as an expert or with a patient contemplating the proper response to a harassment situation.

NEW FEATURES COMING UP

I'm happy to announce a new feature coming soon in Psychiatric Anna/s. Stephen Stahl. MD, PhD, will be contributing a monthly column entitled "Psychopharm Snapshots." This unique feature will present the latest knowledge in our evolving understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in the actions of various psychotropic medications across the spectrum of disorders we treat as clinicians. Dr. Stahl is convinced that these mechanisms can be presented efficiently and understandably for clinicians through his color illustrations using icons to represent iieuropsycho pharmacologie mechanisms. He takes the same approach in his new book, Essential Psychophannacology. After studying his novel approach, I'm sure many of us will want the book itself as a reference and learning text. I'm looking forward to this educational, enjoyable series. Be sure to look for "Psychopharm Snapshots!"

And don't forget to submit any interesting, unusual case or clinical situation - a triumph or a problem - you want to write up for our feature "Grand Rounds." The purpose of this column is to provide an interactive format for practicing clinicians to present their experiences and elicit comment from others. Write up your latest interesting case (with appropriate disguise for confidentiality purposes I. add some references if you can, and see what others think about it. After all, isn't this why we're doing practice, so we can marvel at the endless variation and challenge?

10.3928/0048-5713-19960301-05

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