Person – Centered Perspective in the Madrid Declaration

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George Christodoulou
Angeliki Christodoulou


Principles of ethics are more important than rules, declarations and codes for a variety of reasons but basically because it is the principles that provide the basis for the latter and determine the ethical stance of each individual practitioner through whom the rules, declarations and codes are filtered. The essence of the above conclusion is reflected in the preamble of the Madrid Declaration, the ethical code of the World Psychiatric Association, where the psychiatrist’s individual sense of responsibility is identified as the basis of ethical practice.Ethical psychiatric practice (as described or implied in the Madrid Declaration and in other similar texts) is personified par excellence. Yet, there are certain parts of the Declaration that are more relevant to the person-centered approach. These are the following:Paragraph 1. Advocating therapeutic interventions that are least restrictive to the freedom of the patient.Paragraph 3. Suggesting that the patient be accepted as a partner by right in the therapeutic process. Empowering the patient to make informed decisions on the basis of one’s personal values and preferences.Paragraph 4. Safeguarding the dignity and human rights of the patient.Paragraph 5. Informing the patient about the purpose of an assessment (especially if the psychiatrist is involved in third-party situations).Paragraph 6. Safeguarding the privacy of information obtained through the therapeutic relationship.Paragraph 7. Safeguarding the autonomy and physical and mental integrity of the patient in research.The two person-centered ethics principles that are prominently highlighted in the Madrid Declaration are the principle of autonomy and the Hippocratic principle of “do no harm”.

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Author Biography

George Christodoulou, World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH),

George Christodoulou is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the University of Athens, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP). He is also Honorary President of the Hellenic Psychiatric Association and the Cyprus Psychiatric Association, as well as Honorary President of the Psychiatric Association of Eastern Europe and the Balkans (PAEEB). Professor Christodoulou is an Honorary Fellow of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), for whom he has served as Founding Chair of the Section of Preventive Psychiatry, Executive Committee Member and Chair of the Ethics Committee and of the Institutional Programme on Disasters and Mental Health. As Secretary for Sections of the World Psychiatric Associations he has organized the scientific sections of this Association in a paradigmatic way and has received a special distinction by the Sections for his “unprecedented contribution”. He has published extensively, has been Editor of Psychiatriki for 10 years, has served on the Editorial Board of 10 journals and has edited or co-edited more than 40 books, among them “Psychosomatic Medicine”, three volumes on Preventive Psychiatry, three volumes of the book “Advances in Psychiatry”, two volumes of “Psychiatriki” (Textbook of Psychiatry for medical students) etc.  Presently Professor Christodoulou is Vice-President for Europe of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), Editor in chief of the international journal "European Psychiatric Review" and honorary editor of the journal "Psychiatriki", the official journal of the Hellenic Psychiatric Association.


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