Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 19(3), 375–385. Assessing violence risk in Tarasoff situations: a fact-based model of inquiry. You be the judge. Worldwide shipping available at Society6.com. At the end of the paper, I will explain how the video in the learning resources contributed to my learning the concepts of confidentiality. Should a threat to property be treated in the same way as a death threat? Asked if he is going to kill her, he responds, “No, I just want her to bleed a bit.”. At that time, there was no law that gave the psychiatrist the right to warn or protect the third party, therefore Dr. Moore made the best decision by somewhat breaking confidentiality and telling the police. Though the state opted not to retry the case, Poddar was deported to India where he lives in relative anonymity (and has since married). Since the time of Hippocrates, the ex-tent of patients’ right to confidentiality has been a topic of debate, with some ar-guing for total openness and others for absolute and unconditional secrecy (1). Jablonski by Pahls v. United States extended this responsibility to include the involuntary commitment of a dangerous individual. J.C. Beck (Ed. View Record in Scopus Google Scholar. The Tarasoff case. For an answer, we examine the now famous case of Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, a case the set forth the foundations of the physician duty to warn. His therapist, Dr. Lawrence Moore, became concerned when his patient confessed his intention of killing Tarasoff (he never actually named her in the sessions, but identifying Tarasoff wasn't difficult). Mills, et al, 1987. No therapist can totally predict if someone will become violent or not, they can definitely err on the side of caution and are always encouraged to do so. The Tarasoff case imposed a liability on all mental health professionals to protect a victim from violent acts. Does a Tarasoff warning only apply when a patients threatens death or serious injury? The two briefly dated, but after Tarasoff rejected him in favor of other men, Poddar became extremely depressed and began stalking Tarasoff. He sought emergency psychological treatment at the University hospital, where he was seen on seven occasions over the course of about 10 weeks. I believe the anger has been misdirected in this case. Tarasoff’s parents were still furious that university mental health professionals, especially Larry Moore, had known about Poddar’s plans and had told campus police but not the family, so they brought a wrongful death suit against the Regents of the University of California. (1976). It requires having access to information that many therapists might not have, i.e., criminal history or records from previous therapists. Without it, therapy is useless and ineffective. This film was created to fulfill case study requirements for SSMH 215, a Law and Ethics of Social Work class at Pierce College. Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, 17 Cal. In the wake of the Germanwings crash, questions are being asked about medical privacy laws. What if the patient threatened to destroy someone's house or car? Topics: Law, Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, Common law Pages: 3 (1122 words) Published: May 1, 2013. When we talk about the Tarasoff case, we're really actually talking about two cases: there was a Tarasoff ruling in 1974 that provided this duty to warn (Tarasoff I), and Tarasoff II in 1976, which changed the duty to warn over to a duty to protect. I have just finished reading BAD KARMA which was authored by a fellow student at Berkeley at the same time. The Tarasoff I and Tarasoff II cases were decided by the California Supreme Court in 1974 and 1976, respectively. When we think about the duty to warn we think about a particular legal case: Tarasoff versus the Regents of the University of California. To ignore a threat to human life because you chat with someone 45 minutes once a week is ridiculous. Granich, S. (2012). Facts: On October 27, 1969, Prosenjit Poddar killed Tatiana Tarasoff. Use the following code to embed this video. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40(1), 8–14. avoided what was to become the Tarasoff decision.". 3d 425, 551 P.2d 334, 131 Cal. While Bersoff does not suggest that potentially violent patients should be allowed to endanger the public, he does argue that breaching confidentiality should only be done as a last resort. The key finding in these cases was that the protective privilege of therapy ends where public peril begins. The perpetrator, Prosenjit Poddar, was an Indian graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley who had met Tarasoff at a folk dancing class on campus. Therapeutic counseling still had a long ways to go and still has a long way to go, as do most forms of medical treatments. I find it hard to believe that a mental health professional can have the confidence of his abilities but hide behind it not being an exact science. The key finding in these cases was that the protective privilege of therapy ends where public peril begins. The suit stated that the defendants should have warned Tarasoff directly about the death threats which might have saved her life. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144 (1987), pp. 68-74. He sought treatment from Lawrence Moore, a psychologist at Berkeley’s Cowell Memorial Hospital.In his seventh and final therapy session, Poddar tol… Granich, S. (2012). As Bersoff pointed out, one of the major problems with the Tarasoff decision is that it requires therapists to decide how the seriousness of the threat being made. It also means that therapists have to advise patients as soon as treatment begins about the limits of confidentiality. Despite his promise, Prosenjit Poddar continued the stalking behaviour. When Tatiana rebuffed him, Poddar began stalking her and underwent an emotional crisis for which he began psychological counseling at the university medical centre. In his case examples, Dr Martin refers to the Tarasoff duty as a duty to warn, and so let us take a moment to clarify this often misunderstood concept. 14 (Cal. So, are Tarasoff laws needed? This is really the dangerous intersection between mental health and the law. Duty to warn was introduced after the 1976 case Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California. In an effort to establish better patient-client relationships in this field, there needs to be better, reliable treatment options, with proven outcomes. This video answers the question: What is the duty to warn (or duty to protect)? Since when does a temporary relationship supercede a human life? (1985). In a 2013 presidential address by Donald N. Bersoff of Drexel University (who was then-president of the American Psychological Association), he argued that the decision is "bad law, bad social science, and bad social policy.". In 1976, the California Supreme Court ruled that psychotherapists have a duty to protect potential victims if their patients made threats or otherwise behaved as if they presented a "serious danger of violence to another." The authorities who frankly had more of a chance of saving her than anyone else did in my opinion. However, they do not test the appropriateness of the paradigm by systematically comparing and contrasting it with Seth’s case. Rating is available when the video has been rented. In the case of Prosenjit Poddar, he had no actual history of violence and the therapists already took that precaution of warning campus police. He became enamored with fellow student Tatiana Tarasoff, but grew angry and depressed when Tarasoff rejected him. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 19(3), 345–353. The patient says he is going to go home tonight and slap his wife in the face. As it is, there are a lot of mediocre and even bad mental health providers and, the fact is, that for the most part, their commitment to their patient lasts only as long as their insurance coverage (or their ability to pay privately). Breaching confidentiality is a serious matter and can severely undermine the trust that patients have in their therapists. Though the Tarasoff murder is an extreme example, it reflects the ethical decisions many therapists are called upon to make. The Tarasoff case is based on the 1969 murder of a university student named Tatiana Tarasoff. When she attempted to flee, he pursued her and then stabbed her to death with the kitchen knife he had been carrying. The Tarasoff case imposed a liability on all mental health professionals to protect a victim from violent acts. As Deborah Blum writes in Bad Karma: A True Story of Obsession and Murder, Poddar was “one of only a handful of Untouchables, in the whole of India, ever to leave for an American university.”. Perhaps more importantly, Tarasoff laws turn therapists into agents of the state who are obliged to report on anything that might potentially lead to a crime happening. Moore and Powelson defended their actions on the grounds of their duty to their patient over a private third party and the trial court agreed with them. Why Do Antiheroes Appeal to People With Dark Traits? Simply telling a potentially violent patient that threats are taken seriously and that the therapist is willing to make that extra effort to defuse the risk of violence can make a difference. Since many patients who report violent fantasies are necessarily going to act out, there is really no way to know whether warning Tatiana Tarasoff directly might have prevented her murder. American Psychologist, 48(3), 242–250. Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, 17 Cal. In the 1969 Tarasoff Case, the issue of confidentiality was the predominant cause of the ultimate tragedy. If a therapist decides to breach confidentiality, he or she might face a malpractice complaint from an outraged patient insisting that the threat was never serious. And did the breach in confidentiality help bring about the very violence his therapists were trying to prevent? Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 11(1/2), 145–168. As Bersoff points out, therapists cannot predict actual risk of violence and there is no way to be certain that violence would occur if they fail to act. After the plaintiffs appealed this decision, the California Supreme Court reviewed the case and finally handed down what would become a landmark decision in 1976. This feature is not available right now. Summary. In 1969, a student at UC Berkeley, Proseniit Poddar, sought out a university psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Moore. Monahan, J. If I miscalculate and a person ends up harmed, whether that be the client or perpetuated by the client, then I could be involved in a wrongful death suit. The case of Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California is concerned with psychotherapists’ obligation to defend potential victims of their patients’ actions if patients expressed threats or demonstrated some other kind of dangerous implications (Vitelli). After consulting with his psychiatrist supervisor, Dr. Harvey Powelson, they wrote a letter to campus police advising them of the death threats. Patients then have to decide whether to continue with treatment, despite having no guarantee that what they say might lead to the police being called or a victim receiving a warning. The court decision based the concept of a "special relationship" between therapist and patient on the responsibility that physicians have in protecting society from dangerous patients (such as a violent patient escaping from a psychiatric hospital). Even the kind of violence that the patient might engage in is often hard to judge. Those two laws are the Tarasoff case itself (Tarasoff the Case), as decided by the California Supreme Court in 1976, and California Civil Code § 43.92 (Tarasoff the Statute), which was enacted by the California legislature in 1985. I also feel that the therapist did exactly what they were supposed to do in the Tarasoff case. During Poddar's seventh appointment, he told his psychiatrist he intended to kill Tarasoff. If you are so convinced of your abilities in the field, ignore the Tarasoff warning and take your chances in court. A parent can confide to the therapist that they are harming their children and the therapist is required to report and secure the child if the child is present. The final word may came from former APA president Max Siegel and his own comments after the Tarasoff decision was handed down: "This was a day in court for the law and not for the mental health professions. How did the 1976 Tarasoff decision differ from the 1974 Tarasoff decision? “Where the public peril begins”: 25 years after Tarasoff. The client's best interest is always the priority in treatment. After this rebuff, Poddar underwent a severe emotional crisis. Duty To Warn, Duty To Protect. The Tarasoff case is based on the 1969 murder of a university student named Tatiana Tarasoff. 14 (Cal. The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Despite the controversy over the circumstances for breaching confidentiality, Tarasoff laws have been adopted across many U.S. states and have guided similar legislation in countries around the world. It has been my experience that confusion persists regarding the meaning and use of the terms duty to warn and duty to protect. Limiting therapist exposure to Tarasoff liability: Guidelines for risk containment. This issue is ethical since it involves the need for therapists to breach their clients’ confidentiality. From Tarasoff to Hopper: The Evolution of the Therapist’s Duty to Protect Third Parties. Security wasn't bound by confidentiality, they could have told the woman in question themselves. Rptr. These cases involved the murder of a young woman by her ex-boyfriend, who had been a patient at a University counseling center. Come on! Therapists are also obliged to weigh every threatening statement made in treatment to decide whether it is a genuine threat or just a fantasy that would never be carried out. Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California. Now both have an opportunity to be helped. I was going to make similar points that you made in your response. 1976), was a case in which the Supreme Court of California held that mental health professionals have a duty to protect individuals who are being threatened with bodily harm by a patient. Harvard Law Review, 90(2), 358. Otherwise, therapists might face a wrongful death suit for not acting in time. They consulted with another professional, they actually did breach confidentiality, and authorities were alerted to this danger. But is the Tarasoff decision needed to protect life? In the decades following the Tarasoff decision, 33 U.S. states have passed Tarasoff laws while another 11 have left the issue up to the discretion of the therapist. Mills M.J., Sullivan G., Eth S.Protecting third parties: A decade after Tarasoff. He served five years in prison until a lawyer successfully appealed the conviction. These are questions that can never be answered. In handing down the Tarasoff decision, the California Supreme Court argued that therapists had a special relationship with their patients which gave them a duty to control their behavior. What Really Goes on in the Mind of a Cheater? Despite attempting to plead guilty to manslaughter, Prosenjit Poddar went on trial for first-degree murder and was found guilty of second-degree murder instead. As Bersoff notes in concluding his article, therapists walk a thin line between protecting confidentiality and protecting the potential victim. Shortly after Poddar's release, Tatiana Tarasoff's parents launched a civil suit against the therapists and the University of California, Berkeley. Tarasoff also blasted Clark’s claim, taken from the Saskatoon Public Library’s business plan, that the construction of the new library would create 1,000 jobs. Tarasoff and the Duty to Protect. Buckner, F., & Firestone, M. (2000). Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 3(2), 195–225. California was the first state to adopt duty to warn guidelines due to the Tarasoff case. This is combining the responsibilities of a mental health clinician to treat a client and help that client with this idea of protecting other people or protecting the public from the client. Police then interviewed Poddar in an apartment that he shared with a roommate (who happened to be Tatiana Tarasoff's brother). While the patient showed up for eight sessions, Moore then advised him that, if the death threats continued, then he would have no choice but to have Poddar hospitalized. A discussion of the implications of the Tarasoff vs Regents of the University of California case on confidentiality. Confidentiality is one of the pillars of therapy and is insanely important to upkeep; the special relationship between a client and their therapist is built upon trust. Tarasoff vs Regents. See our usage guide for more details on embedding. How I Controlled Communication With My Narcissistic Mother, Psychology Today © 2020 Sussex Publishers, LLC, 3 Simple Questions Screen for Common Personality Disorders, Research Suggests Coronavirus Causes a Storm in the Brain, What to Do About Vaccine Hesitancy During COVID-19, New Findings Reveal Benefits of Ketamine for Depression. The welfare of the public should come first, the client second. ), The potentially violent patient and the Tarasoff decision in psychiatric practice, American Psychiatric Association Press, Washington, DC (1985), pp. Borum, R., & Reddy, M. (2001). The duty to protect a patient’s right to confidentiality: Tarasoff, HIV, and confusion. Get the help you need from a therapist near you–a FREE service from Psychology Today. 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