Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 115–122 | Cite as

Authenticity and psychiatric disorder: does autonomy of personal preferences matter?

  • Manne Sjöstrand
  • Niklas Juth
Scientific Contribution


In healthcare ethics there is a discussion regarding whether autonomy of personal preferences, what sometimes is referred to as authenticity, is necessary for autonomous decision-making. It has been argued that patients’ decisions that lack sufficient authenticity could be deemed as non-autonomous and be justifiably overruled by healthcare staff. The present paper discusses this issue in relation certain psychiatric disorders. It takes its starting point in recent qualitative studies of the experiences and thoughts of patients’ with anorexia nervosa where issues related to authenticity seem particularly relevant. The paper examines different interpretations of authenticity relevant for autonomy and concludes that the concept, as it has been elaborated in recent debate, is highly problematic to use as a criterion for autonomous decision-making in healthcare.


Autonomy Authenticity Psychiatry Ethics Anorexia nervosa Depression Decision-making competence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Stockholm Centre for Healthcare EthicsKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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