A Very Emotionally Disturbed Young Man

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In 1969 a very emotionally disturbed young man took a woman’s life. This very tragic event spurred the parents of the young woman to bring a civil case against the University of California, Berkeley. The accusation is that the psychotherapist did not directly warn their daughter of the danger that the young man, Prosenjit Poddar, presented to her. The case implies that it is the psychotherapist’s ethical responsibility to inform potential victims of their clients. But what about the ethical responsibility the psychotherapist has to his or her client? What does the break in confidentiality due to their relationship and the potential for the patient to get better? It is hard to manage the fine line between responsibility to the public and the responsibility to the patients, but it is even harder after the Tarasoff law passed by the California Supreme Court in 1976. In the law it states that “the duty shall be discharged by the psychotherapist making reasonable efforts to communicate the threat to the victim or victims and the law enforcement agency” (Bersoff 2014). This requireme...
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