Ought-onomy and Mental Health Ethics: From "Respect for Personal Autonomy" to "Preservation of Person-in-Community" in African Ethics

Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 25 (4):45-59 (2018)
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Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad, says a Nigerian proverb. These words of wisdom re-echo in traditional approaches to mental health ethics in sub-Saharan Africa. Among many cultures in Nigeria, it is customary to subject persons with mental health illness, especially those who present with violent behavior, to physical restraint and beatings. The belief is that such subjugation could restore mental health in the early stages of madness. Physical restraint and beatings only form a part of the healing process, as it also has communitarian cum spiritual aspects. The healing process is carried out by family members or community, who share in the life of the mentally ill person. Their...



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