Ethical dilemma. What would you do?

As a result of the work we’re doing at The Narrative Lab in developing an offering that helps companies measure, monitor and improve their ethics culture, I’m very interested in how our responses to ethical dilemmas uncovers our deepest attitudes towards ethics.
Here’s an example of an ethical dilemma I came across while watching TV the other night. It’s a girly TV series I know, but I’ll claim that my interest is in the psychology of the series 😉 I’m keen to hear what your choice would be after reading the dilemma.

In a recent episode of the TV series Private Practice, a drama series based on the private consulting practice of a group of medical practitioners, the resident psychologist, Violet, was faced with an ethical dilemma. In Season 2 of the series Violet takes on a new client, Katie Kent, an emotionally disturbed lady prone to delusional episodes who desperately wants a baby of her own, but cannot fall pregnant. Violet happens to be pregnant. The final episode of the season sees Katie piece together an elaborate plan where she ends up sedating Violet and cutting her baby out of the womb, leaving Violet for dead. Katie, in her delusional state, walks out with the new born believing that she has giving birth to her own baby.

As Season 3 unfolds, Katie is apprehended and brought before a court to face charges for the ordeal. Violet is asked to testify against Katie to conclude the case. Violet needs to make a choice: testify as a professional psychologist who has an opinion on whether Katie is ultimately responsible for her actions amidst her delusions, or present to the court a personal story of immense pain brought on by Katie’s actions regardless of her state of mind. Her choice was to either recommend that Katie be sentenced to psychiatric care, or sent to prison for life. Psychiatric care would see Katie treated for her condition with the hope of healing. Prison would result in Katie being lost in the system and not given the chance to be cured.

As an ethical dilemma, what choice would you make if you were Violet, and why?

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3 responses to “Ethical dilemma. What would you do?”

  1. PRISON! Bitch be craaaazy!

    Ok seriously… it is only the most gracious among us that would not be drawn to the more personal option, and I’m not the most gracious among us. I cannot presume to know what a mother would feel in that position, but I can imagine it would not be nice.

  2. Kowen says:

    Violet, is too close to the problem, as she is part of the crime in been the victim, her impact should be spilt into 2 parts: 1 before the crime as the professional psychologist, giving her view, and stating the treatment given, then as the 2nd part as the victim.

    Consider the lines can NEVER be so clean cut and drawn in the sand when emotions are involved, another professional psychologist outside of this case should be tasked with the total evaluation of this case, in respect to the crime and the conduct of psychologist, which could have been contributing effect due to the pregnacy.

    How would the possible equal of this be treated if a lawyer, has alcohol drinks in thier office which is visible when consulting and defending a drunk person, then a crime was commited after getting drunk in the office (without the knowledge of the lawyer).

    This is not defending the crime, but it asks the question do we contribute to the crime if the enviroment we present, could appear to be part of the problem.

    The pride in all us of wants to correct the wrongs, we contributed to, so the dilemma is ask for outside help or not!

  3. Sheldene Reynolds says:

    The trick with Ethics is really that until you are faced the situation personally, I guess we will never really know how we would respond. So I have to wonder if ethical debates really help us to make those decisions when we need to or just give us a chance to intellectualise.
    Having watched the episode – I would have to say that the way it was handled was brilliant, we can never separate our personal and professional boundaries fully and at times when the two are at war with one another it is helpful to compartmentalise the personal and professional response. I would hope I would have the strength of character both professionally and personally to respond honestly to each as she did. That is fairer to the situation and kinder to yourself than trying to make a decision between the two.

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