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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 40 (1998) 9, 553 - 564

Essay

Ethics, etiquette and being a good professional in psychiatry

R.L.P. Berghmans

Medical ethics or health care ethics is still too exclusively concerned with the 'big' problems of and in health care. Outside the domain of this 'big ethics'('quandary ethics') also questions of 'small ethics' ('everyday ethics') exist: the ethics of everyday that is interwoven with daily practice and routines and connected to questions and decisions which do not immediately impress as being 'spectacular'. The distinction between ethics and etiquette cannot always be clearly made. In this article these concepts are discussed and two broad ethical perspectives are sketched that try to give an answer to the question what in a moral sense is good or responsible to do. The implications of the analysis for the practice of the psychiatrist and other workers in psychiatry are discussed.