Protecting third parties: A decade after Tarasoff

M. J. Mills, G. Sullivan, Spencer Eth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


The authors discuss current public policy concerning the treatment of potentially violent psychiatric patients and outline some legal and ethical precedents of the current policy. Therapeutic interventions before and after the Tarasoff decision are compared. The authors make specific recommendations for clinicians, who they believe tend to interpret laws too restrictively. They suggest that courts need to rethink current liability standards so that legal decisions can be more clinically informed. Finally, they believe that legislative interventions which specify that warning the potential victim and notifying the police absolve psychotherapists from liability may lead to reflexive rather than reflective management of violent patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-74
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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