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Mental health-related limitations and political leadership in Germany: A multidisciplinary analysis of legal, psychiatric, and ethical frameworks.

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Smith, Alexander 
Hart, Stephen D 
Liebrenz, Michael 


In recent years, political events have reignited contentious debates about psychiatry and democratic governance. This discourse has largely centred around the ethics and morality of public commentary, particularly in relation to the American Psychiatric Association's Goldwater Rule. Yet, few studies have examined the practical implications of health-related limitations due to mental illness in national leadership and the constitutional and legal provisions that surround these issues, including voluntary or involuntary proceedings. Accordingly, this theoretical paper analyses these topics in a German context using the position at the head of the executive: the chancellorship. Germany was selected as a case example as the biggest democracy in Europe with modern legal frameworks representative of the post-World War Two era in European constitutionalism, and for its economic and political influence within the European Union. Throughout this paper, we do not speculate on the mental health of any individual (past or present), but instead explore jurisdictional mechanisms around health-related limitations in German high office. Consequently, we outline relevant constitutional and legal scenarios, and how short- or long-term medical incapacity may determine requisite responses and contingent complexities. This underpins our discussion, where we consider legal ambiguities, functional capacity, and ethical concerns in psychiatric practice.



Chancellor, Ethics, Forensic psychiatry, Functional capacity, Germany, Law, Mental health, Politics, Humans, Mental Health, Leadership, Germany, Mental Disorders, Europe

Journal Title

Int J Law Psychiatry

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Elsevier BV