Commentary: Futility in Psychiatry

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While other medical professions have grappled with end-of-life care, the areas of palliative psychiatry, and more particularly, futility in psychiatry, have not been thoroughly addressed. The 3 cases presented in this issue illustrate how patients can succumb to a medical condition while presenting with primary psychosis (a patient with treatment-resistant schizophrenia who starves himself), secondary psychosis (a patient with small cell cancer of the lung who develops psychotic symptoms in the context of a paraneoplastic neurological syndrome), or a factitious disorder (a patient with self-induced aplastic anemia from ingesting an oral chemotherapy agent). The descriptions of these challenging cases show how collaborative teamwork among psychiatric and medical treatment teams, including the provision of palliative care, can help patients and families, even if a fatal outcome appears certain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-350
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - 7 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Munchhausen syndrome
  • collaborative care
  • futility
  • palliative psychiatry
  • terminal illness


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