Emeritus Professor Sidney Bloch – 40 Years of Psychiatric Ethics

Emeritus Professor Sidney Bloch AM is a pioneer in the field of Psychiatric Ethics and this year published the 5th Edition of his book on the subject entitled: ‘Psychiatric Ethics’ (Oxford University Press).

Since 1981 when ‘Psychiatric Ethics’ was first published, the field of psychiatry has seen many changes in diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Societal changes and new knowledge and understanding of the human spectrum of sexuality; the uncovering of abuses in psychiatry in the Soviet Union and Japan and the movement of deinstitutionalization has driven the need to produce regular revisions of the book as well as to develop codes of ethics for psychiatrists.

Sidney has been involved with preparing all five editions of the Royal Australian and New Zealand Code (the first in 1992). Very late in the piece, in October 2020, the World Psychiatric Association adopted its first Code of Ethics, a long delay given the abuse of psychiatry rocked the association in 1977 when Bloch and Peter Reddaway published “Russia’s Political Hospitals,” the prize-winning book that brought the abuse to the attention of psychiatrists world-wide and led to the resignation of the Soviet Society. The campaign to bring the abuse to an end, in which Sidney had a prominent role, took over a decade.

Through ‘Psychiatric Ethics’ over forty years and five editions, Sidney has together with Professor Stephen Green of Georgetown University and a stellar cast of colleagues documented the many challenges that psychiatrists face and provided up-to-date knowledge needed for ethical practice, teaching and research in psychiatry.

Sidney was awarded an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) for his “significant service to medicine in the field of psychiatry, to medical education as an academic and author, and as a mentor and role model.” He has also been elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences.

His continuing research on ethics deals with ethical theory, codes of ethics and the history of psychiatric ethics. His principal research interests in clinical psychiatry have been in the psychotherapies and psycho-oncology.

While Sidney has formally retired from both the University of Melbourne and St Vincent’s Hospital, he is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University and Honorary Senior Psychiatrist at the hospital; he is still involved in teaching psychiatric trainees and serves on the Victorian Mental Health Tribunal. He continues to write (he was the Editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry for a record 13 years) and is currently preparing the 4th edition of “Understanding Troubled Minds” (Melbourne University Press), a book first published in 1997 and targeted to the general public. It won the SANE award in 2012 for the best book on mental health.