Posts Tagged ‘psychiatry’

Robin Edgar’s “Certificate of Sanity”

In Uncategorized on May 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm

On more than one occasion, Robin Edgar has mentioned getting a “certificate of sanity” from a Montreal doctor, in response to concerns about his psychological state.  Of course, he never provides the actual content of this “certificate”, or even the name of the doctor who issued it.

Some months back, one of our readers mentioned reasons to doubt the veracity of his claim, based on their exchange with a trusted psychiatrist.  We have now received permission from this psychiatrist – who is also a Medical School professor who teaches on legal issues and mental health – to post the following commentary:

I have checked the blog posts of the individual in question, and it is clear to me why his vague references to a “certificate of sanity” are put in quotes and otherwise qualified.

For one thing, “sanity” can have diverse meanings, dependent upon context and the individual using it.  The narrowest definition is that used for establishing whether a person is to be committed to a psychiatric institution against their will, specifically that the individual is not an immediate threat to themselves or others due to some form of mental illness.  More broadly, however, an individual may mean simply that they are “free from mental illness;” such a sweeping negative definition is extremely difficult to ascertain.  The median definition is that the individual in question is able to function in normative social settings.

I think it most telling that Mr. Edgar cannot produce the text of the “certificate” he alleges to have obtained.  For one thing, I cannot see a responsible physician, and especially a general practitioner without specialized psychiatric expertise, providing any sort of affidavit attesting that a patient is free from mental illness.  At best, a medical professional could assert that a patient is either not an immediate danger to himself or others, or is able to function in normative social settings.  This does not, however, dismiss the possibility that the patient is mentally ill in some fashion.  Individuals with obsessionial ideation, mood disorders, personality disorders and even certain delusions are capable of considerable functionality – yet they are still mentally ill.

No attestation of a given patient’s mental health status is of any meaning without a thorough evaluation by a qualified psychiatrist or psychotherapist.  Unless your Mr. Edgar can produce the detailed contents of his alleged “certificate,” and the means by which his status was evaluated, my professional opinion is that his assertions have little to no merit.

So if Robin Edgar truly wants to assure us that he is not mentally ill, then we suggest once again that he follow this advice.  If he feels that his “certificate” is enough, then publish its contents.  Until then, considering his prior history of distorting and even manufacturing evidence, we have no reason to trust his claims.