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Ulysses arrangements in psychiatric treatment : towards proposals for their use based on 'sharing' legal capacity

Bielby, Phil



A ‘Ulysses arrangement' (UA) is an agreement where a patient may arrange for psychiatric treatment or non-treatment to occur at a later stage when she expects to change her mind. In this article, I focus on ‘competence-insensitive' UAs, which raise the question of the permissibility of overriding the patient's subsequent decisionally competent change of mind on the authority of the patient's own prior agreement. In "The Ethical Justification for Ulysses Arrangements", I consider sceptical and supportive arguments concerning competence-insensitive UAs, and argue that there are compelling reasons to give such UAs serious consideration. In "Decisional Competence and Legal Capacity in UAs", I examine the nature of decisional competence and legal capacity as they arise in UAs, an issue neglected by previous research. Using the distinctions which emerge, I then identify the legal structure of a competence-insensitive UA in terms of the types of legal capacity it embodies and go on to explain how types of legal capacity might be shared between the patient and a trusted other to offer support to the patient in the creation and implementation of a competence-insensitive UA. This is significant because it suggests possibilities for building patient support mechanisms into models of legal UAs, which has not addressed in the literature to date. Drawing on this, in "Using Insights from the Competence/Capacity Distinction to Enhance Patient Support in UAs", I offer two possible models to operationalize competence-insensitive UAs in law that allow for varying degrees of patient support through the involvement of a trusted other. Finally, I outline some potential obstacles implementing these models would face and highlight areas for further research.


Bielby, P. (2014). Ulysses arrangements in psychiatric treatment : towards proposals for their use based on 'sharing' legal capacity. Health Care Analysis, 22(2), 114-142.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jul 8, 2012
Publication Date 2014-06
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Health Care Analysis
Print ISSN 1065-3058
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 2
Pages 114-142
Keywords REF 2014 submission!
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