Mental Illness and Moral Discernment: A Clinical Psychiatric Perspective


  • Duncan A. P. Angus Consultant Psychiatrist, Sussex Partnership NHS Trust, UK
  • Marion L.S. Carson Chaplain, Glasgow City Mission, Glasgow, Scotland; Adjunct Faculty International Baptist Theological Study Centre, Amsterdam



free will, psychiatry, mental illness, theological anthropology, determinism, moral responsibility, neuropsychology


As a contribution to a wider discussion on moral discernment in theological anthropology, this paper seeks to answer the question “What is the impact of mental illness on an individual’s ability to make moral decisions?” Written from a clinical psychiatric perspective, it considers recent contributions from psychology, neuropsychology and imaging technology. It notes that the popular conception that mental illness necessarily robs an individual of moral responsibility is largely unfounded.  Most people who suffer from mental health problems do not lose the capacity to make moral decisions, and mental illness on its own rarely explains anti-social or criminal behaviour. Moreover, the assumptions of some scientists, that recent developments in neuropsychology and brain imaging suggest biological determinism, must be treated with caution.

Author Biographies

Duncan A. P. Angus, Consultant Psychiatrist, Sussex Partnership NHS Trust, UK


Marion L.S. Carson, Chaplain, Glasgow City Mission, Glasgow, Scotland; Adjunct Faculty International Baptist Theological Study Centre, Amsterdam

Rev. Dr.


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How to Cite

Angus, Duncan A. P., and Marion L.S. Carson. 2020. “Mental Illness and Moral Discernment: A Clinical Psychiatric Perspective”. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 12 (4):191-211.



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