Collusion, psychology and the law

Collusion

Collusion:

Variously described. One way: to obtain an unfair market advantage, or to defraud, such as by the methods of: price setting, limiting of opportunities, wage fixing, kickbacks, or misrepresenting the nature of relationship between colluding parties (source: wikipedia).

 

What has this to do with psychology? It can lead to all sorts of situations such as work, business and other where a person cannot complain of coercion, so is forced to collude in situations they would otherwise complain about. 

 

The essence of a psychologist's stated work is to help the client, and to be honest in dealings with the client. Not to deceive a client in any way, and definitely not to collude with people in the community or authorities or government regarding the client. Similarly to a lawyer: their job is to work for, and/or represent the client. 'Collusion' is surely a crime in this sense, either civil or criminal. 

 

In the case of psychologists, it probably is usually civil crime. But the law could change to make it a criminal offence.

 

Using the above definitons of collusion: here are examples, using various professions:

Collusion could occur:

Between a lawyer and a community
Between a psychologist and a community

Particularly regarding one point:' the limiting of opportunities'. Collusion between two parties can limit the opportunities of a third (the client). Or, misrepresenting the nature of relationship between colluding parties.

Possible examples could include: 

1.. a judge and a psychologist collude to discredit a witness


2.. a psychologist and a doctor collude for medical kickbacks by misrepresenting the truth regarding a patients mental status

 

3.. a community and a psychologist collude so as to provide for medical kickbacks to the community by framing a person as mentally ill for financial benefits to that community

 

4. A judge and a community misrepresent the nature of the relationship between them as one of independence when it is collusion

 

5. A legal system misrepresents the nature of the relationship between them as one of independence when it is one of collusion

 

It can be seen here how it could lead to more complicated situations. Such as where there is a mixture of collusion and coercion. For instance:

A bank misrepresents the nature of the relationship between a client and the bank as one of independence when it is one of coercion because it is arguably based on collusion with another party, so can be seen as a mixture of coercion and collusion. It could happen in this way: 
A business such as a bank finds out a client's password somehow and puts it in a document or somewhere the client and others can see it in an obvious way, and then relies on the client not complaining (coercion) due to knowledge that the client will be ignored due to previous legal arrangements that have discredited the client as a witness (collusion).


In this situation the client is unable to complain - so for them, it is coercion, not collusion. The implicit nature of collusion, which can occur, is seen here. While no obvious agreement may be made between a bank and a judiciary or a psychologist, say, the inability of the client to complain is 'understood', therefore it can be argued as implicit collusion, unstated.

 

Here is one definition: (source wikipedia), but there are many definitions: 

'Collusion is an agreement between two or more parties, sometimes illegal–but always secretive–to limit open competition by deceiving, misleading, or defrauding others of their legal rights, or to obtain an objective forbidden by law typically by defrauding or gaining an unfair market advantage. It is an agreement among firms or individuals to divide a market, set prices, limit production or limit opportunities.[1] It can involve "wage fixing, kickbacks, or misrepresenting the independence of the relationship between the colluding parties".[2] In legal terms, all acts effected by collusion are considered void.[3] '

source: wikepedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collusion)

 

What has 'collusion' to do with psychology and the law? 

 

Psychology, collusion, and the law:

It could be argued that it's very relevant because a person can be coerced by others to go to a psychologist or lured into it when they otherwise do not want to go. Framed. The effects of such things could be long term because subsequently the client might find they cannot complain about coercive situations due to the actions that led to the collusion being assumed to be based on fact, when in truth, they were based on a fiction. It is not a harmless result then, for a psychologist or a lawyer to deceive a client, because of these long-term possibilities. Financial results and losses to the client could occur possibly due to having to close accounts due to fears of being accused later of collusion, or snide intimidation that they have agreed to situations when in fact they had no choice. 

 

The psychology profession has legal power and it carries with it the responsiblity to not deceive. So if they want the legal power, surely they should also be willing to accept the legal consequences that go with this. So any collusion between the psychology profession and the community, or one psychologist and the community, or one psychologist and several people in the community, as regards a client could be described as such, so it can be prosecuted in law. That is: to be considered not a matter of 'ethics', but a matter of law. Changed from 'ethics' to 'crime'. 

 

From 'ethics' to 'crime'

'Ethics' is, of course arguably, an easy way out and peer review of errors or actions of a mental health professional could be considered very much a closed system. Also a system with no responsiblity other than a slap-on-the-wrist type of action. Even disqualification would probably involve name suppression of the offending psychologist. 

 

But if the profession wishes to have legal status as court witnesses, to evaluate emotional trauma and to be consulted by authorities - as they expect and increasingly are - then surely they should not be allowed to use 'ethics violations' to deal with what really, could be considered crimes.

 

Collusion is an accepted crime. It is recognised, understood, defined and generally known to be illegal in various forms. No psychologist could be unaware it is illegal, in a general sense. 

 

Regarding collusion and coercive actions: It could be argued, for instance, that a new law should be introduced, and introduced into the legal textbooks:  the crime of framing a person as mentally ill. That is: Coercion to visit a psychologist by framing a sane person as mentally ill (collusion with or without the psychologists knowledge). 

 

In this sense, the law on psychology could be changed to include situations where the person was coerced or lured into going to a psychologist or psychiatrist (or any mental health worker)  when they would not have otherwise. The prosecution of it as 'collusion' involving the psychologist would depend on if the psychologist knew or not. 

 

In the cases where collusion to frame a person as mentally ill occured and the psychologist was aware of it, and did not inform the client, civil or criminal penalites could be introduced in law. 

 

The actions subsequently could be things such as: civil punishment of the psychologist, at minimum. For instance: the psychologist, if they knew the client was coerced, could be prosecuted for taking money using fraudulent methods and the money refunded to the client along with a legal letter of apology.

 

Or the crime could be considered 'criminal' rather than 'civil', and reasons could include things such as long term financial or personal damages to the client's reputation and business dealings. Such as: financial and business damage, and even being forced to ignore situations which they otherwise could have complained of.

 

The argument made here is that effects of collusion are serious. The above examples are possible illustrations to show why and how various things could happen if a psychologist is dishonest about their relationship with others in the community as regards collusion.

 

Should the psychology profession be immune from legal liability for such actions? Or, should the lawbooks be changed so there is accountability when it occurs? 

 

If a profession wants the right to be taken seriously in law, it also has to, surely, accept it must be legally accountable too? 

 

But no change in legal accountability is possible unless it is first written into law. 

 

By Katrina Wood

Feb 2018

(no responsibility accepted for third party links). 

 

 

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