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Medical Ethics

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Medical Ethics

Different projects are conducted in the area of Medical Ethics under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Sabine Müller.

Rita Riedmüller: Ethical issues of the mild encephalitis hypothesis of schizophrenia

In May 2014, I have started working on my PhD thesis under supervision of Assistant Professor Dr. Sabine Müller and Professor Dr. Dr. Henrik Walter. I completed my medicine study in November 2018, and in March 2019, I passed my disputation.
The main topic of my publication-based PhD thesis is ethical issues of biological psychiatry. First, I am a coauthor of a paper about ethical problems of treating anorexia nervosa with neurosurgery. Second, I have investigated ethical aspects of the Mild Encephalitis Hypothesis of schizophrenia.


Müller, S., & Riedmüller, R. (2017). How Will the Mild Encephalitis Hypothesis of Schizophrenia Influence Stigmatization? Frontiers in Psychiatry, 8, 67. 

Riedmüller, R., & Müller, S. (2017). Ethical Implications of the Mild Encephalitis Hypothesis of Schizophrenia. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 8, 38.

Müller, S., Riedmüller, R., Walter, H., & Christen, M. (2015). An Ethical Evaluation of Stereotactic Neurosurgery for Anorexia Nervosa. AJOB Neuroscience, 6(4), 50-65.

Müller, S., Riedmüller, R., & van Oosterhout, A. (2015). Rivaling paradigms in psychiatric neurosurgery: adjustability versus quick fix versus minimal-invasiveness. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 9, 27.

Anika Spreen: Ethical evaluation of clinical applications of optogenetics

After I completed the master program in physics at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich in 2016, I did an internship at the Research Group „Neurophilosophy, Medical Ethics and Neuroethics“ at the Division of Mind and Brain Research. In April 2016, I started working on my doctoral thesis: “Ethical Aspects of Optogenetics“ under the supervision of Assistant Professor Dr. Sabine Müller and Professor Dr. Dr. Henrik Walter. In my thesis, I will investigate ethical issues of potential optogenetic applications for clinical treatments of different neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Henning Wißmann: Ethical investigation of the reporting of suspected cases of child abuse or child neglect by pediatricians in Berlin

Since April 2014 I am a medical student at Charité ‒ Universitätsmedizin Berlin. While writing a term paper, I became acquainted with the Research Group „Neurophilosophy, Medical Ethics and Neuroethics“ at the Division of Mind and Brain Research.
Under the supervision of PD Dr. Sabine Müller (Department for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy CCM) and Dr. Mike Peters (Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences ‒ Research Group „Medical malpractice/Patient safety“), I have been working on my interdisciplinary doctoral thesis since November 2017.
I have investigated the reporting behaviour and in particular the motivations in decision making of Berlin-based primary-care paediatricians and paediatric psychiatrists in the event of physical or psychological child abuse or neglect.
I will discuss the results of the study with regard to the current legal situation in Germany under an ethical perspective. Particularly, I will refer to more recent ethical approaches, which explicitly consider children's rights.


Wißmann, H., Peters, M, & Müller, S. (2019). Physical or psychological child abuse and neglect: Experiences, reporting behavior and positions toward mandatory reporting of pediatricians in Berlin, Germany. Child Abuse Neglect, 98:1-12.

Ricarda Münch: The notion of mental disorder – should behavior harmful to others be a criterion of mental disorder?

Writing my doctoral thesis in the field of medical ethics is an opportunity for me to combine both of my academic interests – medicine and philosophy. After finishing my B.A. in philosophy and cognitive science, I am currently studying medicine at the Charité -Universitätsmedizin Berlin and philosophy at the Humboldt University in Berlin.
Under the supervision of PD Dr. Sabine Müller and Prof. Dr. Dr. Henrik Walter, I am working on the general notion of disease and especially on the criteria of mental disorder. Specifically, I am inquiring into the question of whether behavior harmful to others, or even criminal behavior, should be a criterion of a mental disorder. For that purpose, I am concentrating on two psychiatric diagnoses in ICD-10 and DSM-5 that are almost exclusively based on behavior harmful to others: Pedophilic Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. In my thesis, I am discussing to what extent general definitions of mental disorder can be applied to these diagnoses and what this means for their status as mental disorders.




Prof. Dr. Sabine Müller

Medical Ethicist, Philosopher and Physicist