Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews Personal view

A way out for the conscientious objector: “become” a mental patient

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 27 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1041
  1. Daniel Moldavsky, consultant psychiatrist (
  1. Sittingbourne, Kent

    Military service for a period of two to three years is compulsory for everyone in Israel. Male doctors, in common with other male citizens, have to serve in the army reserves for periods of up to two months each year until the age of 51. They therefore face situations during their professional lives that colleagues in countries without compulsory military service do not, fortunately, encounter.

    In a country such as Israel, military service is seen as a reflection of a person's involvement with their community. Being unwilling to serve can have major implications on someone's future, including their job prospects and practical issues such as obtaining a driving license.

    Psychiatrists are regularly required to assess people whose chief complaint is reluctance to serve in the army. Some of these people justify their position on personal grounds, such as job or family commitments, or tiredness resulting from the harsh realities of policing the Israeli …

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