Coercion to Inpatient Treatment
Debate over the role of coercion in mental hospital admission frequently invokes the prospective patient’s moral right to decision-making autonomy and individual dignity (e.g., Blanch & Parrish, 1993; Wertheimer, 1993). But empirical arguments for or against coercion are often pressed as well. The empirical issue most often raised is whether coerced treatment “works.” On one side, some patient advocates argue that the alleged benefits of treatment to the patient or others can be negated by patients’ feelings of alienation and dissatisfaction, as a result of which patients become unlikely to comply with treatment as soon as the coercion is lifted (cf. National Center for State Courts, 1986). Even if coerced treatment benefits those on whom it is imposed, other prospective patients may be deterred from seeking treatment voluntarily for fear that they too will be committed (Campbell & Schraiber, 1989). On the other side, a recent report by the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (1994), though it grants that “there seems to be a kind of embarrassment about situations in which the patient did not enter treatment entirely on his or her own initiative” (p. x), concludes that “sometimes involuntary psychiatric treatment is necessary, can be effective, and can lead to freedom from the constraints of illness. Conversely, tight restrictions against coercive treatment can have disastrous consequences” (p. 43).
KeywordsInpatient Treatment Mental Hospital Admission Process Involuntary Admission Outpatient Commitment
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