Strategies of Psychiatric Coercion
by Jeffrey A. Schaler
Professor Schaler notes that mental illness differs in several important ways from physical illness, and these ways make a mockery of conventional diagnosis. Nonetheless mental illness plays an important role in our legal system; it permits psychiatrists to exercise a significant degree of coercion. Schaler challenges this arrangement and argues that those whom we may classify as mentally ill are still deserving of their liberties, including the liberty to refuse treatment. Schaler also questions whether “insanity” is an appropriate legal fiction at all.
A Clinical Reality Check
by Allen Frances
Professor Frances agrees that mental disorders are not diseases properly speaking, but he maintains that they are nonetheless useful analytic constructs. As to coercive psychiatric treatment, he argues it can indeed be a horrific abuse. Still, in some especially desperate cases it will be necessary to save lives and to prevent even greater harms. He recommends several practices designed to minimize the frequency and risks of coercive treatments.
Psychiatrists Create Their Own Reality
by Jacob Sullum
Jacob Sullum asks the mental health establishment for consistency: If mental disorders are not diseases, what justifies involuntary treatment? Evidence of criminal conduct is a matter for law enforcement, not mental health. And how is it that we punish sexual predators (on the theory that they are responsible) — then treat them afterward (on the theory that they aren’t)? Psychiatric diagnoses are ultimately arbitrary, Sullum argues, and they lead to the arbitrary exercise of power.
Calling Mental Illness “Myth” Leads to State Coercion
by Amanda Pustilnik
Amanda Pustilnik argues that the most profound violations of liberty in this area don’t come from coercive psychiatry, but from the warehousing of the mentally ill in our criminal justice system. Such people aren’t more likely to commit crimes, but they fare badly in the criminal justice system, where unusual behavior leads to convictions, longer sentences, parole violations, and reincarceration.
- In Search of a Middle Ground by Allen Frances
- Reply to Allen Frances by Jeffrey A. Schaler
- A Way Forward? Or, Libertarianism Is Not Equal to Indifference by Amanda Pustilnik
- Mental Disorders Are Not a Myth by Allen Frances
- Finding a Place for the Mentally Ill by Jacob Sullum
- Reply to Amanda Pustilnik by Jeffrey A. Schaler
- One Last Try at Synthesis by Allen Frances
- The Legal and Moral Problems of Involuntary Commitment by Jacob Sullum
- Access to Voluntary Treatment by Amanda Pustilnik
- A Summation, but Not a Middle Ground by Jeffrey A. Schaler