Argument for the 5150 involuntary treatment laws.

Essay by jennypenny224A+, October 2003

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Involuntary treatment

Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense on November 18, 2001, states:

"The United States of America represents something so important to the world - our free way of life. If you care about human beings, you have to care that the U.S. model, which benefits not just the people in our country but across the globe, succeeds. [. . .] Free people are free to be wise and unwise. That's part of what freedom is." (qtd. in Smith)

Of course, people are free to be wise and unwise, mentally healthy and unhealthy. Although our United States government suggests that people may be free to be mentally unhealthy, laws of involuntary treatment, such as the California Mental Health Services Act, may revoke the freedom to be mentally ill. Our laws provide two reasons to justify taking away a mental patient's rights. The first is to protect the citizenry from harm and the second is to protect the individual from harming him or herself.

Protecting the citizenry is often called an exercise of the state's police powers. Protecting an individual from harming him/herself is often called an exercise of the state's parens patriae powers (Schmidt et al. 64). Almost all state involuntary treatment laws revolve around this basis. Once mentally ill patients are considered a danger to the public, a danger to themselves, and in a grave disability, they can be forced into involuntary treatment by law. In order to protect the safety of the public and the individuals, persons with mental illness who

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refuse treatment should be submitted to involuntary treatment if they propose a danger to themselves and others around them.

According to Psychology: Fifth Edition, the criteria for judging abnormality includes statistical infrequency (as compared to what most people do), personal suffering, and...