Flaherty: Mandated Treatment Is An Infringement

NYAPRS Note: Rights and recovery advocates are working to oppose outpatient commitment proposals in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Stay tuned for how you can help.

Mandated Treatment Is An Infringement

By Kathleen Flaherty Boston Globe published letter July 10, 2016

I’m disappointed, yet not surprised, by the Globe’s editorial in favor of involuntary outpatient commitment — words that more accurately reflect its legal nature than “assisted outpatient treatment” (“Mandate treatment for the mentally ill,” July 3).

It is only in psychiatry, and not in any other area of medicine, that disagreement with a clinician’s opinion of illness is deemed a symptom or evidence of said illness. Patients who disagree with a physician’s recommendations are usually advised to get a second opinion.

Involuntary outpatient commitment is bad public policy. The best way to engage with anyone is to show them respect and take the time to learn about them. It is connection, and not coercion, that works. Approaches such as Open Dialogue, Soteria, and Peer Bridger engage with people on this level.

Ponder your own reaction when someone tells you that you must do something. Your natural instance is to respond, “You’re not going to tell me what to do — I’m going to make my own choice,” even if, ultimately, you conclude that the recommendation is worth following.

Please give those of us who have been labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis the same respect for our legal rights that you would want for your own.

Executive director

Connecticut Legal Rights Project

Middletown, Conn.