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Posts Tagged ‘involuntary treatment’

From this report:

China could become the first country to classify internet addiction as a clinical disorder amid growing concern over compulsive Web use by millions of Chinese, state media said on Monday.

The health ministry is likely to adopt a new manual on Internet addiction next year drawn up by Chinese psychologists that recognises it as a condition similar to compulsive gambling or alcohol addiction, the China Dail reported.

Nothing wrong with mere classification. The trouble starts when that morphs into coercion. Citing mental illness is one of the favourite tools of governments worldwide to take away people’s rights. This law is just going to be one more way China can lock it’s citizens up.

Just so that my position is clear, I am not against psychiatry per se, nor do I think that mental illness is a myth. I think science can and should be used to cure people of their mental troubles; however any such step must be voluntary just as it is in the case of physical illness. As a moral principle, I am in all circumstances opposed to any form of forced treatment, involuntary commitment or involuntary conservatorship for any adult who retains the faculty to express his or her wishes and is not an imminent danger to other people.

(Hat Tip: Reason Hit and Run)

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I think this is a great idea.

If I hadn’t just escaped that dreadful accident, where would I be now? Would I rather be dead than depend on others to keep me alive?

A new card seeks to address that very question. Available in pubs, banks, libraries, GP surgeries, even some churches, the Advanced Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT) card sits snugly in a wallet or purse and instructs a doctor to withhold treatment should the carrier lose the capacity to make decisions, because of an accident or illness.

Dubbed the “right-to-die card”, it’s being seen by some as a short-cut to euthanasia.

But its backers say it is a practical way of implementing the Mental Capacity Act, which came into force in 2007.

The act allows adults to draw up “advance directives” stating what sort of treatment they don’t want should they lose capacity. They build on the principle of “living wills” but, crucially, mean that doctors are legally bound to abide by a patient’s wish to refuse life-sustaining treatment.

Personally, I’d love to see similar “Do not stop me from committing suicide” and “Do not put me under any form of involuntary commitment or conservatorship unless I am an imminent danger to others” cards/living wills come up. However, as a practical legal matter, you would probably want to also appoint a surrogate (usually a spouse or loved one) who would know your wishes and be trusted to act exactly as you’d want in such a circumstance.

(Link via Reason Hit and Run)

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The local court adjucating on the Faisal Khan custody case passed its final judgement yesterday. The court held that Faisal need not be in anybody’s custody and can live anywhere he wants.

I have been following the Faisal case since the news broke- click here and here for my previous posts. This ruling is a cause of joy to me and all others who love individual freedom and believe that the state and the law have no business assuming a paternalistic role over our lives.

Related: Britney in Guantanamo.

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Aamir Khan’s brother wants freedom.

Freedom. It’s so hard to come by, isn’t it?

Also read my earlier post: The dad, the brother and schizophrenia

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The Bandra magistrate’s court has awarded the custody of Faisal Khan to his father Tahir Hussain.

For those unfamiliar with the case, Faisal had approached the court a month ago accusing his brother Aamir Khan of forcible confinement. He had been made a prisoner, he said, and he would rather be alone or with his father than return to Aamir. Aamir had responded that Faisal suffers from schizophrenia-affected psychosis, a claim which was supported by the doctor’s reports, and had argued that he continue to have Faisal’s custody in the interest of the latter’s well-being. Today’s judgement by the court dismisses Aamir’s petition but directs that the father will now have custody.

I have mixed feelings about the judgement. On the one hand, I am glad that the court did not direct Faisal to be returned against his will to Aamir. However, from the news reports it appears that Faisal wanted to be a free man, and being put under the care of his father was his second-best option, perhaps something he put forth to escape being sent back to his former state. If that is the case, why should his freedom be denied?

My position is that involuntary custody in such an instance can be justified for only one reason- to prevent the person from harming others. The medical report says that Faisal’s illness “may affect mood” and make him prone to acting “irrationally”. Nowhere does it suggest that Faisal is dangerous or violent. He is just more likely than you or me to have unconventional thoughts and behaviour. Is it right for society to make a value judgement on his case and lock him up? A century ago, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder and “patients” were forcibly treated at psychiatric hospitals. Indeed, mental disorders, to paraphrase Thomas Szasz, are best viewed as a kind of social construction, created by society’s concept of what constitutes normality and abnormality. (To clarify, my argument is not that mental conditions are non-existent but rather that the set of conditions that are deemed ‘disorders’ are a function of social convention). As long as the person is not harming others, do we have a right to restrict his fundamental freedoms because his opinions, values or actions do not conform to our notions of correctness?

Newer posts on this topic:

(Dec 18, 2007) Who’s afraid of Faisal Khan?;    

(Feb 17, 2008) Faisal gets his freedom finally.

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