Question of the Week - Forced Treatment Versus Free Choice

  • Two years ago I wrote a SharePost about Crazy, the book by Pete Earley which documented his son's entanglement with the legal system after committing a crime.  The actively psychotic man was sent home from the hospital because he wasn't considered a danger to himself or others.  He then broke into a house and took a bubble bath.  Early chronicles the prisons-as-mental hospitals syndrome.


    What do you think?  Is forced treatment acceptable?  Do people have the right to refuse medication if they have schizophrenia?  Should hospital staff admit people instead of turning them away?


    My take on this:

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    The recent news that my ex-boyfriend discontinued his medication piqued my interest in posing this Question of the Week.  It was no surprise to me that at some point he would do that.   Some psychiatrists may have modest success rates [and they never have a majority fall under this category] of people who can be tapered off the meds and do well.  Each of us has the right to decide what kind of life he wants to live.  Somebody else's version of that life will not be the same.


    Also, from my experience, I've seen that everyone I know [even those with mild forms who were doing phenomenally] who goes off their meds relapses and has to be hospitalized again.


    Do we have the right to choose not to take medication?  The estimated cost of mental illnesses-the cost to society, to the individual in terms of lost productivity and disability-is in the billions.  At what point does the hospital staff have the right to admit someone?  Should staff admit more people than they currently do?


    I have one last thing to say about this:


    I'm competitive.  I compete against myself and every day I try to do a little better than I did the day before.  The atypical drug I'm on gives me a competitive advantage in the world.  Taking the meds is part of the social accord I have with others in society.


    That's the way I see it.

Published On: July 22, 2009