What would Mary Douglas do? A commentary on Kahan et al., "Cultural cognition and public policy: the case of outpatient commitment laws".
ABSTRACT Involuntary outpatient commitment is a highly controversial issue in mental health law. Strong supporters of outpatient commitment see it as a form of access to community-based mental health care and a less restrictive alternative to hospitalization for people with severe mental illness; vocal opponents see it as an instrument of social control and an unwarranted deprivation of individual liberty. Kahan and colleagues apply the theory of "cultural cognition" in an empirical study of how cultural worldviews influence support for outpatient commitment laws among the general public and shape perceptions of evidence for these laws' effectiveness. This article critiques Kahan et al. and offers an alternative perspective on the controversy, emphasizing particular social facts underlying stakeholders' positions on outpatient commitment laws.
Reproductive Toxicology 02/2011; 31(2):249-249. DOI:10.1016/j.reprotox.2010.12.059 · 2.77 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Compulsory community care (CCC) was introduced in Sweden in 2008. This article investigates all written court decisions regarding CCC over a 6 month period in 2009 (N = 541). The purpose is to examine how the legal rights of patients are protected and what forms of social control patients are subjected to. 51% of CCC patients are women and 84% are being treated for a psychosis-related disorder. In the court decisions, only 9% of patients are described as dangerous to themselves, while 18% are regarded a danger to others. The most common special provisions that patients are subjected to are medication (79%) and a requirement that they must maintain contact with either community mental health services (51%) or social services (27%). In the decisions, both the courts and court-appointed psychiatrists agree with treating psychiatrists in 99% of cases. Decisions lack transparency and clarity, and it is often impossible to understand the conclusions of the courts. There is considerable variation between regional courts as regards the provisions to which patients are subjected and the delegation of decision-making to psychiatrists. This means that decisions fail to demonstrate clarity, transparency, consistency and impartiality, and thus fail to meet established standards of procedural fairness. Surveillance techniques of social control are more common than techniques based on therapy or sanctions. Because of the unique role of medication, social control is primarily imposed on a physical dimension, as opposed to temporal and spatial forms. The article concludes that patients are at risk of being subjected to new forms of social control of an unclear nature without proper legal protection.International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 11/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.ijlp.2014.02.027 · 1.19 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: After nearly three decades of studies evaluating the legal practice of involuntary outpatient commitment, there is yet little consensus about its effectiveness and only limited implementation. Debate continues over how best to assist adults with serious mental illnesses who are unable or unwilling to participate in prescribed community treatment and as a result experience repeated involuntary hospitalizations or involvement with the criminal justice system. The authors comment on the Oxford Community Treatment Order Evaluation Trial (OCTET), a recently conducted randomized trial of outpatient commitment, and discuss the limitations of the study's design for resolving the persistent question of whether compulsory treatment is more effective than purely voluntary treatment for this difficult-to-reach target population. The authors conclude that the search for a definitive and generalizable randomized trial of outpatient commitment may be a quixotic quest; the field should, rather, welcome the results of well-conducted, large-scale, quasi-experimental and naturalistic studies with rigorous multivariable statistical controls.Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) 06/2014; 65(6):808-11. DOI:10.1176/appi.ps.201300424 · 1.99 Impact Factor