Among our most cherished freedoms is the right to personal liberty–a right that should be deprived for only one of a limited number of reasons, and then only after due process has been observed. One of these justifications is a mental illness so debilitating, the person is a danger to themselves, society or both, such that they require involuntary confinement. A weighty, complex and often emotionally fraught determination, such a decision can only properly meet the requirements of due process when it is informed by a valid and competent expert psychological and/or psychiatric diagnosis. This chapter explores the full range of issues related to the involuntary commitment, including the psychiatric and psychological criteria and considerations, as well as the psycholegal theories and laws that govern such confinement.
Particular topics include:
History of involuntary commitment
Standard of proof for involuntary indefinite confinement
Defining “mental illness
Involuntary administration of medications
Assisted outpatient treatment programs
Preventative involuntary outpatient commitment
Concerns with the DSM-V and the most reliable evaluation methods
Requisites for involuntary commitment
Involuntary confinement of minors
Defining “dangerousness,” “gross impairment” and “inability to care for self”
Procedural aspects of involuntary civil commitment
With a thorough literature review and numerous illustrative cases, this Involuntary Commitment chapter is an invaluable resource for evaluators, experts, litigators and judges charged with the responsibility to determine when, why and how an individual should be involuntarily committed (or not).
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