in Refusing Care

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780226733975
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226733999 | DOI:

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The way in which a society treats its least well-off members says a lot about its humanity. Sometimes the mentally ill are treated with extreme measures that the patients do not want: psychosurgery, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and unwanted medication with very serious risks and side effects. Stigma has been reduced for many other conditions and statuses: homosexuality, cancer, AIDS. Mental illness is among the most stigmatized of categories. Society is openly hostile to, scornful of, and frightened of the mentally ill. The media use terms and make comparisons that demean sufferers. This chapter explores the rational treatment of the mentally ill in contexts in which they say they do not want treatment. It shows the “overinterventionist” pole of the swing in the way they are treated. It also tries to be mindful of the stigma that attaches to mental illness, thus illustrating when (if ever)—and why—sufferers should be treated differently than their non-mentally ill counterparts.

Keywords: society; rational treatment; mental illness; stigma; humanity

Chapter.  1109 words. 

Subjects: Medical and Healthcare Law

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