Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Heated Battle Over Involuntary Committment

So often I write blog posts about topics I read about in the paper.  I take a few quotes and expand upon them.  Today I want to look at book review by Dr. Damon Tweedy, a psychiatrist at Duke University and author of Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflection on Race and Medicine.  Only this is a little different. Dr. Tweedy is reviewing a book that We wrote!  And a fine job he did, if I do say so myself.

So from the Washington Post, to appear in print tomorrow, Tweedy writes about
 Committed: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care 

Here, they explore forced psychiatric care, perhaps the most polarizing aspect of a controversial profession. The result is a highly informative and surprisingly balanced book that should be read by anyone with a personal or professional stake in how the mental health system provides care to those with chronic severe illnesses and those in acute crisis.

Miller and Hanson take us on a journey across America, where we witness significant variability in how states approach the issue of forced care. In some states, patients must be deemed imminently dangerous to themselves or others (i.e. high risk for suicide or homicide) for forced treatment, while in other states an inability to provide for basic needs due to mental illness is sufficient. The process of commitment also differs. California, for instance, does not require a formal psychiatric evaluation before patients can be involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital, while in Maryland an evaluation must be done before admission and requires the input of two physicians or psychologists. Until recently, doctors in Virginia could not use the input of family members in assessing a person’s potential dangerousness.  

And finally:

Although “Committed” explores a complex subject, Miller and Hanson make a great effort to humanize this discussion. In each section, they introduce us to individuals — patients, family members, advocates, lawmakers, emergency-room doctors, psychiatrists, police officers and judges — involved in some aspect of forced treatment.

Thank you, Dr. Tweedy!

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