Civil Commitment

  • Seymour L. Halleck
Part of the Critical Issues in Psychiatry book series (CIPS)


It is difficult to discuss the issue of the involuntary commitment and treatment of severely disturbed patients dispassionately. Some argue that it is immoral to deprive almost any noncriminal person of freedom. Others believe it is immoral to fail to treat sick people even when they say they do not want treatment. Conflicts between the values of freedom and the values of health and compassion are powerful, and most commentators in this area take relatively unyielding positions on one or the other side of this dispute. Papers and books published in this area tend to resemble polemics or legal briefs more than scientific treatises. It is common for writers to cite only studies that support their argument and to ignore all others. Even more or less official documents such as the “Model Code” for civil commitment prepared by the American Bar Association Commission on the Mentally Disabled and the American Civil Liberties Union handbook The Rights of Mental Patients take an open adversarial stance in supporting freedom values over health values.1


Mental Illness Severe Mental Illness Civil Liberty Mental Hospital Mental Patient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    B. J. Ennis and R. D. Emery, The Rights of Mental Patients ( New York: Avon, 1978 );Google Scholar
  2. Commission on the Mentally Disabled, American Bar Association, “Suggested Statute on Civil Commitment,” Mental Disability Law Reporter 2, no. 1 (1977).Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    B. J. Ennis, Prisoners of Psychiatry: Mental Patients, Psychiatrists and the Law ( New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972 ).Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    S. L. Halleck, The Politics of Therapy (New York: Science House, 1971 ).Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    R. Reich and L. Siegel, “The Chronically Mentally Ill Shuffle to Oblivion, ” Psychiatric Annals 5, no. 4 (1975).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    A. Stone, Mental Health and Law: A System in Transition (Rockville, Md.: NIMH, 1975 ); T. Szasz, Psychiatric Slavery ( New York: The Free Press, 1977 ).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    American Bar Foundation, The Mentally Disabled and the Law ( Washington, D.C.: ABF, 1971 ), pp. 1–8.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    S. L. Halleck, “The Psychiatrist and the Legal Process,” Psychology Today, February 1969.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Lessard v. Schmidt, 349 F. Supp. 1078 (E.D. Wis., 1972); Hawks y. Lazard, 202 S.E.2d 109 (W.Va. 1974 ); Suzuki v. Quisenberry, 411 F. Supp. 1113 (D. Ha. 1976).Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    A. Stone, “The Commission on Judicial Action of the American Psychiatric Association: Origins and Prospects—A Personal View,” Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 3, no. 3 (1975): 119.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 14.
    R. Sadoff, “New Malpractice Concerns for the Psychiatrist,” Legal Aspects of Medical Care 6, no. 3 (1968): 31–35.Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    Lessard v. Schmidt, 349 F. Supp. 1078 (E. D. Wis. 1972 ).Google Scholar
  13. 19.
    Y. F. Rennie, The Search for Criminal Man ( Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath, 1978 ).Google Scholar
  14. 20.
    J. Monahan, “The Prediction of Violence, in Violence and Criminal Justice”, edited by D. Chappel and J. Monahon ( Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath, 1975 ).Google Scholar
  15. 21.
    H. J. Steadman, “Employing Psychiatric Predictions of Dangerous Behavior: Policy v. Fact,” in Dangerous Behavior: A Problem in Law and Mental Health, edited by C. J. Frederick ( Rockville, Md.: NIMH, 1978 ).Google Scholar
  16. 22.
    H. L. Kozol, R. J. Boucher, and R. F. Garofalo, “The Diagnosis and Treatment of Dangerousness,” Crime and Delinquency 18 (1972): 371–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 23.
    J. Monahan, “Prediction Research and the Emergency Commitments of Dangerous Mentally Ill Persons: A Reconsideration,” American Journal of Psychiatry 135, no. 2 (1978): 198–202.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 24.
    A. Pokorny, “Suicide Rates in Various Psychiatric Diagnosis,” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 139 (1964): 495–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 25.
    Shah, “Dangerousness and Mental Illness: Some Conception, Prediction and Policy Dilemmas,” in Dangerous Behavior: A Problem in Law and Mental Health, edited by C. J. Frederick ( Rockville, Md.: NIMH, 1978 ).Google Scholar
  20. 28.
    s. L. Halleck, Psychiatry and the Dilemmas of Crime ( New York: Harper and Row, 1967 ).Google Scholar
  21. 31.
    Task Force on Nomenclature and Statistics, American Psychiatric Association, “DSM Ill—Draft” (Washington, D.C.: APA, 1978 ).Google Scholar
  22. 32.
    J. Ziskin, Coping with Psychiatric and Psychological Testimony ( New York: Law and Psychology Press, 1975 ).Google Scholar
  23. 33.
    D. D. James, “Handling the Civil Commitment Case,” Mental Disability Law Reporter 2, no. 4 (1978): 456.Google Scholar
  24. J. Helzer et al.,“Reliability of Psychiatric Diagnosis: A Methodological Review,” Archives of General Psychiatry 34 (1977): 129–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. T. Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness ( New York: Harper, 1970 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seymour L. Halleck
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

Personalised recommendations