Mental Health and Human Rights

There is no conflict between a position that generates the greatest good and at the same time does the least harm. Coercion does the least good, the most harm, and is disrespectful to human dignity.

Coercion deals with a social problem by punishing the victims.

By creating a sub-class, coercion readies the public mind for prejudice and discrimination.

Interventions without consent may ignore the problems of living that cause distress.

Disagreement with medical authority is not incapacity.

Self-management and personal responsibility save public money.

Governments have a responsibility to protect all their citizens. The way to do this is by strengthening self-definition and autonomy so we each define useful assistance and accommodation for ourselves.

Determining the needs of others by one’s own needs is oppressive. The value "caring coercion" puts another’s idea of what is good for me over what I would like for myself, whitewashes the violation of my personal integrity, dishonors my experience of my life.

The mental health system is a violent system, using force to impose its will, bullying patients by withholding privileges and threatening charting and isolation, subduing its subjects with leather and chemical restraints, and in general setting a harsh example of how humans should treat one another. What is need is to overhaul a dishonest system.

Prompted by Sharfstein’s title: Case for Caring Coercion, APHA 2006, Boston, and informed by internet exchanges with members of the WNUSP board and subscribers to ActMad.

Sylvia Caras, Ph D, www.peoplewho.org