Psychiatric Incarceration Isn’t Treatment — It’s Violence, Survivors Say


From Truthout: “During [the time of deinstitutionalization], a series of landmark legal cases, notably Lessard v. Schmidt (1972) and O’Connor v. Donaldson (1975), ushered in the strictest ever due process protections for people facing involuntary psychiatric commitment, resulting in a new legal standard. The state would now have to prove a risk of imminent danger to self or others in order to justify individuals’ deprivation of liberty.

There was almost immediate pushback from medical and family caregiver communities. In 1973, psychiatrist Darrold Treffert published an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry entitled ‘Dying with Their Rights On.’ Treffert referenced a number of tragic deaths of disabled people deemed not committable under the new laws. He argued that had they been eligible, these tragedies would not have occurred. These anecdotal examples were used as pretext for rolling back the clock to the previous ‘need for care’ standard.

This destructive rhetorical strategy continues to this day. Sixty years after deinstitutionalization began, politicians and pundits across the political spectrum falsely declare it to be a failure — when in reality, the vision has yet to be funded or realized.

And in a narrative that has gained traction among liberals, deinstitutionalization is blamed for houselessness and mass incarceration, expressed in the trope ‘prisons are the new asylums.’ Hospitals are dangerously framed as a ‘kinder’ alternative to jails, prisons and houselessness, leading to calls to ‘bring back the asylum.’ Pro-force activists falsely declare that the Housing First program, the gold standard for permanent supportive housing, has ‘failed‘ — in their view, yet another reason to reopen the institutions.

They seize on mass shootings, subway pushing incidents, and other horrific but extremely rare acts of violence committed by disabled people — who are far more likely to be at the receiving end of violence — to call for more force in the name of ‘treatment before tragedy.’ After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2013, former Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania) led a multiyear legislative effort to scapegoat ‘mentally ill’ people for mass shootings and to expand involuntary and restrictive care federally. The bill never passed in Congress, but elements were folded into the 21st Century Cures Act.

Murphy was influenced by the work of E. Fuller Torrey, psychiatrist and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), a think tank advocating for involuntary outpatient commitment, euphemistically rebranded as Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). Now on the books, in some form, in 47 states, these programs compel individuals to comply with court ordered ‘community treatment,’ under threat of inpatient commitment for noncompliance.

Brian Stettin, longtime policy director at TAC, helped to write the AOT laws in New York in 1999. In July 2022, he became the Adams administration’s senior adviser for severe mental illness, and authored the city’s psychiatric crisis care agenda, which heavily emphasizes the expanded use of AOT. Critics point out that AOT orders have been shown to be disproportionately enforced on Black and Brown people.

Today, we can be said to be living in a rising era of ‘carceral sanism.’ ‘Sanism’ is oppression faced due to the imperative to be ‘sane,’ ‘rational’ and non- ‘mad/crazy/mentally ill/psychiatrically disabled.’ In Decarcerating Disability, Liat defines carceral sanism as ‘forms of carcerality that contribute to the oppression of mad or “mentally ill” populations under the guise of treatment.'”

Article →


Back to Around the Web


  1. I agree completely
    That’s why we should also focus on the indefinite incarceration and forded treatment as answer of the suppressive psychiatric industry on the insanity defence.
    The demand is to abolish all the psychiatric diagnosing bullshit in a trial.
    Here in Germany we do have now the progress, that an important part of psychiatry, the so called “social psychiatry” demand since one year the same, see here: . Please translate with deepl.

    Best regards
    Berlin – Germany

    Report comment

  2. Well that’s insane people being abused by someone an then allowing stuff like this to transpire. See mental health conditions are based on reality behavior alone. When I took my college education course on the matter, it was negative learnt behavior, on top of lacking a natural chemical we all produce in the body.

    So ask logical what would deplete it abnormally!? Sickness an exposure, it’s like mathematical concepts an calculation If it doesn’t add up how can be so in that ” sense” of reasoning. In my opinion we all suffer from imperfections, but I’ve witnessed people having ruined lives all because someone else has a poor mentality an mental health conditions.

    If we stuck to fact’s, we have a better view on everything in a rational stage of mind. If the shoe does not fit, then that means it never was like that, or would it ever be like so. It’s like gender, an homosexuality. Common sense tells me someone was severely sexually assaulted as a child, an made to believe that their behavior was acceptable or no would care. Well abusive redundant people tell their victims that, on a regular basis thinking they can break there victims or victim down. So it becomes a vicious cycle of ignorance.

    We ask how so!? By the victim thinking that nobody cares , self respect stop’s that behavior. Fearing your higher power should be a correct format mindset to always go by. We have a brain on purpose so we can think correctly. Now do you see why perpetrators will be so violent or even a serial killer.

    It’s ridiculous how alot of people are harmless, but get punishment for what a perpetrator does, due to incorrect information. If someone is viewing the incorrect information, we get a incorrect unpleasant result. Then we have are U. S. Constitution, Civil rights, an other unalienable rights that we each are entitled to.

    That’s inhumane to side with a perpetrator, an do a active hate crime to anyone. Violates the pursuit of happiness, even a mutual interest partner. Not one person wants to lay beside a psycho path individual an be scared or feeling a unhealthy environment with poor emotions.

    So involuntary commitment is unethical, unless it’s Jeffery Dahmer behavior in reality it’s unconstitutional. An it’s immoral, like it’s slave days, anyone can give false information as a hate crime to. We don’t live to be abusive or for anyone to be abused. That’s why in the court of law their are standard guidelines to go by. An for running a proper community. Like understanding the English language to, or a word of the day from a dictionary.

    How can anyone want something like a Hitler error an in America, the home of the free an the brave. Liberty Justice ⚖️ for each individual according to truth. Someone edelery an inappropriate with some authority seems to be raising some pull for all that, on top of how open racism is yet again in history. We don’t go backwards, we go forward with positive improvements.

    We never take normalcy, those are signs of severe abuse by someone clearly. Which is very disgusting to me personally with opinion. We treat everyone the way we desire to be treated. Including affection, an what not. Time is of the essence to thrive an be happy with someone who has a mindset like are selves. It’s being able to see the whole picture in clarity truth. An as an adult, seeing how to properly adjust an fix the issue peacefully.

    Some like I stated previously just hate, so when people are threatened they submit. Like romantic relationship’s, If a person believes someone is going astray, they will become jealous an ask why they can’t be enough. When in reality they are enough an so much more. Some pretend not to care to, because you cannot control anyone in that manner. It’s just cheating, an immoral activities.

    People have very small common sense on thing’s that are to important to, I’ve witnessed that as well. The resolution starts at point A, we give standards immediately, we respect self all the time. An we always properly communicate, an never allow people to bully us from start.

    People sometimes put their personal opinion into there job’s an begin to try an convert more mindset ignorance, never should we kill anyone over opinion, or allow anyone to strip us of are dignity by bullying. It’s ridiculous how they labeled the brown folk or even the brown that isn’t brown with pigmentation.

    Over in Africa they sacrificed the albino kid’s, as if they were a doormat of no importance. An something to step on as a object to express their inappropriate aggression. It’s ridiculous an clear that Revelation an man’s own destruction is at hand. That’s unethical, which clearly tells me their is paper trail of severe threatening an violent ignorance when really believes no one is watching.

    My condolences to the ” weak minded” who rather perish then stay in full reality an see how to better thing’s for one another as a human homo sapien race. Law an order an all that, an then the severe human trafficking they do an it was uncovered. We never make other’s so uncomfortable that it’s seed’s they themselves can not bare. Like the sacrifice of Jesus in biblical day’s. Think clearly an logically about every avenue.

    Report comment