“Assisted” Outpatient Commitment Advocates Manufacture Consent Via Manipulation


From Truthout: “Most people in the United States claim to value freedom and civil rights for all citizens. Wherever their biases may lie and whatever other limitations they feel should be in place, relatively few would openly admit to believing that any particular group should be locked up when no crime has been committed. Yet, for the same majority, that changes the moment so-called ‘mental illness’ enters the picture.

Locking up people in crisis ‘for their own good’ is simply seen as a different conversation altogether. It’s almost as if a psychiatric diagnosis makes one an alien subject to different laws. There are few situations in which this is more true than involuntary outpatient commitment (IOC).

IOC is better known as ‘assisted outpatient treatment’ or community treatment orders. It typically amounts to placing someone who has committed no crime on a sort of ‘probation’ where they are required to comply with a number of requirements under threat of detention in a psychiatric facility.

Although people with psychiatric histories are often perceived to be a danger to themselves and others, research just doesn’t support that assertion. This truth is rarely named and becomes further distorted by the fact that any time someone with a psychiatric history commits a crime, that history is cited as explanation, even if there’s little sign it’s related.

In fairness, most proponents of IOC do not suggest that it be applied based on diagnosis alone, but rather on a track record that might include repeated hospitalizations, ongoing suicide risk or even past history of violence in some cases. However, we already have a legal system (as problematic as it may be) to address actual infringements on the law. Any other removal of liberties based on potential ‘risk’ would be unprecedented in any other community of people, at least as something cosigned through due process.

When laying out the facts, it’s hard to deny the injustice of IOC, yet there are several manipulations used by IOC proponents, the media, and others seeking to support them that obscure the realities of the issue and serve to convince the public it’s the ‘right thing’ to do.”

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