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THE PSYCHIATRIC PATIENT, LIBERTY, AND THE LAW
RALPH SLOVENKO
Am J Psychiatry 1964;121:534-548.
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Tulane University School of Law, and Associate in Dept. of Psychiatry and Neurology, New Orleans, La.

1960 by The American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

Psychiatry is not wholly responsible for the evils in contemporary civil and criminal commitments. The law summons psychiatrists for inappropriate roles, and there is inadequate involvement of lawyers in the entire mental hospital field. And, to a considerable degree, the situation in mental hospitals actually mirrors community desiderata.Critics say that psychiatry is depriving people of their liberty and dignity. But what is psychiatry depriving them of? Their "right" to waste life?, to commit suicide?, to kill others? Traditionally, those dangerous to themselves or others, whether or not labelled mentally ill, have been isolated by society. The real question is: are we providing help appropriate to their needs? We must be more concerned, not less, over the needs of others.

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