Civil Commitment

Topics: Psychiatry, Mental disorder, Suicide Pages: 2 (604 words) Published: October 26, 2013
Civil commitment laws have been in existence in the United States since the 1800s. The cases often involve family members of a mentally ill loved one who will sometimes attempt to civilly commit the loved one in order to ensure that they receive treatment (Maggio, 2010). However, responsibility for the civil commitment process currently is shared between the justice and mental health systems (Applebaum, 1992). The process of civil commitment allows for the state-sanctioned involuntary hospitalization of individuals with mental disorders. These involuntary civil commitments were originally based on a medical model that served the parens patriae philosophy of the state (Evans, 2012). However, with the shifting laws, and slight differences among states, modern civil commitment usually falls under one of two labels: police power or parens patriae power (Evans, 2012; Maggio, 2010). Police power involves the government taking control over the individual for public safety, health, or welfare reasons, such as criminals who pose particular threat to the community (Maggio, 2010). Parens patriae power involves the government taking on a parental role for an individual who cannot care for himself, as in the case of an orphaned minor (Evans, 2012). This is done for the protection of the individual, in contrast to the protection of society as occurs in police power cases. When following this philosophy, one assumes that admittance into a hospital is needed to benefit the person’s health and is in the individuals’ best interest. In civil commitment, "mental illness" does not necessarily equate to a "mental disorder," and each state has its own definition of "mental illness" for such cases (APA, 2000). There are statutes that exist in each state regarding civil commitment and, though each is different, they share common features (Applebaum, 1992). In modern civil commitment proceedings, the individual is represented by counsel, has rights just like any other individual under the...
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