Forced Treatment of Seriously Mentally Ill Individuals, Essay Example

With regards to the forced treatment of extremely mentally ill individuals, there are many very important factors to consider. Imposing a practice on anyone, mentally ill or not, against his or her will is sure to elicit a negative response. These patients are very often under an incredible amount of emotional, psychiatric, and sometimes physical distress–forcing treatment on the patient is sure to exaggerate what is considered a normal human reaction. In this way, these patients can be looked at as extensions of society in general, placed into extraordinary situations. This can make for very uncomfortable patients, and a counterproductive treatment plan.

Forcing treatment on mentally ill patients can besmirch the ethics of the professions of the clinical staff administering the treatment, especially when these treatments end up being ineffective. In addition, forced treatment by its nature calls for very close observation of the patient, expending necessary resources on correcting the patients’ perspective of the treatment. Building on that idea, these forced treatments are most often used in making a patient more manageable, rather than treating a definitive disease. Our lack of understanding of these processes leave room for the disease to regress quickly–whereas studies prove that willing pharmacological treatment yield much better results overall.

It is clear that a treatment plan in which the patient can actively participate will certainly be the most effective in most cases. Not only does it increase how comfortable a patient is and thus adding to compliance, patients can also come to terms with their diseases and subsequent medications, adding to their overall improvement and mental health.

  • Forced treatment of seriously mentally ill individuals is practice is that is not only acceptable in the field of psychiatry but also taints the ethics of the profession.
  • These treatment approaches often go against the expectations of the patients. Effectiveness of such methods are questionable due to psychological comfort of the patient. This is one of the major factors important in administering any form of treatment. This position is also defended by studies that show involuntary treatment tends to increase the nocebo effects, with relative decline in the placebo effects–hence a lower chance of effectiveness (Swartz, &  Wagner 2009).
  • Administering coercive treatment methods on the mentally ill patients call for closer evaluation and assessment of the resultant impacts on the patient.
  • Psychiatrists tend to reason that drugs are effective on the body regardless of how they are administered; this however has been disputed by studies based on the nocebo and placebo effects of such treatments.
  • The medical practitioners should understand the interplay between psycho-physiological effects when administering treatments to the patients. The practioners should consider the perceptions of the patients towards their disease, the anticipations on the treatment methods, as well as the ability to withstand therapeutic side effects (Hamilton, & Mulhall, 2010).
  • The drugs administered into the body are not to fight the disease–instead to fight negative perception, hence leaving more space for the disease to grow. Studies show that patients who are coerced to take their medication show more nocebo effects than the placebo effects. Pharmacological effects of the drug are likely to reduce if the medicine is taken under pressure than when the medicine is taken voluntarily (Hamilton, & Mulhall, 2010).
  • Studies also show that patients treated with non-coercive methods, such as a joint crisis plan–which involves the patient with treatment team–are more effective. The patients also spend short periods of time in the hospitals. hence recovering at a relatively faster rate.
  • The joint crisis plan is also important in changing the perception of the patient towards the drugs, the medical personnel and the disease. Such patients are able to realize that medication is necessary for their recovery in order to achieve a positive change in their health and be able to lead a normal life.
  • In the light of the above facts, coercive treatment is not a good treatment approach for treating the seriously mentally ill patients. The treatment should be voluntarily to increase the placebo effects and reduce the nocebo ones (Hamilton, & Mulhall, 2010).


Swartz, M. & Wagner, H. (2009).The perceived coerciveness of involuntary outpatient commitment: Findings from and experimental study. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law   30:   207–17.17.

Hamilton, S. & Mulhall, A., (2010). Assessing organizational readiness for change: use of diagnostic analysis prior to the implementation of a multidisciplinary assessment for acute stroke care. Implement Sci; 2: 21.