Thursday, October 26, 2006

Honestly questioning the road to "recovery"

Harriet P. Lefley, Ph.D. will never be accused of advocating coerced care as a first-line treatment for severe mental illness. But, she makes a cogent and compelling argument about the dangers of a mental illness treatment system in which involuntary treatment is no longer an option. Her remarks are incredibly brave because she dares to question (in a very polite way) the ideologues who advocate a mental health system based entirely on consumer choice.
It seems to me that sometimes a mystifying dishonesty pervades this discussion [about recovery]. A noble ideological principle too often is coupled with an unconscionable indifference even to acknowledging the conditions that typically generate forced treatment. Psychotic and self-destructive behaviors can lead to terrible social consequences and may affect many people other than those who are ill. Children, siblings, spouses, and aging parents are among those deeply affected and psychologically harmed by untreated psychosis—not to mention the damaging effects to the persons themselves.
Questioning the “transformation” to a recovery based system is like challenging motherhood and apple pie. It takes guts. So we applaud Dr. Lefley and hope that her honest opinions encourage others to speak up. For some people with mental illnesses, leveraged care may be a necessary side trip on the road to recovery.