Involuntary hospitalization – old practice and new interpretations


  • Dragana Mihailović Univerzitet u Beogradu, Univerzitetska biblioteka "Svetozar Marković"


Within the framework of applied ethics, this paper considers the implications of a new interpretation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is based solely on the inviolability of autonomy, thus neglecting a key aspect of the compromised ability to make relevant decisions about the treatment of people with mental disorders. This tendency implies that the patients’ health is no longer a priority but rather their autonomy, regardless of their actual condition. Leaving the decision about the treatment to someone with serious mental disorders jeopardizes the values that concern both the patient and others. This paper examines the concept of autonomy and paternalism in psychiatry, their moral bases, limitations, and circumstances in which paternalism in the context of compulsory treatment can be justified and considered safer and more appropriate when it comes to the interests of the patients themselves, compared to the proposed model. Caution is essential in overcoming controversies related to the involuntary hospitalization procedure. The analysis of basic moral principles and the argument for different approaches to this problem is motivated by the fact that this extremely restrictive and controversial measure requires constant attention and consideration from the medical, ethical, and legal aspect because it significantly contributes to both - the self-stigmatization of one of the most vulnerable groups of patients and the stigmatization of psychiatry as a means of social control.
Keywords: involuntary hospitalization, autonomy, paternalism, incompetence, stigmatization.