Seo MK, Kim SH, Rhee M.
Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2012 Jan 4. [Epub ahead of print]
It has long been debated whether coercion can be justified as paternalism in the field of mental health and it is still a continuing issue of controversy today.
AIMS: This study analyses whether coercive intervention in mental health can be justified by the basic assumptions of paternalists: the assumption of incompetence, the assumption of dangerousness and the assumption of impairment.
METHOD: This study involved 248 patients: 158 (63.7%) were diagnosed with schizophrenia and 90 (36.3%) were diagnosed with mood disorder. In this study, experiences of coercion were divided into legal status, subjective (perceived coercion) and objective experiences (experienced coercion).
RESULTS: The assumption of incompetence was justified in all three categories of coercion whereas the assumption of dangerousness was not justified in any. The assumption of impairment was not justified in legal status and perceived coercion, but provided a partial explanation to serve as a basis for justifying experienced coercive measures.
CONCLUSIONS: It can be noted that mental health experts who support paternalism without question must reconsider their previous methods. Above all, the reason why the assumption of dangerousness was not justified in any of the categories of coercion was because coercive intervention used to prevent harm to oneself and others must be very carefully carried out.