The history of involuntary commitment has been developed and created through the history of mental illness and the constructs of society. Government policy has been created to treat mental illness and this philosophy of mental illness and its treatment goes as far back as Greek Mythology. The belief about mental illness has changed throughout history and at times thought to be due to, possession of demons, reversion to an animalistic level of consciousness, a sinful state of the soul, a chemical imbalance, and as reported recently in the medical journal Nature and Genetics, a defect in chromosome number six (at least as far as schizophrenia is concerned).
The authority of the state to involuntarily commit an individual for care ran the range from the absolute power of the king as sovereign to order incarceration, to the due process of law to protect life and liberty of persons with mental illness under constitutional and state law. In recent years involuntary commitment has become increasingly more difficult, due to many various legal reforms, such as the increased number of professions with the ability to assist with the process, the least restrictive mandate, and the right to refuse treatment mandate. Maine has created amendments to laws that have changed the dynamics of involuntary commitment, including giving persons the ability to refuse treatment, restricting involuntary commitment to persons that are at high risk to themselves or others, and placing limits on time around the number of hours a person can be held for psychiatric evaluation. The moral standards in society raises question of a breach of the constitution are created with this process of involuntary commitment. Thomas Szasz argues that involuntarily committed and involuntary treatment of a mental illness represents a violation of the individual's civil liberties and takes away a person's autonomy, gaining
Citations: Hamilton, Edith Mythology 162-63 (Mentor ed. 1942, reprint 1971) http://ffjh.davis.k12.ut.us/thompson/myths/ehmyth09/HERCULES.HTM Darton, Katherine Meinsma, Robert. (1998) "A brief history of mental therapy." http://home.earthlink.net/~openedbook/History.mental.therapy.html Stevens, Daniel Hippocrates. Encyclopedia Britannica (Online) http://www.eb.com/Hippocrates (November 12, 1997) Making Health Care Decisions: The Ethical and Legal Implications of Informed Consent in the Patient-Practitioner Relationship, Volume One: Report, (Oct Isaac, Rael Jean & Armat, Virginia C. (1990) Madness in the Streets: How Psychiatry and the Law Abandoned the Mentally Ill. New York: Free Press. Toronto. Collier Macmillan Canada. Torrey, Edwin Fuller M. Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason 38-56, 1988, Knopf Publishing Group Brakel, Sameul, Perry, John & Weiner, Barbara Public Laws of Maine, Vol 1., Part 1, Sec 49, 214-215 Courts of Probate, 1821 Revised Statutes of Maine, Vol 1, C Legislative Document, State of Maine, S. P. 283, No. 884. An ACT governing hospitalization of the mentally ill. (One-Hundredth Legislature, 1961) Legislative Document, State of Maine, S Legislative Record – Senate, Communication State of Maine Supreme Judicial Court, 1431-1433. April 25, 1961 Public Laws, Ch Public Laws, Ch 547, Sec. 14-19, 1973 Public Laws, Ch Public Laws, Ch 629, Sec 1 –2, 1978 Public Laws, Ch 143, Sec 1, 1995 Public Laws, Ch 62, Sec 1-3, 1995 Public Laws, Ch 683, Sec B-23, 1997 Durham, M.L. (1996). Civil Commitment of the mentally ill: research, policy and practice. In B. D. Sales & S. A. Shah (Eds.), Mental Health & Law: Research, Policy and Service. 17-40. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press. Committee on government Policy, Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (1994). Forced into Treatment: the Role of Coercion in Clinical Practice. Report No. 137. Washington D.C.: American Psychiatric Press. Vice, J. (1989). The Morality of Mental Illness: Thomas Szasz 's Critique of Psychiatry. Journal of Humanistic psychology, Vol. 29 No. 3, 385-393. Sage publications.