Patricia King


My thesis is that the failure of these rights to be implemented in any meaningful way for persons with mental illness is the result of a narrow image of rights which emphasizes the individual, valuing autonomy independent of care, and sacrifices relationship and the connection to the community. By conceiving of rights in such a way, we strengthen the individual but do not address the reality of the context or relationship within which persons with mental illness will actualize these rights. This failure to recognize and account for the disequilibrium within therapeutic relationships and the necessity of caring within such relationships makes implementation of rights, as expressed in this individual autonomous model, impossible. . In this paper I intend to explore the development of the rights afforded to persons with mental illness through the germinal cases in which those rights were articulated. I will then describe a current effort to articulate a new image of rights which attempts to account for the necessary balancing of individual rights and the need for relationship and connection to a community to fully realize those rights. Finally, I will apply the new image to the context of persons with mental illness and describe how the new image might be the basis for a fuller implementation of the rights afforded to persons with mental illness.