The purpose of this article is to examine critically the role that both law and psychiatry have played in casting mentally ill persons as deviants, citizen / outsiders caught in a crossfire of illness politics. This examination will focus on those values protected and privileged by the medical and legal professions as reflected in confinement law and policy primarily during the last quarter of the twentieth century. The social, economic and political power these disciplines exercise in the lives of psychiatric citizens raises significant questions concerning the future of involuntary civil commitment both from a clinical and justice policy perspective. As such, these matters will be addressed as well. No attempt will be made here to detail the historical dimensions of abandonment in the care and treatment of the mentally ill. Similarly, assessing other environmental influences contributing to this phenomenon (e.g., urbanization, immigration, industrialization, transinstitutionalization) is beyond the scope of this article. While these factors are significant components in the development of civil commitment laws, they are decidedly more global in nature than the focus here.
Bruce A. Arrigo, Paternalism, Civil Commitment and Illness Politics: Assessing the Current Debate and Outlining a Future Direction, 7 J.L. & Health 131 (1992-1993)