Society

Involuntary Institutionalization: Both Unethical and Unconstitutional

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I often stay up at night wondering what is up with this? Involuntary institutionalization when someone has done absolutely nothing wrong (or, put another way, done nothing to violate the law). We lock up so-called "mentally ill" individuals who threaten harm to themselves, but why? 

I've lost friends and family members to suicide in the past, and I'll be the first to admit it hurts like all hell to do so. That said, I neither judge nor hate them for what they did. In the end, the right to life includes the right to end one's own life if he/she so chooses. Suicide, though painful for those left behind, is a fundamental right protected by the constitution, as is self-injury. Though it may be destructive, so are a lot of legal lifestyle choices (smoking cigarettes, heavy drinking, etc.). 

The only time this really becomes an issue, or should become an issue, when someone threatens to harm another or causes harm to another. So much as merely threatening to harm another person is a violation of the law, and if someone does, he/she shouldn't be placed in a mental hospital, but in jail where he/she so belongs. Furthermore, "not guilty by reason of insanity" is a cop-out verdict in murder cases. It's a way to allow perpetrators to get off the hook for their dastardly deeds. Don't do the time if you can't do the crime. 

People absolutely should feel free to commit themselves if they so choose. Some people do want treatment for so-called "mental illnesses" (that said, I don't believe much in them. Who really defines what "normal" is anyway? If you have a bit of a strange personality or are otherwise not compliant to the norm you're labeled "mentally ill" which is a travesty. We could probably come up with labels for everyone, to be quite honest), and those individuals should, at their discretion, receive treatment for it. However the right to refuse medical treatment must also be preserved. 

This whole locking someone up because they are a "danger to themselves" is garbage. If someone, by their actions or words, is deemed to be a threat to others, they have already committed a crime and should be punished to the full extent of the law. "Mental illness" is no excuse for one's bad actions. Punish people to the full extent of the law, and leave anyone who doesn't want to be thrown into a looney bin alone. This is a must in order to preserve individual autonomy.