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(1971). Objections to Involuntary Admission to Mental Hospitals: New York Civil Liberties Union. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(3):385-394.

(1971). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(3):385-394

Objections to Involuntary Admission to Mental Hospitals: New York Civil Liberties Union

The influence of psychoanalysis in our world and our culture, while widespread, is still only skin deep. Playwrights and novelists have borrowed its vocabulary; film and television dramas have popularized unconscious drives and conflicts, the Oedipus complex and sibling rivalries. A whole generation has been reared in the erroneous assumption that to promote mental health they must not be frustrated. Nevertheless, the essential psychoanalytic ethic of autonomous choice has gained little acceptance and almost no true comprehension. In particular, society's attitude towards so-called “mentally ill” persons lags far behind the psychoanalytic view of these people and their prerogatives.

As psychoanalysts in a scientific, mechanized nation, some of us feel the need to illuminate the human values we work with daily in our prastice. Lest the individual's uniqueness be forgotten in a centrally organized state, we feel impelled to seek legal and social safeguards for individuality and self-determination, especially for the mentally ill. Such psychoanalysts will urge that alleged mentally ill persons be guaranteed at least the same civil rights and social treatment as other citizens, including the right to choose how they shall live, as long as they do not break the law. Such psychoanalysts will defend the rights of the nonconformist and the eccentric to live as he chooses.

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