What does society do then? Allow her to make the decisions that willend up with her being a corpse or a bag lady? Hospitalize her for therest of her life? Hire someone to follow her around to turn offburners, close freezers, pull her out of the middle of streets, takeaway broken bottles and knives, take away drugs, stop her from all thethings that she'll do to hurt herself and others?
Option #1 may have to be the way to go, if only because people are damaged more severely and significantly by coercion, no matter how often it may be fueled by good intention, than by a commitment to respecting people's liberty and self-determination, no matter how often it means letting them die of neglect and failure to intervene.
Some of the best options for improving on that sad set of choices have been user-run alternatives, which have ranged from housing and mutual support groups to out-and-out Safe Freakout Centers. But these are hard to keep going without dependable funding streams and the mental health system's record for funding user-run alternatives has been spotty at best. And if the individual does not perceive him or herself to be in need of help, we certainly aren't going to impose it!
So...I suppose some of you are wondering...what [does AHunter3 think] should one do when a person is essentially dangerous, but mainly to themselves and therefore isn't violating any law for which they could be locked up, and can pull themselves together well enough to "pass" when the cops come? Mostly: respect their right to make stupid decisions and/or be weird and disruptive and/or highly unpleasant company to all in their surround and/or destroy their lives. Because you could be wrong in your assessment of these things, see? And because if they are sufficiently out of it to warrant intervention over their objection, then a court of law should be able to find them so.
Anyone competent enough to "pass" is no different from your dear Aunt Harriet who persists in eating foods that are not good for her and dating men who are not nice to her and who drinks way too much and bar-hops through the more dangerous parts of town very late at night: you're absolutely convinced she's gonna kill herself one way or another, but the world is a better place for the fact that there isn't a damn thing you can do about it unless you can convince her that she should change her ways.
See my next post on this same thread
See my previous post on this same thread
Original SDMB thread Is manic-depression a disease to be cured?
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