JOURNAL ARTICLE

[What is a "Considerable Damage to One's Health" in the Sense of German Guardianship Law?]

Tilman Steinert, Andreas Heinz, Felix Hohl-Radke, Manfred Koller, Jürgen Müller, Sabine Müller, Martin Zinkler
Psychiatrische Praxis 2016, 43 (7): 395-399
27733009
The term of a "considerable damage to one's health" is central in German guardianship law with respect to judge's decisions on involuntary commitment and coercive treatment. A legal definition has not been provided, and up to now no explanations from the part of medicine have been available what a "considerable damage to one's health" is in the case of mental illness and how it can be determined. A consensus paper of the German Association of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (DGPPN) explains four possible scenarios of manifestation of such kind of damage, corresponding to somatic illnesses: evidence of structural brain lesions (rare), subjective suffering (sufficient, but not necessary), impairment of functioning in important areas of life, and severe impairment of social participation (e. g. by dangerous behaviour against others). This view corresponds with the WHO's bio-psycho-social concept of health.

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