The views of psychiatric patients and their treating physicians of court-ordered compulsory hospitalization for criminal acts

Y Melamed, R Kimhi, M Stawski, A Elizur
Medicine and Law 1997, 16 (1): 97-109
The legal responsibility for the mentally ill has long been a dilemma. Public opinion regarding the law which states that the mentally ill, in a psychotic state, are not responsible for their actions, is divided. The study assessed 30 psychiatric patients, committed by court order, following a criminal act on their part. No relationship was found between the nature of their offense and a psychiatric disorder. Patients who committed more serious crimes, such as murder, tended to have committed fewer criminal acts in the past. Sixty-nine percent of the patients think that the mentally ill are not responsible for their actions and 59% agreed with the judge's decision to hospitalize them. On a concrete level, over two-thirds of the patients were able to distinguish right from wrong. The treating physicians related mainly to the patients' illnesses rather than to the crimes for which they were committed.

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