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Two Types of Patient

Blonde Horse

As found often in life, mental health reveals a distinct dichotomy when categorising patients. The dividing line falls between voluntary patients (who constitute the vast majority of the world’s mental health patients) and compulsorily treated patients. The difference between the two is significant. I like to think of the distinction in terms of pornography. There is a great variety of porn on offer in today’s world and it can neatly be placed in two major categories: Softcore porn might be viewed post-watershed on Channel 4 or be made by a loving couple at home on their Nokia Camera Phone; Hardcore Porn, although a lot rarer, can emcompass anything an although not a particular porn aficionado myself, I understand from friends that seeing lesbian dwarves being impaled by horses is not uncommon.  There is a gulf of difference in acceptability and the way in which these two types are viewed. It is a lot easier to take up softcore porn and get back out of it into a normal life, yet on the other hand you can slip deeper into the murky world by joining in and end up being drawn into the niche area of hardcore porn. Very rarely indeed do people move in the other direction. There is no turning back. The housewife who gets a bit overexcited around Christmas time and needs some valium prescribed from the GP to beat away the January blues is a fair way from, for example, Peter Sutcliffe or Charles Bronson, who while away their days in the confines of Broadmoor. What defines the boundary between patient categories? It comes down to law. In Britain we have the Mental Health Act which attempts to define mental illness in terms of the law. Mental Health Law is very very shady. It allows for psychiatrists to pass legislation based on their medical examination of a patient which  can mean that he or she can be ‘sectionned under the Mental Health Act. If a doctor decides this then, as a patient, you lose your rights to decide on treatment and your (self) appointed doctor is able to treat you without your consent. The rights and wrongs of this fundamental principle of Mental Health is a subject which I really want to delve deeply into as the End Of Terror blog develops. It opens a whole massive can of worms of medical ethics and human rights. Not…

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