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If you are experiencing involuntary treatment, you may find yourself in a desperate crisis. Here we will share tools and strategies on how you can fight for your freedom.

The typical argument against victims of involuntary psychiatric treatment is that they don’t have the mental capacity to make rational decisions about their own health care, thus the decision-making power shifts over to the government.

To avoid this, you can proclaim in advance what is to be done if doctors deem you unfit for making decisions.

An advanced directive can also designate someone to make decisions on your behalf during a crisis should you be considered incompetent. This is called declaring a power of attorney.

Advanced directive forms for the U.S. are available on the National Resource Center for Psychiatric Advance Directives’ website.

A guardianship is where the state appoints someone to make decisions for you.

Be warned; even with all these documents in hand, it is possible for the mental health system to overrule your decisions and fight to take away a power of attorney or guardian if or when that person doesn’t agree with the psychiatrists. Should you refuse treatment, a hearing will take place.

It is advised that you do not testify on your own behalf at a hearing. To assist you and your lawyer during your hearing, MindFreedom International has partnered with PsychRights to create the Forced Drugging Defense Package. These documents include written affidavits by Dr. Grace E. Jackson and medical journalist Bob Whitaker about the research on the damage psychiatric drugs cause.

When it comes to fighting against an outpatient committal, survivors have had success by getting expert witnesses like a psychologist to testify on their behalf, modify their diagnosis, and provide evidence that forced drugging orders are an ineffective form of treatment.

These tactics require legal expertise and support. For people going it alone, psychiatric survivors suggest a more accessible solution.

It’s no easy feat to escape involuntary psychiatric treatment. When you’re locked in a psychiatric hospital because doctors have declared you to be mentally ill, it’s natural to wonder, “What is mental illness?” In our next segment, we will challenge the medical model of mental illness.


Watch the rest of the Voices for Choices series