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January 9, 1987

The Mentally Disabled and the Law

Author Affiliations

Culver City, Calif

Culver City, Calif


by Samuel Jan Brakel, John Parry, and Barbara A. Weiner, ed 3; 845 pp, $75, Chicago, American Bar Foundation, 1985.

JAMA. 1987;257(2):254. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390020120047

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This is the third edition of a very comprehensive book, the size of a telephone directory, dealing with the mentally disabled. The term itself is defined in a general and generic way. It subsumes such areas as mental illness, retardation, and alcoholism and other drug addiction.

According to the authors, there were few legal practitioners in this area at first, but today, a substantial legal industry has evolved around it. Newspaper advertisements and television commercials are proof of the enormous expansion.

The American Bar Association has a long history of concern about laws relating to the mentally disabled. In 1954, the American Bar Association referred a proposed study to the American Bar Foundation, which led to the publication of the initial and subsequent editions of this volume.

This volume deals with all facets of the law. Civil commitment, right to treatment, deinstitutionalization, community treatment, right to refuse treatment, competency, rights