November 23, 1979

New Developments in Civil Commitment of the Mentally IIIImpact for Patient, Family, and Psychiatrist

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, West Virginia University Medical School, and West Virginia University College of Law, Morgantown.

JAMA. 1979;242(21):2307-2309. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300210033017

In deciding Addington vs Texas the US Supreme Court established "clear and convincing evidence" as the standard of proof necessary for civil commitment of the mentally ill rather than the criminal standard, "beyond a reasonable doubt." This decision has major implications for the mentally ill person, the family, and the psychiatrist. The mentally ill person is returned to the role of patient. The family is given aid in their dilemma of coping with their psychotic member. The psychiatrist is seen as helper rather than jailer.

(JAMA 242:2307-2309, 1979)