IN THIS ERA of increased public awareness of mental illness, the remarkable effectiveness of psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and, recently, the application of principles of community psychiatry, indeterminate periods of hospitalization have become less frequent.1 As reported elsewhere, 75% of 3,000 psychotic patients who were hospitalized for a period of seven days could be returned to the community at an adequate functioning level; hospitalization for periods of many months does not seem to increase the rate or quality of restitution significantly; it seems to promote chronicity and to foster prolonged future hospitalization.2
The acute psychiatric disturbance frequently impairs the patient's judgment and casts some doubts about his competency for voluntary admission. It has been the experience of many psychiatrists that some patients are denied the benefits of early, prompt treatment. Unfortunately, there are still many patients who refuse to accept hospitalization until
Guido JA, Payne DH. 72-Hour Psychiatric Detention: Clinical Observation and Treatment in a County General Hospital. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(2):233–238. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730200101014
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