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May 1967

The Court-Appointed Psychiatrist: His Role in the Commitment of the Mentally Ill Person

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles
From the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Institute of Psychiatry and Law, Los Angeles.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(5):582-585. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730230066009

THE ROLE of the court-appointed psychiatrist at the civil hearing on the petition of mental illness appears fundamental and clear-cut. His report and testimony on the examination of the patient and his recommendations provide the legal evidence for the court's findings of mental illness and adjudication of commitment. Nevertheless, the role of this psychiatrist is subject to misinterpretation and misunderstanding, and much unfavorable criticism is leveled against him by the psychiatric community and the public at large.

Frequently the court-appointed psychiatrist has not understood his role because courts in different jurisdictions have asked psychiatrists to shift their roles according to the court's interpretation of mental illness. Recent changes in laws affecting the hospitalization of the mentally ill in the District of Columbia and the states of Illinois and New York have been directed to increasing the voluntary aspect of hospitalization and community treatment of

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