NY Times OP-Ed contributor Mia Fontaine discusses Britney Spears and argues for less restrictive conditions on involuntary commitment. Fontaine's position is sure to infuriate some patient activists, which is understandable, and sure to arouse protest among libertarians who are profoundly naive and inexperienced with severe mental illness. The former must be taken seriously. Their experiences and their insights into the system are indispensable and, too often, ignored. The latter group, on the other hand, has the luxury of ideological indulgence at a safe distance from the the misery of patients and their families, the anguish of the terrified parents of mentally ill children and far away from the professional responsibility to help.
Potential conflicts of interest for me in this discussion: I don't make a red cent from hospitalized patients. In fact, if a patient is hospitalized, I lose income which is, to me, far preferable to a patient losing his or her life.