Coercing Other People

Mental Health Cop

soapbox Policing and mental health services have many things in common (as well as some potentially insurmountable differences) but I want to consider one issue that is arguably the most controversial aspect: they are each systems of social control which involve the coercion of other people, by the threat of and the use of physical force. It is when force is being considered, threatened and used that we see these social infrastructures at their most controversial and we have noted for decades the tragic outcomes from restraint related deaths in both our police and health services. We have also come to learn how the misapplication of force can erode trust and confidence in these institutions, both in terms of affecting towards whom force was deployed and the confidence that the general public have arising from that.

Using force directly usually does one of two things: it hurts (or kills) people and…

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One thought on “Coercing Other People

  1. my comment on blog post “Thanks for flirting with the topic of force and for raising various points worth considering.

    As a psychiatric survivor I’ve been at the receiving end of coercive treatment in psychiatric settings (1978, 1984, 2002). Not by police as I was never aggressive when mentally unwell (I’m much more assertive when in my right mind!). I resisted drug treatment because I don’t like to swallow pharma drugs, they are unpredictable and cause me to be depressed, take away my decision-making abilities and to have suicidal impulses (on venlafaxine).

    I didn’t like being drugged in psych wards where I had to live with strangers, some of whom were drug addicts and alcoholics, others with criminal tendencies. I thought it very risky when my capacity was compromised by psychiatric drugs. I don’t drink alcohol or take recreational drugs in “normal/real” life as I don’t like the effects of those either. I particularly didn’t like the mixed gender psych wards, especially in earlier years when I had to wear pyjamas, our clothes were locked away.

    So I am against forced psychiatric treatment. On principle. And because I don’t want it done to me and mine. There has to be a better way of working with people in mental distress and altered mind states/psychoses, which is what my family all experience. It’s normal for us. The “mental illness” label wasn’t helpful and the disorder label I have seen used to declare “incapacity” and to force treatment on the “non-compliant”, or in my case non-conformist. I’ve always been non-conformist, now in my 62nd year, so being in a psychosis won’t change that.”

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