Public Comment

New: A Final Reply to Ralph Stone

By Jack Bragen
Sunday April 20, 2014 - 05:10:00 PM

First of all, let me congratulate Mr. Stone on a well-constructed and pithy essay and on his good intentions. 

However, some of the arguments do not bear close scrutiny. I will say again that the research Mr. Stone is citing is generated by Treatment Advocacy, an already biased organization which has its own agenda concerning dealing with the mentally ill. Mr. Stone has agreed with this observation. 

I urge the reader to click on the hyperlinks in Mr. Stone's reply and study the material. Some of this material is predigested and contains predetermined conclusions without including hard evidence of its findings. Brian Stettin, whose research Mr. Stone is citing, just happens to be the policy director for Treatment Advocacy. 

Mr. Stone's other source of predigested material is This is an organization whose prominent claims of being unbiased are totally misleading. 

While one favorable study by Columbia University is being cited, it certainly doesn't constitute a "mountain of evidence." 

The fact that people are intentionally targeted under the auspices of Laura's Law is actually disturbing. Mr. Stone has said that there is a specific population which would qualify for "AOT" (a misleading terminology--it should be called "Involuntary Outpatient Commitment"). 

Forced treatment is a complex and thorny issue, and it is an issue that deserves a truly compassionate approach. Persons with mental illness need to be given a chance to learn. When someone is deprived of that, treatment becomes punishment and it will bring about resentment. 

If you are taking medication because you have the awareness that you need it, this is different from taking medication because it has been externally forced upon you. When force is introduced, it interferes with any possible learning curve that could allow a mentally ill person to achieve a lasting recovery. And then, they may be stuck in "the revolving door" of repeated relapses for the remainder of their miserable and short lives. 

In my columns I am trying to show an example of a way that I believe recovery can be done right. As a very wise man once said, "it is better to lead not by force but by example." 

And finally, these outpatient commitment laws do not address the lifelong problems experienced by "compliant" sufferers of mental illness. This is a population of people who often have very little to look forward to in life, and who need help with housing, employment and improvement in our quality of life.