Much of my professional career has been dedicated to showing that psychiatric coercions and excuses are incompatible with respect for individual liberty and responsibility (Szasz, 1961, 1997). Thus, I was both pleased and displeased to read the criticisms of mental health legislation by Zigmond (1998) and Szmukler & Holloway (1998). It is gratifying to see such views appear in the pages of so respected a publication as the Psychiatric Bulletin, the more so as no American psychiatric journal exhibits similar open-mindedness toward debating a subject that most psychiatrists consider taboo. At the same time, it is frustrating to see psychiatrists grappling with problems intrinsic to psychiatry's legal and social mandate, yet refusing to acknowledge the nature and implications of that mandate.
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