Amanda Bynes case and its relevance to Missouri
Former child star Amanda Bynes was committed to a psychiatric facility and reportedly is being treated for mental symptoms labeled as schizophrenia. According to California law, doctors can extend her commitment if she is “gravely disabled as a result of a mental disorder.”
This case is relevant for Missouri because of the legal standard used to commit her, that she was “gravely disabled.” That is not currently allowed in Missouri, but there was legislation introduced in the last session that would have allowed that, and it will likely be introduced again in the next legislative session.
Missouri House Bill 929 purportedly would help parents deal with their adult children who go off the rails before it gets to the point of physical harm — just like Amanda Bynes’ parents are trying to do. She is literally the “poster child” for this type of legislation and will help fertilize the ground for passage next year unless we write our Missouri legislators and let them know what we think about involuntary, or civil, commitment.
The bill changes the standards for determining when a person is in need of mental health detention and evaluation. The person must be held in a psychiatric facility if mentally ill and “gravely disabled” which is defined as “a condition in which a person, as a result of mental illness or mental disorder, lacks judgment in the management of his or her resources and in the conduct of his or her social relations to the extent that his or her health or safety is significantly endangered and he or she lacks the capacity to understand that this is so.”
Statutory checks on the abuse of civil commitment laws are scarce, readily sidestepped and widely ignored. Yet the minds and memories of those subjected to this capriciousness have frequently been destroyed after involuntary imprisonment in psychiatric facilities across the nation — be it a small clinic, private hospital or a government–run institution. And commitment laws have been used for every wrong reason: financial, sexual, business advantage, inheritance, political suppression, and even to maintain governmental secrecy.
When any psychiatrist has full legal power to cause your involuntary physical detention by force (kidnapping), subject you to physical pain and mental stress (torture), leave you permanently mentally damaged (cruel and unusual punishment), with or without proving to your peers that you are a danger to yourself or have committed a crime (due process of law, trial by jury) then, by definition, a totalitarian state exists.
Because of their ubiquity and far–reaching powers, involuntary commitment laws lay a truly concrete foundation for totalitarianism. And they are not, it must be stressed, a threat of what might be, but a present danger — representing America’s gaping breach in the otherwise admirable wall of individual Constitutional rights.
With health care eating up vast amounts of our national budget, the first spending cut to make is the cost of “treating” people who prefer not to be mentally treated. Involuntary commitment laws hike federal, state, county, city and private health care costs under the strange circumstance of a patient–recipient who cannot say no.
Involuntary commitment creates an astonishing debt load on our health care system. Given a very conservative daily cost of $940 for hospitalization and treatment, each involuntary commitment costs around $16,700. With up to 1.5 million people committed yearly, and using the conservative individual figure of $16,700, the annual health care drain is almost $25 billion! And this is paying for a service that most would refuse if given the chance.
The Missouri Revised Statutes (RSMo) Chapter 632 Section 300, Chapter 660 Section 290, and Chapter 632 Section 305 specify the conditions under which, and by whom, someone can be forcibly incarcerated in a mental health facility.
CCHR recommends that citizens execute a Living Will, or Letter of Protection from Psychiatric Incarceration and/or Treatment, which directs that psychiatric incarceration, hospitalization, treatment or procedures not be imposed on you.
Download and read the full CCHR report “Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment – A Crack In The Door Of Constitutional Freedoms“. Forward this newsletter to your family, friends and associates, and recommend that they subscribe.