Ethical Dilemmas: Are We Rationalizing Away Our Rights?
Coercion as consent and other disturbing trends.

Kathie Zatkin, J.D., MSW, System Liaison, Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients

When attorneys spend more time drafting mission statements than they do drafting pleadings, peer providers take on the role of peer police, and physicians defend medical pragmatism as a synonym for medical ethics, it appears that willful blindness has touched us all. How does the mis/use of language contribute to this?

For example, do we allow the words "voluntary", "recovery", and "empowerment" to change based on funding streams? Is "partnership" the correct word when the balance of power is inherently unequal? When does a "patient" have more power than a "consumer"? Drug courts, mental health courts, domestic violence courts, accepting a separate system of justice in exchange for what?

NARPA is committed to abolishing all forced treatment laws. How do the new definitions create ethical dilemmas that conflict with this goal? In this interactive, provocative workshop we will develop strategies to ensure that our work continues to meet NARPA's objectives: promoting choice and the independent exercise of legal and human rights.

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