Protecting the Lives of Victims of Involuntary Commitment
Regional conference of Italian chapters of psychiatric watchdog group Citizens Commission on Human Rights meets at the Church of Scientology of Milan. Members learn how to deal with victims of involuntary commitment.
A regional conference of Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) at the Church of Scientology of Milan briefed CCHR chapters from throughout northern Italy on how to protect the lives and safety of victims of involuntary psychiatric commitment, known in Italy as TSO (Trattamento Sanitario Obbligatorio).
Those attending included CCHR representatives from Turin, Milan, Trento, Verona, Florence and Modena.
Prior to 1978, a person could only be involuntarily committed if he was considered an actual or potential danger to himself or others. The law was changed in 1978 to include a person who is purportedly “in need of treatment and refuses it.”
However, CCHR has exposed numerous cases of incorrect psychiatric diagnoses and treatment, making this designation completely arbitrary. What’s more, the group’s documentation of the deaths of victims of TSO demonstrate the urgent need to reform the existing law.
The president of CCHR Italy walked those attending the workshop through the full bureaucratic procedure needed to execute a TSO and drilled them on how to spot irregularities and abuses of the guidelines. They gained even greater familiarity with handling these incidents by dramatizing involuntary commitment incidents with members of the audience acting the part of the patient, M.D., psychiatrist, judge, police officer and ambulance technician.
The drilling covered how to help with a TSO:
- When a person contacts CCHR suspecting a TSO is being planned;
- While the TSO is being executed—when the ambulance is on the street and the victim suspects it is for him;
- And after the TSO has been carried out and the victim is in the psychiatric ward.
Various scenarios of abuse and negligence were explored and drilled so the CCHR members fully understood how to help such a victim.
Attendees were briefed that CCHR is drafting a bill to reform the 1978 TSO law, and their help is needed to provide factual information. They were asked to survey those most intimately involved in the procedure, including psychiatric ward administrators, police, firefighters, ambulance personnel and judges, and provide the information found so the proposed legislation can meet all needed contingencies.
Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is a nonprofit charitable mental health watchdog co-founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and professor of psychiatry emeritus, the late Dr. Thomas Szasz. It is dedicated to eradicating psychiatric abuses and ensuring patient protection.
The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.
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