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The Law and Psychiatry Wars, 1960-1980
California Western Law Review
  • Sheldon Gelman, Cleveland State University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • psychiatry,
  • medications
The chapter of the book excerpted below examines litigation developments from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. In law no less than in psychiatry, professional judgments produced anomalous results and professional processes worked in unexpected ways when it came to medications. These departures advanced a public mental health vision that was functionally the same as psychiatrists', even if couched in utterly different and more legalistic terms. Psychiatrists hailed medications as a medical revolution; lawyers by and large ignored the drugs. Yet, both professions reached the same general conclusions about what should be done.Commentators at the time saw an emerging “war” between law and psychiatry. However, the combat metaphor seems particularly ill chosen. Viewed in retrospect, the two disciplines' relationship seems like a ritualized dance-- one marked by forceful gestures and occasional separation of the two partners, but always in response to the same music.
Citation Information
Sheldon Gelman, The Law and Psychiatry Wars, 1960-1980, 34 California Western Law Review 153 (1997)