Autonomy and Paternalism in Mental Health Treatment
The assignment for this Ethics class was to review Mr. Jacob's treatment, as described by the
New York State Commission on Quality of Care for the Mentally disabled (1994). The class was
further asked to comment on the major issues for each of the three perspectives. The agencies,
family and review board were to be included. This student will begin with a fourth perspective;
that of Mr. Gordon.
In the Matter of Jacob Gordon (1994), is the story of the last eight years of a psychiatrically
disabled man's life. Mr. Gordon appeared to vacillate between striving for autonomy and
accepting the support of his family. Unfortunately, it appeared by this account that the families
support was not synonymous with autonomy. It did not appear that Mr. Gordon had ever desired
or sought agency intervention for himself. Mr. Gordon's association with the mental health
system appeared to be marked by power and control issues.
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