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Compulsory (Involuntary) Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa

THE TREATMENT OF EATING DISORDERS, Carlos Grilo, James Mitchell, eds., Guilford Press, pp. 212-224, 2009

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/07

23 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2010  

Stephen Touyz

University of Sydney

Terry Carney

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: January 5, 2010

Abstract

This chapter concentrates on the medical and ethical turbulence regarding management of anorexia nervosa at that intersection between law and medicine. While not overlooking the emerging literature on ‘when’ and ‘why’ clinicians actually invoke whatever powers the law permits, our emphasis is on the issues of principle at stake. The chapter reviews the diverse pattern of laws (if any) which may be used in aid of involuntary treatment of anorexia nervosa suffers in different jurisdictions, before setting out some of the ethical principles informing the use of involuntary treatment. The main section of the chapter then examines the clinical practice and therapeutic role of coercion within the overall treatment options for dealing with a condition whose chronicity, morbidity and mortality rates understandably puts pressure on clinicians to find ‘solutions’. The chapter concludes by arguing that coercion into treatment has a very limited, but potentially vital, role to play in dealing with anorexia patients presenting with life-threateningly low Body Mass Indices (BMI’s) or equivalent compromise of their current or future health status.

Keywords: anorexia nervosa, law and medicine, ethical limits of force, clinical/therapeutic roles of coercion, indications for coercion

JEL Classification: K10. K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Touyz, Stephen and Carney, Terry, Compulsory (Involuntary) Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa (January 5, 2010). THE TREATMENT OF EATING DISORDERS, Carlos Grilo, James Mitchell, eds., Guilford Press, pp. 212-224, 2009 ; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1531975

Stephen Touyz (Contact Author)

University of Sydney ( email )

University of Sydney
Sydney NSW 2006, NC
Australia

Terry Carney

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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