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Bill
Bill, LCSW, Consultant, Expert Witness
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3706
Experience:  35 years treating individuals, couples, families with mental health and substance abuse prob's
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My son is a paranoid schizophrenic. He just wrote the local

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My son is a paranoid schizophrenic. He just wrote the local newspaper accusing them of spying on him. He found "evidence" in the newspaper. The problem is that he does not believe that he has a problem. I have consulted with a psychologist and was told that we cannot force him to accept treatment unless he's a danger to himself or others. Do you have any suggestions on how to get him to accept treatment?

Bill :

Hello- Thank you for asking the question. I have over 30 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families & am happy to reply.

Bill :

I am sorry to hear about problem and have worked with persons with Schizophrenia for nearly 35 years.

Bill :

Are you able to chat now?

Bill :

Hello-

Bill :

I am curious to know if your son is under PSYCHIATRIC care and if he is taking medication?

Bill :

Or, is he medication resistant?

Customer:

No. He refuses to obtain help. He does not believe in medicine. He believes that traditional doctors will only harm him.

Customer:
Bill :

I understand. In what state do live so that I can check legal issues.

Bill :

Can you tell me if he made any threats in the content that he wrote to the paper?

Bill :

Did he send the letter?

Customer:

PA


He said that he would file litigation against the paper. Yes, the paper contacted his father and sent a copy to him.

Bill :

I see. Here is the PA LAW:

Bill :

Pennsylvania


For both inpatient and outpatient:


50 PA CONS. STAT. ANN. § 7304(a). A person who is severely mentally disabled and in need of treatment, as defined in section 301(a), may be made subject to court-ordered involuntary treatment upon a determination of clear and present danger under section 301(b)(1) (serious bodily harm to others), or section 301(b)(2)(i) (inability to care for himself, creating a danger of death or serious harm to himself), or 301(b)(2)(ii) (attempted suicide), or 301(b)(2)(iii) (self-mutilation).


50 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 7304(f). "Upon a finding by clear and convincing evidence that the person is severely mentally disabled and in need of treatment and subject to subsection (a), an order shall be entered directing treatment of the person in an approved facility as an inpatient or an outpatient, or a combination of such treatment . . . ."


50 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 7301.


(a) Whenever a person is severely mentally disabled and in need of immediate treatment, he may be made subject to involuntary emergency examination and treatment. A person is severely mentally disabled when, as a result of mental illness, his capacity to exercise self-control, judgment and discretion in the conduct of his affairs and social relations or to care for his own personal needs is so lessened that he poses a clear and present danger of harm to others or to himself.


(b) Determination of Clear and Present Danger.


(1) Clear and present danger to others shall be shown by establishing that within the past 30 days the person has inflicted or attempted to inflict serious bodily harm on another and that there is a reasonable probability that such conduct will be repeated. If, however, the person has been found incompetent to be tried or has been acquitted by reason of lack of criminal responsibility on charges arising from conduct involving infliction of or attempt to inflict substantial bodily harm on another, such 30-day limitation shall not apply so long as an application for examination and treatment is filed within 30 days after the date of such determination or verdict. In such case, a clear and present danger to others may be shown by establishing that the conduct charged in the criminal proceeding did occur, and that there is a reasonable probability that such conduct will be repeated. For the purpose of this section, a clear and present danger of harm to others may be demonstrated by proof that the person has made threats of harm and has committed acts in furtherance of the threat to commit harm.


(2) Clear and present danger to himself shall be shown by establishing that within the past 30 days:


(i) the person has acted in such manner as to evidence that he would be unable, without care, supervision and the continued assistance of others, to satisfy his need for nourishment, personal or medical care, shelter, or self-protection and safety, and that there is a reasonable probability that death, serious bodily injury or serious physical debilitation would ensue within 30 days unless adequate treatment were afforded under this act; or


(ii) the person has attempted suicide and that there is the reasonable probability of suicide unless adequate treatment is afforded under this act. For the purposes of this subsection, a clear and present danger may be demonstrated by the proof that the person has made threats to commit suicide and has committed acts which are in furtherance of the threat to commit suicide; or


(iii) the person has substantially mutilated himself or attempted to mutilate himself substantially and that there is the reasonable probability of mutilation unless adequate treatment is afforded under this act. For the purposes of this subsection, a clear and present danger shall be established by proof that the person has made threats to commit mutilation and has committed acts which are in furtherance of the threat to commit mutilation.




 

Bill :

50 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 7301.


(a) Whenever a person is severely mentally disabled and in need of immediate treatment, he may be made subject to involuntary emergency examination and treatment. A person is severely mentally disabled when, as a result of mental illness, his capacity to exercise self-control, judgment and discretion in the conduct of his affairs and social relations or to care for his own personal needs is so lessened that he poses a clear and present danger of harm to others or to himself.


 

Bill :

The above paragraph- in my experience would support a petition that can be executed ( in most states by 2 family members) that your son is suffering from a mental illness and that he meets criteria for involuntary evaluation.

Bill :

His behavior meets the criteria for impaired capacity to exercise self control- as evidenced in the letter - as well as judgment and discretion in the conduct of his affairs and social relations

Customer:

I'm aware of this. We tried to get him treatment because he wasn't eating enough and became very thin. But he easily agreed to eat more and he has gained weight so we cannot use that to commit him.


 

Bill :

In what county in PA does he reside?

Bill :

Well, I won't disagree however, his behavior has obviously escalated to the point where he is sending these letters to the newspaper and this behavior will continue and is likely to escalate - so this is an entirely different level now.

Bill :

Plus you have proof of his disturbance in what he has written.

Customer:

He's homeless. Right now he's staying with a friend in Carbon County.


 

Bill :

Ok- what did the MH Center tell you?

Customer:

So what should I do now?


 

Bill :

Since you have other family members who are aware of his history and the current letter to the newspaper- I would file another petition with the court and let a judge make a decision. It is probably obvious by what he has written to the newspaper that he is mentally ill and needs help.

Bill :

That is all you can do at this point.

Bill :

Does that make practical sense?

Customer:

Lehigh County MH/MR said they could a health worker to assess him, but he disappeared for a while. Now that he is in Carbon county, I don't know if this county has the resources to send someone out to him. In PA, the person needs to be assessed by a physician to determine that he is a clear and present danger to himself or others. The physician decides, not a judge.

Customer:
Bill and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you