When the government next comes to look at possible ways to reform the Mental Health Act, they must withdraw the clause that effectively permits someone's spouse or relatives to decide their fate or future earning power. 'Individual' human rights should mean precisely what it says on the packet, after all. And it's perhaps worth remembering that some people are politically incarcerated in mental hospitals merely because of their alleged political or sexual preferences, and may well have relatives who are employed by the security services in some capacity of another. While others are the victims of serious clinical incompetence and persistent bureaucratic cover-ups.
There can now be no doubt that radical changes to the Mental Health Act are long overdue in the UK.
The clause in the Mental Health Act which currently stipulates that someone detained under Section 4 can only be discharged with the agreement of a spouse or family member must be urgently reviewed. Many single people are the victims of hate crimes perpetuated by their own relatives that can extend over an entire lifetime, and more should be done to protect individuals from the damaging effects of sibling envy, not to mention the clinical effects of munchausen syndrome by proxy, or the corrupting influences of politicised welfare. The causes of misdiagnosis can be highly complex these days and the referral process still maintains many of the features of the old Victorian asylum system, which relies heavily on the collaboration of spouses or family members to effectively strip someone of their basic human rights.
David Mitchell, a novelist who obviously has some insight into the problems associated with inverted projection or familial hate crime, satirized the sadistic power play that can poison family relations when the state plays a strategic hand in things. In his 2005 novel, Timothy Cavendish is an independent publisher who turns to his rich financier brother for help when he is pursued by a gang of ruthless money lenders. To all intents and purposes, his brother appears a paragon of virtue and kindness when he arranges for him to take a short holiday at a secret, undisclosed retreat. However, it is only when Cavendish finds the accommodation a little too institutionalised for his liking that he discovers that his brother has, in fact, craftily had him admitted to a private residual care home all along (it was set in the 1980s, after all!). Of course, Mitchell's fictional character eventually manages to escape with hilarious results. But the wider issue of sibling hate crime nevertheless remains one of those inconvenient truths that is rarely even acknowledged by clinical psychiatrists workingin the field even today.
Of course, families often merely allow themselves to become the dupes of institutionalised processes, which are designed to marginalise and reduce the benefits status of those who have either fallen victim to discriminative practice in the workplace, or whose non-conformist approach to life may well have led them to become self-employed freelancers and therefore free from the usual lifestyle constraints imposed on public sector workers. Meanwhile, others may have had such sublime independence forced on them by successive governments owing to the the long-term effects of short-term contracting or intermittent spells of unemployment. This is precisely why families should not be awarded any formal powers of attorney which allow them to interfere or meddle in the lives of individuals whom they happen to be related to by birth. What would have happened to Able, after all, if Cain had simply been able to ring up his local mental health unit and slyly express concerns about his brother's ability to cope with the responsibility of running his father's olive farm? Just think, the whole course of Judao-Christian mythology might have been intrinsically altered beyond recognition.