To the Editor: Sadly, the case of “John”, who perhaps should have been detained earlier, is common.1 Mental health Acts seem to vary with the times, from the narrowness of legalistically defined “dangerousness” criteria to the vagaries of “care” criteria. Abuses and failures at each end repeatedly swing the pendulum back the other way. Some Australian legislation has been adjusted to bring it in line with United Nations recommendations, but those recommendations themselves have a history, being in part an over-reaction to historical abuses of psychiatry and detention around the world. They may not be quite right for us.
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