What do you see as the pros and cons of a person’s right to not take medication when he is mentally ill?

The only pro I see in a person’s right to not take medication is that if we remove this autonomy then it would create a situation in which people could be forced to take medication or be institutionalized for arbitrary reasons. There are many cons to the right to take medication most notably that the people who need it the most may not be compliant and do not get treatment. I think a big part of the problem is that people do not understand medication and think of it as a cure.  There is a great deal of variance with medication results. This is especially true when one looks at more serious disorders such as schizophrenia. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2009) “People respond individually to antipsychotic medications, although agitation and hallucinations usually improve within days and delusions usually improve within a few weeks.”   Medication is not effective on all patients in the same amount or even the same type. While some individuals respond well to the antischizophrenic medications, others do not and must be institutionalized (Pinel, 2007, p. 483).  A great deal of research is still necessary in this disorder as much is still unknown.   Until medications are better understood compulsory medicating should not be considered.


National Institute of Mental Health. (2009). What causes schizophrenia. Retrieved

Pinel, J. P. J. (2007). Basics of biopsychology. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

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