Personality Disorders and Involuntary Treatment

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Personality disorders comprise mental health issues characterized by unhealthy patterns of behavior and thinking that prevent an individual from effective personal and social functioning. One of the difficulties associated with these conditions is the patients’ tendency to reject treatment since they believe they do not have any problem. People with personality disorders often are at risk of self-harm, suicide, and other disruptive behaviors (Lundahl et al., 2021). In this regard, an ethical concern arises about the appropriateness of forced treatment.

Forced Treatment

It might seem unfeasible to invest effort into curing individuals that deny the problem. However, individuals with certain personality disorders can be considered decision incompetent, and an evaluation of various factors by health care professionals is required. Personality disorders can pose a significant risk to the affected individuals, as well as the people around them. Research findings by Lundahl et al. (2021) show that over 50% of the respondents “justified compulsory care of decision-competent patients if they presented a danger to themselves or others” (p. 3). For instance, patients with a borderline personality disorder at risk of self-injury can be considered decision-incompetent. Other factors include psychosis, intellectual disabilities, organic mental disorders, older age, and living in assisted accommodation (Schmitz-Buhl et al., 2019). Based on the detailed evaluation of the problem, mandatory treatment can be considered for some patients that reject help.


Overall, the risk of harm might not be a valid reason to implement involuntary in-patient treatment. However, it must be assessed along with other factors, such as the patient’s condition and the ability to make informed decisions. Severe psychiatric problems, suicidal behavior, self-injury, and decision incompetence can indicate the need for compulsory care to ensure safety for the patient and others. In any case, it is crucial to evaluate the potential effects of treatment in order not to cause further harm to the individuals’ mental and physical health.


Lundahl, A., Hellqvist, J., Helgesson, G., & Juth, N. (2021). Psychiatrists’ motives for compulsory care of patients with borderline personality disorder–a questionnaire study. Clinical Ethics.

Schmitz-Buhl, M., Gairing, S. K., Rietz, C., Häussermann, P., Zielasek, J., & Gouzoulis-Mayfrank, E. (2019). A retrospective analysis of determinants of involuntary psychiatric in-patient treatment. BMC psychiatry, 19(1), 1-15. Web.

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"Personality Disorders and Involuntary Treatment." NursingBird, 19 Mar. 2023,


NursingBird. (2023) 'Personality Disorders and Involuntary Treatment'. 19 March.


NursingBird. 2023. "Personality Disorders and Involuntary Treatment." March 19, 2023.

1. NursingBird. "Personality Disorders and Involuntary Treatment." March 19, 2023.


NursingBird. "Personality Disorders and Involuntary Treatment." March 19, 2023.