An Argumentative Essay About Involuntary Commitment


An Argumentative Essay About Involuntary Commitment
Thus far in our course, we have explored some foundational texts for our course theme, which broadly covers
the key concept of “madness.” This assignment asks you to weigh in on the debate about involuntary
commitment (or institutionalization) of those who are deemed to be afflicted with serious psychiatric or
psychological disorders, and may be a danger to themselves or others. Our foundational texts for this unit
include an excerpt from Foucault’s Madness and Civilization, which offers a glimpse into the history of
confinement, and Aviv’s “God Knows Where I Am,” which profiles the story of one family’s journey to
secure treatment for their loved one with bipolar disorder. Additional texts from the database called
Opposing Viewpoints in Context (including articles by Thea Amidov, John Casada, Beth Haroules, and John
Pekkanen) offer arguments on all sides of the topic, and provide important pieces of evidence and key
concepts for your consideration.

Is involuntary commitment of people who are (allegedly) afflicted with psychiatric or
psychological disorders and who may be a danger to themselves or others necessary,
beneficial and/or ethical? Why or why not?

 Final argumentative essay must offer an original thesis in response to the prompt question, and support
that thesis with subclaims, and evidence from and analysis of unit texts.
 Note: students are required to cite and engage closely with at least THREE texts from our unit:
 Students must reference Aviv’s text, and students must additionally incorporate two texts
from our unit.
 Students may cite more than three texts total, but must adhere to the requirements above
regarding sources. Outside research is acceptable with prior approval; only reputable sources
will be approved.
 Incorporate and address (rebut or accommodate) a counterargument at some point in the essay.
 Final argumentative essay draft must be 56 pages long (or a minimum of 2,000 words), doublespaced,
1” margins, 12 point Times New Roman or 11point Arial. Essays that do not meet minimum length
requirements will not receive a passing grade.
 Use intext citations and include a works cited page according to MLA standards.
 HELPFUL HINT: Rather than arguing flatly for or against the practice, devote your subclaims to
identifying complexities, constraints and important considerations related to the use of involuntary
commitment. In other words, this is a complicated issue; don’t oversimplify it.

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