Because freedom can't protect itself
Habeus Corpus Sighting!
Literally, the last time I saw Habeus Corpus was in an article I read this week entitled, "Being Sane in Insane Places" by D. L. Rosenhan. This article is the report on a study where eight sane people posed as pseudopatients and admitted themselves to either a State mental hospital or a psychiatric ward. When they were admitted, they were subject to an indeterminate hospital stay. The only thing that saved them from a possible lifetime of abuse in the hospital was the writ of habeus corpus their lawyer drew up for them prior to their stay.
Despite their normal behavior, these pseudopatients were never detected and were labeled as schizophrenics. They were subjected to depersonalization, no privacy whatsoever, and their personal hygiene was monitored. Verbal abuse was common. In effect, these people became "invisible" and lost all their rights even though they were perfectly sane people.
According to the study, psychiatrists have problems determining the difference between sanity, an ordinary nervous breakdown and psychosis or schizophrenia. Many people in mental hospitals have been misdiagnosed, drugged and kept indefinitely.
The study suggested that psychiatrists would rather be "safe than sorry," so a label of insanity is applied in inconclusive cases. The study also showed that when hospitals were informed they had pseudopatients staying there, they mistakenly identified 41 patients to be sane. In fact, not a single pseudopatient was at the hospitals during that time. It was a red herring planted in order to validate the study.
Totalitarian regimes commonly use mental hospitals to detain political enemies that cannot be brought up on criminal charges. This is a common practice in China. Without habeus corpus, what would prevent Americans from being admitted on false charges of insanity and virtually incarcerated for the rest of their lives? If they were to protest a false label, they would be seen as "resistant to treatment."
It is now impossible to investigate the erroneous labeling of insanity by posing as a pseudopatient, as done in this study, because without habeus corpus, the pseudopatient would have no means of leaving the hospital.
I thought this was an interesting application of the principle of habeus corpus.
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