This paper addresses some of the ethical and legal issues involving the rights of psychiatric patients to refuse treatment. Particular attention is focused on two recently decided cases—Rogers v. Okins, and Rennie v. Klein—that deal with the rights of involuntarily committed patients to refuse psychotropic medications. Both cases approach this issue in different ways, but inevitably point to some very complicated philosophical concepts such as the meaning of self-determination, autonomy and identity of personhood, especially as these concepts are applied to mentally ill patients.

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