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Impact of coercive treatments on biographical narratives


Involuntary treatment is an integral and controversial part of psychiatric practice worldwide. Many concerns have been raised regarding the personal and legal impact of involuntary interventions in the course of psychiatric treatment [1]. Objective: To explore what it means for people to have experienced involuntary treatment with regard to their biography – their life story as well as their possible illness story or most likely both.


A qualitative study has been conducted involving focus groups and interviews of service users with a history of involuntary commitment. Transcripts were coded and analyzed for thematic content by means of inductive formation of categories from the texts, aiming at establishing a typology of coercion experiences, reactions and styles of integration in personal stories from the spoken words of the participants.


Involuntary hospitalization is often seen as a traumatizing and stigmatizing life-event and it is hard to speak about it. Some people choose an active way to deal with such an experience, while others prefer to not think about it. Consequences of involuntary treatment intertwine with consequences of suffering a psychotic episode.


Involuntary hospitalization has a complex impact on persons' life.


  1. Lefley HP: Involuntary treatment: concerns of consumers, families, and society. Innov Res. 1993, 2: 7-9.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Sibitz, I., Amering, M., Scheutz, A. et al. Impact of coercive treatments on biographical narratives. BMC Psychiatry 7 (Suppl 1), S58 (2007).

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  • Focus Group
  • Qualitative Study
  • Service User
  • Psychiatric Treatment
  • Life Story