Commitment to a psychiatric ward

Is it permissible to commit people to psychiatric care because they pose a danger to themselves and others? Doesn’t this forced admission violate the right to self-determination? And who decides on treatment against one’s own will?

Around two hundred thousand people are forcibly hospitalized every year. Robert Weimann is one of them. More than twenty years ago, doctors diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. The now forty-year-old repeatedly stopped taking medication and therapies and got caught in a cycle of joblessness and homelessness, suicide attempts and forced admissions/clinic stays. According to his psychiatrist, Dr. Uwe Lanz, Robert Weimann is dependent on medical treatment. However, forced hospitalization is always only the “very last resort” to protect the patient and his environment. His mother, Renate Weimann, has accompanied her son through the decades with the disease. Often she had no other way out than to have her son admitted to a clinic.  

Nora Müller, 26, has been suffering from anorexia for over ten years. When her condition became life-threatening in recent years, she was forced into hospital. Nora Müller has perceived the forced hospital stays and therapies as “life-saving, but also as a traumatic intervention”. Her mother Katrin Müller knows how freedom-loving her daughter is, but she also has to fear for Nora’s life time and again. Like Renate Weimann, she regularly experiences the dichotomy between care and deprivation of freedom.

An important anchor for Robert Weimann and Nora Müller is “Durchblick e.V.” in Leipzig. Here, they are accepted just as they are, find conversation partners, leisure activities and, if need be, a bed. The self-help organization sees itself as a counseling and contact point for mentally ill people and their relatives. Here they experience help first in exceptional situations. After inpatient therapies or forced admissions, Durchblick e.V. is an important support and a bridge for the return to a normal life.

The film lets Robert Weimann and Nora Müller describe their view of the compulsory treatments they experienced, and it describes the dilemma in which relatives and doctors find themselves.