The Voice of the Voiceless: Addressing Various Forms of Injustice in the Civil Commitment Process for Those with Eating Disorders

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The Voice of the Voiceless: Addressing Various Forms of Injustice in the Civil Commitment Process for Those with Eating Disorders

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2022-05

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As much progress as society has made in acknowledging the prevalence of eating disorders and attempting to reduce the shame of those who struggle with them though, a level of stigma remains. Those who face the internal battle with this powerful illness also often bear the added burden of the external fight to protect themselves from the damaging ways in which society still views those who struggle with eating disorders. In some cases, this mistreatment crosses the line from shaming into the realm of injustice – most notably, when the legal system is involved and civilly commits those with eating disorders and forces them into treatment. Using civil commitment as a means of “dealing with” people with eating disorders is deeply flawed because it perpetuates injustice on a number of levels. Ultimately, it is dehumanizing. In particular, one can see two broad instances of unjust treatment resulting in the way in which we address those with eating disorders in not only our laws and practices, but also in our attitudes. One is to deny patients’ humanity via epistemic injustice. The other is to deny people their status as fellow citizens who participate with others in the joint project that is the state. My claim is this injustice stems from a flawed overarching assumption about personhood that plagues the U.S. justice system and can be rectified by adopting practices based in a relational view of the human being.

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University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2022. Major: Philosophy. Advisor: Sarah Holtman. 1 computer file (PDF); ii, 49 pages.

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Thompson, Nicole. (2022). The Voice of the Voiceless: Addressing Various Forms of Injustice in the Civil Commitment Process for Those with Eating Disorders. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/258675.

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