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The argument presented in this article is that a new role has been developing in law which can and should be used as a strategy in the provision of services. It will be further argued that there is an important place for the law in setting limits on established psychiatric measures relating, for example, to compulsory admission and treatment, and even to particularly hazardous measures taken with the consent of the patient. The final role of law is to ensure the civil status of those who are the consumers of psychiatric services. One must accept the fact that pernicious legal and social consequences sometimes are secondary features of the receipt of psychiatric services. Here the law can make a distinctive contribution to uphold a person's personal status and dignity. This approach does not pretend to offer a solution to the more collective problems relating to deficiency in services, but the more individualistic approach of the law has its own legitimacy in upholding the integrity of people who have felt dehumanized by institutions, by the opprobrium of society and by the discriminatory character of legislation.

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10 J.L. & Soc'y 47-70 (1983)