The origins of coercion in Assertive Community Treatment: a review of early publications from the special treatment unit of Mendota State Hospital

Ethical Hum Sci Serv. Spring 2002;4(1):3-16.


This article argues that Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) is fundamentally and historically based on the uncritical, but societally well-accepted view, that medically justified coercion (punishment or unwanted treatment) is therapeutic. It documents this claim by reviewing the early professional history and the resultant publications of the inventors of ACT (originally known as Training in Community Living), consisting of psychiatrists, social workers, and psychologists who trained and worked during the 1960s through the 1980s, at Mendota State Hospital (eventually renamed Mendota Mental Health Institute) in Wisconsin.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Coercion*
  • Commitment of Mentally Ill
  • Community Mental Health Services / ethics
  • Community Mental Health Services / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Hospitals, State
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Wisconsin