Background: Coercion and involuntary psychiatric admission have been the subject of heated debate in recent years. A new Act was proposed in the summer of 2019, the Act on limitation of coercion, which aims to collect all legislation on coercion within a single legislative Act. If the Act is adopted, the framework for the use of coercion will be the same for both somatic illness and psychiatry. Against this backdrop, we wished to investigate how involuntary admissions have been critically examined, debated and enshrined in law previously.
Material and method: We have examined the three main Acts (and the preparatory work on these) that have been adopted in the psychiatric healthcare service in Norway. We have paid particular attention to the criteria for involuntary admissions, which we have attempted to understand in light of their contemporary times.
Results and interpretation: The legislation on coercion retained many basic features from 1848, through 1961 until 1999, even though the attitudes to coercion changed. However, the change in legislation from 2017 shows a significant change in how coercion in the mental healthcare service is viewed. If the Act on limitation of coercion is adopted, coercive mental health care will no longer be regulated by separate legislation.