In Sweden, recommendations and reforms in psychiatric care have increasingly stressed respect for patient autonomy and justice with less emphasis on medical and social paternalism. This is the official policy. But what are the attitudes of the people involved in or affected by compulsory psychiatric care? To answer this question, the attitudes of committed and voluntarily admitted patients, their relatives, psychiatric staff, health and welfare personnel of primary care and a sample of the general public were studied in 2 Swedish counties. Strong support for medical and social paternalism was reported, and according to most of the people asked, doctors, not legal authorities, should decide about commitment. These attitudes are discordant with the recent legislative changes in Sweden.