To the Editor: In the Taking Issue column in the September 2002 issue of Psychiatric Services (1), I criticized a draft manual circulated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that was intended as a guide to mental health legislation around the world. The manual's provisions were similar if not identical to those of antipsychiatry ideologues and of the self-appointed legal advocates who in the 1970s denied the reality of mental illness and the efficacy of medical treatment for patients with serious mental disorders. Under the banner of reform, the legal requirements set forth in the manual would have created costly and counterproductive obstacles to psychiatric treatment.
I am delighted to report that WHO has completely revised its draft manual, taking into account the criticisms in that Taking Issue column. I believe it is now appropriate for American psychiatrists to endorse WHO's efforts and to thank those involved for their responsiveness to the detailed criticisms they received from experts from the American Psychiatric Association as well as from me. I also thank the journal's editor, John A. Talbott, for his willingness to publish the criticisms, which ruffled feathers but seem to have had a salutary effect.