Two theoretical frameworks have been proposed for understanding the relationship between family functioning and involuntary mental hospitalization: social control and social support. To more fully examine the family's role in involuntary commitment of a family member, the authors compared a group of 50 randomly chosen patients involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric emergency unit with a matched group of medical patients. They also compared family characteristics of patients released after brief observation with those of patients committed for a longer time. The results indicated that the family structure and relationships of the committed patients were less stable than those of medical patients. There were also significant differences between committed patients who were released after observation and those who were subsequently hospitalized, with families of the released patients perceived as exerting more control. The authors suggest that this finding can best be accounted for within a framework of social support rather than one of social control.