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Letter   |    
The Cost of Not Treating Serious Mental Illness
Daniel Callahan, Ph.D.
Psychiatric Services 1999; doi:
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In Reply: Dr. Torrey misunderstands the point of my article. I think it is commonly believed that money spent on persons with serious mental illness is not as well spent as it might be on other forms of mental illness. His own statistics suggest how great the need is—and how far we are from meeting that need.

Perhaps Dr. Torrey is correct in saying that if we had all the necessary figures, a perfectly good case could be made for treatment, on the grounds of the "greatest good for the greatest number." But I do not believe in that principle anyway, nor did I mean to invoke it in my article. Instead, I was trying altogether to avoid that kind of numbers game. I wanted to argue that, regardless of the numbers, the claim of the seriously mentally ill was a perfectly strong one, not needing such backing. Indeed, I said that group should have the highest priority. I made the argument on the grounds of what I consider the appropriate goals of medicine, a case that does not need cost-benefit arguments to sustain it.

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