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Mental Health Law and Human Rights: Evolution and Contemporary Challenges 

Mental Health Law and Human Rights: Evolution and Contemporary Challenges
Mental Health Law and Human Rights: Evolution and Contemporary Challenges

Michael L. Perlin

and Éva Szeli

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date: 16 September 2021

Michael Perlin and Eva Szeli consider the relationship between human rights and the law, and specifically, the relatively recent meeting of mental health law and human rights law. They note the neglect of human rights of people with disabilities for decades by international human rights protection agencies. Although recent political, legal, social, and cultural developments have helped shift the environment so as to support a movement that ‘ extends’ rights to this population, these rights are often ignored or granted only on paper. They argue the cause is sanism: an irrational prejudice akin to other prejudices of racism, sexism, homophobia, and ethnic bigotry, that infects jurisprudence and lawyering practices, that is largely invisible and socially acceptable, based predominantly upon stereotype, myth, superstition, and deindividualization, is sustained and perpetuated by ‘ordinary common sense’ (OCS) and heuristic reasoning in an unconscious response to events in everyday life and in the legal process. They issue the challenge to give life to international human rights for this population.

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