Issue (composed by On Point)
Fond du Lac County v. Helen E.F., 2012 WI 50, 340 Wis. 2d 500, 814 N.W.2d 179 held that an individual is capable of rehabilitation, and thus a proper subject for treatment under Chapter 51, when treatment would control the symptoms of the individual’s disorder. If, on the other hand, treatment would control only the individual’s activity or behavior, then he is not a proper subject for treatment under Chapter 51. The question is: how are courts to determine whether treatment is controlling symptoms of disorder–especially when medical experts, when describing the effects of treatment, blur the line between symptoms and behavior?
Helen E.F. concerned an individual who was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, for which it is fairly easy to distinguish between treatment that controls symptoms versus treatment that controls behavior. The same is not true for J.W.J., who is suffering from schizophrenia, which involves symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior as well as other symptoms causing social and occupational dysfunction. If a treatment controls J.W.J.’s “disorganized behavior,” a symptom of schizophrenia, is he a proper subject for treatment under Chapter 51 or not? Hopefully, SCOW will clarify this confusing area of law.