LAW, ALTERNATIVES AND CHANGE
James B. (Jim) Gottstein has been practicing law in Alaska since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1978. Informed by his self-described “escape” from being made permanently mentally ill by the mental health system after a breakdown in 1982, he has moved from practicing business law, mostly transactional, to almost exclusively focusing on psychiatric rights. When he read Mad in America in 2002, Mr. Gottstein viewed it as an evidentiary roadmap to challenge court-ordered psychiatric drugging on the grounds that it is not in the person’s best interest. To pursue this, he co-founded the tax-exempt public interest law firm, Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights®), to mount a strategic litigation campaign against forced psychiatric drugging and electroshock throughout the United States. Starting in 2004, as a result of the escalating harm done to children through psychiatric drugging, PsychRights adopted that problem as a priority.
Since founding PsychRights in 2002, Mr. Gottstein has won four Alaska Supreme Court cases in which forced psychiatric drugging or involuntary commitment court procedures were found to be unconstitutional or otherwise illegal. In addition to litigating these issues, because he believes solutions must also be implemented, Jim was instrumental in launching Soteria-Alaska, a non-coercive alternative to psychiatric hospitalization, and CHOICES, Inc., a community based program, both of which work with people who choose not to take psychiatric drugs.