An Opportunity to Walk the Talk — Occupy the American Psychiatric Association May 5th in Philadelphia


On May 5, 2012,  MindFreedom International is holding its Occupy the American Psychiatric Association protest at the APA’s annual convention in Philadelphia.  Momentum is building for the protest and it presents a special opportunity to literally walk the talk by peacefully marching on the American Psychiatric Association.  The other contributors to this blog, Robert Whitakers books, Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic, and indeed a large number of other books, amply demonstrate the scientific and moral bankruptcy of the psychiatric industry.  In essence, when it comes to mainstream psychiatry only the two following conclusions can be validly drawn:

The Doctor Was Fooled or Complicit

However, at this point, psychiatrists and other prescribers can only continue to be fooled if they are hiding their heads in the sand.  As I wrote in A Three Pronged Approach to Mental Health System Change, it is critical that the general public becomes aware of these facts.

The Occupy the APA Protest May 5th in Philadelphia is just such a way — with your help. If enough people come, we might be able to bring enough attention to break into the consciousness of America.  The protest organizers have erected a big tent, knowing that many adults have found one or more psychiatric drugs helpful, and even embrace their psychiatric diagnoses, while at the same time abhorring that people are forced to take drugs and endure electroshock against their will, and acknowledging the harmful effect that psychiatric diagnosing can have.

There are many reasons why people might join the Occupy the APA Protest May 5th in Philadelphia.  One is the prospect of the DSM5 and labeling, generally.  Another is opposition to coercive psychiatry.  That is my and PsychRights’ core issue.  Another is the harm caused by the drugs and psychiatry’s refusal to tell the truth about them.  Another is for people in the Occupy Wall Street movement to understand how psychiatry in general, and the American Psychiatric Association in particular, is inventing diseases, etc., to sell ever more drugs, that on the whole are very harmful, with horrendous consequences for society and millions of individuals.  The horrendous psychiatric drugging of poor children in this country is a national disgrace and is another reason to protest.  (30 minute video of me on Drugging Our Children: Legal and Moral Issues)  There are no doubt more.

The peaceful protest starts at 10:00 at the Friends Center, 1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia.  The following people are scheduled to talk:

  • Frank Blankenship – psychiatric survivor from Florida
  • Ted Chabasinki – psychiatric survivor activist from California
  • Laura Delano – psychiatric survivor from Boston, Massachusetts
  • Dan L. Edmunds, EdD – dissident psychologist from Scranton, PA
  • Krista Erickson – cross-disability leader from Illinois
  • Jim Gottstein, JD – founder of Psychrights from Alaska
  • Daniel Hazen – psychiatric survivor activist from New York State
  • Harry Bentivegna Lichtenstein – MindFreedom New York City
  • Dr. Stefan P. Kruszewski – whistleblower Pennsylvania psychiatrist
  • David W. Oaks – psychiatric survivor, MFI director, from Oregon
  • Ann Rider – leader of consumer/survivor agency in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Brent Dean Robbins, PhD – concerned psychologist leader Pittsburgh
  • Joseph Rogers – long-time leader from host city of Philly
  • Susan Rogers – long-time leader from host city of Philly
  • Lauren Tenney – psychiatric survivor Opal Project leader, New York


Also, health guru and popular radio personality Gary Null is coming to help, in his words, lead the protest.  (link to video of Gary Null talking about it on his radio show).

A short break is planned at noon and then a peaceful march on the American Psychiatric Association, outside their convention at 12:15.  There, everyone can participate in the protest as they want with more speeches, skits, songs, performances, etc.  The protest is scheduled to end at 4:00 pm.

Robert Whitaker is not speaking at the protest, but the next day, May 6th, he, Jacki McKinney and I are speaking on Imagining a Different Future in Mental Health.

If you possibly can say that you are coming, please so indicate at the Occupy the APA Facebook Event Page.  Whether you can come or not, help support  Occupy the APA by posting your support there.  There are some ideas under the “See More” button.   I did a pretty terrible video on Why I’m Coming to Occupy the American Psychiatric Association.   You can do better.  Another suggestion is to do a YouTube video ripping up labels, using “occupyapa” (one word) as a tag.  Another is to take a picture with Amy Smith’s terrific poster.  There is also an “I Support Occupy the APA Lucy Fooled or Complicit” graphic that can be used for the same purpose.  Be creative.

Whatever, I think it is a moral obligation to stand up and being counted against what the APA is doing.  Supporting  Occupy the American Psychiatric Association May 5th in Philadelphia is a way.  I hope to see you there and/or posting your support.

Previous articleMadness Radio: Toby Watson on Ethical Psychotherapy
Next articleBlack and Mad
Jim Gottstein, JD
Law, Alternatives and Change: Law, Alternatives and Change: A Harvard-educated lawyer and long time activist for change in the mental health system writes about law as it relates to psychiatric rights and fostering truly helpful, non-coercive alternatives to the current system. Jim's book, The Zyprexa Papers, chronicles the dramatic events surrounding his subpoenaing and releasing secret, damning Eli Lilly documents and surviving the resulting legal onslaught by Lilly, as well as his battles fighting the forced drugging of Bill Bigley for whose case the documents were subpoenaed.


  1. I believe that anytime an opportunity exists to educat others it is a good thing, but we must be careful to avoid going from one extreme to the other whereby we start ignoring those with legitimate mental illness by not diagnosing them.

    It is certainly no secrete that in our nation there is no shortage of people with titles who believe we must label everyone with something.

    Part of the reason for this is because without a label funding, e.g. insurance, grants, etc., is not given and without funding, those with titles would not have a job so of course they are happy to label everyone with something.

    However, let’s face the reality here in that general society pretty much believes that if they do not have one label or another their needs are not being met. For too many it is more of a badge of honor so to speak that gives them bragging rights.

    I am not sure what the DSM-5 holds that is controversial, but it seems that everytime a DSM comes out it is almost always controversial for one reason or other. Perhaps Jim you can do a blog that discusses why the DSM-5 is such a heated topic.

    I believe the DSM (as in every version) should be available on the Inetnet for the public to access – and yes, I know – that’s controversial lol.

    Report comment

    • You mention, “those with legitimate mental illness.” There are NO legitimate mental illnesses. Read Margaret Hagen’s (Boston University Psychology Professor’s) book “Whores of the Court.” She explains how mental illnesses are created; by consensus not by science. As for people who need a label to call themselves, try citizen, or human being. Do you know how many different kinds of human beings there are or even citizens within a country? If the label is used as an excuse for failure or unhappiness, that is easier than facing the reality of being human. Life is not a rose garden, nor is it fair as JFK taught us.

      Report comment

      • I agree that there are some who rely on and use claims of having mental illness to evade life, to avoid taking responsibility, and to excuse themselves from whatever it is that they want to avoid. And I pointed out that there is no shortage of those who diagnose such; not because it actually exists but rather, for job security. However, I disagree that there is no such thing as a legitimate mental illness, though I dissent from the term “mental illness” as it carries with it a social death.

        My point was simply that we must be careful not to go from one extreme to the other, whereby we find ourselves on the other end of the spectrum whereby nobody trully needing help gets the help they need.

        Report comment

      • Agreed!!!! Studies have shown that anti-stigma campaigns for bogus psychiatric stigmas forced on people to push toxic poisons and ECT on unsuspecting people in crisis or trauma create more stigma. An experiment was conducted in which people were presented as suffering from a life crisis or problem or suffering from a “mental illness” which amounts to the same thing.

        The respondents were sympathetic to the ones suffering from life problems while they expressed contempt and violent reactions toward those stigmatized as “mentally ill.” What a farce!

        The “guardian” sounds like he is guarding the interests of biological psychiatry which colludes with the courts to force involuntary commitments and lethal drugs/ECT on those stigmatized as “mentally ill.” Attorney Gottstein exposes this combined psychiatric/legal rape of victims to rob them of all their constituitional, civic, human rights.

        Isn’t it interesting that psychiatry/society don’t involuntarily commit male batterers though they are constantly killing their wives and children with several horrific cases in the news recently? Nor do they involuntarily commit and drug pedophiles, sex offenders, psychiatrists and other criminals known to be a huge risk to society and commit the same crimes over and over again. Psychiatrists are constantly fighting for the rights of psychopaths not to endure such treatment though they are known threat to society. I think the reason is that it hits too close to home.

        As one astute judge said on the web such criminals are not robbed of their rights and freedoms for crimes they may commit, so those accused of being “menally ill” who have more often than not committed no crimes nor have any propensity do do so should at least have the same rights as criminals. The Guardian makes my blood boil!

        Yes, psychiatry has a gravy train now with the government, health system, health insurance and others in power, but when people finally catch on to the billions wasted to destroy people with bogus psyciatry’s VOTED in stigmas to push lethal but very expensive poison drugs that CREATE so called mental illness, brain damgage and disability putting them on permanent social security disability in these trying financial times, they may see things quite differently. Psychiatry is already bankrupting governments with Medicaid and Medicare fraud and the whole health care system in general causing premiums to explode also threatening government agencies and others providing health insurance. I don’t want a dime of my taxes and health insurance to go to this fraud, so perhaps the only solution is to bow out of this monstosity to ensure the whole house of cards will come down.

        Report comment

  2. You say, “If enough people come, we might be able to bring enough attention to break into the consciousness of America.” In order to do that a lot of publicity is necessary. The psychiatric industry and the drug corporations have been promoting their industries for 80-90 years in media, books, government agencies, political campaign contributions, laws, and university courses. Who is doing the PR, the publicity for this protest? Do you have any media contacts with assurances that they will broadcast images and publish text of what the protest is about? You could have 500,000 people, and if the media ignores you it will have little impact. Have you any idea how much money the psychiatric industry spends on publicity? How many full time professionals does the APA have to maintain its media image? How many do you have? What can you do with limited funds to ensure that you will attract media attention?

    Report comment

    • Darling, it’s a start. The Gay Liberation Movement started with smaller marches than this and now we have equality laws and civil partnerships in the UK and an international movement.

      The science is with us, we need a popular movement to enable Jim and Robert voices to be heard by the legislators and service commissioners.

      Report comment

  3. @ Donna

    I take it by your using the word “Guardian” in your posts you are referring to me. If so, you obviously misunderstand my posts and you know nothing about me to make your presumptions.

    From the personal side of experience: I am constantly fighting with the mental health / psychiatric so-called “professionals” who want to push medications on the person I am guardian of becuase I do not want him druged out.

    In fact, I am in the process of drafting a brief for state officials to investigate one mental health worker because she gave my ward permission to request an increase in his medications against my directives and without my consent, which she knew I would not allow to happen.

    However, on the flip side, I also know my ward legitimately needs medications to help keep his behaviors in line so he does not get into trouble, and this is achieved by low doses so as not to impede his ability to learn the skills he needs to learn that will help improve his quality of life.

    I have worked in the mental health field and seen all too often an overzealous push of medications, which often occurs not because the person needs them but because “staff” want to shut them up so they don’t have to deal with the person, and yes, it infuriates me when this occurs.

    There are those who are diagnosed incorrectly; those who are diagnosed simply to push an agenda, and those who do in fact have mental illness. To presuppose every person diagnosed is a victim of misdiagnoses is simply a farce and does an injustice to those who truly need help.

    Report comment

    • Apparently, you haven’t read Robert Whitaker’s ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC or read much other than the bogus biological psychiatry fraud with its junk science DSM and the truth about the useless, lethal drugs passed off as medication that cause brain damage and a host of other lethal effects including early death by about 25 years.

      I believe you are presumptuous pushing your mainstream psychiatry agenda at a web site by and for psychiatric reformers, survivors and others critical of biological psychiatry for the most part. Take a look at the licking main stream psychiatrist Dr. Moffic is taking for his very offensive views and comments. You might learn something there other than arrogogance. The fact you worked in so called mental health says it all. There are far better solutions to emotional, social and other injuries than life destroying bogus stigmas created by psychiatry in bed with BIG PHARMA to push the latest lethal poisons on patent as was the case with the vile fraud fad bipolar epidemic for both adults and children.

      Report comment

        • Hi Jim,

          I would like to point out that one can say very brutal, uncivil, dishonest, evil things using medical, technical, legal, beaurocratic and other seemingly polite, professional languages that can mask or disguise an evil intention, huge danger to others including causing their death, prejudice and other very unhealthy goals, which I believe to be the case with biological psychiatry and its many supporters.

          The book, THE PROTEST PSYCHOSIS, shows how psychiatry changed the symptoms of the bogus label, schizophrenia, from describing nondangerous neurotic white people to those of angry black men when they began protesting their grossly unfair social conditions to pacify the power elite who feared them. There are a zillion examples of how psychiatry is nothing more than a social control political nightmare that has nothing whatever to do with health and everything to do with destroying countless lives.

          As other posters here have indicated, I find the term “mental illness” a form of hate speech, evil, invented for the sole purpose to target certain people by sex, race, political views and other convenient targets for the power elite as Dr. Bruce Levine exposes in an article and books. Once targeted, as you know such victims are tortured with monstrous psych drugs, ECT, commitment frequently forced on them after psychiatry and the legal system rob the victims of all civil, human rights as you well know.

          Therfore, to label somebody mentally ill or use this term as if it represents real science or medicine is a huge threat as blacks, gays and others knew when they fought to eliminate hate speech that denigrated them.

          Though some people may think it is okay to say gays, women and blacks are inferior, most people know this is not politically correct though it used to be the norm and know better to do it openly since it is often illegal.

          So, when anyone uses terms of biological psychiatry as proven science and medical knowledge, they need to be enlightened as has been the case with other hate speech in the guise of eugenics or other bogus science much like similar claims about women, blacks, gays and others that persist today, but at least not so openly.

          For an excellent example of how evil can be masked by technocrats in bureaucracies, see book, EICHMAN IN JERUSALEM: THE BANALITY OF EVIL.

          The Guardian must know he was/is on a web site of those directly or indirectly harmed by psychiatry who objected on this post to the term mental illness or its reality. Rather than showing a speck of compassion, empathy or civility, he kept shoving this odious term with its many falsehoods down our throats insisting it is a medical truth given his misbehaving charge he feels should be drugged into submission no matter the long term consequences.

          In my opinion, this is uncivil, dangerous, violent speech while some of my comments might be seen as impolite. The Guardian may have a right to express his hate speech, but I don’t have to condone it.

          Report comment

          • It dawned on me all the more the real motives of psychiatry are more clear when you consider how they targeted a group they label/stigmatize as “mentally ill” to push bogus science and torture methods of social control to completely dehumanize, discredit, disempower, torture and destroy this group with impunity.

            Their hypocrisy like the rest of society is clear when you consider there is not a group labelled “the physically ill” subjected to the same tortures, forced treatments and loss of human rights as those stigmatized as “mentally ill” though these fiends pretend they are the same. You also don’t see groups of people identified by their physical illness like the heart attack, cancer or diabetes groups for prejudicial, forced treatment.

            Just more evidence of the fraud involved with the pretense that so called mental illness treated by psychiatry in any way compares with real illness as exposed by Dr. Thomas Szasz as an evil, fascist, dangerous metaphor to enforce very undemocratic social control in a sneaky underhanded way.

            Report comment

  4. The sad reality is that we can only imagine a different mental health system. Almost twenty years after the publication of Anthony’s seminal work on a Recovery based mental health system all I find is providers & SMHAs who assert that all practices are predicated on Recovery (increasingly Wellness & Recovery) and outcomes reflect the same. When I ask for the evidence I hear, “Let me tell you the story of Billy….” When I press for additional support I hear, “Let me tell you the story of Susie …” (Billy and Susie are actually adults named William and Susan.)

    To the extent that our mental health system has not changed we are left, to date, with merely a change in mental health shiboleths rather than deeds. It will take considerably more imagination to foresee a mental health system which puts accomplishments first. Robert Whitaker’s Mad in America should make us wonder if change is possible when it covers a period when there were several “transformational eras”, e.g. Psychosocial Rehabilitation, Best Practices, Safer & More Effective Medications, Evidence Based Practices, Recovery and now Wellness & Recovery.

    Report comment

  5. I procrastinated on asking someone about this. But I’ve been wondering how much it would cost to place a big (half-page or so) ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer for Saturday May 5, the morning of the Occupy APA protest (and of the APA conference itself). That might get additional interested Philadephians to attend that might not otherwise learn about it. It would also then be in the morning newspapers that many psychiatrists carry with them into the conference! That might get some interesting conversations going inside the conference.

    What I’ve written here isn’t necessarily the “best” idea for a newspaper ad. But just to put it out for discussion, I was imagining an ad directed to the conference psychiatrists themselves, that starts out with two large headlines, then smaller text with several sentences, each one supported by one or two web links that the psychiatrists (and other readers) can go to, something like this:

    How can we trust you when you’ve gotten so many things so wrong?

    You said that depression is a chemical imbalance, which you keep repeating to patients even though it was discredited years ago.

    You said that antidepressants work great, but it ends up that on average, they’re barely better than sugar pills.

    You said that schizophrenia requires life-long medications, but it ends up that a substantial portion of people diagnosed with schizophrenia recover without medications.

    You said that the newer more expensive antipsychotic medications work much better than the old ones, but it ends up they mostly just cause different chronic health problems.

    You said that medications are safe and effective, but research suggests that they may be increasing chronicity.

    You created a false epidemic of Childhood Bipolar Disorder.

    You said that electro-convulsive therapy (ECT, shock) is safe and effective, but the FDA was unwilling to reclassify the devices into the safer category, and there’s plenty of documentation of harm from ECT.

    You said the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is a scientific document, but numerous professional groups are protesting the unscientific changes planned for the upcoming revision.

    On Saturday, May 5, 2012, as thousands of psychiatrists congregate in Philadelphia for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting, individuals with psychiatric labels and other supporters will converge in a global campaign to oppose the APA’s proposed new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), scheduled for publication in May 2013.

    Occupy the APA will include distinguished speakers from 10 a.m. to noon at Friends Center (1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia). A march at 1 p.m. from Friends Center will lead to the Pennsylvania Convention Center (12th and Arch Streets), where the group will protest beginning at 1:30 while the APA meets inside.

    Please join us. For more information, see:

    I’m sure there are better web references than the ones I knew of or could find, or alternate ways to do a print ad. But I think it would be interesting for Philadephians, and psychiatrists attending the APA meeting, to open their morning paper and read something like this as introducing the Occupy APA protest.

    Report comment

  6. In regard to the mainstream media, we should definitely let them know but don’t hold your breath for them to report on anything. If you have not noticed, when it comes to pharmaceutical related issues, they stay away. I would say it would be better to go through the alternative press rather than the corporate owned pharma press. If the main stream press did its job, do you think the problem would be this bad?

    Report comment