For most of my adult life, I have worked with people with severe disabilities. It’s been with humility that I’ve witnessed the courage of many people who’ve faced enormous obstacles and seen their spirits in action. These individuals serve as examples for each of us – to face our challenges head-on; to do our best to rise above them; to focus on our gifts and talents; and to use them to do extraordinary things.
It’s been through my work in the field of rehabilitation, that I’ve come to believe in the human spirit and the strength that comes from learning to tap into its source. When we do so, we open ourselves to new levels of hope and inspiration and endless possibilities to experience the fullness of life.
In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by Congress and signed into law. This historic act provided the “reasonable accommodations” needed to allow disabled people to enter courthouses, public libraries, city buses, local restaurants and the front-doors of employers; often for the first-time. The “least restrictive” clause of the ADA has allowed those same individuals to find “inclusion” in their communities; to gain access to opportunities of all kinds; and to live full and productive lives.
The strides we’ve made in this nation for people with physical disabilities are in stark-contrast to the way we continue to treat those who have been diagnosed with severe “mental illness”. I have yet to meet an adult with a physical disability who was forced to undergo a particular medical treatment or who lived in fear of having someone lock them up against their will if they were not “compliant”.
Nor have I heard that treatment caused “more harm than good” from what often appears to be the vast majority. With physical disability, there are some people who might have preferred a less-intrusive surgery or were not pleased with a medical procedure. But only in the area of mental health treatment is injury the common-denominator for so many who have been given a psychiatric diagnosis.
The one-size-fits-all paradigm of care known as conventional psychiatry is unlike any other form of medicine. Patient consent and participation is all but nonexistent; alternatives are often ignored; incarceration, drugs and ECT are used by force; and those who are injured are often left to sort through the fallout on their own, without recourse.
I put together a vision for Congressional legislation that addresses these concerns. Once implemented, it will forever change the mental health system. I hope you will take a few moments to read it. Feel free to post a comment through the ISEPP link indicated.
Yours in liberty and wellness,
Duane Sherry, M.S., CRC-R
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.