STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
When Ted Chabasinski was six years old, New York City’s child “welfare” system took him from his foster parents and sent him to one of Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric wards. There, as part of an experimental group of (eventually) several hundred children, almost all of them wards of the state, he was given a course of twenty shock treatments by one of the leading child psychiatrists of her day. (The profession hasn’t changed much since then, except it has even more power.) He was then shipped to a state hospital, where he spent the rest of his childhood.
Released at age seventeen, Ted went on to work his way through college, graduating with honors. Later, he served two stints in psychology graduate programs, but fortunately, it didn’t take. Eventually, he became a patients’ rights attorney, and is still an active member of the California State Bar.
He found out about what we then called the mental patients’ liberation movement in 1971, and has been active ever since in several cities in the U.S. and Canada. He is most proud of the campaign he led in his new home town, Berkeley, that persuaded our voters to ban shock treatment here.
Ted is 75, not young any more, but his life isn’t over yet, and he has rededicated himself to doing all he can so that what was done to him won’t happen to others.
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.