The History and Future of Our Psychiatric Survivor Movement

Ted Chabasinski, JD
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Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are people who want crops without plowing up the ground…Power concedes nothing without a struggle.  It never has and it never will.

Frederick Douglass, who wrote this 150 years ago, was a self-educated escaped slave who became the 19th century’s most prominent black leader. His words still inspire me, and so do the courage and authenticity of his life.  I write this article guided by his example.

Brothers and sisters, I want to tell you a little movement history which I am sure many of you don’t know. A lot of it happened before some of you were even born. It sounds so strange to say that.

The first group in our modern movement that I know of was the Insane Liberation Front in Portland in 1970. Although they did not last very long, they did get some attention from the local left and the alternative media. Howie the Harp, who went on to do a lot of other important things in our movement, visited them and was inspired. He came back to New York City and started the Mental Patients Liberation Project.

A few months after the MPLP was formed, I read in an alternative newspaper that they were going to have a protest at Bellevue Hospital. You can imagine my reaction to that. Bellevue, where I was tortured with shock at age six. I was already political, and had been active in the civil rights movement and my union.

So of course I jumped right in. We were at the tail end of all the liberation movements of the Sixties, and the media then were open to hearing about these things. Within a few weeks, I found myself on local talk radio, speaking for the MPLP, along with Judi Chamberlin, who soon became my first wife.

While all this was going on, groups started sprouting up all over the place, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Vancouver, even in places like London and Amsterdam, though we in America didn’t know about them yet. It was a time full of excitement and public attention and hope.

I left New York and was with the Mental Patients Association in Vancouver for a while. I had removed all the props that I had protected myself with, my middle-class job, my stable housing, and even my marriage, to live in another country and do my movement work, with only my pathetic little savings and no income.

Soon I went to San Francisco and got involved with the Network Against Psychiatric Assault, which had just started in 1974. I was staying with my friends Jan and Barry.        I turned on their TV and there was Leonard Frank, with his Old Testament persona (if you ever met him, you would know what I mean), standing in front of some shock shop during a demonstration, saying in his booming voice SHOCK TREATMENT IS AN OUTRAGE!

I turned on the radio, and there was Wade Hudson talking about forced treatment on KPFA. I just said to myself, WOW.

This is what happened when we were doing what all other movements for liberation had done. Especially here in the Bay Area, probably one of the most progressive places in the country, we were recognized by the left as an oppressed group whose interests should be supported. They saw us that way because we acted that way.

I left San Francisco and helped organize the second Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression in Kansas. We survivors organized it every year on a shoestring. I went around the country by bus all summer, sleeping on living room floors and worse, telling people in each city what people in other places were doing. Meeting a real person who had seen all this was very exciting to people, much more than just reading about it.

The conference was a great success. It had an incredible tone of caring about and supporting one another, and I was given a lot of credit for that.

After the conference, I was burned out, and if I had not (obviously) known better, I would have wound up on a psych ward. But I had the option of going to the Vancouver Emotional Emergency Center, a place like Soteria House, and it helped me a lot. I wound up living in Bellingham, Washington, a college town thirty miles south of the Canadian border, where Judi and I organized a group called Counterpsychiatry, which drew quite a few idealistic students, and the attention, once again, of the local left and the alternative media there.

After a year, I returned to San Francisco and worked again with NAPA, which continued to do a lot of work around shock treatment, with plenty of media coverage, and plenty of people involved, as usual. During this time, they were able to get the California legislature to pass a bill they advocated for that made it much harder to force shock on people. Governor Jerry Brown signed it.

NAPA organized an around-the-clock “sleep-in” at Brown’s office in Sacramento, protesting conditions at the state hospitals. We stayed there for a month. Some politicians called for us to be forcibly removed, but Brown actually defended us, saying we had the right as citizens to petition the government about our grievances. During that time, Brown met with us at the home of the state’s Director of Health. We showed him the film “Hurry Tomorrow,” an expose of conditions at Metropolitan State Hospital. Richard Cohen, the filmmaker, is a strong supporter of our movement, After seeing the film, Brown commissioned an investigation into conditions at the state hospitals.

It is worth mentioning that Brown, after many years, is now the governor for the second time. But our movement in California, as a result of being bought off by the mental illness system, is now too weak to take advantage of the fact that we might have a powerful supporter of our cause in the Governor’s office.

In 1982, many things converged, and we were able to put a ban on shock treatment on the Berkeley ballot. It passed overwhelmingly, with the support of our mayor and the local progressive political party, which I had been working with for several years. Our movement was well-known by then, and we were taken seriously by the moderate left there, who even invited me to write the mental health plank of their platform. We got national media coverage almost nonstop, and I thought we were really making progress, and we were.

The shrinks thought so too. Soon after the vote, Leonard showed me a copy of the Psychiatric News, the American Psychiatric Association’s newspaper of record. They were interviewing all candidates for office in the APA, and one of the questions asked was “What do you think are the biggest problems of the profession today?” EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM mentioned “the lack of respect the public has for us,” as the Berkeley vote showed. And I nearly jumped up and down, and said to myself, we’re winning, we’re winning!

And we were. But the shrinks figured it out. In 1985, the first “Alternatives” conference was held in Baltimore, lavishly funded (by our standards) by the NIMH, and featuring such things as board and care residents bussed in to stand around and make it look as if there was an even bigger number of participants than there were. Of course if you have the money to pay people to come, it isn’t hard to look credible.

This is what totalitarian governments do, round up people from the countryside to have “spontaneous” demonstrations in favor of whatever dictator is in power.

At the NIMH conference, I met Wendy, a new, young, up-and-coming leader who had organized a thriving group in New Mexico. Wendy had been locked up as a teenager, and we instantly bonded. We both realized quickly that the conference was a disaster for our movement.

I should have tried as much as I could to fight what was happening then, but my excuse was that I was in law school, and eventually I was going to win some big cases like Brown vs. Board of Education that would get us our legal rights, Yeah, right. The real reason was that I was too cowardly, confronted with the power of that system we used to fight.

Later that year, the last national conference that we controlled was held in Burlington, Vermont. The local group did a good job, and we were addressed by the Mayor of Burlington, Bernie Sanders, who now as you know is a U.S. Senator and probably the most progressive member of Congress. But one of the main people responsible for the NIMH taking us over was there. He came with a helper, and together they systematically disrupted almost every workshop we had.

In the face of this, and the raw power of the mental illness system, people became completely demoralized, and that was the last conference we ever had. My ex-wife/comrade/friend Wendy still says she was amazed at how little money it took to destroy our movement.

So now, we are not a human rights movement any more, but the “recovery movement,” whatever that may mean. This “movement” is not controlled by the people who have suffered under the mental illness system, but by that very system. We don’t address ourselves to the general public any more, but to the people who provide the funding. We are now invisible to the media, and to the public. Our legal rights have deteriorated, with vicious outpatient commitment laws in almost every state. We don’t fight them, because we are the “recovery movement,” a branch of the mental illness system. Bigotry against us is the worst it has ever been. In spite of the fact that tens of millions of people in this country have been inmates of psych wards, almost none of them have heard of us, and we give them no motivation to want to join us.

Compare this to every other American movement for liberation in the last half-century. You can hardly find a woman, or a black person, or a gay person, or a member of any other oppressed group, who is not aware that there is a movement for them, and whose consciousness has not been changed for the better because of their movement.

And because we don’t really fight for anything, our people are still being tortured. Hundreds of thousands of children are having their lives ruined by people like Doctor Biederman, while our alleged movement has nothing to say. Our brothers and sisters are being drugged and shocked, their self-esteem and even their very lives destroyed, while our government-appointed “leaders” talk about “initiatives” and “wellness.”

And the people who are responsible for this are rewarded, while the folks who made the sacrifices to get this movement started are put down as “negative.”

People, aren’t you tired of this? Aren’t you disgusted with these “leaders” who benefit from doing the work of the people who have abused us?

Isn’t it time we did something about it?

As I have been in contact with more and more people who share the vision of a movement that stands for something more than grants from SAMHSA, one thing I have noticed is the need for us to get to know each other, to form a network so people who want a real movement can support one another. Sometimes folks haven’t even heard of other activists who might be just one state away.

We can start to take back our movement from the opportunists and the mental illness system by connecting with one another and realizing we aren’t alone. We need to find the best ways to make that networking happen.

We have been hurt by one of the most destructive social institutions in America, and who but us is going to be the main force to fight back? We have the power of our moral authority, but I don’t think people realize that. I read horror story after horror story on our email lists and Facebook pages. But we seem to resist the full truth: that we have been the victims of crimes against humanity. If we want these horrors to stop we need to understand that ourselves, before we can convince anyone else.

The money handed out by SAMHSA encourages us to trivialize our experience, to pretend that what was done to us was perhaps just a mistake, not really so bad. We better believe that, or at least say it, or the money will be gone. Anyone who makes any substantial criticism of the system SAMHSA is there to protect will be thrown into the outer darkness.

We have to make our own decisions based on our own interests, not on the interests of the people who are paying to keep us off the streets. Until we do that, as our movement’s recent history has shown, we will get nowhere and even go backwards.

But as Martin Luther King said nearly fifty years ago, in Why We Can’t  Wait, “The old order ends, no matter what Bastilles remain, when the enslaved, within themselves, bury the psychology of servitude.”

Yes, we have to get rid of the servile mentality that the mental illness system and its funding encourages. As long as we continue to think of ourselves that way, we will continue to be invisible and defeated. But as Doctor King said, once we think of ourselves with confidence, and pride that we have survived, we will win.

Our work will not be easy. We will not be paid to take away the power of this evil system. We will be denounced by the people who are benefiting from the way things are now. We will not be given awards as ”Advocate of the Year” by NAMI or some drug company.

We will have to stick together, and to model among ourselves the kind of society that we want to see, where people’s lives are more important than making money and buying things, and everyone is respected.

And I know these words may sound like cliches, but we must learn again to see one another, not as part of someone’s bureaucratic empire, but as brothers and sisters, to be cared about and nurtured and cherished.

78 COMMENTS

    • Ted, agreed totally about the “recovery” movement. I myself have always refused to use the overused word, “recovery.” It is meaningless, isn’t it? When there is so much controversy over whether there was even ever any “illness”? Since when is “recovery” even relevant? I’d say we need to speak of freedom. If there’s anything we need to “recover” from, it’s psychiatry and their repeated abuse…but I cannot go to a therapist to get over what they did. That makes no sense. This is about survival and not “coping” with wrong and “feeling okay about it.” It’s not about “living with it and dealing with it.” I don’t want to feel okay about it. I want to seethe. I want to ACT. I want to DO SOMETHING and motivate others. I want to be a listening ear and welcome others who are struggling to leave and want to get out, but have nowhere to turn. Already, young people (decades younger, kids like me with eating disorders, for one, and I’m in my 50’s) ask me what to do, but I must be careful…I get called all sorts of names…”dangerous” being one of them. Practically a criminal. Show me all my guns and the laws I’ve broken (where? none.) and I’ll show you the thousands psychiatry killed.

      I believe admission of this “neediness” (therefore, the need to “recover” from some “illness”) and the temptation to return to them…It only weakens us and we lose folks who go back to their doors. The institutions beckon to us, tell us, “Come back, we LOVE you, the door is open….” but there’s no love there. I used to think they could “cure” me. Begged for “help.” Then, I knew it was abuse and you can’t get rescued from abusers by running to more abusers…yet we see this all the time, don’t we? We must save ourselves. I am obligated as a writer and I will not shut up.

      Julie Greene

      • You were married to Judi? My dad knew her. Told me about her. He was active in NAMI. Only not what we think of as NAMI. My parents were confused about what psychiatry was supposed to do….totally questioned it and my dad was truly put off when the “therapist” bullied my dad and told him he couldn’t take notes in a family therapy session. Just an example. My dad was a math genius who earned a full academic scholarship to Johns Hopkins…engineering. His name was Alan H Greene, president of Massachusetts NAMI back I guess late 1980’s. You know what my dad did? He hated smoking, but he said to me he recognized that patients had no rights and he said the least thing those psych units could do was to keep smoking on the units. He thought us patients had so little and right then, they were taking away the cigarettes and my dad said, “They are trying to control EVERYTHING, now this? A simple thing…so what if it’s “bad for you”? Why take that away?” He decided to speak out against abolition of smoking on units even though he hated that I smoked (I quit). I swear he did this for me. I met my BF in a smoking room where there was more “help” than anywhere else. He’s dead now, too. Love you all and it’s been so many years now.

  1. Hello Ted,

    Thank you for this article; it puts the content of this site (which I read daily) into a vital perspective.

    I myself am lucky enough to have escaped psychiatric interventions thus far in my life and do not call myself a “survivor”, but this is the human rights issue which I find to be most atrocious. Is there a place for someone like me in the “we” and the “us”? Or does it hinder progress that I may only understand what is truly at stake through the testament of others?

    Also, in your opinion, can progress be made in academia? Or does too much red tape and politesse prevent any real productivity?

    Your comments are most respectfully appreciated, thank you.

    • I don’t want to be separatist, or discourage anyone from supporting us. Certainly I have worked with many sincere people who were not survivors. I even worked closely with Dr.Loren Mosher, who was the psychiatrist who organized the original Soteria Houses, and then was driven out of his position in the NIMH for his heresy. He was one of the finest human beings I have ever met.

      As for academia, I have a Phi Beta Kappa key and a lot of (maybe too much) formal education in law and psychology, and I even taught social psychology for a year. But I don’t think social change can come just by intellectualizing about it. I think it has to come from the passion and anger of the people who have been hurt by the insitution that needs to be changed (or done away with).

      And unfortunately, many academics, besides being very separated from any emotion, tend to be rather elitist and consider themselves to be rightfully the leaders of someone else’s cause. I think you can see that this attitude is not helpful.

      Nonetheless, I don’t consider myself a separatist, and I welcome the support of anyone who sincerely wants to help. Right now, though, given how weakened our movement has become from the bribes of the mental illness system, I think it is most important to concentrate on rallying the people who have been most hurt by the psychiatric system, as I have.

      My first political activism was in the civil rights movement of the Sixties. I didn’t think of myself as a leader of that movement, because I am white. But I tried sincerely to be a helpful supporter. I would hope anyone who supports our fight for human rights in psychiatry will participate in the same spirit as I tried to do in the civil rights movement.
      .

  2. Wow, Ted. You have a gift with words. This is a battle cry. For months now I have wanted to find a way to fight back. To stand up and say “HEY, That wasn’t OK”.

    This site is nice. But standing alone it will have very little impact. Those MD’s who might be starting to realize that their system is corrupt is given plenty of leeway to continue to defend that which is indefensible. In other words, this site is too nice, with too many pretty words.

    In my efforts to find a way to become an activist:
    I called NAMI and asked them some questions – but it seemed they had zero interest.

    I spent a night surfing around the web wondering if there were any ways someone like me could file a complaint against the hospital. That only got me confused. What if we could find hundreds of people wanting to file complaints against individual hospitals? What if we could find thousands?

    I called a couple of lawyers and were informed about the statute of limitations – sorry, no dice there.

    I spent some time surfing online wondering if there were others actively fighting back locally that I could join. Wasted effort.

    I am not that far away from you Ted, and I am ready, chomping at the bit, to find a way to fight back. So far I have not really found any one that I could join with, and alone I am just a lonely loon with an idea.
    Malene

  3. Hi Ted,

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. Indeed, I wasn’t born when this thing began :D. I want to add a couple of things. First, I don’t know why you didn’t mention CCHR. They were founded in 1969 by Thomas Szasz. I dislike their association with Scientology as much as the next person, but one has to recognize that they have won very important battles on our behalf and they have been the avant garde of the anti psychiatry movement for a long time. In fact, I truly believe that for our movement to be successful, we need a CCHR-like model on steroids, with more funding and the same level of commitment and organization. Of course, it should not have any association to Scientology or any other religion for that matter.

    Second, it’s nice to hear that Jerry Brown was once our friend. I am afraid no more. He gladly signed the extension of Lawra’s Law earlier this year. So!

    • Well-said.

      We’re getting hit from both right and left..

      The Heritage Foundation backing AOT, and the ACLU, refusing to lift a hand to help…

      I agree.
      We need funding, and we need to focus (like a laser-beam)!

      IMO,we need to work on getting a piece of legislation passed that protects folks from the use of force. And we need to remain free from any particular religion in the task at hand.

      For anyone interested, this is a vision –

      http://discoverandrecover.wordpress.com/mental-health-freedom-and-recovery-act/

      Duane

      • Yeah, we have been abandoned by both right and left. The right because they have sided with their cronies at Big Pharma (there was talk that Mitch Daniels, of Prozac and Zyprexa fame, was going to be their VP nominee). The left because the psychiatric establishment is a big constituency of Democrats and have convinced them that “access to psychiatric treatment”, even “ramming through involuntary treatment” is a right to every citizen. So we are pretty much screwed. So, here were are. If I ever become wealthy, I will create a foundation to fight psychiatry in all fronts.

    • I didn’t talk about CCHR because they aren’t composed of psych survivors. I agree, they have done some hard-hitting things, but they are really just a branch of Scientology. That means they have money, and especially, church members who will go where they are told.

      I don’t want to fight with CCHR, but neither do I think we should be associated with them either.

      I will say one good thing about the Church of Scientology, however. Unlike the Church of Psychiatry, they don’t demand human sacrifices.

      • Hey, CCHR is the only consistent and persistent organization in our society that is disclosing the dangerous relationships and practices of Psychiatry, Big Pharma’s, DSM, and all of their support groups–psychology, clinical social work, counseling psychology, nursing, neurology and more…they are all trapped in this maze or this fuzzy world beliefs and practices of these crazy mental health professionals….come on, they took over mental health when they destroyed the countless lives of millions of their ‘patients’ who had no alternatives presented or introduced but shock treatments and lobotomies. Now they give their patients the opportunity to reduce their frontal lobes of their brains with these cocktails and psychic tattoos. http://jerryvestinjuredwarrior.com

    • Ai, Ai, Ai, has anyone ever read any survivor stories from people leaving $cientology? They are at least as bad – if not worse than psychiatry. They are just not as prevalent so there aren’t as many stories of lives destroyed.

      They too have a history of incarcerating people in need of support. They use things like sleep and food deprivation to “heal” people. Some have even died during those extended efforts to heal them. The net is awash with those stories and they are as horrific as that which we fight.

      The reason $cientology is against psychiatry is because they want people to come to them instead. Its a power game. Lets not replace one horrific and torturous system with another that does the same.

      Malene

      • I knew I would remember the name. Lisa McPherson was killed by $cientology in 1995. She was put in isolation and incarcerated when she showed psychotic behavior. She died from malnutrition following this incarceration.

        Here is more information about her story: http://www.lisamcpherson.org/

        $cientology is probably one of the most vicious cults currently on the marked. They have destroyed countless lives. I would even go so far as to say that them “championing” our cause is highly detrimental to us. People can’t and shouldn’t take $cientology seriously with anything they say. Their motives are clearly to become the “new psychiatry”, they want the money. This is not what we are about, and we would do well actively separating ourselves from $cientology.

        Malene

        • Whatever; there is a big difference. The Church of Scientology doesn’t have laws in the legal system that allow it to incarcerate/drug, legally, people against their will. The Church of Psychiatry does have that power. So, if you give me an option of a world without Psychiatry (but with Scientology) vs a world without Scientology (but with Psychiatry), I take the first option anytime. I am aware that associating oneself with somebody just because one has a common enemy is not a good strategy but, even FDR made an alliance with Stalin in order to get rid of Hitler. So, while I am aware of the destructive nature of Scientology, I fear the destructive power of Psychiatry more. I have been damaged by psychiatry but I have yet to be damaged by Scientology.

          • What? You will rather give the power to incarcerate and torture to $cientology than to the church of psychiatry? What does it matter what the organization is called if it tortures people? I am not against or for any organizations – I am against torture. I am against abusive actions. I am against use of force and cruelty. I don’t care what the organization that uses force and cruelty is called, I am against it.

            *You* might have been harmed by psychiatry – so have I. That does not diminish the stories of torture that comes out from a different organization. To claim that the organization that tortured you is more worth of objection because it was you who were tortured is – strange.

            Lisa McPherson’s story is just one of thousands that are on the market about $cientology. Folks, she was starved to death due to having a psychotic episode. Human sacrifice? You Bet! And not a one time event for $cientology either. Those who did it were never prosecuted – they were too powerful in Clearwater where it happened.

            No, I stand against torture and abuse in all its forms. If you have been wounded by psychiatry so should you. Torture and abuse is not unique. Come on folks – the history of humanity is littered with these type of stories. Our stories – painful as they are to us – are almost pedestrian. This makes it so much more important to fight back. The commonness of it all makes it worse, more horrifying. In some ways torture and abuse is “normal”, to the point that often well meaning people can’t distinguish the difference because it is so damn common.

            The beast is cruelty.
            The beast is torture.
            The beast is abusiveness.
            The beast is lack of empathy
            The beast is lack of genuine concern for others.

            Who cares if the beast calls itself psychiatry, scientology, nazism or any other name.

            Malene

          • Malene, sorry if I didn’t explain myself better. Of course I would not give Scientology the power to incarcerate anybody. What I said, is that given that psychiatry HAS the power to incarcerate people, I rather have a world without it. Implicit in that statement is that Scientology would remain without power to incarcerate anybody. And to make myself clear, I wouldn’t complain about psychiatry either if it lost all ability to incarcerate/drug people against their will. Ie, if psychiatry were to have the legal status of astrology or homeopathy, I wouldn’t complain either.
            With the current legal framework, Scientology is our friend in our fight against psychiatry, not our enemy. That’s what I meant.

      • I am not disagreeing with what you say Malene, but what cheeses me off is the selectivity of most people’s indignation regarding coercion and torture. Few people give a damn about psychiatric torture and control of society’s most wretched and detested. If you go on youtube, rarely do you see survivor videos that have more than a couple of a hundred of views, sometimes there will be videos that have been on there for years, with no comments whatsoever and a paltry 50 or so views.

        This is contradistinct to scientology survivor stories. Within days, there are thousands of votes and hundreds of comments, illustrating just how sickeningly hypocritical our society is. I think it much to do with the species’ prepossession in favour of the powerful, their preoccupation with appeasing their masters in order to safeguard their own social, sexual, economic and whatever other prospects, coupled with our constitutional hatred of outsiders, the ugly, the weak, and all the other people who are psychiatrically enslaved and tortured. Few people have the balls to stand up to the state, especially in our Brave New World of happy, comfortable people.

        Indeed there are tons of ‘anti-scientologists’ (or whatever else they themselves or others like to identify themselves or identify others respectively as) who in their desperation to discredit some of Scientology’s foundational beliefs about ‘mental illness’ (which are preposterous), trumpet the Church of P$ychiatry, vigorously defending a system more abusive and exploitative than the one they are trying to denigrate, that has millions of Lisa Macphersons, and tens, perhaps even hundreds of millions more who have in some way been damaged by this class of legally and socially sanctioned criminals we call psychiatrists since its beginnings. I mean, tens of millions of incidences of brain disease in this ‘revolutionary’ epoch alone!

        It’s pathetic, and betokens the fact that modern society, notwithstanding our conceited, ethnocentric attitudes to the contrary, still has not arrived at the point where the generality of its intolerably smug members have a vivid conception of why the torture of political opponents and slavery (two odious institutions preserved by this canker in the moral decay of our society that we call psychiatry) are despicable institutions, because the facts are, once you are ensnared in the diagnostic trap of these toxic quacks, almost any depravity is deemed permissible, as long as the diagnosis is deemed correct!

        Also, I think it is imprtant not to make blanket endictments. From what I know, you cannot generalise what is going on in the upper echelons of the Church to the majority of scientologists, which is what you see happening all over the net. It’s like hating all Catholics because of the prevalence of paedophilia, even though most are in no way implicated in that. Blanket endictment of State psychiatrists in many countries? Absolutely!

        • Hey Cledwyn,

          I agree with a lot of what you are saying actually.

          I agree that there are a lot of rank and file scientologists who do not know what it is they are supporting. That said they are still being kept under control by $cientology, but some of them are even not involved enough in the church to be all that damaged by it. That still does not change what $cientology is and what they do – which is a horror.

          I tend to think that $cientology and psychiatry each do exactly the same thing. Psychiatry might be a larger animal and so they leave more debris, but there is essentially no difference in how the two work. You are also right that $cientology’s survivors get more attention than the survivors of psychiatry – we need to do better at getting our message out.

          All I am saying is – lets not replace one abusive system; psychiatry, with another abusive system; $cientology.

  4. Great article Ted.

    Here is a little piece of psychiatric survivor history you participated in:

    Highlander Statement and Call To Action

    “In the tradition of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and thousands of men and women concerned about social justice and progressive change, thirty people with long histories of fighting for human rights in mental health gathered for three days at the Highlander Center in Tennessee. We argued, came to consensus, and then quietly shared our pain, our concerns, our fears, and our hopes for the future.”

    We came to understand that our personal stories have power and that they must be heard. We must tell them to other people who have been damaged by psychiatric treatment, to the public, to lawmakers and to political candidates as well. We are compelled to share our collective struggle and claim our place as a civil rights movement along side of those who have been similarly discounted, disenfranchised, and marginalized: people of color; gay, lesbian, bisexual; and transgendered people; people with physical disabilities; women; people belonging to religious,ethnic, and linguistic minorities; Jews and others now at risk for ethnic cleansing; and people forced to live in poverty amidst the great wealth and abundance of corporate USA.

    In the Highlander tradition, we came away from those three days on the mountain determined that we will not allow anyone to do for us, to discount us, or to pat us on the head instead of looking us in the eye. We came away invigorated and ready to act individually and collectively to insure that self-determination, respect, ethical behavior, and humane voluntary services and supports become the foundation of a reinvented mental health system. This system must first and foremost do no harm.

    We came away ready to make this a reality.

    The Highlander Call for Action:

    We call upon all people committed to human rights to organize and fight against the passage and implementation of legislation making it easier to lock up and forcibly drug people labeled with psychiatric disorders, legislation that is creating the back-wards of the twenty-first century not just in hospitals, but also in our own homes.

    We call upon all people committed to human rights to work together to build a mental health system that is based upon the principles of self-determination, on a belief in our ability to recover, and on our right to define what recovery is and how best to achieve it.

    We call upon people who have used mental health services to heal each other by telling our stories. We call for the creation of literature and other arts that use our truths to educate, to inform, and to validate our culture and our experience.

    We call upon elected officials, political candidates, and those with power over our lives to recognize and honor the legitimacy of our concerns through their policy statements, legislative proposals, and their actions; and we hereby give notice that we will do whatever it takes to insure that we are heard, that our rights are protected, and that we can live freely and peacefully in our communities.”

    Ten years ago in the summer of 2000, MindFreedom published this issue of Dendron, with the headline, “The psychiatric survivors movement turns 30!” On page 5 is The Highlander Statement and Call to Action.On the cover: Sally Zinman, George Ebert, Ted Chabasinski, Judi Chamberlin, and Jay Mahler

    I have gathered a little bit of stuff on the history of the psychiatric survivor movement and it’s on the page Nothing About Us Without Us. http://involuntarytransformation.blogspot.com/p/nothing-about-us-without-us.html

    • Thanks for reminding me about the Highlander Conference. It was deliberately small and by invitation, as we wanted a more focused discussion among people who were in close agreement politically.

      I am hoping in the near future we can have a similar conference of people who are of one mind about what to do next. 25 to 50 people sounds good to me. But first we have to find the people who are clear that the only way to make progress is not to take the bribes from the mental illness system we should be fighting. We have a lot of work to do to rebuild our movement.

    • Very interesting story Becky about the Highlander Statement and Call to Action.

      There is a Survivor History Group, founded in 2005 in England, to “value and celebrate the contribution that mental health service users/survivors have made and are making to history”. Led by Andrew Roberts:
      http://studymore.org.uk/mpu.htm

      He also wrote an article Scotland the Brave:
      http://studymore.org.uk/mhtscot.htm
      which starts “Scotland pioneered the user movement in the United Kingdom, according to recent research by the Survivor History Group. At least twice in as many decades it was Scottish patients who put their full force on the lever of history. Academic historians have given the credit, for both occasions, to London. But new evidence suggests Scotland led the way.”.

      Regards, Chrys

  5. Great article. Sad reality of the current situation. Ted your work now and in the past had meaning and your name and efforts will always be remembered with deep respect.

    The main problem is, 9 out of 10 people believe in the Church of Psychiatry’s fake brain diseases. When millions voluntarily line up to swallow the lies and the drugs, the minority complaining about having these beliefs forced on us the government, appear completely alien to the true believers.

    Not believing in psychiatry’s lies, in 2012, is like being a member of a small community in the middle ages who dared doubt the Pope and the Church. People learn to keep their head down, try and educate and protect themselves from the brain rapists as best they can, and try and get through this life intact.

    We are living in a world where most people are a member of the psychiatric cult. The cult members are overwhelmingly legally, politically and economically powerful, and think nothing of breaking any individual on the wheel of submission to their ideology.

    It is very dangerous, deadly, to be right when most of society is wrong.

    • I totally agree with your analysis of the Church of Psychiatry and its cultlike believers. I have been saying this a lot recently, and it is good to see that others have perceived the same thing. It is scary, but just the same it is true. At least perceiving the truth is one of the first steps in making change. We can’t change anything if we don’t understand what it is.

      • We need to work on ways to get our message out. We need to entice people to question. Right now the masses do not have enough information to make informed choices.

        One aspect of cult indoctrination is information control. IE those with the money and the power control the information.

    • Spot on, Anonymous! Here is my first news report from the front lines…

      #1 problem: Belief in the brain disorders- chemical imbalances in the brain and wonder drugs…

      Dialogue with administrator of three psychiatric inpatient units:

      Admin: “We need to promote the idea that recovery from serious mental illness is possible.”

      Me: “Yes. I was told that you are implementing a “Recovery Model” here. But, I don’t see a real difference in the staff or the care on the units.”

      Admin: “Well, we’re still in the planning phase and discussing how to approach the introduction of this model.”

      Me: ” I have a suggestion. Start with basic education for the staff. ”

      Admin: “We’ve started with trauma informed care training and introduced the concept that our treatment focuses on a “What’s happened to you”, rather than a “What’s wrong with you”, approach.”

      ME: “Ok. So, why aren’t we talking about what has happened to these “patients”; that they have been misinformed regarding the cause of their suffering; that there is no science behind the diagnoses that have led them, or those who keep sectioning them here, to believe that they have a chemical imbalance in their brains that requires the use of medication for life? Why aren’t you teaching that we need to change “our” view of recovery ?”

      Admin:”I’m not clear on what you are saying.”

      Me: “Recovery from misdiagnosis and harmful treatment, not recovery from a serious mental illness.”

      Admin: “I’m not familiar with that view of recovery.”

      Me: “Well, our three peer specialists are…”

      Guess what, Anonymous? One of the peer specialists shared her recovery story with Bob Whitaker and is in Anatomy of an Epidemic. We’ve had a few strategy meetings, and though you are apt to attack me for taking this job— I have been embraced by a respect worthy group who are dedicated to true reform. This peer specialist, for instance, who has expressed tremendous gratitude to me for just “showing up”… and bringing books for the “big bosses” who were floored to hear that the biological- you- know what- is bogus!

      We aren’t fighting this battle with outrage, but with creative ways of un-brainwashing staff– including psychiatrists and, of course, spending a great deal of time with “patients”.

      I do a lot of networking, most of it teaching, but some is activism-oriented. The thing that keeps hitting me is that the *lie* is actually big time fraud. And the proof of it is very accessIble.

      1) The lack of scientific evidence.
      2) The books, articles, on-going teaching by :Biederman, Wilens, Spencer that contains NO scientific citations for their very detailed statements regarding the brain disorder basis for pediatric psychiatric illness and the safe use of psychiatric medications.
      THIS, Ted, is a lawyers dream, I would imagine. It is a case to present to an Attorney General, and it is about criminal indictment for breech of the public trust, causing harm for profit.

      In my vision, the penalties would include restitution; that is, money for recovery programs….

      The disposition of such a case would go a long way toward educating the public.

        • I’m looking at a criminal vs. civil action. I’m thinking about Attorney General vs. medical malpractice attorneys. I’m thinking that the evidence of this “criminal fraud” is in your local library, in the media, on this web site and 1boringoldman; David Healy’s blog…

          The purpose, in my mind to go this route is:

          1) Expose the discrepancy between *science*, *truth* and the documented “teachings/propaganda” propagated by a specific group of psychiatrists who have very obviously gained financially as a result of public belief and support in their “falsehoods”.

          2) Simplifies the argument. Can anyone solicit $ from the *public (*patients. insurance co,s) via *lying? (mental illness is a brain disorder; medications restore the brain to proper functioning).

          3) The erudite aspects of medical practice notwithstanding; doctors cannot LIE to the public in the name of ‘their professional discretion’—

          4) The medical profession holds a ‘granted’ authority position in our society based upon trust. Specific members of the medical profession , in high ranking positions of authority have breeched that trust.

          5) This case levels the playing field…

          Then, we can start over with a realistic view of how we order “authority’ for mental health care in our society.

    • I think you’ve pointed out an important fact. I’ve been told numerous times that I should not be so vocal about my own history with the system. I’ve been cautioned by many to tell no one about my being a survivor. People keep their mouths shut and their heads down. The hospital where I work is full of “survivors” but you’d never know it because they hide their experience in the system. One person was outed just last week and the person’s supervisor was going around to other people in the department asking if they’d known the person had a “history,” as she called it.

    • I read some of it (haven’t slept much so need to go back to bed), and I agree, it is one of the best “recovery” stories I have seen. He has a lot of thoughtful and perceptive comments to make that are worth paying attention to. I tried to read his biographical details, but it seems he isn’t a regular blogger, although I see he has written at least one other piece for MIA. I guess when I am more awake I will comment on his article and ask him about himself.

      • There are some biographical details for Steven at the bottom of his recent Op Ed.

        Regular bloggers, like you, and not Op-Ed and Recovery Story writers get pride of place on the ‘about’ page with a photo and bio details, I guess it is just to save space, and it wouldn’t make sense for the site to fill up the about page dozens and dozens of head shots. People who have said they’ll make a regular commitment to blogging, get their bio details up on the about page. I hope Steven does become a regular blogger. His Op-Ed and recovery story, are both strong pieces of writing.

      • In fact, I have done a video interview with him that I will be getting up on the site (in pieces) as soon as possible. It would be there now if I could work out the workflow from Final Cut to YouTube. He is brilliant and we will be documenting his progress with Soteria via blogging and video; I am sure it will be riveting. I am extremely excited about it.

        • Ah, is he the fellow in Vermont who will be running the new state-funded Soteria House? I thought his name sounded familiar, plus I have heard great things about him from people in the movement that I respect. I think his very perceptive thoughts about his own recovery are going to be very helpful when he starts working with the residents at Soteria Vermont. Something really good seems to be happening in Vermont, and I want to know as much about it as I can.

          • Yes. I’m still fidgeting with the details of exporting and uploading video, but when I do we intend to provide regular updates on the process, material and philosophical, of the Soteria Vermont project. (Along with many other things and people we honor and would like to get a wider and larger audience for. We believe that high-quality video is one way to do this, and are gearing up to provide it. (My first career was in film, so I like to think I can create images that will showcase the wonderful people that this movement has produced in a manner that befits their contributions.
            In the interview that Steven has given me so far you will see (which, god and this cafe’s internet connection willing will be soon) what a well-spoken, well-informed, well-prepared man Steven is for this project. He also speaks with excitement of Vermont’s support; the state’s legislation mandating non-pharmacological alternatives for those who choose it, their funding of the Soteria project at $1 million per year, and the general sense of excitement he feels for this opportunity.
            At the same time, being on the frontline of anything is bound to be hard and he will need all of our support. I am very pleased and proud to be able to provide some in the form of giving him a forum in which others might be inspired to follow Vermont’s lead.
            A few years ago it seemed that the question was “will there ever be another Soteria?” Now, we will get to follow the progress of a second one, the first in the contiguous 50, and see if it inspires the other 48 to follow. We intend to glean and distribute as much insight as possible in the hope that it might.

  6. I guess I didn’t see MIA as heavily populated with academics and mental health professionals, but maybe you can cross me off of that list now that I am retired.

    If the “movement” is open enough, there will be the support of the likes of me, if that is wanted. Maybe we will even have some useful ideas and suggestions. I think all of the “rights” movements had some crucial support of those not directly in need of those rights.

    • Steve,

      We have a few MD’s here who still actively prescribe medications in great numbers. These people need – as do we all – to believe that their work is worthy and so they defend themselves and the status quo. They might try to prescribe a little less. They might be aware that there is some over prescribing going on. They are not as of yet aware that the very system they defend is horribly abusive and should be dismantled completely.

      I agree with you, we need experienced mental health workers to help us establish better systems. Those mental health workers must work closely with those they are helping and the survivors to make certain that the new systems are ethical. We do not need the people who defend their current practices. We do not need apologetics, or MD’s who are so completely unaware that they espouse abusive attitudes that they come on to this site and continue to abuse. (hello Dr Steingaard and Dr. Moffitt).

      Malene

        • No, Dr. Moffic, Really, I did not misspell your name on purpose. Nor did it dawn on me that you were commenting only under your first name.

          I get royally furious at you because I see you defend the abuse that goes on in the name of psychiatry all around the country. Then you get your tender little feelings hurt when we stand up to the abuse. From what I see, you act like the play ground bully who starts to cry when one of those you bullied all of a sudden had enough and stands up to you.

          So, I have a few questions for you.

          First, you said words on this site can be “abusive”, do you mean to compare any stings my words may carry to the abuse of being incarcerated, dehumanized, force fed horrific medications, sometimes put in four point restraints? And if the medications are not force fed then they are injected in the backside with nice big needles into people that really do not want those medications. Do you honestly think this is comparable?

          Now, I also really wonder Dr. Moffic, why do you come here? There has got to be something that you would like to get out of coming here – something positive that you imagine can come from these interactions – I wonder what it is? No, really, I genuinely wonder. Maybe, if we are to honestly try to communicate I need to understand what you come here for. I can’t promise I will give it, but I can promise I will try to understand it.

          Malene

          • Abuse is on a continuum; why hurt anyone in anyway if it is avoidable? I’m here because I think the mental health of people can be improved and perhaps this site can contribute to that. However, I am concerned that the anger that is repeated will end up limiting what can be accomplished.

  7. Ted, thank you for sharing your movement history stories; I’m sure they’re a revelation to many younger readers who’ve never heard about the roots of the movement. I’d just add that for many people, this has always been and continues to be a human rights movement, not a “recovery” movement, although our voices often get lost in the shuffle these days. For people interested in additional recollections of the early days of the movement, the transcript of an oral history interview I did with Judi Chamberlin about 10 years ago is posted at: http://www.community-consortium.org/projects/chamberlin-judy.pdf

    • Hi Darby. Yeah, I realize there are still plenty of people around who are clear that we are still a human rights movement. But as you say, our position gets lost in the general noise. And you are in New York, where the center of rebellion seems to be right now.

      I am thinking it would be good, as I wrote earlier, for people like us to have a small conference by invitation of people who are of one mind as to what we should be doing. By taking some time to focus on our next moves and to figure out strategy, I think such a conference would help a lot.

      I am thinking of going to the SAMHSA conference in Portland this October, but I don’t feel comfortable hanging out on a giant psych ward, which I think the SAMHSA conference is. Also, given how openly I am criticizing them now, I would expect they will try to throw me out. I suppose it is better to be forced out, though, than to be forced to stay.

      If I went, my main purpose would be to find people who want to get out from the thumb of the feds. I mean, if they thought they could get way with banning Bob Whitaker, they certainly would try to ban me. And if I go, I will be very visible.

    • Darby, it was so poignant for me to read the transcript of your interview with Judi. I remembered how it was to have a partner who shared the same history and politics as I did, ad how important it was to have that kind of support for each other as we went out into the world to speak out about what was done to us.

      It was sweet to remember how Judi and Wendy had bonded with each other, these two women who have been so important in my life.

  8. Stop.Psychiatry,

    I get what you meant, and I still vehemently disagree. $cientology might not have the legal right to incarcerate and torture – yet they do those acts unopposed every single day. No organization that incarcerates and tortures others are “my friend” in any kind of fight.

    The extremeness, the tortures and the horrors perpetrated by $cientology dimishes and invalidates our case. We do better distancing ourselves as far away from them as we possibly can.

    Malene

  9. Did it even dawn on you that when I mentioned the Lisa McPherson case they incarcerated her and starved her to death? They starved her to death? Do you get that? When the ME got to her she was malnourished, died from starvation, had big bug bites and were filthy. She was incarcerated for months to get in to that state. While she is the one who died her story is NOT unique among those who survived $cientology.

    Those who incarcerated her were never prosecuted. These are the people you want to team up with? They might now have the legal right to incarcerate her and kill her, but they still did it and there were no consequences.

    They tortured her to death – but they are your friend? Really?

    Wow!

  10. Re: Scientology

    I know nothing about the religion/

    However it is my understanding from doing some research on the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), that CCHR is a part of Scientology, but that not all members of CCHR are part of the religion.

    I contacted the CCHR office in Austin, Texas to learnn more about their advanced psychiatric directives, and was told that anyone can file such a directive with CCHR and become involved with the organizatio (CCHR), without becoming part of the religion.

    Is this accurate?

    I think CCHR has done some good work from what I’ve seen,read, heard… but again, I know nothing about the religion (Scientology) per say (the ‘parent’ organization?).

    Anyone care to comment?… I’d like to know more about this.

    Duane

    • Also, the CCHR YouTube site has some good videos on topics ranging from forced treatment to acupuncture and nutrition for depression, etc.

      My friend, Dr. John Breeding has put together some good work for the CCHR site…

      We’ve worked together to protect foster care and Medicaid kids here in Texas. John is one of the finest human beings I’ve met on this earth, especially with his work on abolishment of forced treatment and electroshock…

      We’ve never discussed our religion… As far as John goes, I consider him a brother. And the empathy and care he has for his fellow human beings is all that matters to me (not his religion).

      For readers who have not heard of John Breeding, these are his websites:

      Wildest Colts (Make the Best Horses) –

      http://www.wildestcolts.com/psych_opp.html

      Coalition for the Abolishment of Electroshock in Texas –

      http://endofshock.com/

      Best,

      Duane

      Duane

  11. Duane,

    I suspect this is slightly outside of the scope of this web site, but I will give a brief opinion and some resources.

    *sigh*, I have been through abuse more than once in my life and am also a survivor of a destructive cult. In the process of becoming free of the cult I studied how cults work in extensive detail.

    When I refer to a cult I specifically mean a group of two or more people with a centralized leadership that uses specific techniques to gain and keep control over their members. Those techniques are often referred to as “mind control”, and the groups in daily vernacular are referred to as “cults”. I usually refer to “high control, high demand groups”, and by that I mean specifically groups that gain an ungodly control over their members. If you want more of what I have written on the subject please email me directly.

    Please note that when I refer to certain groups as high control, high demand I do not care what their actual beliefs are, and some of those groups are not religious in their ideological foundation. I simply refer to the techniques they use to gain and keep control over their members.

    Most of the larger and more “successful” high control, high demand groups have spin off groups that in some ways are involved in the community and espousing one or several of their dogma’s but are not completely part of the church or official group set up. They do this to soften their image and to troll for more adherents. Think about it – take someone who has been abused by psychiatry, who is looking for a way to get involved with opposing psychiatry. This person will be a poster child for the original groups dogma with a touching personal story. This person will also be quite easy to slowly induct into the group that controls the strings behind the front group.

    Now, when you go to those front groups you will indeed see members that are not church members. But they will be very open to the church behind the scenes. They play a part. The real goal though is to get more adherents. I also believe that $cientology deliberately and consciously want to replace psychiatry, after all there is a lot of money in psychiatry.

    Now, to comment specifically on $cientology, they are in my well studied mind, the most organized, intelligent and successful of high control, high demand groups out there. They are also the most vicious. The horrors they have put their members through are truly shocking, and easily rivals the horrors done by psychiatry. Seriously, don’t take my resources for it – just do a search on scientology survivors and read their stories. Incarceration is daily fare for $cientology. You said “what would be illegal”, and you would be right. That hasn’t stopped them yet.

    Malene

    And here for some resources:
    The site that gives a lot of scientology resources:
    http://www.freedomofmind.com/Info/infoDet.php?id=230

    Steven Hassan’s BITE Model of mind control:
    http://www.freedomofmind.com/Info/BITE/bitemodel.php

    And just one survivors story because I know it is easy for me to find – Monica Pignotti’s survivor story:
    http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Library/Shelf/pignotti/

  12. Ohh, and Duane, if you really would like to know – you should also spend a little time on the Lisa McPherson site I listed further up. There is a lot of good information there about how Lisa died, and the things that happened both before and after. It is interesting, but sad reading.

    Malene

    • Malene,

      As mentioned, unless I’m mistaken, a person can become involved with CCHR without becoming a scientologist. When I was inquiring about the organization, I told them I am Roman Catholic, and their responne was that people of “many religions” are part of CCHR.

      I did not join and have not since, but if the information they provided is accurate, I think it bephoves us to make a clear distinction between the religion of the parent group and that of CCHR. For instance, Mary Ann Block, D.O. was given a CCHR award for her work here in Texas, for using non-drug approaches for kids who have been diagnosed with “ADHD” and “autism”.

      Dr Block did not even begin her medical training until she was 39 years-ole, as an effort to save her child’s life. It would seem quite unlikely that this type of doctor (osteopath and board-certified environmental medicine), with such dedication would risk her career and reputation with an affiliation yo such a religion… and quite more likely that she was given the CCHR award and graciously accepted.

      All I’m trying to say is that we should be very careful here… not to disparage based upom (indirect) affiliation with a relifious group that many of us kmow little about.

      I was accused of being a scientologist on Dr. Steven Balt’s blog a while back. As a cradle Catholic, I found it insulting that someone made such an assumption, and did it publicly, nontheless.

      I’ll spend some time on the link to find out more about this religion, but I refuse to believe that all people who are affiliated (directly, indirectly, innocently or in ignorance) are members of this church.

      I hope you don’t read anything I had to say as an attack on you, because it is not. I’m just saying that WE (all of US) should be careful.

      Duane

      • Hey Duane,

        First off, I do not read anything you wrote as an attack on me. I read a desire to defend people that you consider good, hard working people that work for something we all agree on.

        I want to start by saying that I know a lot about $cientology and the inner workings of high demand, high control groups. Plenty enough to comment – and then some.

        Let me clarify a few things –

        First off, I said that $cientology is intelligent and I meant it. Their machine is huge, and they have several front groups that are only indirectly related to the mother church. CCHR is one of those front groups. Now, CCHR and all its members play a role for $cientology, if only to enhance their image.

        As an aside – $cientology purchased CAN which stands for Cult Awareness Network a long time ago. They use this now as a front group professing to fight against cults. It is sickening, because there really are few cults that are more destructive than $cientology.

        I do not think that everyone involved with CCHR are scientologists, and I am sure many of them have no clue what $cientology does behind closed doors. One of the things $cientology works hard on is their image – they do not want to be known as the vicious group that they are.

        This still leaves me with the knowledge that $cientology is as vicious and dangerous as the psychiatry we fight against. The affiliation between CCHR and $cientology is not indirect – $cientology bankrolls CCHR, and the top members of CCHR are mostly scientologists.

        I believe that if we make the mistake to work together with $cientology then we risk replacing one abusive system with one just as bad. I think it is important to stand up and inform those who fight for our cause, but think $cientology brings something to the table about the organization behind $cientology and what it stands for.

        If you follow the Lisa McPherson link, and then click on the description of “introspection rundown” you will see some of the thinking behind $cientology, and some of the things they do not want made public. Just a little bit of it. It should be enough to make you queasy though.

        Malene

        • I am tired of Scientology being the whipping boy of the psychiatric profession. Its shortcomings are very similar to the average evangelical church of whatever persuasion. The “true believers” believe they are right and want everyone else to agree and join them. Sound familiar? To say they are as vicious and dangerous as the gigantic psycho/pharmaceutical junta is a ridiculous comparison, and in my view diminishes the legitimacy of what we’re trying to do.

          CCHR has not always been factually accurate (though they’re getting much better in recent years), and their rhetoric often gets in the way of their message, but they were fighting the psychiatric takeover back when everyone thought Prozac was Manna from Heaven and anyone who disagreed about the biological nature of depression and psychosis was considered nuts themselves.

          Psychiatry has used the “Scientology attack” as a means of deflecting legitimate criticism for as long as they have had the opportunity. Let’s not feed them more energy by dissing Scientology or any other religious practice on these blogs. There are plenty of other blogs focused on that subject. This is NOT about someone’s religion – it’s about the domination, corruption, and greed in the psychiatric profession that contaminates everything they say and do.

          If someone “accuses” you of being a Scientologist based on your views on psychiatry, I’d suggest you reply, “What on earth does a person’s religion have to do with whether psychiatric practice helps or harms its patients?” It just isn’t a related topic, except to the extent that the use of the “accusation” as an ad hominem attack on opponents needs to be stopped cold, and the accusers need to get back to talking about the hard, scientific facts of the situation.

          Scientology only affects those who choose to get involved. It does not scare me. Psychiatry involves people against their will and uses its financial and professional domination to spread lies and sell drugs that disable and kill people, and then blames the victims for their own demise. It scares me a whole lot!

          —- Steve

          • Steve,

            I understand that it is difficult for those who have not actually studied how cults work to distinguish between a destructive cult and a religion.

            There are clear and distinct differences though for those who care to become informed.

            $cientology is not a religion, it is a cult. One that horribly abuses people.

            Malene

    • Honestly, I found your response kind of insulting. I know more than a bit about Scientology and about what are termed “cults,” and it’s very clear to me that the line between religion and “cult” is often a very vague and hazy one, much like the line between being “mentally ill” and normal. There are plenty of “cult” behaviors (such as isolation from non-members, subservience to an unassailable human authority, being expected to make unreasonable contributions of time and energy to the group, and punishment by exclusion, to name a few) that are VERY common in a wide variety of “accepted” religious sects, as I am sure you are aware.

      My point, however, is that a discussion of religion, or cults if you prefer, is out of place here, in that it actually adds fuel to the fire of those who subscribe to the psychiatric cult itself. (And if we’re going to use the word cult, psychiatry may be the ultimate example of one!)

      I think the point of this blog is to enhance our understanding of the real science that applies to the arena of mental distress, and the philosophical conflicts around defining what is “mental illness,” if such a thing even exists, and what might distinguish such a condition from what is called “normal.” Badmouthing a religion or religiously-affiliated group like CCHR simply reinforces the psychiatric accusation that we’re “all Scientologists” and can therefore be dismissed as cranks. So let’s focus on the FACTS, and let CCHR and the COS do what they do without wasting our energy criticising them here.

      Hope that’s a bit clearer.

      —- Steve

      • Yeah, could we please get away from this discussion about Scientology? It has nothing to do with this article.

        My take on it anyway is that no matter what we do, the Church of Psychiatry will call us Scientologists, so why waste time on the issue? I think we should use our energy to fight psychiatry, not the CCHR. They are irrelevant to what we should be doing.

      • Steve,

        At the moment I do not see psychiatry as a cult – that does not in any way excuse psychiatry or make it any better, I just do not see that they fit the description of a cult. If you want to make a detailed analysis based on current knowledge of how cults work for me to compare with then I might be convinced otherwise. I suggest using the BITE model.

        As far as what is or isn’t a cult there actually is solid information about what makes one group a cult and others not, but you are right there are also plenty of grey areas. Most religions are obviously not cults though – thank God. That said, certain groups do not deserve the name “religion”, because their destructiveness and the horror they leave behind is such that they are incredibly dangerous. Scientology is such a group.

        Malene

  13. Malene,

    Didn’t see your link, but googled her name and read her story. It’s tragic, to say the least.

    I hope we don’t get too side-tracked here, however.
    We have a major battle to win with bio-psychiatry!

    I’ve been putting up too many comments lately (especially on Moffic’s most recent post). Out of respect for fellow readers, it’s time for me to sit on my hands for a bit, and hear what pthers have to say.

    My apologies to readers of Moffic’s last piece, for the barrage of comments left by yours truly. Thank you, Marlene for the education on scientology.

    Best,

    Duane

  14. Dr. Moffic,

    In regards to “why hurt someone if you can avoid it”. First of all, my comments are not designed to hurt you. They are designed to question you – and maybe even challenge you to question yourself. I suspect the questions I bring up can be painful though. If there is a place in you that is human enough to know that the system you represent has done untold damage to others then those questions would indeed be painful to you. I would say that is good news actually.

    In the end, the questions I raise are not at all about you, but about the system that you represent. Making it about you is really amazingly self centered.

    In regards to people’s mental health – sure it can be improved. What improvements would you like to see?

    Do you understand that people who have been hospitalized sees the hospitals as deeply abusive?

    Do you understand why they see those hospitals as abusive?

    The improvements I want to see? Well, they are not so much improvements – rather I would like to see the system completely dismantled and run by peers. Let the MD’s and the other professionals work under those they are trying to help.

    In regards to the anger –
    The only way we will see changes that are significant enough is if we use the anger constructively. We are not talking about nice, cute little “improvements”, we are talking about revolution. In this revolution you can join us, but beware you will not be at the top of the pyramid, your degree will keep you from that. Or, you can oppose us. Right now you are in an oppositional stance due to your lack of understanding of where we come from.

    Malene

  15. I agree with Ted, “I don’t want to fight with CCHR, but neither do I think we should be associated with them either.” Truly grateful for you saying so!

    Malene, you have obviously done your homework; thank you so much for sharing what you have found.

    Chrys and Darby I appreciate you both sharing links—I will be adding them my website as well.

  16. Hi Ted
    First let me say great article! Just as there is a history of psychiatric abuse so there is the history of the survivors who fight the oppression, very interesting. I liked your comments on the recovery movement which is now being assimilated pretty successfully by the psychiatric system. However i still think it has made an impact certainly for the hearing voices movement in that psychiatry’s most prized ‘illness’ schizophrenia has been turned on its head when it became apparent that people got better! Medically this was in theory not possible schizophrenia being ‘genetic’ with ‘proven’ brain defects. Psychiatry is still reeling from that exposure and is the angle of attack we are taking here in Denmark. We are simply going for psychiatry’s Achilles heel, their science.
    The discussion on Scientology, which is worse them or psychiatry, is in my book, a moot point. Psychiatry has the law on their side, somebody further up mentioned a woman who died in the hands of Scientology in 1995 but few people are aware of the huge number dying in the hands of psychiatry daily. We have in Denmark very successfully put death as a psychiatric reality out into public awareness when we traveled throughout Denmark demonstrating 2 years ago and did a follow up demonstration this year. For example it is documented that one person every second day is dying in the hands of psychiatry here and that’s the official number, can you imagine the real numbers!
    So yes Ted it is time to do something about it and the time is now!
    Regards Olga

    • Olga, thank you very much for the news about what is going on in Denmark. It sounds like our movement there has thought about strategy, and yes, I agree, the thing to do is go after their Achilles heel. Their lack of any real scientific base, and the terrible toll in death and disability psychiatry causes, are really excellent points to bring to the public’s attention. I didn’t know much about the Danish movement, and I would like to know more.

  17. Good post Ted and I enjoyed the history of a human rights movement you articulated so well, although I disagree about the fundamental nature of POWER? I believe its a emotional projection from within, which misunderstands the nature of reality “out there.” largely because we fail to feel the impulse to our subjective experience within the mind. Power lies in its perception and our reaction, to that perception?

    You wrote;
    “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are people who want crops without plowing up the ground…Power concedes nothing without a struggle. It never has and it never will.”

    I understand the pain fueled anger and desire for action, yet our actions are to often perceived by mainstream society as “stereotypical,” of those crazies? If you make the statement to a member of the general public that psychiatry is a cult, a church, what is their most likely reaction, and why?

    I suggest we need to understand *unconscious* internal motivation before we can hope to get the much needed action right? We need to understand just makes society function, before we can take stand and contemplate strategy which will not simply reinforce a stereotypical view? Please consider;

    Toxic Drugs or Toxic Shame? – The Parental Nature of Society?

    Murray Bowen tells us that society operates just like a family? John Bradshaw in his brilliant “Healing the Shame that Binds You,” explains how shame is used to shape the family & society, by its ability to suppress and even crush, the natural energies of interest & excitement, of curiosity and wonder?

    It begins around 18 months of age, as parental adoration and encouragement turn to admonishment and the restriction of innate affect/emotion? Shame has been long recognized as the *binding* emotion which allows society to function in an orderly hierarchical fashion of perceived rank & status.

    This is perhaps the unconscious motivation in our drive for *diagnosis,* the ranking of another as inferior, or as described by Donald Nathanson, the Pride/Shame axis of all human relationships?

    Can the good Doctor in his need for the pride of deference, as Michael Cornwall points out, be sure that a motivation of good intention, is not driven by an unconscious need, in this Pride/Shame axis of human relationship? Is our current debate here on MIA inhibited by our *objective* analysis, with a lack of awareness, or discussion about *unconscious* motivation? Please consider the effects of Toxic Shame and its shaping of Western Society?

    “My Name Is Toxic Shame

    I was there at your conception
    In the epinephrine of your mother’s shame
    You felt me in the fluid of your mother’s womb
    I came upon you before you could speak
    Before you understood
    Before you had any way of knowing
    I came upon you when you were learning to walk
    When you were unprotected and exposed
    When you were vulnerable and needy
    Before you had any boundaries
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I came upon you when you were magical
    Before you could know I was there
    I severed your soul
    I pierced you to the core
    I brought you feelings of being flawed and defective
    I brought you feelings of distrust, ugliness, stupidity, doubt
    worthlessness, inferiority, and unworthiness
    I made you feel different
    I told you there was something wrong with you
    I soiled your Godlikeness
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I existed before conscience
    Before guilt
    Before morality
    I am the master emotion
    I am the internal voice that whispers words of condemnation
    I am the internal shudder that courses through you without any
    mental preparation
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I live in secrecy
    In the deep moist banks of darkness
    depression and despair
    Always I sneak up on you I catch you off guard I come through
    the back door
    Uninvited unwanted
    The first to arrive
    I was there at the beginning of time
    With Father Adam, Mother Eve
    Brother Cain
    I was at the Tower of Babel the Slaughter of the Innocents
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I come from “shameless” caretakers, abandonment, ridicule,
    abuse, neglect – perfectionistic systems
    I am empowered by the shocking intensity of a parent’s rage
    The cruel remarks of siblings
    The jeering humiliation of other children
    The awkward reflection in the mirrors
    The touch that feels icky and frightening
    The slap, the pinch, the jerk that ruptures trust
    I am intensified by
    A racist, sexist culture
    The righteous condemnation of religious bigots
    The fears and pressures of schooling
    The hypocrisy of politicians
    The multigenerational shame of dysfunctional
    family systems
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I can transform a woman person, a Jewish person, a black
    person, a gay person, an oriental person, a precious child into
    A bitch, a kike, a nigger, a bull dyke, a faggot, a chink, a selfish
    little bastard
    I bring pain that is chronic
    A pain that will not go away
    I am the hunter that stalks you night and day
    Every day everywhere
    I have no boundaries
    You try to hide from me
    But you cannot
    Because I live inside of you
    I make you feel hopeless
    Like there is no way out
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    My pain is so unbearable that you must pass me on to others
    through control, perfectionism, contempt, criticism, blame,
    envy, judgment, power, and rage
    My pain is so intense
    You must cover me up with addictions, rigid roles, reenactment,
    and unconscious ego defenses.
    My pain is so intense
    That you must numb out and no longer feel me.
    I convinced you that I am gone – that I do not exist –
    you experience absence and emptiness.
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I am the core of co-dependency
    I am spiritual bankruptcy
    The logic of absurdity
    The repetition compulsion
    I am crime, violence, incest, rape
    I am the voracious hole that fuels all addictions
    I am instability and lust
    I am Ahaverus the Wandering Jew, Wagner’s Flying Dutchman,
    Dostoyevski’s underground man, Kierkegaard’s seducer,
    Goethe’s Faust
    I twist who you are into what you do and have
    I murder your soul and you pass me on for generations
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME” _Leo Booth/John Bradshaw.

    http://www.goddirect.org/mindemtn/writings/january/toxshame.htm

    We crazies, actually serve a societal need, in this Pride/Shame axis of human relationship, and we need to be fully cognizant of this before we can really make the paradigm shift, which human understanding is so desperately in need of?

    I respectfully suggest that the paradigm shift, will come from an awareness of hypocrisy, in our mechanistic view of psychosis, which sees saintly experience worshiped and ordinary experience shamefully vilified? The Pride/Shame axis of relationship. Yet we need to see this in ourselves, before we can really move on?

  18. WHERE TO FROM HERE?
    I so much appreciate your posting Ted. And not to talk about your years of hard work in this regard! I bow to you! Thank you very much to you and many others.

    I am the mother of an adult son (turning 27 this year) who is hospitalized (again) as we speak. When he had his horrific ‘first break some three years ago we had no-where else to go to for help but to the ‘professionals.’ As you can imagine – we are still in the pit of hell because we were not helped… we were given a label and a promise of no return. Our son twice looked as if he was going to die right in front of us because of medication. And still.. we regard ourselves lucky when we read the stories of others.

    I want you all to know, that if it was not for the information that we found on the web (such as the information on this forum), I have no idea how we would have made it staying alive and ‘sane.’

    And I want to point out that included among the organisations and people who have made it possible for us to question the bio-model as part of our humble efforts to make it out together with our son is CCHR. I know just about zero about Scientology and did not even know that they were related.

    Are we saying that the information and tools that they provide on their fantastic website are all hogwash? Is there anything wrong with what Dr. Thomas Szasz has to say about psychiatry? What does this have to do with Scientology when it gives us the tools that we need to strengthen our voice when we have to face the system on behalf of our son?

    And without wanting to do away with the variety of organisations that are out there, this brings me to the very important question that Ted raises,and that is: how can we all make a bigger/better impact? Is it possible to form one global body… A ‘Civil Rights Movement for the Psyche’ perhaps with chapters (countries) all over the world?

    I have been involved with a most wonderful movement for a great number of years now (Humanity’s Team – Civil Rights Movement for the Soul)and what I have learnt from this movement is that the ‘mother’ body needs to be very clear on who they are and what there aims are, and especially be able to bring people together. Such a movement will therefor also not be afraid of CCHR and the Scientology connection. Transformation takes place where there is connection and an opportunity to understand one another better.

    I also believe that such a movement to be very clear on what it is that they stand FOR. When the world hears the hopeful news about the reality of REAL recovery in mental health, millions of people will come. Instead of fighting an existing system we need to find a way to create and promote ‘new’ models (such as the Open Dialogue Approach for example.)

    So, whilst the information that we continue to come across through the internet is absolutely invaluable, my husband and I also remain very frustrated and challenged because still, we are forced to be part of the bio-system for as long as our son is temporarily not able to stand up for himself and claim his power/life back. WE KNOW WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOES NOT WORK, BUT SO WHAT?

    Oneness greetings
    Anna-Mari