Fear, Discrimination and Our Ever-Eroding Civil Rights


If you recall any news before the Boston Marathon bombing and the chaos that followed you may remember hearing about the resolution of the Connecticut legislature’s months-long fumbling, stemming from the slayings in Newtown, which resulted in the consideration of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) laws and the passage of ‘An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.’  Attempts to explain and legislate against further massacres have, not surprisingly, focused on a debate about gun control.  However in a state that’s home to several firearms manufacturers (such as Colt Defense in West Hartford) and – like most other states in the Union – has a powerful NRA lobby, the focus has been deflected away from limiting the flow of guns in general to limiting civil rights in relation to gun ownership.  Here, I want to explore, in the context of recent debates and Connecticut legislation, the relationship between fear and the ways in which leaders of our so-called democracy justify the erosion of civil rights and the rights of those folks labeled “mentally ill” in particular.

I first learned about the significance of our country’s Bill of Rights around the same time I started on my first doses of SSRIs for depression and suicidal feelings.  At the same time I was learning in school about the “inalienable” freedoms to which citizens of the United States are entitled, I was learning in a psychiatrist’s office about how I might be a “danger” to myself and lose some of these freedoms “for my own good.”  I don’t claim that I was conscious of the contradictions at the age of 13 or 14, but the significance is not lost on me now.

I learned about the 1st, 2nd and 4th Amendments, among the rest, and it’s these three to which my focus is now particularly drawn.  The essential freedoms of speech, the right to bear arms, and the right to due process are among the most formative ideas of this country.  Yet, these rights are also among the most flagrantly violated in the name of psychiatric treatment; especially under the terms of involuntary commitment or its (euphemistically-named) cousin: Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT).

In particular, our country has a long and embattled relationship with the 2nd Amendment, but the industries supporting the sale of firearms are definitely among the most powerful.

When doing a search engine query for “CT gun manufacturers” the first thing to pop up is an article from NBC News called:

‘Insane’ Crowds as Customers Flood Connecticut Gun Stores Before Vote

As humorous as I find this headline – given the fear about “insane” people getting hold of firearms – I think it reveals a lot about the legislators and general public’s relationship to guns, civil rights and “mental illness.”  A major news source is drawing attention to “insane” crowds feverishly buying up guns (“anything semi-automatic,” in the words of one frantic customer) and no one is calling for motions to commit any of these folks?  That, to me, is “insanity.”  I say this half in jest and half awestruck.

I recently attended a rally and lobbying day at the Massachusetts statehouse geared toward opposing many of the same types of legislation that has just passed or been considered in CT.  One memorable moment of the day came when one legislator brought forth the following counter argument relating to guns and restricting the purchasing power of those who have received psychiatric support.  From a more “consumer”-based and yet very clever approach this man cited that nearly half the population of the US has probably received psychiatric support at some point in their lives: for depression, post-partum depression, anxiety or any other host of so-called psychiatric concerns.  That fact alone, he argued, should give the NRA and gun manufacturers pause about supporting and lobbying for databases that potentially render a huge segment of the population ineligible to buy guns and ammunition.  Now, take this argument for what you will, but the fact remains that the right to bear arms is a constitutional entitlement of citizenship in the US.

So, following the logic here, if legislators and gun rights advocates betray their positions of power by further eroding certain constitutional rights and sacrificing a base of customers in the process, then from where do the motives for this type of action arise?

Throughout the past century our country (and certainly the states of CT and MA are no exceptions) demonstrated the many ways a person’s constitutional (and I would argue human) rights can be suspended.  If I’ve seen any comparable politics of fear and discrimination since the flagrant equating of Muslims/Arabs with terrorists during the most raw months and years following 9/11 it has to be the recent spectacle of courtroom drama, media blitz and legislative confusion linking gun violence with those labeled “mentally ill.”  The point at which the American public and its branches of government allowed an extreme transgression of civil liberties in the aftermath of 9/11 (and also stepped up funding a whole industry of private companies supporting anti-terrorism and homeland security both within our borders and beyond) provides some precedent for what’s happening today in supporting discriminatory legislation restricting the lives of those labeled “mentally ill.”

While talk of violence with guns and bombs founds the debate of restricting these civil liberties, there is a different and less widely acknowledged violence in the mental health system and in calls to expand its power through AOT and databases of those who have sought psychiatric support.  As someone involved in peer advocacy and Alternatives to Suicide peer support groups in western MA, I can tell you that this less discussed violence is real and sometimes part of the law.  In addition to likely being over-enforced and fundamentally flawed, the current involuntary commitment laws in the state of Massachusetts are insufficiently counterbalanced by any more rights-based legislation (such as the state’s Five Fundamental Rights legislation).

Involuntary commitment for folks expressing suicidal thoughts – as I’m sure many of you already know firsthand or otherwise – might involve traumatic interventions by cops (with guns), being strapped to a restraint board, being forcibly tranquilized by way of syringe and the suspension of certain civil liberties.  Part of the violence (beyond the obvious physical trauma) is rooted in exceptions to citizens’ 1st Amendment protections when involving mentions of suicide, and part is in denying a clear “due process” of appeal for folks subjected to court-ordered commitment; let alone preventing court-ordered commitment in the first place.  To be deemed an “imminent harm to oneself” is often, legally, one step away from being deemed incompetent to make any decisions about one’s life and one’s body.

Instead of discussing these maddening things, the major focus of psychiatric treatment and commitment laws in this country has very recently and very often been geared toward treatment for folks with “homicidal” tendencies.  Not only is this focus offensive to me for the unfounded linking of gun violence and those who have received psychiatric support but also because it entirely shifts focus away from the coercion and violence of this country’s current system of so-called psychiatric “treatment” – especially as it pertains to people expressing suicidal feelings.

In my worldview, the violence and harm done to folks in the name of suicide prevention (in “doing what’s best for them”) is far more damaging than mental health school screenings, databases and ever-expanding commitment laws are ever able to be helpful in preventing the violence of school or movie theater or temple massacres.

Let’s not forget about the massacre of six people of Sikh faith in Wisconsin, supposedly mistaken for Muslims by the shooter, and the subsequent suicide of the white assailant. For legislators to assert that these efforts are in the name of safety seems more a protection of their credibility than that they do, in fact, have answers for how we prevent more of these atrocities — and may simply be fear; responding to the ways that actually preventing such tragedies still remains out of their control.

Fear, indeed, affects all seeking to prevent further Newtowns.  The fear of being the victim of gun violence in the US is very real and certainly (if statistics are any guide) more so in many inner cities or in domestic disputes, than in predominantly white suburban schools.  The tragedies in Boston – and the unprecedented response of frightening numbers of law enforcement – have left scars on victims as well as an ominous glow over how the country will respond in the weeks and months following.  More legislation from fear, and sacrificing civil liberties seems a possible event on the horizon.

If we are to prevent our communities from being increasingly governed by reactionary policies and desperation, we all need to speak up.  And so I want to encourage you as readers and citizens to consider these topics further and find your voice (if you haven’t already) in hopes that putting more of this writing out into the world will actually cause people to pause and reflect on the ways our country seems to value violence and retribution over human and civil rights.


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.


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  1. “As humorous as I find this headline – given the fear about “insane” people getting hold of firearms ”

    There’s nothing humorous about our Statist MSM. According to Most of them, Anyone who wants to own a gun is by definition Insane.

    For months after the Newtown School Massacre TV viewers were subjected to the grave and smug nods of blow dried, media fluff dorks endorsing more gun control while displaying endless footage of racks of AR-15s on the walls of gun stores.

    Now, just after the Boston Terror attacks, the Same idiots couldn’t shut up about an on-line magazine for terrorists which published a how-to cook book containing directions for making do it yourself pressure cooker explosive devices.

    Throughout history and all over the planet Far more people have been murdered by their own Governments than have been killed by any other entity, and the US MSM gets No pass from me for their bald faced, suck up complicity in it.

    Psychiatric Support? Support? Support of What, beyond billing the victims and Insurance providers both private and Government?

    What’s supportive about being defrauded out of one’s unalienable rights to be sold (or have it forced into one) drug induced psychosis, political ideologies masking as ‘Mind Science’, tardive dyskinesias,and a whole Host of other physical, emotional and perceptual upsets by drugs which have NO positives to them at all?




    A review of existing algorithms, including VA National Guidelines, APA, the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP), and PORT was conducted. After careful consideration, a modified version of TMAP was selected, and named the New Jersey Algorithm.

    The sequence includes two trials of atypical antipsychotics followed by a Clozaril trial. If no favorable response is observed, a third atypical neuroleptic is tried, followed by a typical neuroleptic, followed by a combination of antipsychotic medications. The consensus of the internal advisory committee was to provide a flexible algorithm that will allow for minor modifications as new research is disseminated.

    “Though a positive outcome has not been observed with the NJ Algorithm to date, researchers suspect that a larger sample size might generate significant findings in the future.”

    The VA serves 5.3 Million consumers. At a 1% rate of Schiz Diagnosis, that’s a minimum of 53,000 consumers the VA has treated for Schiz, and NO Positive Outcome no matter which drugs they use or in what combination, but they still want more people to work over in the ‘Hope’ that Someday the drugs they already know full well have NO upside will somehow start producing a positive outcome for them.


    And the psycho-babble itself even without the drugs is every bit as useless and ultimately destructive.

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    • Hey dbunker,

      I can’t say I would disagree with many of the above statements — some of the language and info, however, I’m not immediately familiar with.

      Not quite sure what “statist MSM” is referring to — the only thing related online in my searching for ‘MSM’ is an epidemiology term for Men who have Sex with Men to talk about HIV/AIDS epidemics in Africa. But, I don’t think that’s necessarily what you’re invoking.

      I’ll have to check out these links when I have the time.


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      • Hi Sean,

        😀 “statist MSM” means “statist MainsStream Media”. Basically is the codeword used in conservative media to refer to all other media (which is perceived as liberal).

        On the point of enlisting the NRA, law enforcement unions, I think that we all have to leave aside our respective biases on other matters we might disagree if we want to be successful in fighting the psychiatric scourge. Support to fight coercive psychiatry exists in all sides of the political spectrum. I have no doubt that the NRA and these unions -to which I would agree veterans, especially those diagnosed with PTSD – would wholeheartedly join if they understood what being labelled as “mentally ill” means. In fact, these groups have enough influence to be active parts in the debate of who should be allowed to own guns http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/should-gun-restrictions-be-placed-on-veterans-with-ptsd/ . The NRA cares fundamentally about keeping people’s ability to own arms. Their recent embracing of the “keep the guns from the mentally ill” mantra comes form the pressure they’ve had to come up with an easy solution to the problem of gun violence. But I am sure that they would reverse course if they were shown that the DSM-5 could be used to label “mentally ill” 50% of Americans. If the NRA were to embrace the “psychiatry is evil” theme, we would be in very good shape.

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        • “If you make it automatic where troops with PTSD lose their right to bear arms, you’re going to have people who don’t seek help,” he said.

          Heck of a price to pay, but the sooner our troops and everyone else understand that ‘Not Seeking Help’ is a smart move, the better.

          “Seeking Help” has caused us nothing but More problems: IE: An ever increasing hue and cry for more ‘Mental Health’ being shoved down Everyone’s throat, when ‘Mental Health’ itself IS the problem.

          We are witnessing a completely out of control and completely Lawless political class institute a Police State in America.

          Just after I posted on Senator Dirty Harriet Feinstein’s screed about the Newtown School Massacre,


          NRA cited Fixing our ‘Broken Mental Health system’ as a needed corrective. I’ve never heard the NRA couch it in those terms before, and it’s about time they did, but as you say, their parroting of the existing Mantra is about the only option our Main Stream Media leaves them.

          Now, Police State 101:


          One of Dirty Harriet’s proposals puts the 2nd Amendment Rights of Vets slimed with a PTSD tag on the block, BUT, Police Officers slimed with the Same PTSD tag would be exempt from the deprivation of Their 2nd.

          This is hypocrisy on steroids.

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      • Mr Donovan;

        Is this some of the language you may not be immediately familiar with?

        “blow dried, media fluff dorks”

        I’m calling them airheads. I’m saying that their Hairdo for the camera means 90 times more to them than the substance of what they are reading on air off of their teleprompters and computer screens, and passing it off as unbiased News.

        It’s not news. It’s a distraction. Car accidents and every Police arrest of every petty criminal they can dig up, rather than, God Forbid, any actual News on the Violence being done by Governments at the National, State, and Local Level to your Civil Rights, and everybody Else’s Civil Rights.

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  2. Sean,

    Thanks for this great piece. I am on record several times deploring involuntary commitment of any kind -and seeing this as the root of psychiatry’s all evils- so I am not going to repeat myself on that regard.

    The only thought that I want to throw is that you seem to make a great case for enlisting the NRA in our efforts against psychiatry. If the leadership of the NRA came to see how “easy” it is to be labelled as “mentally ill” and how such labeling could be used as a proxy to deprive people of their second amendment rights, the survivor movement would gain an ally that would be very difficult to beat at least in a US context.

    The NRA, just as politicians, comes usually under enormous pressure to come up with an “easy fix” to the problem of gun violence every time there is a Newtown. They have come to believe that “taking away guns from mad people” is the easy fix. As scores of people before them -myself included before I was abused by psychiatry- they see psychiatry as a legitimate, scientifically sound branch of medicine instead of the fraud it actually is. In this regard, DSM-5 presents and incredible opportunity since, because of its expansive nature, it could be used to label as “mentally disordered” a big chuck of the American population (by some estimates up to 50% of the people). If the NRA came to reckon that 50% of the American people could be deprived of their second amendment rights because of a DSM-5 label, things would be very different.

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    • Hey there,

      Thanks for reading and for your comments! (I hope I might read some of your writing some time too.)

      Yes, the idea of “strange bedfellows” comes to mind when enlisting the NRA but I see it as a possibility. I’ve also been directed to the Unions of law enforcement and security guards as possible, and yet uncommon, allies. Something to think about….


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  3. I saw this fab video on gun control in the USA but now it isn’t available in the UK. I hope this is it and it is viewable from the USA because it is funny and points out that gun control was bought in under a right wing government in Australia. This was after a mass shooting, they had quite a few before gun control, now they don’t have them. Also murder and suicide by gun has gone down an awful lot as well as gun related accidents.


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    • John, you keep bringing this Australia business, sometimes mixed with UK experience, and keep forgetting that the second amendment is a constitutional right in the US, which is not the case in either country. It’s like making the argument that censorship works in preventing violence.

      I can make a very strong argument that some of the violence we have in the US would disappear if the US adopted the censorship policies present in China. Just as the USSR became much more violent once communism fell over there. What happened in Australia or the UK that allowed politicians in those countries to confiscate guns from their people is irrelevant in an US context. More importantly, it’s a sideshow in a conversation about psychiatric abuse that can only have the effect of scaring away a potential powerful ally (the NRA).

      People think that the NRA is a “guns lobby”, ie, that they defend the interests of the gun manufacturers. That is a preposterous argument. The market size of gun manufacturers in terms of revenue is 11 billion dollars a year (that’s right, 11 billion dollars in REVENUE) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/19/seven-facts-about-the-u-s-gun-industry/ “This year, the industry is expected to rack up a steady $11.7 billion in sales and $993 million in profits”. In the context of big business, that is miniscule. For comparison purposes, Big Pharma had a revenue of 526.8 worldwide last year http://www.burrillandco.com/content/news/PR-BIO-2013-4-16-13-final.pdf. So those who claim that the NRA is so powerful because of its catering to the gun lobby have to either explain how is that such a minuscule industry has so much power in an economy that is 150 bigger, or accept the fact that many Americans care about the second amendment, even though the money made out guns sales is minuscule in the grand scheme of the US economy.

      MIA is going to gain very few friends by promoting gun control or alarmist global warming as part if its mission.

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    • There was a typo, “such a minuscule industry has so much power in an economy that is 150 bigger” should say “such a minuscule industry has so much power in an economy that is 1500 bigger”, ie the US GDP is 16 trillion while the total size of the gun industry is 11 billion. Somebody explains to me how is that such a miniscule industry has so much political power, unless Americans from all political backgrounds support the second amendment.

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  4. Mr Hoggett

    Chicago seems to Have the kind of gun control you seem to favor.


    John Stewart is a satirist: which dovetails with my characterization of the US MSM as our Official Party Organ of Collectivist Truth subject to immediate revision upon receipt of the merest wink and a nod from our Political Class.

    @ cannotsay2013;

    Sage observations on your part. LaPierre for years defended his turf by claiming that we didn’t need any more gun laws. What we needed to do was enforce the existing gun laws.

    If over 22,000 of those noxious pieces of institutionalized stupid haven’t prevented gun violence in America, and they Haven’t, WHY would we want to continue to Enforce those counterproductive Infringements?

    And it’s not just the victims of Psychiatry. It’s everyone. Psychiatry’s just the bottom of Tyranny’s unwashed garbage can.



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  5. Yet again this thread shows how politics trump our feelings about mental health issues every time.

    Regarding finding allies we probably need to look for them in organisations that have broad brush support rather than pressure groups that are in themselves already divisive.

    The NRA wants everyone to have guns the more the better but the “mad” are probably the one group they are prepared to throw under a bus. From their point of view the last group of people they will want to be allied with are psychiatric survivors.

    I think MSM means mainstream media….if you are on the left you think MSM is biased to the right….if you are on the right you think it’s biased to the left….

    Unless it’s Fox news of course and that as everyone knows…..isn’t really news.

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    • Poet, if I remember it well from our last dialectic exchange you live in the UK (or come from the UK). If you haven’t lived in the US for at least 5-10 years, I am not surprised that you are unable to grasp the influence of the NRA in US politics. Recently, in spite of unprecedented pressure in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, it was able to kill mild gun control measures that had been agreed by two influential US senators, one Democrat, the other Republican. And ironically, it did so by influencing Democratic senators that are up for reelection next year in gun friendly states.

      The NRA would gladly join our cause if their leadership understood that DSM-5 could be used to label 50% of the American public as “mad” as you call us. I don’t consider myself “mad” but I fully embrace the concept of “Mad Pride”, which is, yes, I think different and I am proud of it. And no, I don’t buy the idea that because some DSM committee members think that my way of thinking is an “illness”, it therefore is. Neither Big Pharma nor the APA would stand a chance in a political fight against the NRA. That’s a political reality in America. And I remind you that this is Mad In America, not Mad In the UK or Mad In Australia. While it is not for me to say what topics should be or should not be talked about (it’s not my website and I am just a guest), I think that it is a mistake to ignore the reality that a fall of psychiatry in the US will have repercussions worldwide, thus, engaging the NRA in this struggle is perfectly appropriate.

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      • @cannotsay

        You wrote:

        “And I remind you that this is Mad In America, not Mad In the UK or Mad In Australia.”

        You should take a look at the Mission Statement of the site.

        MIA Mission Statement First sentence

        “The site is designed to serve as a resource and a community for those interested in rethinking psychiatric care in the United States and abroad.”

        To lighten the mood this clip is really funny!!

        And all American….

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        • As I said, this is not my website, so it is nor for me what topics should and should not be discussed. What I am saying is that in an American context, introducing gun control or speaking with scorn of the second amendment demands by people labelled as mentally ill as “guns for mad people” is not helpful. There is no potential for upside while there is a lot of downside potential. The NRA approval rating is higher than Barack Obama’s. The people talked about here, policemen and veterans have such respect in the American people that both professions (policemen, military men) usually appear in the top positions of surveys about the most respected professions (together with doctors, teachers, etc) http://www.ehow.com/list_5925228_top-ten-respected-jobs.html . Just recently, we all saw in a city as liberal as Boston people applauding them after the second terrorist was captured. I do not remember the British people being equally effusive with their police forces when those responsible for the 2005 London attacks or IRA terrorists were captured.

          So we are not talking about Scientology here.

          On the other side, engaging the NRA, police officer and veterans organizations has a lot of potential upside if the goal is to corner psychiatry and its evil practices. In this regard the American context matters, which is why red herrings that might be helpful to engage people in other countries (UK, Australia) not only are not helpful here but they have the potential of making a fringe group of MIA.

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          • @cannotsay

            Ok. The NRA represents gun makers not mom and pop gun owners. Their political significance is that they intervene in the political process at a more fundamental level than other corporate lobbies. They actively fund campaigns and run campaigns against politicians in primaries. This is how they leverage their corporate interest and undermine politics and is significantly different to the way most corporations operate in the lobby system. This strategy has worked in the past but as public opinion shifts and political voting patterns in the Senate and Congress fail to reflect that public opinion it will eventually result in a backlash. (as demonstrated in individual Senators approval ratings after they voted against back ground checks, a measure that had huge public support but not the support of the NRA) Corporations can buy politicians but they can’t buy the voters. The truth will out.

            I don’t know what your point about the IRA was all about. I’ll just say that the IRA were terrorists. They would say the IRA was the military wing of one side in a civil war. The political wing had elected politicians entitled to sit in parliament. Anyway the point is it was a whole different ball game. Ironically after 9/11 they lost a lot of the funding that was coming from the U.S. as funding that particular brand of so called “freedom fighter” fell out of fashion in the US so to speak….anyway….moving on…

            Your point about celebrating in the street is just a cultural difference. In the UK we tend to be more circumspect about public displays of emotion. It’s nothing to do with how we feel about things as a general rule.

            I think you are right about engagement generally though. It should be as broad as possible. As for common cause I would probably single out the LGBT community rather than the NRA. The lesbian gay bi-sexual and transgender community has made huge strides in advancing their own cause. Not least disentangling themselves from the orbit of psychiatrists but also in a civil rights context. Just look at the advances that have been made, no longer do people cower in fear in the police or the military or any other sphere of public life. Gay marriage now accepted as a common place and an ordinary right. (with a few notable exceptions, hopefully not for long) They, as significant members of the survivor movement should be our role models and mentors. That’s how I see it.

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      • CNN lost me in 2008 when they decided to become a propaganda arm of the Obama campaign. In retrospect, the change didn’t happen overnight. CNN lost a lot of good talent (Greta Van Susteren, Bill Hemmer) to Fox before that. They also replaced serious news anchors like Aaron Brown and Paula Zahn with leftist ideologues like Anderson Cooper or Soledad O’Brian. So it is not surprising that CNN is not considered anymore the standard bearer when it comes to honest journalism. Even recently, they’ve lost two of their remaining good ones to Fox: John Roberts and Ed Henry.

        So CNN has become really an outlet competing for the type of audience that MSNBC caters to. Among the new arrivals, the only one that can be considered a “serious journalist” is Jake Tapper. He is one of the few good ones remaining in the MSM. Who knows, maybe he’ll jump ship as Roberts and Henry did before him.

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  6. @dbunker

    You wrote:

    “What we needed to do was enforce the existing gun laws.
    If over 22,000 of those noxious pieces of institutionalized stupid haven’t prevented gun violence in America, and they Haven’t, WHY would we want to continue to Enforce those counterproductive Infringements?”

    If we made the extent to which criminals obeyed the law the measure of the rightness of having the law….that would be a sorry state of affairs. Which is of course why laws aren’t repealed just because criminals keep breaking them….

    If you always followed that logic then you would want to repeal the laws against fraud and embezzlement because they don’t always stop fraud.

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    • I’m TRYING to follow the posting rules here and not make this Personal, but:

      What is so unbelievably Difficult for you to understand?

      22,000 Laws, Regulations, or as the Founders saw it “Infringements”.

      We are discussing 22,000 ILLEGAL Infringements upon an Unalienable Right which the Founders expressly prohibited Government from ever enacting because the Right to keep and bear arms came from God, Not Government, and as such was, and still IS, beyond Government’s Authority to Infringe upon.

      Laws prohibiting Fraud? Those 22,000 Infringements ARE Fraud.

      They don’t prevent gun violence. They Cause it.

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  7. And yet among all this debate about gun control and the firearms industries…

    …my bigger concern is the violence done to those labelled as mentally ill (and especially those who are poor) in the name of psychiatric “treatment”. In addition to the legislation in CT, the state of New York passed the NY Safe Act this year in knee-jerk reaction in the months following Newtown. This legislation includes the introduction of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), or forced outpatient commitment, into NY state law, making it the 44th state to approve such a law. AOT expands the scope of forced treatment, which of course includes forced medication, and is directed at “increasing treatment compliance and promotes long-term voluntary compliance”. When people are forcibly committed on a regiment of Seroquel and other psychiatric meds with such numbing effects I can imagine people “voluntarily” complying to many things. And, the wide acceptance of chemically numbing is another type of violence (besides gun violence) that we need to talk more about AS violence.

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    • Wholly agree. As I have made clear in all my previous statements, I see psychiatry as an evil pseudo-scientific practice. But it is also a fact that up until I was affected by its evilness myself I fully bought that it was just another branch of medicine that was meant to “help people”. I think that DSM-5 presents an opportunity to fight this scourge effectively. Under DSM-5 criteria, up to 50% of all Americans could be labelled as “mentally ill” at some point of their lives. Although it is very obvious that Big Pharma’s greed is behind this expansion, it is also obvious that Americans have defeated bigger enemies before if fundamental rights, such as the second amendment, are at stake. People forget that during the 60s it was those who were fighting for civil rights of Black people that were against gun control because many blacks, including Condi Rice’s father, used their second amendment rights to protect themselves and their families effectively from abuses. The second amendment, in America, is much more of a uniter than a divider. Even Sam Harris owns guns http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-riddle-of-the-gun .

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  8. Poet, I reply here for convenience,

    With respect to the NRA, I think that the idea that they represent gun manufacturers is a myth. I already provided the numbers that debunk the notion that gun manufacturers are a significant industry in the US. The numbers come from a Washington Post article. It’s an industry worth 11 billion dollars in a country with a 16 trillion dollar economy. The reason behind their political influence is the fact that somewhere between 65% to 70% of Americans support the second amendment. This is why living in the US and being aware of US sensitivities matters. Here is a list of celebrities members of the NRA http://rollingout.com/entertainment/celebrities-who-are-members-of-the-nra/ . They are from all sides of the political spectrum, including staunch liberal and Barack Obama supporter Whoopi Goldberg.

    The point about the IRA / islamic terrorism London 2005 / UK is to showcase that in the UK people do not have the appreciation for police forces and military members that people have in the US. That’s all.

    With respect to engaging the LGBT community, sure. But from my point of view it’s not an OR statement but an AND. Besides, the LGBT community is relatively small (5% to 10% at most) with respect to the constituency that the NRA caters to (at least the 54% that approve of it, probably many more given that the second amendment has the support of 65-70% of Americans). So if you are going to make an OR statement (which I am not in favor of), I think that substituting the NRA constituency by the LGBT constituency shrinks your appeal. You can have the support of the NRA constituency AND the LGBT constituency and that’s OK. Not only it’s OK, it is better for the future of MIA.

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  9. @cannotsay

    I’ve already pointed out how the NRA leverages its influence and makes it one of the single most powerful lobby groups in the U.S. out of all proportion with the size of the gun manufacturing industry. That you refuse to knowledge this is imo just self deception on your part.

    You wrote:
    “The point about the IRA / islamic terrorism London 2005 / UK is to showcase that in the UK people do not have the appreciation for police forces and military members that people have in the US. That’s all.”

    To be honest that’s just plain silly. 🙂

    Good luck with the NRA….if they rebuff you don’t say I didn’t tell you….I can’t think of a group less likely to be interested in being associated with the survivor movement….

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    • With respect to the NRA, actually you have not. Your argument would fly only if the gun manufacturing industry was as large as Big Pharma (say 500 billion dollars a year). But the gun manufacturing industry is very small, minuscule. From where I stand, I think that the self deception is in people who think along your lines. Instead of accepting what every polls says, ie, that the NRA has the support of more than 50% of Americans and that 65% to 70% of Americans support the second amendment you have to believe that such a small industry has influence in a 16 trillion dollar economy.

      With respect of the IRA thing. The irony of all this is that your position of seeing it as a “side” in a civil war, puts you in company in the US of Republican congressman Peter King http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/04/AR2011030406635.html . I bet that that’s hardly what you expected.

      With respect to engaging the NRA in the context of those labelled “mentally ill”. It has already engaged itself. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/03/us/03guns.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 ” The N.R.A. had long been interested in gun-rights restoration. It also wanted to help tens of thousands of veterans who lost their rights after being designated mentally incompetent and unable to handle their finances by the Department of Veterans Affairs. ”

      In fact, it’s those who refuse to engage the NRA who do so at their own peril. The NRA has political and legal experience advancing the cause of those labelled “mentally ill” that is unmatched to this day by any survivor movement.

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  10. @cannotsay

    I clearly stated that the IRA were terrorists. If you read what I wrote it was that they believed they were freedom fighters. They saw themselves as a side in a civil war and that it was a very complex situation. To be honest I don’t think you are being serious. Unless you are purposely trying to get part of the conversation pulled by the moderators by deliberately misrepresenting what I wrote.

    If you could be careful about not misrepresenting me not least because it destroys threads. Not that I actually care because it’s so blatant as to be glaringly obvious and a bit silly imo.

    The article you quoted is certainly interesting. However what it demonstrates is how far apart you and the NRA are in terms of your desired goal. Where as you see psychiatry as something to be abolished, from the article the NRA see psychiatry as a handy tool. ie the appropriate authority regarding when someone should get their guns back and presumably who should never get them back. So it looks like your idea to find common cause with them might be something of a non-starter.

    Anyway…the point is we come at the issue of “madness” from different political perspectives. Me from the progressive left, where the bulk of the survivor movement sits and you from somewhere further to the right. (from here it feels like talking to a tea-party activist but I could be wrong). It’s they way you suggested that Obama was less than popular after, correct me if i’m wrong, a landslide election victory. It’s just that seems to be a typical tea-party narrative. He won but he isn’t really popular….unlike the loser…who is actually popular and should have won…I’m sure you will correct me if I am wrong on that point. 🙂

    The real issue is how these different political perspectives can ever be reconciled into something harmonious is the real challenge.

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    • One thing I need to clarify. I am not misrepresenting your views in anyway. You said,

      “They would say the IRA was the military wing of one side in a civil war. The political wing had elected politicians entitled to sit in parliament.”

      That view, if held with respect to the Boston jihadists, would not earn you many friends even in ultra liberal Massachusetts. Note that in their minds, these jihadists are engaged in their own civil war against the West with the objective of restoring a Middle Ages Caliphate. While they do not have, that I am aware of, any political representatives in a US body, they do have political representatives abroad.

      “from here it feels like talking to a tea-party activist but I could be wrong”

      Talking about misrepresenting one’s views! :D. I guess that when one comes from the so called “progressive left” which is to the left of the average Democratic Party member, anything else is viewed as “Tea Party” activism :D. Although I have never been part of the movement, I have great respect for what they did. In two short years they recovered the House for the GOP. In fact, you have a good point here in the sense that even the notion of “Occupy Psychiatry” is misplaced. From a pure political point of view, the “Tea Party” was more successful than any of the “Occupy” movements ever was. The “Occupy” thing came to signify the violence that we saw both in the original Occupy “Wall Street” as well as in its arguably more violent West coast cousin “Occupy Oakland”. Maybe the survivor movement could learn a thing or two from the Tea Party movement in terms of actual political successes.

      “The real issue is how these different political perspectives can ever be reconciled into something harmonious is the real challenge.”

      I agree, but scorning somebody’s positions with respect to the second amendment as defending “guns for mad people” doesn’t seem to me as a great starting point.


      “Where as you see psychiatry as something to be abolished, from the article the NRA see psychiatry as a handy tool”

      That was before the DSM-5 regime. I doubt that the NRA would be cool with having 50% of the American people potentially ineligible to own guns just because some DSM committee members think so. That’s a great opportunity that must be exploited.

      By intervening in this and other forums of psychiatric survivors, I have no interest in advancing any other causes, be it gun control (or gun sales), alarmist global warming (or its opposite) nor the interests of LGBT Americans (neither their bashing). My reference to the NRA, policemen/veteran unions is because they might have their own reasons, as I have, to see psychiatry either destroyed or its role in society at large diminished, and that’s something that unites psychiatric survivors regardless of where they stand politically on other issues.
      All it takes to be a psychiatry survivor is to have been abused by it. Last time that I checked, left wingers are not more likely to be abused by psychiatry than right wingers or apolitical people.

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  11. Yes, I did see that you brought up global warming. I took it that you were a skeptic as far as that is concerned.

    Again with regard to the IRA, see how I used the word “they”. I was stating their position. That doesn’t mean I agree with it. To be honest think that was obvious.

    I do find it amusing when right wingers simultaneously attempt to show patriotism by ostensibly supporting the military and police and at the same time demand they need unlimited weaponry to defend themselves against those same people. Seems a contradiction….

    I don’t think DSM5 is going to cause the IRA to start attacking psychiatry….it’s just not going to suit their agenda. Their refrain is “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. The idea that you can tell who the “bad” people are is implicit in that slogan. It’s totally congruent with the position of psychiatry that psychiatrists can do the same thing. They have a lot in common.

    You see the NRA has an entirely different agenda to yours. They want to play up the idea that people should be scared and they need to defend themselves against violent “mad” people. Psychiatrists are their friends in this endeavour. But good luck getting them on your side.

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    • Unless you try you will never know. It is true that the NRA’s mantra is that “guns do not kill, people kill”. But it is one thing to exclude from the second amendment convicted felons and a “few” people labelled as “mentally” ill, quite another to exclude 50% of Americans from the same. In its greed, the APA/ Big Pharma have opened a Pandora box with DSM-5 that will bring about their demise.

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  12. Phenomenal piece of writing. Devoting effort and passion to pieces like this – makes our communities better. I want to echo Sera – I particularly appreciate the paragraph that reads, “In my worldview, the violence and harm done to folks in the name of suicide prevention (in “doing what’s best for them”) is far more damaging than mental health school screenings, databases and ever-expanding commitment laws are ever able to be helpful in preventing the violence of school or movie theater or temple massacres.”

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    • Thanks Greg! I’m so happy to be able to share this writing (and hopefully many more pieces) through MIA. I’ve been having great conversations with a lot of people about this blog, from my parents to strangers to friends I haven’t spoken with in many years. I look forward to seeing you soon, I’m sure!

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  13. Lots of great points in this article! On MIA’s facebook page, I commented on how meds often violently disrupt healthy brainwave activity. A company which analyzes brainwaves and heals minds has lots of proof of this. The effect of meds is mentioned in the Webinars in the “Ask Lee Library” at: http://brainstatetech.com/webinars I’m not paid to share this!

    A Conversation with Lee – minutes 12 and 58-59

    With Special Guest Dr. Cronin – minutes 5 and 7

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