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3 COMMENTS

  1. From the lawyer who wrote this op-ed:

    “In 2008, after I’d already been sworn in, I was given a correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder.”

    This expert ‘fact finder’ of the ‘correct’ facts, is going to advance the rights of people labeled ‘mentally ill’?

    Absolutely psychiatric labeling can shut down career dreams in many fields, but someone who prefers ‘correct’ psychiatric labeling, isn’t the one to rescue us from this threat.

    • Anonymous,

      What’s enraging to me about this piece is not the author’s self-assessment. It’s that the author describes yet another very direct, unambiguous manifestation of coercive power over the lives of those of us who are perceived as psychiatric patients, whatever form our self-assessments may take. Apart from those in psychiatry who harm us, there too are guardians of great halls of power who are authorized by the state to disqualify any of us who have been labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis from eligibility for a professional credential that might actually be deployed to empower ourselves and others in our secret society. Any of us here, or others who might find themselves here one day, are denied by these credential-ers the right to even try to fight a fight to expunge what is rotten in psychiatry through the courts. We are excluded as defective before we can even open our mouths in a place where we might at least attempt — against terrible odds, to be sure — but in one of the few places where we are in a position to even *try* to place some legal limitations on the power of the state and other bad actors to stigmatize and cause harm to us. The only alternative would be for these would-be lawyers to lie to the lawyer police, thereby both risking a harsher and more consequential exclusion should one become “outed,” and, worse, requiring them to conceal the very thing — living the life and telling the story of a survivor — that best equips them to fight that fight with the training they might receive. Indeed, they must refrain from even choosing that fight, else they be outed and cast out from those halls for having made that forbidden choice. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the medical boards erect similar boundaries excluding the very people whose training might be put to the best use towards efforts to change psychiatry and develop different, unharmful ways to help people. As for the price of admission to politics, one must only recall the short-lived 1972 vice-presidential candidacy of Thomas Eagleton, who was disqualified for the black mark on his record of having been treated in a hospital for depression. And this is one of the few areas of bigotry regarding which little if anything has changed since 1972; it may have even gotten worse in some ways. When Bill Maher (self-styled speaker of truth to power) pronounces, after the laudable gains of gays and gay rights activists, that pot-smokers are the last ostracized group in American culture, I want to, as I’ve heard you say once or twice before, vomit in the nearest toilet.

      • I agree. Social death means social death, exclusion from professions, the list of ways in which your life will be destroyed if you wind up with a psychiatric label is endless. Obviously when Bill Maher scans the social landscape for groups of humans still oppressed, he only includes those he sees as human. I guess we missed out on being included. I think it is probably the case that our first impressions upon being locked up and forcibly drugged, that we’ve been thrown out of the human race, are confirmed when we look around and see all these ‘no mental patients’ signs (which might as well exist), at the bar exams etc.

        The unlabeled have their rights, and we have our ‘right to treatment’ and ‘right to diagnosis’.

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