Defeating Goliath: Mental Health is a Social Justice Issue, and People with Lived Experience and Their Allies are Rising Up


The political status quo cannot be trusted to fix a problem that they themselves created. Many politicians address the symptoms of our deeper problems, but it’s time to address the disease itself: the system of legalized corruption that now threatens to replace the will of the people – intended by our Founders to be the true governing force in America — with the will of a moneyed few. — Marianne Williamson,
Marianne Williamson for Congress

Like many Americans, I have long been cynical about the political process in my country. I am well aware of the reasons that so many of us eschew engagement with government: the undue influence of moneyed interests in the dealings of Washington, the lying, the corruption, the stealing, the cover-ups, the bad behavior, the squabbling, the same tired old rhetoric, what seems to be an inability and unwillingness to address the root causes of the most serious social, economic, environmental, and political problems in our nation.

How could we not be cynical in that face of all that?

While I have lived just a few miles away from the Capitol for the last fifteen years, I have been unsure about getting involved in legislative advocacy. I’ve been intimidated by the complexity of the legislative process, and more inclined to leave it up to others who I perceive as having more experience than me. And honestly, I haven’t felt very hopeful about effecting change. My cynicism had turned to “learned helplessness,” a phenomenon which is discussed by Bruce Levine in his book Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting the Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite.

And then along came a mental health bill so destructive, so regressive, that I had to step out of my “uncomfortable comfort zone.” As Bruce Levine points out in Get Up, Stand Up: “sometimes outrageous laws radicalize people.” This bill is the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013,” H.R. 3717, which I have written about in depth here, legislation introduced Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District.

For the first time in my life, I took a step beyond making a call or sending an email in response to an action alert – though those are great and important things to do in and of themselves. I made an appointment to visit with my Representative’s staff to educate them about the dangerous provisions in the bill, and joined with several allies from the disability rights and civil rights communities in my area. It wasn’t as intimidating as I feared; it was a conversation, and I felt empowered by contributing to it. So now I am asking everyone to consider taking their advocacy to the next level.

I feel that it’s vitally important that we engage with this process now, as a way to make significant social change and create social justice. According to Douglas J. Amy, professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College:

The problem with being too cynical about our public institutions is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you insist on believing that government is irredeemably terrible – it will be. Cynicism can all too easily lead to apathy and an unwillingness to participate in politics and government. Why bother to take part in a process you know is basically screwed up? Also, if you believe that all politicians are corrupt, you won’t work to elect those good candidates who are truly dedicated to public service – which only makes it easier for the bad candidates to win office. If you don’t work to make government more democratic and responsive to the public, it will remain in the hands of moneyed interests.

Bruce Levine offers a historical perspective in Get Up, Stand Up:

While a government that is truly of the people and by the people seems childishly naïve for millions of Americans, real-deal populists once believed it was not naïve. The people in the Populist Movement not only believed it, they seized government institutions for their use…This real-deal populism – the sense of ownership of government – has been replaced with a bastardized populism that makes government the enemy without recognition that it is control of the government by large corporations that is the underlying problem. If we are not controlling government, then the corporations will control government; and if there us no government at all, then corporations will directly control us.

So I have made a decision to end my own learned helplessness and try out my hand at legislative advocacy. I’ve participated in several meetings on the Hill over the last few weeks, and every time I do, I learn just a little bit more, and feel more confident in my ability to engage meaningfully in the political process.

Many of our legislators have heard extensively from the pro-force, anti-rights contingent; I am told that our voices have not been heard enough. But when we speak out, we are empowered and powerful. Oryx Cohen and Brenda Vezina reported very hopeful results in educating their Congressperson in MA last week, who had been undecided on the issues prior to their visit. Others around the country are sharing their legislative advocacy efforts through the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery’s ongoing grassroots organizing calls, and in emails to me, and it’s been beyond inspiring.

We CAN Make a Difference in Washington, and in Our Communities

Author Marianne Williamson’s current campaign for Congress really resonates with me. She gets ridiculed for being a “new age guru,” but she actually has some pretty down-to-earth things to say about the political process in America today. She issues a call for us to get involved to change the direction of our country:

Slavery ended because abolitionists began the move to abolish it. Women got the vote because suffragettes rose up to achieve it. Legalized segregation ended because the civil rights movement paved the way for civil rights legislation. Now, in our era, it’s time for the people of the United States to rise up and once more do what is necessary to correct our country’s course.

It is not the first time in history that David has won over Goliath. Thanks to our collective advocacy efforts, the Murphy Bill is now widely perceived as controversial on the Hill. However, we cannot let up our fight, as new co-sponsors are signing on all the time. We have to engage, engage, engage with our legislators. We have to reach out and build local coalitions to meet with them, and keep strategizing together. And most importantly, we have to be prepared to answer the question: “So what do we do instead of HR 3717?”

Now is the Time for all Persons With Lived Experience, and Their Allies, to Rise up and say “No More!”

In Get Up, Stand Up, Bruce Levine cites evidence that suggests that social change does not necessarily occur when things get “bad enough,” but when individuals have self-respect and feel a sense of “collective confidence,” or the belief that they can actually win and take back control over their lives.

We are a broad-based advocacy coalition of persons who have been on the receiving end of “treatment” from broken mental health and other systems; those who have been turned away for support when they sought it in their desperate moments; providers who are sick of seeing people further harmed by broken systems; family members who are angry that their loved ones are treated as patients, not people; as well as disability rights, civil rights, and human rights activists. We all are deserving of self-respect, and we have earned a sense of collective confidence over our decades of passionate activism, advocacy, and developing alternatives to harmful treatment practices and destructive social attitudes.

Now is the time for us to put our lived wisdom into action by articulating a vision for alternative, hope-based legislation. We have to share what we want to see, what kinds of supports are really needed in our communities. Alternatives to Involuntary Outpatient Commitment could include:

We Can and Should Unite to Gain Greater Strength

Unity in action comes when people with diverse views and life experiences can focus on what they have in common, instead of on their differences. The Murphy Bill is our opportunity to organize stronger and better than we ever have, as persons with lived experience, people with disabilities, and allies who believe in our values. This is a social justice movement that has not yet experienced its full potential. We are changing that, and we will have our time. We have a vision that would take us forward, not backwards, as proponents of this legislation would do.

We will defeat Goliath.

What You Can Do to Defeat the Murphy Bill and Stand up for Social Justice

  • Check out this comprehensive guide to legislative advocacy for mental health advocates.
  • Read up on the issues. Here is a quick outline of the problems with the Murphy bill, as articulated by the National Disability Leadership Alliance, a coalition of organizations run by persons with disabilities.
  • Learn about the research supporting our perspective. Here is a fact sheet on Involuntary Outpatient Commitment, and additional research-based documents on IOC, the weak link between mental health issues and violence, and the power of peer-to-peer support.
  • Reach out to your local allies. More than ever, we need to be building relationships, coalitions, and alliances. The disability rights community and the Protection and Advocacy organizations are against the bill. Contact your local Center for Independent Living, and ask if they would send a constituent to join you at a meeting with your Representative. Reach out to your local ACLU affiliate, as the ACLU is also opposing this bill.
  • Call or email your Representative’s office and ask for a meeting. You can say: I am a constituent who is very concerned about provisions in HR 3717, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013.” I would like to meet with the Representative as quickly as possible to discuss this problematic legislation. If it’s not possible to meet directly with the Congressperson, I would very much like to meet with their Health Aide or Legislative Assistant. Thank you for your consideration of my request.
  • Be prepared to discuss the issues briefly, and add detail as time allows.  A meeting with your Representative or their staff may be as short as fifteen minutes, or as long as an hour.
  • Practice what you will say. Rehearsing in advance with a friend can be helpful if you’re feeling nervous going into a meeting.
  • Research your Representative’s areas of interest, and strategize on how you can connect our issues with the things they care about.
  • After the meeting, be sure to thank the person you met with, and send them additional documentation to support your positions.
  • Contact the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery and let us know how it’s going. It’s been exciting to hear hopeful stories about efforts going on all around the country to fight this destructive bill and to build community.
  • Comment on this blog or contact me here to send me examples of what you would like to see in your community instead of IOC and coercive, traumatizing interventions. Tell me about the specific kinds of supports you or loved ones have found helpful, and what you would like to see more of.

Do What Energizes You

Legislative advocacy is not everyone’s cup of tea, and while I am encouraging folks to get into it, I don’t dare suggest that this is the only way we can or should work for social change and social justice. As Bruce Levine says, “if the ultimate goal is a more democratic society, then we should respect that each among us needs to do what builds our self-respect the most.” Media advocacy and letters to the editor are always needed. “Being the media” and creating and sharing our own blogs, podcasts, and videos are equally valuable pursuits. Nonviolent direct action is also very much necessary at this time. We need marches and rallies and events and teach-ins to be happening everywhere in opposition to this frightening legislation and all that it represents.

We also can be right now creating the world we want to see. We do not need to wait for social change to be funded or legislated. Isolated and seeking support in your area? Build community. Start a cooperative to provide peer-to-peer support and support for struggling families in your community. Start a local dialogue on trauma, social inequality, and the real causes of violence and suicide. Frustrated at the lack of real community-based alternatives for people in crisis in your area? Find out who else in your local networks might also care about creating viable alternatives, and get the conversation started as to how to make it happen. Start a babysitting co-op so parents of young children can more easily spend some time on social justice and grassroots organizing. These are just a few examples; the possibilities are endless.

The idea is to dream up how we can take back our power, as individuals and communities. In this way, we attain power together—control over how we determine our own lives, and the collective will to solve our collective problems.

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Leah Harris
Speaking Truth to Power: Leah writes about holistic, community-based approaches to support those experiencing emotional distress and extreme states; storytelling as a vehicle for personal liberation, human rights, and social justice; and connections between creativity, activism, spirituality, and social change.


  1. None of the alternatives you suggest work for those of us who have family members that have benefited or would benefit from involuntary treatment, hence the bill you find so reprehensible. If any of your suggestions worked, we wouldn’t need HR3717.

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      • I have been calling mental health and addiction centers in the Cleveland / Akron area, and found absolutely no one in the “Kent” area who is offering any alternatives to mainstream psychiatric treatment and hospitalization, whatsoever. No one could even recommend a psychiatrist for a “child” on neuroleptics, who has developed tardive dyskinesia, a non-emergency situation. The only recommendation given was emergency room admission to rectify this non-emergency medical concern.

        And when speaking to hospitals about whether or not, given the inefficacy and poor long run outcomes of those on psychiatric meds, they are starting to wean people off the psychiatric drugs. I found in this particular area that the hospitals are unaware of or denying the adverse effects of the psychotropic drugs. I have not found alternatives to mainstream psychiatric care in NE Ohio. Do you know of any, Sharon?

        Kate, do you live in an area of the US with a crisis respite, Open Dialog, Soteria houses, Hearing Voices groups, and the rest of Leah’s suggestions?

        Thank you for this article, I’m still trying to mentally digest the magnitude of the downward spiral that’s occurred in the US, while I was being majorly tranquilized and researching medicine. Thank you for your advocacy effects, and the information. I’m trying to find a good niche for myself still. And I know my letter to my senator was ineffective.

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    • Dear Kate,

      That there are people who benefit from forced treatment doesn’t necessarily negate the proposition that alternatives might work for these people as well. Alternative treatments are scarce, and not well known, however information exists that such treatments do work.

      Have your family members ever tried any such treatments, and if so, what was the outcome?

      It would be very helpful if you could describe that.


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      • When my daughter is psychotic, she is unable to access any treatment on her own. She was under involuntary treatment for a very long time and it saved her life. She says so as well. She recently did an interview for a magazine telling her story. I won’t post it here due to the audience on this site and due to the animosity towards the care that helped her towards wellness. The reason I say the alternatives that were mentioned in this post don’t work is because you have to be well enough to ask for help. We have robust peer support in my state, more peer run organizations than direct care clinics. Peers go out on all crisis calls. Not one has ever been able to help her by just talking with her or listening to her. Psychotic paranoid mania is even tough for doctors to treat, but they’re the only ones that have been able to help her.

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        • No one harmed by psychiatry ever gets interviewed by any mainstream T.V or magazine , not fair.

          Ryan, member of MindFreedom, describing coercive psychiatry in Australia , do we want more of this in the USA ?

          I would like to hear what some of the people in favor of more involuntary treatment would say to Ryan and other people harmed.

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        • I have noticed very little hostility towards wellness on this site, and I’ve been watching it for a while. I think that everyone’s story matters, and is helpful to establishing the optimal solution to a problem. I personally would just be happy to read your daughter’s story, but you don’t have to post it if you do not feel comfortable.

          Speaking from my own experience, doctors in a hospital only spend a minute per day with each of their patients. I doubt this can be called care. Before I was in a hospital, I was actually looking for help, but I had no idea where to get it. It seemed then and still does seem now that where I live, the peer support kind of help is not readily available.

          When police came, I would have been happy to speak with them if I knew that no matter what I said, it would still have been my decision whether to get treatment or not. However, I knew that there was some possibility of forced hospitalization, and that scared me from talking to the police. In fact, had it been the case that it was everyone’s absolute right to choose to get treatment or to walk away from it, I would have gladly talked to the police and possibly avoided incurring the cost of hospitalization and taking up a bed that could be taken by someone who needed it a lot more than I did.

          I’m glad to hear that your daughter has been helped by involuntary treatment, and I respect her a lot for having the courage to step forward and to get interviewed for a magazine. And at the same time, have you considered the possibility that it could be the very fear of forced hospitalization that might have made your daughter so paranoid that she couldn’t voluntarily seek help in the first place?

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        • Kate,

          If your read books by Dr. Peter Breggin, Psychiatrist, like Toxic Psychiatry and Your Drug May Be Your Problem, 2nd ed. (see his web sites too) and many, many others in addition to Robert Whitaker’s Mad In America and Anatomy of an Epidemic, you would learn that the life destroying stigmas and toxic drugs of psychiatry often cause the very symptoms they pretend to treat with even more lethal cocktails of drugs and/or make any life crisis, problem, trauma way worse than it would have been if not “treated” by psychiatry as you can see from the many stories of other victims of the system.

          I don’t doubt that you and your daughter have been brainwashed that psychiatry saved her “life, ” but what kind of a life has she really had or will she continue to have as a drugged zombie under the nefarious control of biopsychiatry in bed with Big Pharma for their own profits and self serving agenda to pretend to be real doctors practicing real medicine?

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          • She’s had a rather good life considering the severity of her illness, although I’m probably not smart enough to make that observation given my propensity towards being brainwashed and all.

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        • Kate,

          You have said your idea of “wellness” for you daughter means that the many, many life threatening and horrific effects of these toxic drugs that only serve as heavy tranquillizers or chemical straight jackets are okay with you as long as she gets this so called treatment to control her “symptoms.”

          If you read experts on this web site like Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, Dr. Sandy Steingard and many others, and even Dr. Thomas Insel, Head of the NIMH, long term use of psychiatric drugs like neuroleptics I would assume your daughter is on makes the original problems far, far worse and eventually cause great disability and early death by about 25 years on average.

          So, your insistence on only considering the n0w debunked medical model of biopsychiatry thanks to drug company front groups like NAMI and our “therapeutic state” so corrupt politicians can profit from Big Pharma billions while enhancing fascist social control for our military/industrial complex comes at huge cost to your daughter. Eventually, you may come to regret it yourself as the truth is increasingly being more widely exposed to the point one would have to wear blinders not to see or hear it. It’s actually becoming even mainstream to admit the horrors of psychiatry’s overdiagnosing, fraud, bogus studies and ghost written articles for medical journals, payouts from Big Pharma to doctors and academics, toxic drugs and other perils of coming in contact with this dangerous entity.

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          • I am not insisting on only considering medicine. I’m insisting that we need whatever works for people. I’ve never spent even 5 minutes advocating against alternatives for people. But many many people have spent countless hours advocating against the medical care my daughter needs. Sorry, I find it cruel.

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        • Well it is obvious, Kate, that your daughter did receive enforced psychiatric treatment. So why would we need the Murphy bill? Those who are dangerous can be detained against their will if needed, and the criteria are pretty loose. I don’t know why we’d need to expand the criteria to include anyone who is “at risk of deteriorating” when that can be quickly reduced to “not taking one’s medication” when that medication, as you’ll know if you have read the posts on this site, does not help everyone as it appears to have benefitted your daughter.

          The current laws allow involuntary hospitalization when a person is a danger to self or others. Those criteria were established because the psychiatric profession proved itself willing to detain mass numbers of people who were not bothering anyone but simply were acting in ways that were unusual. There is no benefit to changing those criteria, but there is a very large danger of increasing civil rights violations How do you address those who are not dangerous but are forcibly treated against their will? How would you feel if you were in that position?

          —- Steve

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          • I am suggesting that you specifically did not want to be treated, because perhaps the treatment you had received in the past was insensitive or abusive. You do not know that you would want to be treated. You have not put yourself in the position of those harmed by the system. Many folks say they were helped by involuntary hospitalization. Many others liken it to being raped. Is it not possible that people might rationally experience this intervention as genuinely offensive? If they are rational enough to make this choice and don’t pose a risk of harm to self or others, why should they be forced into a treatment they find horrific?

            —- Steve

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          • Why doesn’t Kate just have her embarrassing daughter drugged into a permanent coma? All she wants is total control of everything her daughter does. No wonder her victim is psychotic. If I had a mother like Kate I would have died long ago, by my own hand. Controlling what your grown child reads is just plain creepy!

            Since Kate seems to think “treatment” is so wonderful maybe she should be locked up and drugged till she has seizures, uncontrollable body movements, eyes rolling back in her head, and screams from the agony of hallucinations created from the drugs themselves. That’s what I went through. Kate doesn’t require “treatment” though because she’s “normal.” How convenient!

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        • Kate: I too, have an adult daughter who experiences extreme states. At first I was afraid when my daughter was in a ‘psyotic’ state. With training and the right support, especially from other moms like you and by talking to other people who have experienced extreme states, I learned that I could remain calm in the middle of a storm. Now, I am confident I can ‘deescalate’ any encounter with someone who is violent or agitated. If I had been the one to receive calming medication during my daughter’s first break, I may not have overreacted during that critical time and she would not have done down the road of forced psychiatric treatment and institutionalization. My daughter is welcome to live at home but because of the involuntary commitment laws that you support, my daughter is kept from living at home where she is safe and loved where we have learned to truly employ radical listening, tolerance, and open dialogue.

          Do you realize that the anti psychotic medications that your daughter is probably receiving do NOT address the root causes of your daughter’s psychosis? Most of the atypical antipsychotic medications are binding your daughter’s D-2 receptor sites. This is a form of extreme sedation. Your daughter’s doctors are sedating your daughter so that she simply doesn’t care about the hellish nightmares she is experiencing while psychotic. These medications are chemical restraints and your daughter has psychologically learned to accept that this is the highest outcome for her.

          With each passing year, as her neurotransmittors are blocked, your daughter’s brain’s ability to heal itself naturally diminishes. Her brain may permanently lose the ability to regulate moods. She will be permanently dependent on medications to keep her in a state that others find acceptable. Medications are helping the caregivers, not healing the patients.

          As your daughter requires a higher and higher dose to get the same effect, your daughter will reach the threshhold of the amount that she can safely take or she will experience ‘breakthough’ symptoms, whichever comes first. When her dosage can no longer be safely increased without risk of death or coma, she will be switched to a different med or have one added to her cocktail. With each passing year, the risk of your daughter developing tardive dyskenesia will increase 10%.

          Your beautiful daughter has a very, very high chance of developing diabetes, obesity, facial ticks, seizures, gall bladder disease, the diseases are too numerous to name. My daughter’s hair is turning white and she is only 24; her her toenails are yellowing and look will look like the nails of an eighty year old. The medications are aging her body. It is no wonder that people on anti psychotic medication live on average 25 years less than average people.

          Unless you have exceptional, private resources, your daughter’s doctors will be mediocre like the rest of us. Most state psychiatrists are not exceptional. They are usually tired of treating individuals like our daughters and their work reflects burn out and lack of curiosity and wonder for the elasticity and remarkable nature of the human brain and psyche. They are not committed to sticking to our daughter’s through thick and thin like family. They will be retired or dead when our children’s bodies start to develop serious life threatening diseases, therefore they don’t have any skin in the game. They won’t be around to witness the harmful long term effects. Very few doctors maintain a relationship with a patient longer than 5 years. This is the most broken part of our system.

          When my daughter is experiencing ‘psychosis’ she has the strength of five Navy Seals, combined with nightmarish moods: fear and anger that are off the charts. One cannot bring her into the waiting lobby of psychotherapist or alternative provider when she is in this state; she will frighten both providers and clients alike. These polite small lobbies with new age music and lovely potted plants are no environment for my daughter when she is experiencing a waking nightmare. Very few practitioners are willing and trained to listen to someone who hurls insults and whose voice is so loud it can disturb people in another building or in a fetal position and non communicado.

          I feel for you and your daughter and I know how easy it is for consumers and survivors to blame us parents for not getting ‘alternatives’ for our loved ones when the fact of the matter is, our children’s behavior, during a crisis would have most running for cover except for the burned out psychiatrists we complain about and their goons with the big injection needles and the leather restraints. We are the ones remaining there out on the streets, trying to get our child into the safety of a vehicle or a house when they are psychotic.

          When all other would be ‘helpers’ and ‘peer supporters’ are sleeping soundly in their beds our children have no friends and most family members and friends have long since flown away out of fright or discomfort. Peers are a luxury in our state. They often give workshops or have private practices but they rarely visit the hospitals, they rarely appear in court to offer favorable testimony to help our loved ones avoid a traumatic incarceration or institutionalization under commitment laws. Peers are rarely visiting our children at jail. As with professionals, most of them are paid professionals and have undergone some certification process, and unfortunately, peer funded peer delivered resources are not abundant in most states. Where do you live? You must be lucky to live in a state with so many peer resources. Maybe I will move to your state.

          What few alternatives exist often cater to the ‘worried well’ not people who are in such a state of distress that it is indescribable.

          When my daughter is psychotic it is like she is stuck in a dream state without the REM. With eyes wide open, one part of her brain is stuck in this dream state, and one cannot reach her. Her dream can be wonderful or it can be a nightmare, but that part of her brain that is experiencing this dream state cannot talk to the part of her brain that harbors her identity. Her identity is her memories and all the education and conditioning that taught her how to live in community and adopt what is known as consensual reality.we have conditioned our children to live in from birth is inaccessible. I understand what you are going though.

          But know this. The drugs are making my daughter chronically psychotic In future years, they will have researched what I know from experience and what other parents don’t want to know. That tardive psychosis is a reality and it is caused by iatrogenic harm. Our children are becoming brain damaged the more they are institutionalized and forcibly medicated. When they are withdrawing from an anti psychotic medication, they experience a rebound effect that is much worse than their original psychosis. Doctors will secretly admit some of this but they can only be closed door allies. When they admit the truth of this and break ranks, they are exposing the damage that their professions is doing to hundreds of thousands of patients like my daughter creating an enormous liability. Therefore, doctors may not break ranks. They fear losing the repsect of their peers, so they must continue to tell you and your daughter that the medications are ‘saving’ your daughter’s life, when in fact, they are probably doing the opposite.

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      • Really like your comment, 8_balloons. That is an excellent point that you make. I’d also like to caution that the poster that even if 50% of the mentally ill would benefit from forced treatment, is such a bill really fair to the 50% who wouldn’t?

        Also, the definition of violence is a bit murky. Are we talking about actual criminal convictions/not criminally responsible pleas or are we talking about the prediction of some arrogant and misinformed social worker?

        And, even if we’re talking about convictions, there’s room to examine these too. The most likely victims are family, police and psych staff yet these are the very groups that are the MOST likely to be inflicting or attempting to inflict violence on the mentally ill. In any other circumstances, this would be considered a significant mitigating factor.

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    • Kate, it’s not that alternatives don’t “work,” it’s just that there hasn’t been the critical public support and political will to make them widely available in our communities.

      Right now our broken systems are based on “crisis and stabilization,” but the reality is that people and families in crisis have been heading there for a long time. A strategy to include a mix of easily-accessible, person-centered, voluntary supports in all of our communities would go a long way to breaking the destructive cycle.

      IOC/AOT scares a lot of people away from seeking help. My mother was under outpatient commitment orders, and experienced them as oppressive and traumatizing. She died at age 46 after living a tragic life stuck in severe disability and distress.

      IOC/AOT is a band-aid covering up the much deeper social and political problems driving crisis in individuals, families, and communities.

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      • We need both. There should be plenty of resources available for people who are able to access care voluntarily. There should also be medical help for those that are too sick to know they’re sick. Deinstitutionalization never happened. All we did was move them to jail. It’s not fair. I’m sorry about your mother. But my daughter’s experience with involuntary treatment has been quite positive. Literally saved her life, not to mention her sanity as she is quite psychotic absent medication. I wouldn’t mind the advocacy against this bill if you had true alternatives, but alternatives that are only accessible to folks well enough to access them on their own leaves too many people out of the equation. Your suggestions are either born out of ignorance in that you don’t understand how severe these brain disorders can be….or out of cruelty in that you don’t care what happens to people who are too sick to know they’re sick.

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        • Kate, I would very much like to see the video and hear your daughter’s perspective. I am not about censorship of ideas here. I’d like to hear what she felt helped her. All voices are important.

          We are not at cross purposes here. There are many other ways to support and reach people experiencing psychosis other than involuntary treatment. I am not suggesting doing nothing.

          We do have true alternatives, many of them developed by persons with lived experience of emotional crisis, suicidal ideation, and severe psychosis and other diagnoses.

          We WERE the so-called “unreachable” people who did find recovery and a meaningful life in the community. I was supposed to live out my life in a decrepit group home; that’s all the system had to offer me at the age of 18. If I had not escaped, I would still be sitting in that group home, or dead by suicide or the toxic effects of severe overmedication.

          Both of my parents had diagnoses of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Both are no longer with me, because of the terrible and unacceptable treatment they received, which robbed them of hope and health. They have become part of the sad statistic that people diagnosed with severe mental health issues die, on average, 25 years earlier than the general population. That is shameful.

          I have worked with folks with serious mental health diagnoses for 13 years. I am far from ignorant on these matters. And I have dedicated my life to making sure people have access to supports that really help, and aren’t forced into unwanted supports. We aren’t trying to take options away from anyone; only to expand them for everyone. So “apathy” or “uncaring” is not my motive. We at MiA are not the enemy, Kate. I am a mother, too.

          We should not spend so much time opposing one another, and instead work together towards creating a functioning system of supports and services that do not further hurt people who are already suffering, in many instances scared, and traumatized.

          Let’s work together towards a society that is accepting and tolerant of difference, that does not perpetuate stigma, and is “literate” in how best to support one another through crisis as individuals, families, and communities.

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          • I have no problem with any of the alternatives that you suggest nor would I spend any time advocating against them for those that they would help….so I’m not opposing you in any way. The opposition is coming from you which is what your post is all about–opposing HR3717.

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          • Kate, sadly I will have to stop engaging with you, as you do not seem at all open to even trying to understand any perspective other than your own.

            I and others have been respectful and asked for you to share your perspective and you have. In response, you ridicule and dismiss us.

            I am trying to break down polarized and divisive views, and unite people around our common goals, not to get sucked into an endless string of arguments and debate from someone who isn’t even trying to hear me.

            If you actually read my piece, which I am not sure you have, a great deal of it is about forming voluntary community alternatives to Murphy’s bill. It’s not just about opposing Murphy, it’s about doing something better, that will actually get at the roots of suffering, and not just slap a band-aid onto festering wounds. Click on some of the links in my essay and read about the alternatives that are proposed. Please do your due diligence before you attack and demean other human beings for having a different perspective as you.

            If you are willing to engage with me as a human being, and not as a walking policy position, I would love to connect on a human level.

            I wish you and your daughter luck.

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        • I’ve helped people who are, “Too sick to know they are sick.” I don’t do it professionally and I do not do it often, but I have done it.

          Some of the options listed above are specifically for people who are, “Too sick to know they are sick.” They operate when people’s families contact the crisis team who then call round, not when the disturbed person calls the crisis team. They use few drugs and seldom hospitalize.

          These things are generally not available in the UK, where I am, or in the USA. What you have experienced is not what the author is writing about.

          No one wants to see suffering for you or your family continue, or for people in similar situations, but the evidence is that there are ways of helping that do reduce the suffering that do not use coercion and which use few drugs.

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        • Kate,

          What you also fail to realize is the gross and fraudulent expansion of psychiatric diagnosis for increased greed, fraud and power to prey on normal people with crises to enhance the status status of biopsychiaty when it sold out to Big Pharma to APPEAR more medical when Freudian psychoanalysis waned. Therefore, many people were/are given bogus bipolar stigmas when suffering from domestic, work, school and community bullying, mobbing and violence or various forms of rape and then subjected to the exact treatments you advocate for your daughter when they were never psychotic, delusional or anything else they have suffered based on false accusations, lies, gas lighting and psychological violence from biopsychiatry colluding with their other more powerful abusers. This is the typical type of horrific betrayal pulled off by biopsychiatrists to shut people up, stigmatize/discredit/silence/ostracize and drug them with maximum efficiency just like the Nazi death camps choosing those who would die or be slaves to the system.

          Your claim that you fought against “us” to get such horrific
          treatments imposed that destroy countless lives while fighting to eliminate those that have actually helped people makes me very sad about your apparent bitterness, revenge and anger toward your daughter and others who have suffered from severe emotional distress, trauma and other crises based on their toxic environments and horrific social stressors.

          And you should be aware that before biopsychiatry, if a child/teen was brought into treatment the psychiatrist would call the child/teen the “identified patient” because they knew that the child was most likely acting out the family’s dysfunction and serving as the scapegoat to keep the toxic system going with the rest in total denial. Perhaps you should check out Rosa Forbes’ writings on this site in dealing with her “psychotic son” and realizing that the ways families communicate and interact can have negative consequences for one or all members, but most likely the one(s) with the least power, usually the children.

          Some time in the future, this latest vile barbarity of bogus stigmas from the junk science DSM to push the latest lethal drugs on patent perpetrated by biopsychiatry like their vicious eugenics agenda in the name of so called science and medicine that led to the gassing to death of the so called mentally ill as practice for the Nazi Holocaust will just be more proof of the fact that biopsychiatry has been mainly controlled by psychopaths and malignant narcissists who have no shame, conscience, empathy, remorse or compassion for their fellow humans, but function mainly as intraspecies predators instead.

          I hope you will reconsider your ill conceived agenda to force YOUR views of the best so called treatments for severe emotional distress and/or those falsely accused of being “mentally ill” by their abusers on one and all as does NAMI with lots of Big Pharma money.

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          • Kate,

            And by the way, you have the right to “believe” what you like, but there is not a shred of evidence that any bogus stigma voted into the DSM has anything to do with any biology, chemical imbalance or disease/disorder of the brain whatsoever. Even Dr. Thomas Insel, Head of the National Institute for Mental Health, has admitted that the DSM is pseudoscience that he is abandoning because it has no validity whatever in that there is no scientific, medical, biological, genetic, chemical imbalance or any other evidence whatsoever behind these bogus, invented stigmas in the DSM also known as the Book of Insults or Degradation Rituals. Rather, the majority of honest information points to toxic environements and relationships, abuse and other great social stressors as the real cause of such emotional distress if there are no real medical, diet or other causes involved. Such facts also expose NAMI and others of their ilk as spreading lies, bogus pseudoscience, disease mongering and other nasty tactics to profit at others’ expense and/or blame their victims with this no fault assurance since they like CHADD and other groups are astro turf groups for Big Pharma in the guise of helping so called loved ones.

            So, perhaps you may wish to re-examine your need to claim your daughter has a biological brain disease or disorder that has no evidence whatever to back it up. Again, believing this yourself is one thing though very unfortunate for your daughter, but your politicking to force this monstrosity on everyone’s children and other loved ones while rubbing their noses in your great victory is pretty hard to stomach.

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        • The trouble is with your phrase “able to access care voluntarily.” By “able,” one can only assume that you mean “willing.” So what you appear to be saying is that you can “consent” or we will make you consent. Such use of the word renders it meaningless.

          In practice, you can agree that you are ill or you can deny that you are ill. If you agree, problem solved. If you disagree, that’s just proof of your illness. Problem solved. Can you not see how ridiculous this is?

          I don’t know of anybody who’s not aware how severe mental illnesses can be. Declaring them “brain disorders,” as you do is where the problem lies. Many, many of us make quite spectacular recoveries after abandoning our labels and our drugs. That’s hard to reconcile with the “brain disorder” theory. Well, I guess you could say that I was misdiagnosed. But for 10 years???

          It’s sometimes true that people’s brains malfunction and cause psychiatric symptoms. But the opposite logic where ANY severe behavioural dysfunction MUST be as the result of a “brain disorder” only benefits the psychiatric industry.

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    • Leah’s links show that IOT does not reduce re-hospitalizations, and is inordinately expensive. There are already plenty of ways to have someone involuntarily committed. I used to do involuntary commitments myself, and I can tell you that there was very little that went on in the psych ward that would lead to any kind of healing or change. If enforcing drugs were the answer, we’d long ago have solved this problem.

      Additionally, you clearly can not have used all of the alternatives that you claim don’t work, because most of them are not readily available in the US. For instance, I KNOW for a fact that you’ve never had your family member in a Soteria-like placement or an Open Dialog program, unless you are very fortunate and happen to live in Alaska, Switzerland, or northern Finland. How can you say they don’t work when you haven’t tried them?

      Consider also the WHO studies in the 90s which showed that the best outcomes for schizophrenia diagnosis happened in the countries that used the LEAST psych drugs, and where involuntary commitment was very infrequent, but community engagement was high. Some of the things Leah is advocating for are the kinds of things that happen in those “less developed” countries like Brazil and India and Venezuela but are not readily available in the US.

      I know it seems like involuntary commitment and enforced treatment is the best answer, and I might agree with you if the treatments actually led to long-term improvement. But they clearly have been shown not to, and in fact, there is emerging evidence that long-term use of these drugs leads to an INCREASE in psychotic episodes over time. HR 3717 is based on a hopeful belief in current psychiatric technology, but unfortunately, that technology is not up to the job.

      We don’t need HR 3717. It is an emotional response to the issue of violence by those diagnosed with “mental illness,” but the “solution” unfortunately has been shown to make the problem worse.

      — Steve

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    • Hello Kate,

      Take this from somebody who disowned his ex-family for having had him involuntarily committed in Europe: coercion poisons relationships. Psychiatric coercion even more.

      I see the Tim Murphy bill as the single most important threat to my own well being coming from the US congress. Until now I was protected by my US citizenship from another abusive experience. People like you want to change the status quo so that people like me can be more easily abused by psychiatry and our toxic family members.

      I have read in detail the parts of the bill I have a huge problem with, these are:

      – The whole notion that my ex-parents should have a right to access my medical records FOR LIFE if I am ever unlucky to fall in the hands of the shrinks is repulsive.

      – The involuntary commitment criteria that Mr Murphy wants states to adopt as a condition of receiving money are likely a violation of the standard set by the US Supreme Court in 1975 . I think that the sole reason this provision is in the bill is to hope that the US Supreme Court will reverse that unanimous ruling.

      We, survivors of psychiatric abuse, have many enemies to deal with, the least of which is stigma: the shrinks who make a living of their invented diseases, big pharma companies that lobby to have bills like this passed so they can force more people on drugs and then there is people like you: family members who think that their oppressive ways are a form of “help”.

      CS Lewis famously said: “of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive”. When I read from NAMI mommies, or people who speak like NAMI mommies, I am always reminded of that :).

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      • As you post this from some kind of electronic device, my friend’s son is too sick to even know what an electronic device is, much less own and use one. Your family may be better off that you disowned them.

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        • Why are you so afraid of letting your daughter see this website? Are you afraid that she might realize that there are more ways than one to look at her situation and her challenge? What would be so bad about that? Why do you feel such a need to protect her? By sheltering her you may just be making a velvet prison for her. You may be teaching her learned helplessness, which is what the system promotes with everything that it does. It’s important to treat your daughter like the adult that she is.

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        • Kate,

          People seem offended by some of what you said, unless it has been removed, I am not.

          You say “your family may be better off that you disowned them”. I cannot speak for them to be sure, I can tell you that I am definitely better off having disowned them :).

          Let me tell you what my life would be if I had decided to maintain my relationship with them,

          – Every time that I would go back to my former country, I would be scared to death that I would be risking my freedom since I have been out of poisonous drugs for several years now. I recommend that you read “Anatomy of an Epidemic” to learn about the long term side effects these drugs cause. I got both kidney and liver failure out of 1 year on them, which only got reversed after I stopped them (and the reversal was not immediate, it took many months before both my liver and kidney functions were declared normal again).

          – My ex-family would blackmail me with my so called “diagnosis” with things like “oh, you are crazy, so we cannot trust anything you say”. That’s what their attitude was before I called it quits.

          I have been living peacefully, going by my business and making a comfortable living thanks to my US citizenship. People like you and Tim Murphy want to change that. It goes without saying that I have engaged my own congressman to make sure the Tim Murphy bill fails. When a US Representative hears that “I am willing to disown the Republican Party if they back this travesty” is music to their ears. And indeed, I will join the Democratic Party if that’s what it takes to stop this abuse of civil liberties :).

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          • Kate,

            I already mentioned above. The specific language that the Murphy bill wants states to adopt for involuntary commitment is too vague as to apply to anybody who lives peacefully and by his business as long as some shrink can say that in his/her opinion, whatever behavioral pattern the DSM committees doesn’t like interferes with his life.

            The same is true with AOT.

            And then there is the abominable changes to the HIPAA rule that would allow my toxic ex family to access my records even when I explicitly deny them said access, FOR LIFE.

            The thing that people like you do not understand is that psychiatry is not a scientific discipline. Its labels are subjective both in the definition phase (because these labels are “voted in”) and the application phase. Psychiatrists themselves disagree when some pattern of behavior interferes with life or not. So if your toxic family member wants to have you committed, it wouldn’t be very hard to find a psychiatrist willing to certify that you need to be so called “treated” – I call it “abused”- against your will. That’s what happens in Europe -look at the data from Norway that I provided below-, so we are not talking hypotheticals here.

            Psychiatrists will abuse as many people as the legal framework they operate under allows them. That’s a fact. The current standard of dangerousness came out of a case in which a guy spent 15 years civilly committed in Florida only because some psychiatrist thought that he needed to be “treated”. You should read the history of the case here .

            Even the NRA seems to be realizing that blaming the problem of violence on so called “mental issues” wasn’t such a great idea after all .

            You have an odd family member that behaves in ways that shame you? Too bad. Disown him/her and your problems will go away. Please do not put the civil liberties of millions of peaceful survivors in jeopardy so that people like you can involuntarily commit their family members more easily. I think this is pretty simple.

            I am a conservative. I believe in traditional marriage. I am prolife. None of that will get in the way of me voting for, and campaigning for, the Democratic Party of this issue becomes one of “conservatives” vs “liberals”. It is my own well being and freedom we are talking about here not some abstract concept.

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    • Thank you Leah. Kate, what alternatives have you tried? We already have civil commitment statutes on the books in every state. What exists is commitment to hospital. The Murphy Bill would create civil commitment to home? So, how will that help people better than what already exists? Kate, do you think another judges order will suddenly and miraculously grant insight? Again, thank you Leah. I appreciate all of your hard work and efforts. I also appreciate the difficulty in stepping out of your comfort zone.

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      • When my daughter was psychotic, she wasn’t able to access any alternatives. She was too delusional. The only thing she was able to do was act on her delusions. When the doctors got her somewhat stable, she wasn’t interested in alternatives because in her mind she wasn’t sick. She didn’t feel she needed the doctors or the medicine but she didn’t feel she needed any alternative either because in her mind, there was nothing wrong. This is why I keep saying alternatives won’t work any better than a doctor does for someone whose illness is telling them that their delusions and paranoia are real.

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    • Can you please clarify and expand this post? I would like to know of family members that have benefited from involuntary treatment. I have worked in-patient psychiatry and psych er for over 20 years and I do know of benefits although they may be short term. Please give a bit more descriptive examples.

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      • If you consider being alive, housed, safe, and sane short term, then her benefits are indeed short term. She was very very sick, very very symptomatic with an illness that causes delusions and paranoid thinking. I tried every alternative imaginable, including the Open Dialogue method – even though at the time I didn’t have a name for it. As it turned out, her only alternative was good old fashioned medicine. After believing that she didn’t need the medicine for many years and ending up in the same delusional state, she eventually gained insight. I might add, she’s also never been arrested due to good medical care. And if she dies 25 years earlier than she otherwise might – I’d argue she could have been dead when she was 19 – so however long she lives, she’s already lived 11 years longer than she would have without a psychiatrist and involuntary treatment.

        I’m going to repeat – I have never once, not once ever, nor will I ever advocate against alternatives. I simply finding advocating against psychiatry and treatment for those that need it to be beyond cruel and/or misinformed. What I find really ironic is some of the people who advocate against medical care for people like my daughter are the same people/orgs who then advocate for their medical care once incarcerated. Not saying that’s anyone on this site, but it’s a current phenomena that is one of the most ridiculous/inhumane things I have ever seen.

        As for Murphy’s bill – near as I can tell, y’all have probably won. The new bill probably won’t pass – or if it does, it will be so watered down as to have no effect on folks like my daughter. Finding your happiness and/or funding in other people’s destruction isn’t anything to be proud of. But I’m sure you’ll celebrate – all the way to the bank.

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  2. “White House counterterrorism and Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco gave a speech this week [at Harvard] in which she urged parents to watch their children for signs of “confrontational” behavior which could be an indication of them becoming terrorists.” Echos of Thomas Hobbes. The Sovereign is absolute.

    Then we have Northwestern and Princeton Universities coming out with a study that concludes that America is an oligarchy, not a democracy. “The iron rule of oligarchy” –Robert Michels

    Imagine trying to grow up now in this society. It would not be easy. Primary school children handcuffed by police for writing with a marker on a desk. Etc.

    My conclusion is that just as individuals can experience psychotic episodes, or more simply go crazy, for a while, so can large social entities.

    In the USA main stream journalism is really shameful. And I think most journalists have only a superficial education. Almost everything that goes on in this nation has history connected to it which if unknown makes the current happening unintelligible or improperly interpreted.

    Finally in a recent interview Justice Scalia quoted Justice Ginsberg to the effect that our freedoms are not absolute–maybe a few are. Strictly speaking the statement does not really make sense. The Bill of Rights was his target. He wants us to understand that the gov may violate them–and that that is okay. He has interpreted the Bill of Rights as suggestions rather than prohibitions. Well, we already learned that with the NDA.

    So I believe we now are living in a fairly totalitarian society. It has been gradual and is not yet complete. We may soon hear commentators telling us that oligarchy is actually a good system of government.

    All this is not very good for a peoples mental health. I imagine the Civil War in the 19th century left many in very disturbed conditions. I wonder if a study has ever been done on those consequences. Women and children without the husband and father in their lives. Lost siblings and children. A terrible catastrophe. And our other wars since.

    So drugs are an easy way to pacify a large population. The Bill is clearly designed to enable more control. Nothing to do with the individual or the family. And in the meantime in any case our water, air and food are more and more contaminated. Our schools are teaching lies. The media is polluted. Etc.

    I agree that those that can see and who have vision need to be active. The first step is to be well informed. Probably step one is to throw out the TV. Turn off the radio. Stop reading the news papers and get news on the Internet. With some practice one can find a good deal of genuine news regarding current events. And all current events are re-plays. There are just so many stories. Ukraine is a re-play from the Cold War. Someone has even re-worked some Nazism to heat things up. Variations on old themes. You can find ancestors in the Peloponnese Wars. Plato for example laid all this out in the Republic and the Laws. If you know the classics you can see now as then or then as now.

    The Soviet Union used the mental illness bit to deal with dissidents. Haldol was a favorite of theirs. The Nazis turned children on their parents and parents on their children. Clive Bundy is the native American being cheated out of his land and livelihood. America has a very dark past it has chosen to repress and the repression is now in control.

    Obama is acting out the repressed history of styles of governing. He does not know this in my opinion as considerable drug usage has probably seriously undermined his cognitive abilities. Whereas Putin can talk well without a teleprompter, Obama can not. Putin acts like a real leader. Obama comes across as a golf pro at best. Of the top three in the USA gov only Boehner manages to look okay–which is not to say I approve of him. Reid looks and is a nasty man. Biden looks sort out of it and foolish and not keen minded.

    I am really not sure at all that the Fed gov should be involved in mental health.
    Personally I think the USA will have to completely collapse and then be reconstituted before these serious problems can be addressed in a mature way. We can lay the ground work now. But I see a disastrous collapse in the near future. It can be survived though.

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  3. Hi Leah … I do so much like the idea of David and Goliath and thank you for taking action on a legislative level. I do hope you are joined by many.

    I want to speak on behalf of those of us who were harmed by psychiatric drugs that were entirely inappropriately prescribed. (See note.) There are thousands upon thousands of us that I know of, whose only support is online forums to come off these horrific, brain disabling drugs and stay off. It’s hard for me to write because although I managed to come off 20 years of a large drug cocktail almost 5 years ago, I now have brain damage and find it hard to trust that I’m getting my message across clearly. I’m trying anyways.

    An alternative that I would like to see added to the list would be support for us. Presently there is none that I know of. In fact many of us are further harmed by doctors and psychiatrists when we make this choice for ourselves. Coming off these drugs can be the most horrific journey that could ever be imagined, mentally, emotionally and physically. In fact, it’s a miracle that I’m alive and I have heard that same statement repeated over and over by many others.

    I so wish I had the mental ability to do what you’re doing. I have a hard time doing my bank statement and I was an accounting technician for part of my career. I am extremely traumatized by what has happened to me and the many wonderful people I know that are going thru this too. We need help to survive instead of being abandoned to do or die.

    Note: When I talk about inappropriate prescribing I offer myself as an example. One suicidal thought shared with someone while in a woman’s shelter after leaving my abusive husband of 10 years, got me 20 years of heavy drugging and a Bipolar label. Subsequently I lost the ability to manage my own business and ended up on disability. I’d still be living that drugged up, numbed out life if I didn’t finally have one clear thought “These drugs are not helping me!”

    (I hope I make sense and even more I hope that I recover so that I can actively join in this movement for change. Go Leah Harris and Marianne Williamson !!! I’m very proud of you both. )

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    • whoopsie, your comments make perfect sense, and they are well taken.

      I have experienced firsthand the devastating effects of overmedication, and seen the havoc and destruction careless and irresponsible practices of polypharmacy have wreaked on my family members and many friends.

      Right now there is a powerful “underground railroad” on the internet that is helping many people to learn how to take control of their meds and their own treatment decisions.
      As well as all the info shared on this site…but we’re not reaching enough people.

      Just the other day I talked to a family friend on Medicaid who is currently on 8 heavy duty psych meds, is having terrible difficulty functioning, and is not being listened to by her doctor. It’s almost impossible to just “find a new doctor,” as the waiting lists are so long.

      The entire profession needs to be held accountable for this gross violation of “do no harm.”
      It’s a terrible situation and one that I know needs huge attention. Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective.

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      • You can choose to disengage, but you can’t put words in my mouth or tell me what I have read. I did read your piece. I am not against any of the alternatives that you suggest. I have said that numerous times explicitly. In fact, I am all for the. But, there are people whose symptoms prohibit them from getting care voluntarily, which is a population that you don’t want to address.

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        • But again, you blindly assume that anybody who declines voluntary treatment must therefore be in need of forced treatment. If this is the case, then why have voluntary treatment available at all? Are you even aware that long term outcomes are significantly better without treatment?

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          • I blindly assume that anybody who declines voluntary treatment must therefore be in need of forced treatment? That’s news to me. Have I posted that here somewhere? I don’t blindly assume anything. If you have insight & don’t want treatment, then don’t go to the doctor.

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        • As I have already said, there is ALREADY LEGISLATION IN PLACE to enforce treatment on those who pose an immediate risk of harm to self or others. This standard was set by the US Supreme Court in response to lawsuits by multiple people who were detained without just cause, in violation of their constitutional rights. Your daughter clearly received involuntary services and says she benefited from them. If this already can occur, why on earth do we need Murphy’s bill to add more involuntary detentions of people who are not endangering themselves or others?

          I did involuntary detentions in Vancouver, WA. Washington has one of the most restrictive statutes, and it was still not at all difficult to detain someone who was deteriorating due to psychosis. There is no need for a more lax definition as advocated in Murphy’s bill.

          But at this point, it seems you are “trolling” and not really willing to have a conversation. You already know we’re all wrong, so why are you bothering if you aren’t willing to respond to legitimate criticisms of the bill such as the one I just offered?

          Let me hear you explain why the current law did not allow your daughter to get the treatment she needed, even if she was unwilling. If you can’t explain that, you have no argument.

          —- Steve

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          • I live in a state that doesn’t require dangerousness for involuntary treatment and thank God. My daughter has never been a danger to anyone, just totally and completely incapacitated by her illness & delusions. Nobody should have to have a knife to their throat or someone else’s before they’re entitled to medical care.

            Having said that, I agree with your concerns albeit for different reasons. I don’t like giving the government power to do anything that isn’t totally necessary, particularly the Feds. My preference would be that we didn’t need these laws at all and care could be between the patient, family members and the doctors without having to involve the government as all as I don’t think it’s their business. When my daughter was just 19 years old, I can’t tell you how heartwarming it was to have to sit in a courtroom and testify about her behavior that had gotten us to that point for nothing more than arbitrary measures set about in some stupid law when all she needed was medical treatment. It was at that moment I wished she had any other chronic illness than a brain disorder.

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          • Kate, you are missing the point. You say if you have insight and don’t want treatment, just don’t go to the doctor. But we’re not talking about people going/not going to the doctor! We’re talking about people being ripped out of their homes and dragged to the hospital or, more insidiously, being forced to receive antipsychotic injections at home under threat of being dragged to the hospital.

            If you protest, your “lack of insight” is assumed to be indicative of your illness. That’s a preposterous logical position to take. You either know you’re ill (in which case you’re ill) or you deny that you’re ill (in which case you’re ill). WHAT ABOUT THOSE OF US WHO AREN’T ILL? Where’s our category?

            Earlier, I declined to list the symptoms of mental illness seeing as we both know what it looks like. You responded “Then you are aware that some people have symptoms that prevent them from accessing services voluntarily. Thanks.” How on Earth are you assessing which symptoms prevent accepting voluntary treatment? The only symptom of lack of insight is refusing voluntary treatment. Me pointing out your blind assumptions is completely warranted.

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          • The problem is that the government are the only entities that can take one’s civil rights away, and that’s what is happening when someone is detained. There are a few states that don’t have involuntary commitment laws, and I am sure there are consequences of that, though I have not seen any hard data to suggest that they have worse outcomes. Remember, the WHO studies in the 90s showed that the countries with the LEAST Westernized medical systems had the BEST outcomes, so there is no guarantee that enforcing treatment on someone will make them better off in the end (though obviously there are cases where the person is appreciative or ends up with better outcomes through enforced treatment.)

            The real challenge is where to draw that line, and the Supreme Court made the ruling they did because they saw evidence that psychiatrists and other doctors readily and systematically abused the civil rights of citizens when given authority to use their own judgment. This is exactly what you oppose, and I oppose it for the same reasons you do. The Supreme Court drew the best line they could – a person has to be a risk of harm to him/herself or someone else, including being unable to care for oneself safely (which sounds like it would apply to your daughter). The Murphy bill goes way beyond that, and that is why I object to it. It seeks to enforce treatment on anyone deemed “likely to deteriorate,” and that is going to allow our government, which you and I and the Supreme Court appropriately don’t trust with this kind of decision, to empower psychiatrists to set whatever standard they want for determining who is “likely to deteriorate.” It also appears to remove due process rights of those so detained, and allow access to records that it may or may not be safe for this person to reveal. These are all government intrusions into private individuals’ lives, and it seems you are against that kind of meddling. Perhaps you need to re-read the bill. It is a Pandora’s Box for the government and the psychiatric industry to determine what is “normal” for you and me, and there is nothing to keep them from deciding you are “likely to deteriorate without treatment” simply based on the fact that they don’t like how you are acting.

            It’s just a bad law, plain and simple.

            —– Steve

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      • You can choose to disengage, but you can’t put words in my mouth or tell me what I have read. I did read your piece. I am not against any of the alternatives that you suggest. I have explicitly said that numerous times. In fact, I am all for them. But, there are people whose symptoms prohibit them from getting care voluntarily who you are advocating against and are saying that voluntary services are the answer for those people with no specifics as to how that works. We have this bill about helping families because most of the hospitals have closed and everyone is supposed to live independently, except not everyone can. So aging parents do their best to take care of very sick adult children. We don’t mind. We love our kids. But you say you have the answers and when we say they don’t work, you put forth all kinds of flowery words, but no specifics. How do your methods specifically address psychotic paranoid mania with prolonged tachycardia, delusions and paranoia that the sufferer is unable not to act upon, inability to sleep, etc.,….a condition that can last for months?? As I have also posted, peers here tried to help my daughter. One guy in particular was fantastic with her. Only person better with her is me. But he was only here for an hour. Not being manic myself, at some point, I have to sleep. Do you have programs that stay with someone 24/7 until the person is better regardless of how long it takes? Do your programs guarantee the person gets better without the meds and the physical symptoms won’t harm them if they’re not addressed by standard medicine? These are questions that you should answer if you are advocating against traditional care.

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        • Hey Kate,

          I definitely understand your concern as someone who works part time as an acute inpatient therapist in a hospital setting. There literally is nowhere else to go outside of a hospital or a jail (unless you are enormously rich) when you or your family member is going through a severe crisis like you describe.

          But because of this, the medical system has enormous power and control over the life of your daughter. They have the right (with a judge) to commit her and require her to take whatever psychiatric drugs they choose. They don’t have to inform you or ask for your consent. They emphasize taking drugs that have very strong adverse and long term effects…for life.

          We, and others here, have seen that this is simply no longer how we want things to continue. You are right that there is no easy alternative to this at this point. You, and many many others who are not interested in this type of care…are stuck. But instead of saying that we are wrong…why not work towards promoting and developing these alternatives.

          How about a hospital model where drugs are used extremely judiciously and sometimes not at all?

          How about following the successful Open Dialogue model and not starting people on antipsychotics during a first break.

          How about doctor’s encouraging a responsible taper to a level of drugs (or no drugs) that are not as harmful as massive multi-drug cocktails?

          Do you think the system as it it stands right now is perfectly effective? If not, how would you like to see it changed?

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          • All of those things happened with my daughter. She was never over medicated. During her first break, she wasn’t coherent enough to understand anything so they told me everything about the meds, etc. And then with the Internet—these days it’s quite easy to educate oneself on just about anything. And the medical system having power over her? With the ACA, not only the medical system, but the government has power over everyone. And folks are clamoring for single payer.

            She wanted off the meds numerous times & was always advised by the doctor to taper off them slowly. Most times she didn’t, she just quit them. The last time, she tapered off incredibly slowly, symptoms returned, something clicked in her & she now believes she needs them.

            No meds for a first break? I’m not a doctor. But my daughter went for quite while without meds during her first break. Things only got worse,,,much worse until they gave her meds. My sister in law was never medicated…ever. She lived her life as a mentally ill homeless person for 20 years until she was murdered. Some on this site would say that was her choice. But nobody who loves her can ever remember saying that’s what she wanted to be when she grew up.

            But if you have insight and aren’t bothering anyone and don’t want medical care, isn’t the problem of not getting meds for a first break pretty solvable…..just don’t go to the doctor??

            What I’d like to see changed in the system is more supervised housing for those that can’t live independently. There’s other things here locally that I won’t mention as I don’t know if they pertain to all states. Thanks for asking.

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          • You are 100% right about the housing. There is a program called “Housing First” or something like that in New York that gets people into safe housing before even beginning to address issues of substance abuse or mental illness. Not so amazingly, these people do a lot better than those who are detained, medicated, and released within a week or 10 days, as almost always happened where I was working. That is one of the alternatives Leah is talking about. Seems we could agree on that point at least.

            — Steve

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        • I think some of the services the author of this piece listed would provide some of what Kate is asking about. IE 24 hour care with and understanding person, as the peer worker provided but only for an hour at a time instead of 24 hours, days at a time. That is what the original Soteria House project was like.

          Providing help for families, perhaps with sleeping pills for the distressed person for a few days, in the home, with support people visiting everyday for a week or more and helping everyone understand each other better is what Open Dialogue is about.

          If the person gets better with or without meds then the physical symptoms will improve, unless there is another physical health problem.

          These programmes do not gaurantee people get better without meds, but they do have a high chance of doing so, or with low dose, limited time, use of drugs.

          So in my opinion, most of what Kate asks for is indeed what the author is advocating.

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          • I’ve done a lot of research. I read a lot about Open Dialogue & Soteria. I think they’re fabulous. My understanding of both though is there is no coercion. The person has to want to participate. If I’m wrong, please correct me.

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        • Kate I have been following the comments on this blog post and wanted to say that as a carer of many family members who have experiences psychoses and who I’ve had to take into psychiatric hospitals, and they had to do the same with me, that I know where you are coming from.

          I remember in 1970 my mother being on the go 24/7, having what they called then a “nervous breakdown” and knowing she had to go into the psychiatric ward and that I had to be the one to instigate it. I couldn’t look after her at home constantly as I needed to sleep. Over 40yrs later and things are no different here in Scotland. We don’t have alternatives to hospitalisation for anyone experiencing a serious psychosis or manic episode. We have no peer respite services or soteria houses or medication free sanctuaries where a person can come out of a psychosis or altered mind state naturally.

          But I would like to see alternative ways of working with, alongside, people experiencing psychoses, altered mind states, mania, that didn’t mean forcing them or me to take psychiatric drugs. I didn’t like being forced and the drugs brought me back down to earth too swiftly, depressing me and in the longer term demotivating me and causing me panic attacks and suicidal impulses on the venlafaxine.

          So how do we get from where we are to where I would like us to be? As a psychiatric survivor activist and human rights campaigner in mental health matters I think the first step has to be treating the person and not just the symptoms. One person might not mind being forcibly treated when unwell while another, like me, finds it traumatic and wants to avoid it at all cost. I’ve been negotiating an advance statement with a psychiatrist to say what I want to happen, what drugs I don’t want to be given etc.

          But I’m also campaigning for alternatives, the list that Leah mentioned I also believe is a useful goal to strive for. Raising awareness of choices. Not just psychiatric drugs which for me were disabling and debilitating. Fortunately I managed to taper the risperidone then the venlafaxine, latterly the lithium, in 2003/4, getting off all the drugs and getting back in with my life. The schizoaffective disorder label still sits in my psych notes but I don’t believe it and it doesn’t have power over me. You might say that I have recovered. I now say that I have survived, mental illness and psychiatric treatment.

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          • indeed Open Dialogue and Soteria are voluntary, as was the peer that had a good relationship with your daughter, as is your relationship with her. You asked if the programmers can provide certain things and I think they can.

            I think what you wrote implied that sometimes, some people, are able to help your dautgher when she is in crisis but not many people are available and that it is exhausting for you to do this on your own. The services I named might help you and your daughter in this situation, or they might not. If there is just a little improvement from either the peer who had a good relationship with her, or from you before you get totally exhausted then perhaps more intense ongoing support for everyone involved would help deal with the crisis without coercion. What we know is that until they are available and tried we do not know if coercion is necessary for your daughter. Even if coercion is sometimes necessary it would reduce the risk of having to use it

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          • Open dialogue does not start with the distressed person contacting services voluntarily, it starts with the family contacting services. They try their hardest to get the distressed person to join in the conversation, sometimes one worker will spend time with the person who is distressed, building up report, before bringing them to the broader conversation. Often it is about helping the family deal with the person who is distressed. So the notion of voluntarily seeking help is a bit more flexible in this model. And it may not work in every case, but it would reduce the risk of using coercian

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      • Thank you for your reply Leah. This modern day catastrophe has been met with a modern day solution … the internet. People cyber cling onto each other to stay alive one more moment (not exaggerating) in psych drug withdrawal. The total lack of support from the medical system is criminal.

        Perhaps you could refer your family friend to interactive forums which I’d like to add to your list if she’s fed up with being victimized. You can obtain information and guidance as well as find supportive friendships. The majority of us have had to abandon doctors because it’s almost impossible to find one who knows what they are talking about when it comes to psych drug withdrawal. We just use them for the RX’s and don’t even let them know that we are in fact tapering. Underground railroad is very accurate. I keep seeing the comparison between the Holocaust and Pharmacaust.

        There are also plenty Facebook support groups for this purpose. Exciting times are these.

        I’m not concerned about accountability or justice for these so-called “professionals” but I would like them to open up and see what is really happening on their watch and get with the unprogram!!! If by some miracle they can do an about face and actually listen to, believe and help people, now that would be a gift to humanity. They too have been brainwashed to believe the same hogwash the rest of us did. ie. “You have a chemical imbalance and have to be on these drugs for the rest of your life, just like diabetics do.”

        My best to your friend, I wish her strength and determination to get free of Psych Drugs and Psychiatry and be the authority in her own life.

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  4. Whoopsie,

    You make all too much sense and far more than many people here. I’m sorry about all those lost years that were stolen from you by the traitor who reported you that suckered you into the clutches of biopsychiatry. Like Dante’s Inferno, all psychiatric entities should be forced to have signs, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here” just like their toxic drugs and other deadly “treatments” must carry warnings too.

    Congratulations for seeing the truth and kicking those lethal, lobotomizing drugs to the curb where they belong.

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  5. We should also vote in every election. There is a midterm election this year, and if you want to keep the Affordable Care Act and don’t want to see social services gutted, then you might want to vote for someone who is likely to win and who is not dedicated to reversing it.

    Some people say that voting for one party is just voting for “the lessor of two evils”. Do you want to see the greater of two evils elected? Get registered, get educated—most of what people credit or blame on the POTUS is actually an act of Congress— vote, please.

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    • wileywitch, thank you. Voting is a hugely important part of the process, as is supporting candidates who embody the values we want to see… and hey, why not consider running for office ourselves?

      I also think we can and should simultaneously be involved in all kinds of nonviolent direct action. I’ve been sitting with some writings on direct action (not mine) which are really making me think. I don’t claim this is the ultimate or the right answer or course of action, just stuff that makes me think what we can do in addition to, or beyond voting. Please do not interpret my quoting these writing below as suggestion that people shouldn’t vote.

      “Direct action is occasionally misunderstood to mean another kind of campaigning, lobbying for influence on elected officials by means of political activist tactics; but it properly refers to any action or strategy that cuts out the middle man and solves problems directly, without appealing to elected representatives, corporate interests, or other powers.”

      “In a lot of ways, direct action is a more effective means for people to have a say in society than voting is. For one thing, voting is a lottery—if a candidate doesn’t get elected, then all the energy his constituency put into supporting him is wasted, as the power they were hoping he would exercise for them goes to someone else. With direct action, you can be sure that your work will offer some kind of results; and the resources you develop in the process, whether those be experience, contacts and recognition in your community, or organizational infrastructure, cannot be taken away from you.”

      “Voting consolidates the power of a whole society in the hands of a few politicians; through force of sheer habit, not to speak of other methods of enforcement, everyone else is kept in a position of dependence. Through direct action, you become familiar with your own resources and capabilities and initiative, discovering what these are and how much you can accomplish.”

      “Voting forces everyone in a movement to try to agree on one platform; coalitions fight over what compromises to make, each faction insists that they know the best way and the others are messing everything up by not going along with their program. A lot of energy gets wasted in these disputes and recriminations. In direct action, on the other hand, no vast consensus is necessary: different groups can apply different approaches according to what they believe in and feel comfortable doing, which can still interact to form a mutually beneficial whole. People involved in different direct actions have no need to squabble, unless they really are seeking conflicting goals (or years of voting have taught them to fight with anyone who doesn’t think exactly as they do). Conflicts over voting often distract from the real issues at hand, as people get caught up in the drama of one party against another, one candidate against another, one agenda against another. With direct action, on the other hand, the issues themselves are raised, addressed specifically, and often resolved.”

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  6. wileywitch, just one other quote which I find interesting: “we hear constantly about the options available to us as voters, and almost nothing about our other opportunities to play a decisive role in our society. What we need is a campaign to emphasize the possibilities more direct means of action and community involvement have to offer. These need not be seen as in contradiction with voting. We can spend an hour voting once a year, and the other three hundred sixty four days and twenty three hours acting directly!”

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  7. Leah,

    Another great, enlightening, motivating article, which I greatly appreciate. You have been a great source of inspiration during these trying times and I really appreciate all that you are doing while keeping us all informed and hopeful during these “times that try our souls.”

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    • Donna, thank you so much. It means so much to me to hear that my words could inspire you; I ride on the shoulders of everyone who has come before me.

      Everyone in the MiA community, and in our wider circles, inspires me every day, as do you.


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  8. While it is imperative to fight this bill as a tactic towards ending psychiatric oppression, we must not get caught in the trap of endlessly arguing with politicians about the merits and cons of proposed and existing legislation. Our job is to create the public climate where politicians are forced to ask us what they should do.

    These are not bills sponsored by misguided people who just need to be shown the light, they are bought-and-paid-for shills for the most inhuman political system ever known to humanity.

    The notion that “government” (I presume he means this government) can be good or bad depending on your attitude towards it is one of the most dangerous and absurd misconceptions one can harbor if she/he sincerely wants the sort of structural change required to prevent the misery that this system creates, then capitalizes upon. Government may respond to sufficient pressure, but when we successfully generate that pressure we need to credit ourselves, not say that “the government” isn’t that bad after all. Power cedes nothing without a demand.

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    • I agree completely oldhead – which is why I talk about the importance of direct action as a way to empower ourselves and our communities directly.

      I feel to some degree that our current state of government is a reflection of our collective apathy, cynicism, and disempowerment…despite the power of “the powers that be.”

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      • Well, sort of; objectively the system remains in power because the people allow it, however the apathy, etc. is a result of frustration at the overwhelming, inhuman weight of a system which has its internal dynamics operating with such sophistication that sometimes we don’t realize that there are real people behind the seemingly abstract and impersonal machinery of the state.

        Not sure exactly what if anything the above is meant to imply, it seemed to write itself…almost automatically. But I do agree with you “to some degree.” Though if the system is a reflection of us, we are also reflections of the system. (And without drawing conclusions I would say that’s a big “if.”)

        Anyway, just pondering here, don’t take anything too linearly.

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  9. Kate, you said above “And as I’ve stated elsewhere-I would never expose my daughter to the opinions on this site.”

    Are you telling us that you not only have control over what drugs go into your daughter’s body but you’re also in charge of what she reads? How old is your daughter, again?

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  10. Kate,

    I find it interesting that you keep calling us cruel when Leah and a other posters have constantly tried to reach out to you in an attempt to seek common ground.

    The reason we are all against this bill because if it were passed, it would be a horrific nightmare in our opinion. You say it would enable folks who don’t know they are sick to access treatment. But what about the folks who do have self awareness who would be forced to take meds against their will? And yes, that would occur big time no matter how much you all want to deny it.

    And how would you define who lacks self awareness and who doesn’t? Many rational folks who disagree with their psychiatrist that they need meds are deemed as lacking self awareness. Where do you draw the line?

    Additionally, the Murphy bill would take away protection rights such as folks who were abused in mental hospitals wouldn’t have any recourse such as contacting a state advocate’s office. And that is ok with you?

    And what happens if folks are forced to take meds and then develop contraindications like diabetes and or kidney failure. Then what?

    I mean no disrespect Kate but I find the Murphy bill very cruel and one that will set back the cause of people with “mental Illness” a hundred years. Just because other posters and I have these valid concerns doesn’t make us bad people who don’t care about your daughter. This is not an either or situation and frankly, I am getting tired of us being labeled as evil villains. We aren’t.


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    • “And yes, that would occur big time no matter how much you all want to deny it.”

      Consider the following paper written in 2009 about the civil commitment rates in Norway where the standard for involuntary commitment is “need for treatment”,

      “The overall study generated incidence rate for civil commitment based on “involuntary referrals”, “treatment periods” and persons involved were 259, 209 and 186 per 100,000 adults/year, respectively.”

      That’s right, about 1 of every 500 people in Norway have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. In fact, similar rates were also common in the US before the O’Connor v Donaldson decision.

      Those who claim that such thing would not happen in the US under the Tim Murphy regime because “we are better people” forgot to read Federalist paper number 10. In case they need a reminder, here it comes :),

      “The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

      No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time; yet what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens? And what are the different classes of legislators but advocates and parties to the causes which they determine? Is a law proposed concerning private debts? It is a question to which the creditors are parties on one side and the debtors on the other. Justice ought to hold the balance between them. Yet the parties are, and must be, themselves the judges; and the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be expected to prevail. Shall domestic manufactures be encouraged, and in what degree, by restrictions on foreign manufactures? are questions which would be differently decided by the landed and the manufacturing classes, and probably by neither with a sole regard to justice and the public good. The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.

      It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.”

      Psychiatrists with new extended powers to extend their reach as to who can be abused by psychiatry would do what people with said power would do: use them as much as possible.

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  11. Besides the preposition in as in Mad In America we have several other revealing ones. For example, mad with America; mad throughout America; mad with America. I see America’s political and social structure as quite ideal to drive people mad. The nation has not changed all that much since it accepted slavery as the status quo; since it accepted the saying: the only good Indian is a dead one. And of course other instances of savagery and bigotry. Presently “we” have the drones regularly killing people we do not know in Yemen. Suspected bad guys. children, old people, etc. Who among us is taking responsibility for those deaths? How does it feel to be an American? Glad they are killing people almost at random? Well, it is a step down from the hundreds of thousands in Iraq–whew! and the thousands in Afghanistan. All to make life better for the oligarchs!

    So now let’s turn to mental health. Who is crazy today? Who took their pill this morning? Don’t forget. John McCain wants us to send weapons to Ukraine. Get a civil war going there. Maybe in the USA later. Won’t need to ship weapons to the USA fortunately. Save shipping costs. Could we pull off a preemptive strike on Russia? You know they are contemplating that back in D. C..

    The truly crazy ones are convinced they are sane. The rest are just terrified. Someone has to play mentally ill so the nation can keep grinding the earth down into the abyss. Now we even have the schools really getting into it. Just pick out some students and tell the parents they are in need of a psychiatrist. One looked like he was using his finger like the barrel of a gun. My God, a potential terrorist in the 3rd grade!!!!

    But the REAL will prevail. Soon.

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  12. Kate, you fail to see the distinction between can’t and doesn’t. You assume that anyone who disagrees with you only does so because they can’t see your wisdom. This is toxic paternalism. The only test for lack of insight is disagreeing with your doctor.

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  13. I don’t know. I support the social justice aspect but I am a bisexual male and that LGBT social justice movement failed me miserably and NAMI already has that whole thing started too. I can say however that I am a tad worried about that as well. Sometimes there can be a real question behind the motives.

    Like the trendy “come out at mentally ill” message that NAMI types seem to push these days. They tend to reach the more “trendy” illnesses. That crowd was among many who were thrilled to see Amanda Bynes and Britney Spears and their 5150. Plus, what model means what??? and to who??? there is always going to be the main person(s) wanting to speak for the whole.

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  14. Kate, I do hope you realize that if your daughter is truly a voluntary (as opposed to “voluntary” i.e. coerced) patient and if her consent is truly informed (knowledge of worsened outcomes, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, tardive dyskinesia, shortened life span, etc.) and if she believes that drug treatment is what works for her, then there is not a person on this board who will do anything except wish her the very, very best of health and happiness.

    That’s not what our fight is about. It’s for the people who have had a look at what’s on offer and would prefer to find their own path to mental health. Many of us were never given that chance. Many of us were taught to think of ourselves as neurologically defective, fit only for assisted treatment teams and welfare benefits. We were trained to be disabled. We were encouraged to give up our dreams. How about some consideration for us before pushing through legislation to make it easier and easier to destroy more lives? The psychiatric industry promotes the spectacle of the unmedicated mental patient running naked through the street brandishing a meat cleaver. A far more representative situation would be someone confronting very difficult circumstances, consequently experiencing extreme emotional states and, as a result, acting in ways which bother other people. That is simply not high enough criteria to warrant forced psychiatric incarceration (inside or outside the hospital walls).

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    • My daughter’s behavior while psychotic is a lot closer to “the unmedicated mental patient running naked through the street brandishing a meat cleaver” than “someone confronting very difficult circumstances, consequently experiencing extreme emotional states and, as a result, acting in ways which bother other people”.

      Just as it’s unfair for psychiatry or anyone to assume that someone who isn’t bothering anyone but has thoughts and/or behaviors that others might find strange should have to take medication, particularly if they don’t want to, it’s also unfair for people to assume the reverse, that everyone’s illness is the same as theirs. The notion that everyone can use alternatives is the same paternalistic attitude that you know what’s best for everyone.

      My intent is to try to work together to get what everyone needs. It’s clearly futile. No matter how many times I say I’m in favor of all alternatives, that seems to be ignored and I keep getting lectured on how bad involuntary treatment is. In another post I asked if my daughter will always be my slave. How kind. She’s a disabled beautiful adult woman, being called a slave. And people wonder why I won’t expose her to this site.

      This is my last post. Y’all keep advocating against my daughter and others like her. Like I said, I think it’s wrong. You don’t have all the answers any more than psychiatry does.

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        • Urgh- Kate- I personally hope you don’t go because I think its key to have an open conversation with everyone. I think a lot of the anger you will see here is from people who feel they were either forced or coerced into taking very strong medications that led them to feel increasingly depressed, confused, cognitively impaired with a host of long term health problems.

          I’m wondering if you would be willing to acknowledge that pain and anger from folks who have experienced this.

          My guess is that you fear that this pain and anger could lead to overturning laws that you feel are necessary, such as commitment laws and forced medications for your daughter when you say she is unaware of her delusional state. I get that.

          Right now if someone is acting in a manner that is a danger to self or others, there is a right for a hospital to hold someone and eventually to commit them if they continue to be in imminent danger. I know a number of people are absolutely opposed to this here but I am not.

          I get that someone who is acting in an extremely aggressive manner who is unable to deescalate out in the community may need to go to a closed facility such as a hospital (not a jail) for a short while. The problem I encounter (as someone who works partly in a hospital) is that all power is taken away once you have entered this system. Doctors make all the decisions once a commitment has happened. I have seen doctors put young patients on an enormous cocktail of meds. They then decide where a person will go after hospitalization (state hospitals, step downs, foster care, home, etc.) They also can require a person take long term outpatient antipsychotic injections. That’s a lot of power to have.

          Once on these drugs for a long period of time, it is extremely difficult to come off of them. So in essence, many are forced to be on strong health depleting drugs for a lifetime. Do you think this should be examined more carefully? Even if you support it for your daughter, do you think its reasonable that other people don’t want that decision made for them?

          People like Robert Whitaker have noted that short periods of psych drugs might be warranted for some people in these cases. Its the long term use that causes severe problems.

          So I get where you are coming from…you want to make sure your daughter has support and does not spiral into another psychotic episode and decide to go off of them because of people like us. But none of us advocate cold turkey. We advocate examining the possibility of lowered dosages, reducing and tapering and hopefully for many who choose this path, leading a life free of drugs that will cause long term health problems. We also advocate looking at crisis care that does not put an enormous amount of personal power in the hands of a few doctors, who can make unilateral and sometimes deeply damaging long term decisions.

          Anyways, I hope you understand that we don’t argue with personal choice. If your daughter has come to the realization that the meds are working for her and that she can manage any side effects and health complications then I think most all of us would support her decision. What we have a problem with is losing the power to choose and being harmed in the process. Thanks for talking with us.

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          • I do think that arguing with people like Kate is a futile exercise.

            They have their mind set. All they want is increased powers for them to legally control their family members that they perceive as “odd”.

            The only way to change their minds is twofold,

            – To continue to tell our stories as to raise awareness that giving psychiatry even more powers will turn our lives into a living hell. In this regard, what Leah is doing is wonderful.

            – Perhaps the most important tool is to find ways to make them understand that these powers could be used in the future against them in unexpected ways. Take the NRA. It has gone from blaming violence on mental issues -thus advocating for making it easier to commit people- to understand the problem with that approach and actively lobby so that the standard for civil commitment remains high . They finally understood that under current federal law – which restricts second amendment rights of those civilly committed-, psychiatry could be used to de facto restrict those rights on a large portion of the general population.

            The Justina Pelletier case has been a wake up call for many conservatives who thought that psychiatry was the answer to many problems. We even have psychiatrists like Keith Ablow joining the backlash against the BCH psychiatrists who kidnapped Justina.

            The bar needs to be very high before somebody -or his/her legal guardian as in the case of Justina Pelletier- is deemed “unable to make his/her own decisions”. Any fair minded person, regardless of politics, understands this once they are aware that psychiatry is a scientific as astrology :).

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      • I have a friend who in a psychotic state committed an armed robbery. He ended up in prison. He was in contact with the mental health system and told them he thought he was at risk of being a danger to others. The services did nothing.

        He really needed something like open dialogue, hell he needed someone to just talk to on a regular basis.

        He went on to be evicted from his house for throwing the TV out of the window. He was pretty much the nutter in the street. Now he is doing fairly well, mainly from talking things over with people who are sympathetic and slowly getting his life together.

        So although I haven’t seen people who are very violent I’ve seen people who are murderously angry and very weird and I’ve seen them be talked down and eventually resolve their problems.

        What you have gone through with you daughter sounds horrible and frightening but it convinces me of the intense need for non-medical, non-coercive practice that is specially for people in extreme mental distress.

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  15. It appears to me that this whole discussion that Leah wanted to discuss with us has been derailed. I’m not interested in convincing Kate to my way of thinking, she can think what she wants.

    Can we PLEASE get back on topic. Leah asked: Comment on this blog or contact me here to send me examples of what you would like to see in your community instead of IOC and coercive, traumatizing interventions. Tell me about the specific kinds of supports you or loved ones have found helpful, and what you would like to see more of.

    I’d like to see a campaign to educate medical doctors on the harm done to people by psychiatric drugs and forced treatment. Could that education be legislated???????

    I’d like to see these same doctors educated on how to help people come off these horrid drugs appropriately to reduce harm. I’d like to see Clinics and Withdrawal Retreats/Accommodations where those affected can be taken care of on a practical level while they fight for their lives.

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  16. For Extreme States:First Do No Harm ,For Real Info For Everyone , (Kate this one’s for you and your daughter) that is at least as important as Robert Whitaker’s books . Do not be thrown off by the title , be assured everything will be illuminated.Read the book………. ” Niacin The Real Story “…. by Abram Hoffer, M.D.,PhD,Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D.,and Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.

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      • Apologies for the lengthy quote. NAHD is now widely available to order on the Internet, which it wasn’t when Dr. Abram Hoffer was doing his research. You can order NAHD coenzyme (sublingual) from Amazon.

        “Psychological Activity of Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD)
        In 1966 Humphry Osmond and I reported (1) that NAD was therapeutic for schizophrenic patients treated in a psychiatric wing of the University Hospital at Saskatoon. We used an enteric coated tablet containing 100 mg suspended in an oily medium to bypass the stomach. Patients who were responding slowly to vitamin B3 in doses of 3 grams daily, responded much more quickly to NAD using 1 gram daily. For as long as the NAD was available, they remained well or much improved. When we ran out of supplies they quickly relapsed.

        Two negative attempts were made to repeat our work using a preparation which was dumped into the stomach of patients who had been maintained on the backwards of the mental hospitals of that era and were sick for many years. (2) These two negative reports effectively quenched interest in this compound until a few years ago.

        Professor J.G.D. Birkmayer and his associates at the Birkmayer Institute for Parkinson Therapy in Vienna, Austria, studied a stable form of NADH. They found that their stable preparation using 5 mg doses was therapeutic for Parkinson’s disease, for Alzheimer’s, and for depression. (3) They wrote,” When we first used NADH with regard to its clinical efficacy the effect was not convincing.

        This was most likely due to the rapid dissolution (approximately 10-15 minutes) of the capsule leading to a release of NADH into the acid conditions of the stomach. Since NADH is rapidly oxidized below pH 7.6, the conditions in the stomach will inactivate NADH by converting it to NAD. The investigations of this report were therefore performed with NADH capsules coated with an acid stable film and a release time of 2-3 hours. With this galenic formulation of NADH an improvement in disability could be achieved which was comparable to that of intravenously applied NADH.”

        In our studies we used NAD, which was the only form of this coenzyme available, in doses of one gram daily, but the Austrian group found NADH active at 5 to 10 mg daily.

        NAD and NADH are interconvertable in the body. This suggests that the active form is the reduced form, NADH, and that NAD is much less effective since it would first have to be reduced to NADH. The decreasing order of therapeutic efficacy would be NADH, NAD and finally vitamin B3. There would be no formation of NADH in the stomach from NAD, but there would be some made in the intestine.

        I hope these recent Birkmayer studies will reactivate interest in the therapeutic effect of this potent coenzyme made from vitamin B3. It is available from Menuco Corporation, 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 7509, New York, NY 10118.”

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  17. On the positive side, I printed out a summary of the Murphy Bill for my parents today. They were horrified when they read about the loss of liberty and other rights it would entail for people like me. My parents actually want me well. Not like some others.

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