Murphy Bill: Violates Civil Rights, Increases Government Intrusion and Control, and Ignores Scientific Research


From:  The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

To: News media and social media sites

RE:  Statement on HR 3717

Position:  Against

HR 3717, authored by Congressman Tim Murphy, has been introduced in response to mounting concerns about the treatment of persons with mental health challenges.   It is universally recognized that improvements are needed in the mental health system.  Unfortunately, HR 3717 will have serious unintended consequences.  It will reverse many key advances made in mental health care in the last 30 years and place federal and state governments at high risk for litigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision.   No other population needing care is subject to the civil rights violations that will be implemented by the provisions of this bill.  Furthermore, the criteria proposed for coercing people into treatment, especially mandated medication usage, will bring a new level of government intrusion and control.   Finally, HR 3717 completely ignores emerging scientific research regarding long-term outcomes and the negative impacts of forced treatment.

Increased discrimination and stigma will be the result of several of the bill’s provisions.  These are based on an erroneous belief that people with mental health challenges are more prone to violence than other populations. This mistaken proposition ignores a great body of evidence showing that they are more often victims of violence, not perpetrators.

  1. There are a number of other major problems with this proposed legislation: It eliminates many initiatives that are already shown to promote recovery from mental health problems through the use of evidence-based, voluntary, peer-run programs and family services and supports.¬†¬† Dr. Daniel Fisher, PhD, MD states: ‚ÄúThese services have a proven track record in helping people stay out of the hospital and live successfully in the community.¬† Because hospitalization is far more expensive and has far worse outcomes than these effective and cost-efficient, community-based services, this bill would cost more money for worse outcomes.‚ÄĚ
  2. The bill’s attack on the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration seems ill-advised given that SAMHSA is the lone federal agency offering a voice of hope with its focus on recovery principles.  This policy direction is supported by an increasing and impressive body of carefully designed research showing that long-term outcomes are far better than has been assumed by the mainline mental health world.  Recent studies supported by the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care and other funders are showing definitively that hope is a reasonable expectation for most people with major mental health challenges, in particular people diagnosed with schizophrenia.   These studies (Harrow, Wunderink, Harding, et al) can be provided at the request of any legislator or committee.
  3. There is no evidence that creating yet another federal bureaucracy with yet another Assistant Secretary and Department will reduce costs to either state or federal governments.  The best way to reduce costs and disability is to promote recovery and wellness, those priorities for which SAMHSA is already providing leadership and inspiring hope.
  4. As noted above, key provisions of this proposed legislation violate Olmstead V. L.C. (1999) which requires treatment services to be delivered in a least restrictive environment.   Many states are already dealing with costly challenges to their current systems of care and this will add to the burden of both state and federal governments.   The US Supreme Court has clearly laid the legal foundation to move away from institutional and coercive care.
  5. It is clear from research and much field experience showing that when people know or believe they are going to be placed on a list and be forced into treatment, they will become even more resistant and try to avoid services as much as possible.  These coercive provisions will backfire and result in the exact opposite of the intentions of the bill.
  6. Finally, this bill would eviscerate the rights and privacy protections enshrined in the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System, which is the largest provider of legal advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.  At a time when people with mental health challenges are most likely to be misunderstood so that their American civil rights are violated, HB 3717 puts not only federal and state governments in even more litigious positions but threatens the hope and well-being of people and families struggling to regain their lives.

A much more robust federal policy foundation, than is provided for in HB 3717, should be based on recovery, wellness and effectiveness.¬† Increased resources for now well-researched early psychosis intervention programs, evidenced based prevention services, community and peer supports would dramatically increase the availability of cost-effective community-based services‚ÄĒall of which offer hope rather than misplaced fear.¬† HB 3717 moves the United States in exactly the wrong direction.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion‚ÄĒbroadly speaking‚ÄĒof psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. “HB 3717 moves the United States in exactly the wrong direction.”

    You want hope? Realize that all of this is the result of ONE GUY (Fuller Torrey) and a couple of his goons (DJ Jaffe, Tim Murphy)

    If ONE GUY can decide that people should be forced to take drugs, and then pass dozens of state laws over a period of 15 years, then land a victory in federal law… maybe it’s because everyone on this side of the fence is to busy wasting their time protesting?

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    • Well, no. They had a lot of help from the families taking care of the people that you think either don’t need that much help, have been left behind by their supposed “peers’, are incarcerated, homeless or dead. You know, the folks who aren’t well enough to be protesting or posting on Mad in America, the forgotten people that society and you folks would prefer to discard. Sad.

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      • Kate,

        When you have posted previously, people have tried to engage in a respectful dialogue with you and all you have done is blow them off. I am not sure why you continue to post here if you have no interest in dialoging and just want to continue to bad mouth folks posting here.

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    • I would say treatment today initiates a chain reaction of both medium-term worsening of symptoms and longer term difficulties–plus, what is important for the psychiatric and drug industry, the enrolling of another lifetime customer. This is not only how medicine and psychiatry work, it’s how the whole US economy is motivated–profits over people and to hell with health (pun not intended).

      Drugs cause many of the symptoms people accumulate and that then “require ongoing treatment” thus creating a never-ending cycle of drugs, doctors, disease, dysfunction, disability, dollars and (early) death for lives that just can’t seem to get up to speed.

      The drug/psychiatric industry is a major scandal waiting to be exposed by willing reporters, writers, investigators, health care workers, personal advocates, policy makers, (even) lawyers, and of course affected people, families, and community advocates. A noble work needing more participants!

      If you want an example of what’s wrong with the whole ‘mental health’ picture, think of Prozac, which in original trials by Eli Lilly, showed an increase in suicidality by 6-12 times according to Breggin (investigator allowed privileged access to Lilly’s internal documents). Meanwhile Prozac is plugged as an antidepressant, the only one that was approved for use on depression by FDA, although Prozac was #3 drug associated with violence in America in a recent accounting of drug-associated incidents done of the relevant databases.

      There are positive, healthy, rational, largely effective, cheap, and safe alternatives, especially using food and nutrients to power up and support a person’s bio-individual system, but the problem with that (nutrition-based therapy) is that it works too well, so the health care authorities aren’t interested or deathly afraid of it, or “don’t believe it” (since drugs generally have such poor long-term outcomes) or are selfishly not interested in healthy approaches that outcompete theirs and would lose money and customers.

      S0 the “mental health authorities” configure the system so people can’t get the nutrient-based help they need. So what we’re left with is a not-so wonderful, cost-ineffective, unsafe, and unhealthy mess, which I call the sickness-creation and disease-management industry
      Alternatives are desperately needed-the current system is an ongoing allopathic nightmare.

      Yes, people need to be involved in advocating for better, healthier, more humane, group-oriented, and individual cost-effective possibilities for dealing with the troubling illnesses and life challenges we speak of. Get involved people, it’s empowering!

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  2. This one requires massive, organized resistance. If you’ve never contacted your legislator before, now is the time to start. And get all of your friends and relations to do so as well. This is very bad policy, developed by some very narrow-minded people and supported by some evilly-motivated and greedy folks who stand to make big bucks off of more enforced treatment.

    One argument to put forth in speaking with legislators is that the vast majority of those who committed these acts of extreme violent had recently received or were still receiving “treatment” for “mental health issues” at the time of their attacks. in Lanza’s case in particular, the medical records are suspiciously being suppressed for the last 5 years, most likely because he was in “treatment” at the time of the event. How would it change the outcomes of these situations to enforce “treatment” that had already failed them?

    Let’s get active on this one!

    —- Steve

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      • Last year in Canada he helped a teenager escape a murder charge. Over the years as a consultant for the plaintiff he has made many discoveries he can not talk about in public. Hidden drug company files. He says the drugs should never be used. I agree.

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          • Of course I do not know the answer. In the journal he started he does make indirect use of what he knows. And I am sure it is in part why he says that the drugs should never be used. Can anyone do anything anymore anonymously? NSA? The drug companies have billions to spend on defense. Maybe they would just hire someone to eliminate him on the chance that he was the source.
            But we shouldn’t need anymore evidence on the extreme danger these drugs pose. The very premise they are based on is false. The way a person feels is directly tied to their past. Investigate the source and resolve the issue. Bringing in genetics confuses the matter. We are not potentially broken or faulty machines like the GM vehicles. This model tosses people into despair. If I am a faulty machine then it is hopeless. But this model sells drugs that are supposed to fix and adjust the machine. Drugs companies love this machine model and purchase professors of medicine to promote it. Thus people are robbed of their humanity and the world begins to resemble a hell.

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  3. We could as a society simply make mental illness itself a crime. Then probation would be one’s lifetime on one or more drugs. This may sound a little Stalinesque and actually is; but the temper of the government seems headed in that direction. Just how stupid are people these days? Well, fluoridated water helps drop the IQ some according to Harvard. I am sure the many other food and water additives are helpful in this way too. We might in passing conclude that even when it was the American dream it was actually a bad one. We need to wake up now.

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    • There is a sense in which we have already made sanity a crime. Early on in childhood most children are discouraged from speaking the truth. Their parents train them to repress. As adults then it comes second naturally. Should someone escape this prison there are spotted and condemned. Lie detectors could be used to spot these truthers. They could be put in a camp.

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  4. Hi Gina,

    Great article!

    I agree that people will turn away from forced and coercive services. We need to feel safe and understood to connect with others. We also need hope and a sense that we can get what we need.

    So many difficulties arise in life, especially when our parents, schools and communities have their own problems and don’t understand our perspective. Connection, unconditional positive regard, trauma informed services and safety must replace coercive, medical model and forced services if we hope to help others heal.

    Thanks for the article.


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  5. What about psychiatric living wills , can they help people who may become victims of this Murphy Bill ?

    Declaration of Intention

    I, ______________________________ , born on_____________________
    in ______________________________ , address ____________________

    being of sound mind, willfully and voluntarily make known my desire that should it be so considered or decided that I be subject to involuntary incarceration or hospitalization (also known as committal and certification) in a psychiatric hospital, ward, facility, home or nursing home, and/or that I be subject to psychiatric procedures including, but not limited to any form of psychosurgical neurological operation such as lobotomy or leucotomy, electro-convulsive treatment (also known as electroshock or shock treatment and ECT), psychotropic drugs (including benzodiazepines, major tranquilizers, antidepressants, barbiturates or neuroleptics generally); deep sleep treatment (narcosis, narcosynthesis, sleep therapy, prolonged narcosis, modified narcosis or neuroleptization), sterilization, insulin shock or any other physically based psychiatric or psychological treatment or practice, I direct that such incarceration, hospitalization, treatment or procedures not be imposed, committed or used on me.

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  6. “”It is not ‘freedom’ to be wandering the streets, severely mentally ill, deteriorating and getting warmth from a steam grate or food from a garbage can; that‚Äôs abandonment. And it is not ‘liberty’ to be in a padded jail cell instead of a hospital, hallucinating and delusional, without treatment because that is all the law will allow.”

    Dr Darold Treffert 1995 Wisconsin Act 292: finally, the fifth standard. Wis Med J. 1996;95:537-540.

    Those who turn away from forced treatments have no choice when the law comes into the case. They will be locked away. Treatment will certainly not commence with a string of kindly receptive ears seeking them out. Drugs will not be administered unless to freeze them. And they will be left tothe predations of other perversely sick inmates. Thats so much better, is it not? thats dignity and respect for life liberty and persuit of a happy life!

    Those who refuse force includes those who refuse unforced. So in you view, they are not worth your time. Thanks for being clear. None but the bowing to your positions, who act courteously and play by the rules like everyone else will be tolerated. Sorry…I have heard the tale too often to swallow!

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  7. Given Murphy’s rhetoric and your description of the bill, he may likely be in violation of a number of ethical principles for psychologists. An APA member or a licensed psychologist in Murphy’s state might consider filing ethics charges with the State and APA if Murphy is a member.

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