For years, MindFreedom has been working to create more choice for persons who want help with emotional distress, life crises, overwhelm, spiritual emergencies, extreme states and difficult dilemmas. When co-founder David Oaks was asked if MindFreedom approved of the use of psychotropic drugs, his stock answer was something like: “We are all about choice and information. If people have good information and choose to use drugs, we are supportive. But forced treatment of all kinds is a violation of human rights. And we are opposed to the hegemony and bullying of mainstream psychiatry and it’s drug-based approach which squeezes out more safe, humane and life-enhancing approaches.”
In the interest of increasing the availability of “alternative” approaches, MindFreedom held a conference in July, 2007 at Wisdom House. Since then, we’ve made some progress. There are Soteria Alaska and Soteria Vermont, a number of peer-run crisis respite programs, demonstrations of the Open Dialogue approach, new Hearing Voices support groups and programs to help people withdraw from psychiatric drugs.
But we’ve got a long way to go. The standard of care is still inhumane and harmful. So MindFreedom has started a website dedicated to Creative Maladjustment week (July 7-14), dedicated to “Recognizing, honoring, and celebrating the creatively maladjusted worldwide,” and includes an updated manual for 2014.
And MindFreedom is again holding a conference to develop and expand alternative approaches. It is scheduled for July 24-27 at Wisdom House in Litchfield, CT.
The goal of the conference is to bring together people who are operating the alternatives listed in the paragraph above with people who want to create such alternatives or are interested in learning more about them.
The plan is to have people spend eight hours over a two-day period in wrestling with the following questions:
- What are the nuts and bolts, the ground game of operating these alternatives?
- What are the key ingredients to make them work?
- What do we have to do to bring them into the mainstream?
- How can we get them funded by the payers?
Our purpose is to have participants leave with a commitment to expanding the availability of these alternatives. One of the challenges here is that none of these alternative approaches is very medical or scientifically sophisticated. Rather, they involve being with people who are going through hard times, affirming them in their process, encouraging them to take their own good time to complete their experiences, helping them to become more comfortable with what is going on and to see it as a move towards healing, no matter how scary, painful and challenging.
One way of describing the conference is a gathering of folks who want to fight the system, not by talking, writing and broadcasting, but by demonstrating what works to help people invoke their self-healing resources and get access to the “quiet miracles hidden in plain sight” as Kermit Cole puts it.
There will be presentations by Bob Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America and Mary Ellen Copeland, creator and promoter of the WRAP program along with some other provocative talks. In talking about the conference, Copeland said:
“People run into trouble. They’ve suffered from trauma and extreme anxiety. They are experiencing normal, everyday problems of life. But when strange or scary things begin to happen, they get labeled with this “thing” that nobody knows what it is and it becomes justification for treatment which hurts them and takes away their lives. There are many simple, safe things that people can do which will help them and not hurt them. It’s a horrible situation.”
If you want to be part of this gathering, we’d love to welcome you to it. You can register by going to www.mindfreedom.org and clicking on the conference link at the top of the home page. If you have questions you can contact any of the members of the MindFreedom Choices in Mental Health Committee.
Janet Foner, Chair, [email protected]
Celia Brown, [email protected]
Florence Brown, [email protected]
Al Galves, [email protected], 575-522-8371
Matthew Morrissey, [email protected], 415-722-6317
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.