My Top 11 Ways to Reunite for a Mental Health Revolution!


My very good friend Marcia Meyers of Portland, Oregon is one of the most powerful leaders I have seen in my nearly 40 years of activism in the little-known movement for deep change in the mental health industry. She joined my amazing wife Debra, some friends and me for a backyard party at our Eugene home this summer and brought to my attention an issue that deserves a larger audience. Marcia’s story riveted me because it involves activism, madness, psychiatric torture of her beloved daughter, Unitarianism, secret poisoned-pen letters, Scientology and global warming!

So while I have been blogging for a few years, please understand that this post is the longest one yet. The major web site Mad in America, which is now like the Huffington Post of over-throwing psychiatry and, inspired by the books of journalist Bob Whitaker, is picking up my blog for re-distribution. My primary concern here is with honoring the incredible work of Marcia and her group Rethinking Psychiatry. Marcia can teach our whole social change movement an important lesson about unity that can help all people as we struggle against environmental catastrophe, which I call “Normalgeddon.”

I include my top 11 ways that our Mad Movement can reunite, none of which involved any religion.

Thank you Marcia Meyers!

Marcia Meyers, mother of a psychiatric survivor and activist with the Unitarian Universalist church in Portland, Oregon.

Marcia is a 68-year-old, effusive retired teacher, who in her own words, “Identifies, in this order, as a grandmother, a teacher and an activist.” She dedicated 33 years to teaching in the public school system, during which she was active in the teacher’s union, both locally and nationally. Marcia describes this work as foundational to the activism that would follow. As she puts it, “From my many years of teaching and my years of union work I honed my skills as an organizer and activist.”

Marcia retired in 1999 and attended the World Trade Organization protest, the huge Battle in Seattle, later that year. This event was particularly transformative. She told me, “The new and privileged freedom of retirement along with this historic event catapulted me into local and national economic justice activist work.” It was in the wake of the Battle in Seattle that Marcia began her work with the Economic Justice Action Group of the First Unitarian Church of Portland. This branch of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) church is one of the largest congregations ever, and for five years, has provided a safe, supportive home and platform for Marcia to fight corporate personhood.

The trajectory of Marcia’s work was changed once more about four years ago, when her youngest daughter was suddenly and inexplicably brutalized by the police and criminal justice system, and incarcerated in an Oregon state mental institution. Marcia refers to the trauma that her daughter was subjected to as “needle-rape.” Her daughter, a 28-year old vegan who believes in natural medicine and does not drink, smoke or voluntarily use drugs, was held down and forcibly injected by psychiatric workers. The Oregon psychiatric system locked up and involuntarily medicated this precious family member for an entire year. From April 2010 to April 2011, Marcia’s daughter continuously resisted as Zyprexa, Haldol, Abilify, Risperdal and Ambien were forced into her body.  Without warning, she was suddenly released. Of her daughter, Marcia says, “She remains very sensitive, caring and creative as well as more challenged than ever by the contradictions of this reality and in trusting others.”

It is safe to say that the Oregon mental health juggernaut abused the wrong family. As a direct response to this atrocity on her loved one, in 2010 Marcia helped start a new group called Rethinking Psychiatry within the Economic Justice Action Group at her UU church. Rethinking Psychiatry has since done some astounding activism.

Rethinking Psychiatry was launched by enthusiastic readers of journalist Robert Whitaker, such as his influential books Mad In America and Anatomy of an Epidemic. Whitaker’s work helped Marcia see that her family’s experience was part of the larger problem of a mental health that’s good for profit and not good for people. Marcia told me about Bob’s books, “The destructive reality that my daughter and I were caught in was totally validated.” Whitaker spoke at one of their earliest events, which I drove two hours from my hometown in Eugene to attend. The conference featured dozens of options for people in the mental health system, from workshops on diet to gatherings of more than one hundred people for open and respectful discussions of the diversity of views. I have gone to hundreds of conferences in mental health, but those events were mainly funded by the mental health system itself. Rethinking Psychiatry held its events in a church, just like many independent grassroots movements for the environment and other change.

In part because of Marcia’s living example of love in activism, my wife Debra and I officially joined the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene earlier this year. In July of this year, at our backyard party, I told Marcia that I would like to blog about my great hopes that our UU activists will help the Mad Movement. That is when Marcia told me the bad news that recently the person in her church in charge of social change activities came to Marcia with arms folded and apparently criticized Rethinking Psychiatry, as she had for years. Marcia was informed that her economic justice committee must stop doing any more work on mental health, and their Rethinking Psychiatry project must be removed from the UU Portland, Oregon church.

Marcia’s group was not kicked out of the church because of their ineffectiveness. Ironically, her grassroots effort broke out of our usual ghetto and reached the general public. Marcia has told me that she is very pleased with her years of work. She said, “I am extremely proud of what Rethinking Psychiatry accomplished in less than four years: three very successful two day symposiums, three successful film festivals, a vibrant and informative website and monthly meetings with guest speakers, including peer advocacy groups to progressive psychiatrists, sharing their experiences and tools for working toward mental and emotional wellness.” Marcia vows to continue Rethinking Psychiatry with or without UU.

I was shocked that the church would no longer provide a home for her project. I was also worried about the way my friend Marcia seemed to feel about the interaction with her church. Marcia is such a warm, bubbly, energetic, loving person and she deserves to be well treated. Over the next few days, I read accounts of these events via Mad in America where many leaders, including many of my friends, have blogs about the Mad Movement.

I asked the First Unitarian Church in Portland about their decision to remove Rethinking Psychiatry. Their Social Justice Minister, Rev. Kate Lore, responded, “Please rest assured that First Unitarian Church put a lot of thought into this decision. It took place after four years of deliberation. In the end it came down to the fact that our own Mental Health Action Group was opposed to some of the messages being conveyed via Rethinking Psychiatry.” Here is my total guesswork about what happened, because I have not heard back from Rev. Lore in answer to my follow-up questions: some larger churches with a mental health group have some family members involved who are also part of a group that might get drug company money. While these family members may mean well, moms of psychiatric survivors such as Marcia do not get the same corporate resources. Of course, as I say that is only my speculation, based on what I have seen in several other churches. I do know that Marcia had to do her work within her economic committee, because the mental health committee in her church opposed her activism, for some unknown reason.

There is another wrinkle in this story. It turns out, that for a few years a small, local mental health group, Mental Health Association of Portland (MHAP), had been complaining privately to this church about Rethinking Psychiatry. The secretary from MHAP claims he is a personal friend with ministers at this church, and he wrote that he had been complaining about Rethinking Psychiatry as early as two years ago. I am familiar with MHAP, which has a kind of confusing name because there used to be a large national group called Mental Health Association, but they became Mental Health America. In my many years in Oregon, it seemed that MHAP remained very tiny. Tiny is okay, but in a few short years Rethinking Psychiatry involved many more Oregonians than I ever saw get activated by MHAP.

So what was the complaint by MHAP about Rethinking Psychiatry?

Unfortunately, the website Mad In America ran one extremist opinion piece by MHAP falsely claiming that Rethinking Psychiatry was, in MHAP’s words, supposedly “always promoting” Scientology because Marcia’s project was allegedly “infiltrated” and served as a “front group” for Scientology, and their advocacy group Citizens Commission for Human Rights (CCHR).

The wording of MHAP’s opinion piece was particularly harsh, distorted, and untrue. Mad In America wanted a “fair” discussion of these issues, but MHAP’s statement violated any guidelines for fair journalism. For example, their public statement about Rethinking Psychiatry referred to “danger” twice, “fraud” twice, and claimed Marcia’s group was controlled by a cult. Oddly, the public statement by MHAP claimed they had “no income.”  But a quick search of the Internet showed that MHAP legally declared that in 2012 they received $6,398.00 in revenue. I have written to the group’s board and advisors three times in the past three weeks, but no one will reply to me. You may ask, peacefully, these folks yourselves by searching on the web this phrase: Mental Health Association of Portland board of directors and advisory council.

I personally attended Rethinking Psychiatry events, and I have followed their work for years. I know many of MHAP’s claims, which they said they sent to Marcia’s church in writing, apparently secretly for years, are false. Here is the truth: Marcia’s project included anyone who seemed to be good on our issues, and one (1) of these individuals is a member of CCHR and a Scientologist. This is one person, who is a mild-mannered friendly activist who I have found knows the most about bad bills in our state legislature. Everyone I heard from who has ever attended Rethinking Psychiatry events, except MHAP, thinks they are a great group who includes several moms of psychiatric survivors, with room for many perspectives, and totally independent which has included hundreds of diverse people.

Yes, I realize that Mad in America is mainly a great outlet for our movement’s media, which is very different than being a political coalition. But I have heard that MIA does not want to be “tainted” by Scientology or CCHR, even by association. However, seldom are things so simple. For instance, is there some kind of loyalty oath? Should each blogger here on MIA, swear that we have never been members of CCHR? Because of political activism, I am a current member of an organization mainly of family members, NAMI, that has gotten a lot of drug company money. I joined NAMI in order to help me protest that group, along with my many friends who are trying to reform that drug company front group from within. Why isn’t there a loyalty oath about never being members of NAMI? For the record, I have never joined CCHR. To read more about NAMI, search the web for this historic moment: US Senator Grassley investigates NAMI and finds out that a majority of their donations were from the pharmaceutical industry.

The New Gray-Matter Scare

The unreasonable hatred and fear of anything even remotely touched by Scientology reminds me of the old Red Scare, when any labor organizing was suspected of being Communist. My family was hurt by the Red Scare. My uncle lost his job back in the 1950′s because he played a musical instrument in a band that played at a party of some Communists. My grandmother and mother once marched together in a Communist parade against hunger in 1929 and even held up one of the main banners as the march entered downtown Chicago. That Red Scare witch hunt frightened my family members even decades later.

I call this new witch hunt that has bothered my friend Marcia “the Gray-Matter Scare.” When I directed MindFreedom International (MFI) for 25 years before my bad accident, I had a very simple approach about Scientology and their group CCHR. Maybe I was too simplistic. I made sure that we were independent, in the sense that our management, such as our board of directors, did not include anyone from Scientology. I was very proud that we had the same independence policy as Amnesty International, we had no funding or control from religions, governments, or corporations. Most groups that work on disability issues, because our people are so poor, get funding from taxpayers, which means the mental health system.

The big elephant in the room for most disability, including mental health, advocacy groups have a constituency that is so low income that most of the movement activity must be funded by the system itself. Could you see Cesar Chavez, the Chicano labor organizer, being funded by the system itself? That would have put a crimp in his famous grape boycott, wouldn’t it?

Despite MFI’s independence, a few opponents continued to try and attack any critic of the mental health system by claiming they are under the spell of Scientology. These bizarre claims about MFI ceased after our attorney wrote a letter that we posted on our website, to clear up any confusion and to establish our independence. While our attorney did not mention defamation in the letter, my intuition was that the warning that we might go to court silenced false claims that tried to harm us. Unless there has been a big change since my retirement last year, MFI continues to be one of the independent groups. I support them and hope everyone joins and donates to MFI.

It may be time for our social change movement to be a bit more open and interactive with CCHR. Yes, we need to be independent. But if we refuse to even talk to someone from CCHR (not all of whom are Scientologists), why is it that people in our movement talk to shock doctors, drug company representatives, government officials who run the mental health system, etc.?  If we are willing to talk with psychiatrists, why can’t we talk with everyone else, including Scientologists?

Let me tell you the day I vowed to speak out against bigotry involving CCHR: When Tipper Gore was in the White House as the wife of the then-Vice President, she sponsored a big public rally to promote the mental health system. I helped organize a counter-protest, and a few dozen of us psychiatric survivors and allies showed up with our signs and big prop hypodermic needles to say “no” to Tipper’s push for more involuntary psychiatric drugs. I will always remember that at the end of our little ragtag protest, we looked up the street, and separately from us there must have been thousands of people from CCHR with matching t-shirts all marching the width of the street, singing, “Go tell it on the mountain, psychiatry kills!” Obviously all psychiatrists do not kill, but as a long-time activist I can tell you that the organizations representing all of psychiatry, on the national and international levels, have been almost totally closed to dialogue about abuse within their ranks, despite many years of sincere outreach by many of us. Yes, psychiatry does kill, thank you CCHR for singing the truth!

As I watched thousands of CCHR members march and sing, I vowed that I would not buy into prejudice about their members, many of whom, but not all, are Scientologists. Do not get me wrong, I will not join that religion, I read one of the main books analyzing Scientology (Inside Scientology, by professional journalist Janet Reitman, 464 pages), and it’s not my cup of tea. As I say elsewhere, I am a Unitarian Universalist. But I was moved to tears by thousands of CCHR members singing for our brothers and sisters who have been killed by the mental health system. That day, at Liberty Plaza in Washington DC, I wondered to myself, “Where are the other religions on our issue?”

We psychiatric survivors and our organizations are often shunned and ignored by mental health groups. Search the web for this phrase: Free chapter by David W Oaks about the moral imperative of dialogue with psychiatric survivor organizations. If we complain about being shunned, then why would we shun others?

Years later, in 2009, I discovered where several Lutherans were on our issue. Please do not misunderstand me, I am sure there are many Lutherans who do good work in our field. However, Ray Sandford of Minnesota was getting court-ordered involuntary electroshocks even though he lived in the community and was not institutionalized. MindFreedom showed that there was a judge’s order that every Wednesday morning Ray was brought against his will from his group home to get another forced electroshock. After Ray phoned our MindFreedom office, we swung into action and even visited Minnesota to protest. The forced electroshock continued, so we researched who was behind it. We found out that dozens of agencies received taxpayer money, and should have been protecting Ray. One of these was a local social service agency run by Lutherans. Specifically, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSSMN) should have been protecting Ray, but instead they allowed Ray to be forcibly electroshocked.

We discovered that there are hundreds of regional social service agencies that often use the name of religions in their title, and even share their governance with their faith-based local group. I phoned up the headquarters for this church, which is one of the largest Lutheran congregations in the world, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) based in Chicago. I had many talks with that office, and their position was, and as far as I know still is, that they are hands-off these hundreds of local agencies. They opt to let their agencies do as they will, often getting thousands and millions of taxpayer dollars. It is my hope that someday soon there will be a human service scandal with ELCA and many religions that allow this incredible abuse to persist. Of course the Catholic Church has experienced controversies about child abuse, but in the future several religions will have a similar uproar about social service abuse!

Today, we need to fight for the human rights for the people with psychiatric labels as never before! There is a bill in the US Congress, H.R. 3717 by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), that is getting more and more sponsors, that is absolutely horrible, and would give $16 million for more forced drugging court orders of Americans living in their own homes. Yes, more Americans could also be court ordered under this bill to be brought from their homes for forced electroshock. Ray Sandford is not the only American to be force shocked while living at home. Search the web: Elizabeth Ellis receives court-ordered involuntary electroshock on an outpatient basis while living at home. Ask Rep. Murphy how he, a psychologist who supposedly opposes big government, would allow this? How many more thousands or millions of Americans living peacefully out in our communities would be forcibly drugged under his bill?

There should be a huge, united response to oppression like Rep. Murphy’s bill. In my opinion, because the system itself funds much of our movement, there is an insufficient uprising so far. Instead of uniting, apparently we are interested in a tussle over religion. I understand that these are complex issues. After my neck was broken I spent months in our local hospital run by Catholics and they cared deeply. However, this same hospital, Sacred Heart/PeaceHealth, gives electroshock, and I have protested there many times for more than 25 years and shown that their informed consent process is very flawed.

As far as I know, no Scientologist is electroshocking us. Yes, they are flawed. I was raised Catholic, I went to a Jesuit high school, and I know that church is flawed too. I am not asking you to join anything, just to not buy into bigotry. It seems that when Scientology is mentioned many people almost go into a robotic state, sometimes called normalism, similar to when I was forcibly drugged, and glazed-eye mental health workers marched me into solitary confinement and held me on a bare mattress for a forced injection.

My Personal Story as a Heretic

All of my grandparents came from Lithuania, and I have discovered that Lithuania was the last country converted from Paganism in Europe. My grandfather was a big admirer of Giordano Bruno, the last heretic burnt at the stake by the Vatican. I am still a Pagan. Before my fall, my main form of spirituality was to camp out in Oregon’s beautiful wilderness and fast for a few days, as I contemplated for better or for worse. You may see the results of one of these vision quests, by searching within YouTube for: David Oaks at Neptune Beach.

The UU church is famous for welcoming heretics, Atheists, and other religions. So why are some people concerned with one mild-mannered Scientologist being involved in Marcia’s group? Why is Marcia’s social justice minister telling her economic justice group that they can work on every issue except mental health corporations? Next year, 2015, will be a great year to ask, because UU’s main national gathering, called the General Assembly, will be in Portland, Oregon.

Marcia Meyers can teach us in the Mad Movement something very important. For years I have noticed that Marcia lives by an important principle for Unitarian Universalism, which is how UU’s are supposed to self-organize their faith. The first of the seven UU principles is brief and powerful:

1st Principle: The Inherent Worth and Dignity of Every Person.

Marcia embodies the principle of respecting the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and it informs all of her work. It doesn’t surprise me that Marcia thought of her meeting space as a sacred chalice in her church where she welcomed every human being, regardless of their religious affiliations. Yes, she welcomed a person from another faith, a person who is a Scientologist. That Scientologist is a human being, too. Of course, the UU board of directors ran that church, and Marcia’s committee was informal. MHAP did not ever call Marcia herself a Scientologist, of course, because she is a UU!

Marcia says, “All folks in this movement should finally wake up, quit being afraid. Know that we have the power of integrity on our side and let their susceptibility to these playground bully scapegoating, manipulation, Red Scare tactics go! Amen!”

All this chatter about Scientology and CCHR is a distraction from unifying for human rights in the mental health system and a nonviolent global revolution. The main split that I see in our movement is between those who want mild reform and those who want a peaceful revolution in the mental health industry. Reform alone is our opponent. For centuries the mental health system has been saying that it is broken, and with a few million more dollars and more power they can fix themselves. The mental health industry eats reform for breakfast, and keeps growing. We need a revolution, but all too often those who seek only reform stand in the way of the necessary change called for by us so-called “radicals.” Some people seem unclear about the main strategy, which should be inside/outside, that is uniting inside reform with outside activism. In fact, sometimes it feels like the inside forgets that there is an outside!

Let me give my top 11 quick examples of how we can unite for a revolution, that have nothing to do with religion:

  1. Nonprofits funded by the mental health system:I have a good friend who runs a large nonprofit that is fueled by federal grants from the mental health industry. They do some good work and I have always supported them, but because of their funding they can not do activism. For my 25 years running MindFreedom we wove together a coalition of about 100 sponsors and affiliates, but never my friend’s group. When employees asked him to become a MindFreedom sponsor, he would always say, “We are a secret sponsor!” But when funding for his project was in danger, they wanted us to support his group publically.
  2. Journalists and the media:I have helped organize many protests of psychiatry. Several times, I have been privately disappointed when some journalist friends said they could not cover my protest because opponents would claim that they are biased. Avoiding my protests never seemed to stop these opponents from attacking my journalist friends anyway. Today, in the digital era, we are all in the media. Yet weeks after one of our groups holds a great event or protest, I sometimes fail to see any photo or mention on their home website. How can we complain about corporate media, when we sometimes don’t cover ourselves?
  3. Foundations avoid protest:There are some well-off supporters of our movement. But too often I have seen some of their foundations giving money only to academic research, surveys, studies, etc., anything but protests! Yet, often it is activism and protest that are most needed by Marginalized And Disempowered (M.A.D.) people like those in mental health care.
  4. Funding travel instead of change:The mental health system, United Nations, World Health Organization, and the disability movement hold events all over the world. These conferences need representatives from mental health consumers to be considered “valid.” I have gone to many of these events myself, and they are often in fun cities in Europe or South America, with interesting people. The system pays for this travel and hotels, but there is a price. I have never seen these events focused on activism, protest or ferment. Several times investigative groups sent me to countries that have very low income mental health systems. These groups funded visits to institutions, lawyers, studies, reports, etc., everything except protest! Are you seeing a pattern here?
  5. Reform inhibits the efficacy of our gatherings:For several decades, the US federal government has funded an annual event that is very nice, the Alternatives Conference, bringing together up to 1,000 psychiatrically-labeled people from all over the USA to work together for a few days. I have been lucky enough to go to about ten of these, and their grassroots folks are so warm and caring for each other that I always have a good time. However, because the money is from the feds, funders prohibit any outright activism and organizing in the conference itself. If you want to hold an organizing event such as a protest, you have to go across the street.

    In 2012, just before I had my accident where I broke my neck, I helped organize a protest across the street from this conference in Portland to speak out against electroshock. The conference organizers were my friends, but they experienced a lot of pressure because of our protest. Conference organizers visited me before the protest about six times, prohibited us from announcing the protest, and even worked with the hotel lawyers so that we would sign a disclaimer that we would be peaceful! During our protest, I realized that activism itself has always played a most important role for me as an alternative for mental wellness. Yet, activism is the only alternative banned at the Alternatives Conference! Please search YouTube for: MindFreedom ECT protest 2012.

    A few years ago, two speakers were almost excluded because they were considered too “radical,” but hundreds of us spoke up and got them included. Ironically, one of those speakers who we rallied for is on the board of MHAP.

  6. Mental health professionals avoid dialogue with us:In May 2012, in Philadelphia, I helped organize a protest of the American Psychiatric Association. Just before our street march, we held many speeches that the group PsychRights has put up on their website. But when we called for a representative of a group of psychologists to speak out about psychiatric labeling, there was an unexpected no-show. I found out later from two sources that the psychiatrist Dr. Allen Frances, an earlier architect of psychiatric labels who now sees himself as a reformer, had asked people not to attend our protest. Dr. Frances and I were both featured on a BBC report about our protest that day.  My sources told me that Dr. Frances feels there is no reason to work with us. He thinks we are “anti-psychiatry,” even though I never use that term. Dr. Frances thinks there is no space for dialogue with us radicals, so he discourages his colleagues from speaking up with us. You may see these speeches by searching within YouTube for this phrase: Occupy 2012 American Psychiatric Association Philadelphia.
  7. Political parties:It is true that as many people say, political groups seem more divided than ever. However, when our movement proves to the public that something as horrendous as forced electroshock, sometimes on an outpatient basis of Americans living in their own homes, is being funded by the taxpayers then I have seen almost everyone, except the American Psychiatric Association, be on our side. Some of the most effective activism I have seen about the problem of overuse of psychiatric drugs on children, is by people who consider themselves to be far right wing leaders. I have seen some people on the left do great work for homeless. The Libertarian party actually had a plank in their platform a few years ago against forced psychiatry. Years ago, the Greens had a platform plank for changing mental health. We can unite all these parties!
  8. The physical disability movement:My own small UU church in Eugene does not have a formal mental health committee, thank goodness, or else some parents who are misinformed by drug company front groups might have a formal foothold by now. Instead, the home in my church for my mental health activism is the committee that works on all disability. There is great diversity among disability leaders, but by and large the disability movement understands the need for empowerment and the problem of overmedicalization. I am on the board of one of the best groups in disability, the US International Council on Disabilities. Our current goal is to pass a global treaty in the US Senate on disability rights.

    Let me tell you about an experience that I seldom discuss with people. In December 2012, when I broke my neck on a ladder, I had to lie in my writer’s studio for a while waiting for help. I felt the paralysis start with my feet and go up my legs. Drawing upon our movement’s work and values, I had to dig deep to find some solace. One of my ways to feel okay was this: for decades before my fall I had to raise probably more than about 1.5 million dollars the old-fashioned way, such as direct mail, major donors, book sales, etc., mainly to make payroll for our employees. That has been a lot of pressure! But with my fall, of course that pressure ended, and I have to rely on taxpayer money for my independence. So as I laid on the ground, I was transitioning from the independent movement to taxpayer support. Believe me, as someone now called a quad in a powerchair, I see the value of independent funding and I see the necessity of taxpayer money, because my own life is helped by both. Let us unite reform and revolution!

    I am now someone who is called a quad, that is all four of my limbs are impaired. Also, my voice, my neck, and my fingers are all impaired. Marcia’s principle of the worth and dignity of all sure became real to me!

  9. Family members of people hurt by the mental health system:One of our top volunteers at MindFreedom, has been my own mother. During her 90’s she came to our office two or three times a week to help out. The enthusiasm of family members to help those of us who have been hurt by psychiatry is immense. So it is very sad that the drug company money has tended to be used by a portion of family members who support forced drugging and a strict medical model, via drug company front groups. Family members like Marcia and my mom deserve that resource. Family members who empathize with psychiatric survivors need to be deeply welcomed as allies and leaders in our movement.
  10. Government agencies should help psychiatric survivors:A few years ago, I was invited to be part of a summit by the US federal government about mental health. Many of us had seen government agencies play it safe before, so I am proud that almost all of us mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors created a resolution that warned about the undue influence of drug companies in mental health care. The leader of our panel was a federal official who now directs a large federal agency, and that day of our panel he was very nervous and he asked us to make sure that our statement left out his agency. But why?

    You may find the statement by searching for this phrase on the web: Undue influence of pharmaceutical industry in mental health opposed in 2010 Bastille Day statement at SAMHSA meeting. On April 1, 2014 of all days, the Wall Street Journal issued one of their Neanderthal editorials claiming that our movement ran federal mental health agencies. But we know who has power in these agencies, drug companies.

  11. We psychiatric survivors can learn from Marcia’s joy!Those of us profoundly hurt by the mental health system may have some anger. Many times I have told someone in some city about someone else near them who is also a psychiatric survivor, and the activist has said, “Oh, I know them but we disagree about x, y, z.” In fact one time recently the activist had not even met the other person yet and they claimed they disagreed! We do not need to all be friends. We do not need to all agree. But scowls, scolding and rage will tend to turn off other people. I know, I have experienced burnout too, and I apologize for any harm I may have caused. We can see Marcia’s resilient nature as a model.

Many people admire the late Justin Dart, a friend of mine who is considered the father of the Americans with Disabilities Act. One of the most common phrases from Justin, as any of you who knew him can attest, was about how much he loved everyone in this movement. Let us learn from Justin’s and Marcia’s activism from the heart. Let us find that infamous common ground, because we need that common ground to encompass the whole Earth!

The Mad Movement Can Help Save the Planet!

When I started in this work, the Mad Movement was always thought of as part of other movements, we were always one big movement. That is harder to see today, but it is still true. The Mad Movement can offer everyone, the 100 percent, insights about the power of peer support, especially when we all find out that we are always “mad” if that word has any meaning.

Since retiring, my main interest has been defending Planet Earth from the ravages of environmental destruction and global warming. What is the value of human rights in psychiatry if Earth is destroyed? The greenhouse effect is bad enough, but when complex systems are destabilized there is a risk of feedback effects that can lead to a kind of avalanche. Among my fellow quads, the physicist Stephen Hawking is considered one of the smartest people alive. Recently he warned, “I am afraid the atmosphere might get hotter and hotter until it will be like Venus with boiling sulfuric acid.” Global warming threatens to end human life as we know it. How about we at least look like we are in an emergency?

In a future blog, I will talk about a revolution throughout the sciences variously referred to as systems theory, complexity, chaos theory, butterfly effect, etc. Read Capra’s sweet little book, The Web of Life, to understand the basics. Marcia’s work reminds us of the inherent dignity and worth of everyone. For everyone to be equal leaders in MLK’s International Association for Advancement of Creative Maladjustment (IAACM), we must urgently organize based on these principles, as opposed to rigid hierarchy. Search facebook for: IAACM.

Are you a member of the UU church, or do you know a sympathetic person who is? Are you interested in these issues? Several of us who are members of UU churches have created a space in facebook for us to have this discussion. You do not have to be a UU to be in this group, just respect the worth and dignity of all. Look up this group within facebook: UU Mental Health Justice.

Lastly, I want to encourage everyone to extend some support to Marcia and Rethinking Psychiatry. Find out more about who Rethinking Psychiatry is and what they are really about, by searching for them on the web. Send them a letter of support, attend an event, and like their facebook page to keep getting updates on how they’re fighting for change in the mental health care system. Several groups owe Marcia and Rethinking Psychiatry an apology.

Thank you, Marcia! You and other Unitarian Universalist activists may not only aid our movement, but you may help us all stand up to confront Normalgeddon in a principled way, with dear friends and family. And PsychoQuad is here to say, “Lead On!”

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P.S. Today, the release date for this blog entry, 25 August 2014, is the birthday for my friend Tom Wittick, who appropriately enough was one of the co-founders for the first known psychiatric survivor group in the USA, based in Portland, Oregon, Insane Liberation Front! Thanks to Tom, and everybody who helped this movement!

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This article first appeared on  David Oaks’ website
PsychoQuad vs. Normalgeddon


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


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  1. Wow, David – what an epic post! As a core RTP member, I can only say thank you for so eloquently articulating the “gray-matter scare” and why it insidiously undermines our efforts to allow it any credence. I also appreciate your focus on what we CAN do to make things better, including PULLING TOGETHER, regardless of our diversity in religion, philosophy, or other matters. Psychiatry has managed to get where they are by agreeing on a message and sticking to it (regardless of the facts, in their case). We can do that, too, but we’ve got to stop picking at each other and undermining our own allies!

    Thanks for everything you do and have done for our movement!

    —- Steve

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  2. Hi David! So nice to see your post on MIA. I agree with you about CCHR and Scientologists. There’s something very reassuring about a group which is so dedicated to the destruction of psychiatry. I just hope they keep on pushing.

    Psychiatry is not about to reform itself. Neither are we dealing with a bunch of good guys here who “just don’t understand” about what needs to change.

    Mainstream churches, it seems, aren’t about to give up the fiction that psychiatrists somehow have a medical solution to something we call life. I’d like to see Unitarianism break out of the pack, but Marcia’s experience suggests that they are not about to do so as a group anytime soon. Who else is there really except MIA, Mindfreedom, and CCHR?

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    • “Neither are we dealing with a bunch of good guys here who “just don’t understand” about what needs to change.”
      No, they’re not. I have just recently spoken to the head of a hospital in which I was held and the conversation I’ve had with her was very indicative of the whole attitude. She basically treated me as a collateral damage, pushed a bunch of false statements (like that benzos don’t cause amnesia or are addictive) which she then had to correct when I adviced her to go and consult pubmed (turns out she knew that all along, just somehow misspoke initially) and then swiftly threatened me with suing me (LOL – I’d love to see that) for defamation if I continue with implying that she’s not professional and doesn’t know what the drugs she’s given me are doing. It didn’t look to me like a person who does not know what she’s doing – it was clearly a person who had knowledge enough to realise there are problems but why should she even bother to discuss it when she could lie in my face (too bad I happen to know how to read). The more I interact with the so-called professionals the more I doubt how many of them are in fact believing in their mission as opposed to people who are quite cynical about it.

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  3. Good to see you writing David! Two things:

    1) Totally agree with you about not falling for efforts to divide us with the Scientology smear; and

    2) I substantially disagree with the way you frequently use the word “revolution” in regards to our struggle. In a revolution power changes hands. A true “revolution” in “mental health” would involve the scuttling of the entire notion of “mental health”; it would not be simply a series of so-called reforms, by definition. Moreover in this period of history the only true revolution — meaning a fundamental and structural shift of power — is the struggle against capitalism itself, which is the current challenge of all oppressed peoples, both internationally and at home. The environmental holocaust you mention is because of capitalism, and the psychiatric gulag is in service of capitalism. While I often excoriate so-called progressives for ignoring psychiatric oppression in their programs, it is also our responsibility to join with larger struggles against racism, imperialism and capitalism. When we talk about revolution we have to say what we mean and mean what we say, not just expropriate the term for our own purposes. I’m interested in hearing your and others’ responses.

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    • Here in the UK I have the odd but rewarding experience of finding that the radicals, the anarchists and hard line anti-capitalists, are the groups that on the whole understand the Mad Liberation arguments. But then they are based on two premises: 1 Big Pharma are a bunch of profit driven liars who would sell their own mothers into slavery to make a buck
      2 Mental distress is mainly caused by the abuse of power.

      Where else would our natural allies be?

      Also, they have the tactics that are exciting and work. Decorating an ECT suite with Crime Scene tape would be easy, I just need a friend to do it with. Press release, get arrested, perhaps a criminal prosecution, use the defense of committing a crime to prevent a greater one being committed, present the scientific evidence. National and maybe international uproar. Bob’s your uncle.

      Radicals may not organize around Mad Liberation but I find they soak up the arguments when offered them and might circulate any propaganda or accept speakers at their conferences.

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      • Absolutely love it John.

        Crime scene tape around an ECT suite.

        I wonder if warning the power company that they are accessories to a crime might get them to shut off the ‘juice’?

        Oh, and how much are the Big Pharma execs asking for their mothers? I haven’t got a lot of money but am in the market for someone to do a spot of work.

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      • The UK is obviously more enlightened than leftists are here — though it hasn’t always been this way. The U.S. anti-psych movement disintegrated in the mid-80’s and with it the growing consciousness of psychiatric oppression by the left.

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        • It may be slowly coming back though – the extreme overdrugging of pretty much everyone is taking its toll and also the scapegoating of “lack of mental healthcare” on mass shootings is staring to fall apart (since most shooters were already long-term patients and it didn’t seem to help).
          I think the problem is that people are not aware of how oppressive and inefficient the current model is. We need another “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest”. We need whistleblowers – maybe there are brave, conscientious people working in the system who could tape the abuse? Hopefully that would not end up in their having to flee to Russia ;). We have to break the idea that most people have that this is about “helping people”. Seeing footage of abuse has a great power to move conscience – look at what’s happening across the US in response to videos of police brutality. We need that same thing for psych wards.

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    • You are so right! This is all about power, and creating a cover so that the consequences of the abuse of power by those in control of our society can conveniently be blamed on the victims’ brains. I’m glad that radicals in the UK can get their arms around that. We seem to have some real challenges with left-leaning folks in the US, who seem to take the “these poor people need mental health coverage” position, and don’t seem to look at what happens when people actually receive the “treatment” they’re so anxious to have paid for. I think David is right that we need to ally ourselves with other pro-social anti-corporate anti-oppression movements and create a unified human rights agenda that recognizes the role that psychiatry plays in dehumanizing and oppressing women, gays, racial minorities, disabled people, children, the elderly, the poor, and anyone else who is “deviant” enough that they can get their greedy hands on.

      —- Steve

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      • The Labour Party in the UK, which would be like the Democrats in the USA, don’t get it at all. And the Green Party had something on mental health at their conference a year or so ago that was painfully anti-stigma and early intervention with nothing critical in it. But your actual anarcho-eco activist gets it straight away.

        Power and Privilege work is very popular in that scene these days in connection with combating and being aware of racism and other systemic oppression. I keep bringing up mental distress and how the epidemiology shows it is those who are at the bottom of the pile who are most likely to be mental health patients who are showing the natural and understandable symptoms of suffering the abuse of power.

        Waging Nonviolence is a nice site with lots of news items of contempory political struggle. It would be nice to see an anti-psychiatry/survivor movement publish articles here:

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  4. David,

    Great blog post. And, great timing for me, personally, as my dad is recently accusing me of having a “relationship with Scientology.”

    That “relationship with Scientology” phrase marks such an outrageousstatement, on my dad’s part, it leaves me shaking my head and wishing to jump up and down, with a sign, explaining, to all the world, this one plain fact, that: I have no relationship whatsoever with Scientology – absolutely none whatsoever. Zero.

    I have never had any relationship with Scientology. Absolutely have nothad any relationship with it, ever.

    But, I do appreciate much of what I’ve seen, online, of the work of CCHR; so, I do not completely rule out the possibility of someday befriending a Scientologist; and, this expressed attitude of mine is ultimately troubling for my dad.

    My dad has, in fact, recently, very directly asked me to state that I will never befriend any Scientologist. (Apparently, my doing that could be step toward reversing the recent change he made to the family trust.) I responded, “I’m sorry, Dad, but I refuse to say that.” This seeming intransigence, on my part, apparently threatens to become the ultimate bane of our relationship – as father and son.

    Really, no kidding, it seems that the fact, that I will not foreswear any and all possible interactions with individuals known to be Scientologists, is, to my dad’s aging mind, an indication of some horrible ‘sign’ that I may be succumbing, to the forces of the ‘dark side’ (or something of that sort).

    Indeed, for the past year or so, he is literally coming to conduct a witch hunt, in his own house, for he is very recently he’s insisting that I supposedly said I do have Scientologist friends.

    He thinks I said I do, yet I insist I don’t, and my saying that now makes him doubly suspicious. I think, in his mind, I am literally becoming the witch of Scientology.

    It’s so sadly reminiscent of how I was addressed by him, more than a quarter-century ago, when he was wholeheartedly aiming to convince me that psychiatric so-called “diagnosis” of “mental illness,” which I’d received a couple of years previous, at age 21, had somehow established that I am genetically defective, with some problem from my mom’s side of the family.

    My brain is supposedly defective – according to those psychiatric speculations. (Of course, you know how psychiatrists speculate that way.)

    My dad had taken those psychiatric speculations to be the Truth; and, he explained as much, to me, at that time, by insisting “This problem with your brain is probably something you got from your Mom’s side of the family…”

    In his view, then, I was being overly ‘emotional’; and, yes, I could have been viewed that way, quite easily, especially by him… as I was attempting to express to him, what was then, my increasingly desperate sense of horror and disgust, regarding the so-called “side-effects” of the drugs I was being ‘prescribed’ (they were a torturous brew).

    They were, of course, not just drugs which I being prescribed; I was being coerced into swallowing a handful of pills, daily — not being allowed to refuse them. If I did not take them, I would not have a home, I would be homeless or processed back into a psychiatric “hospital” via the local Emergency Room.

    To my dad, I was being overly emotional then; and, his interpretation of those ‘emotional’ expressions, was, that they were the effects of “mental illness” – supposedly from my mom’s side of the family. That is to say, I had been given a certain “diagnosis” by psychiatry, which confirmed his own assessments, that I was unduly ‘emotional,’ so he clung to it…

    Three and a half years after my introduction to medical-coercive psychiatry, I’d, once and for all (forever) eschew that “diagnosis” of “mental illness” and successfully put all those ‘meds’ completely out of my life.

    The keys to doing so successfully were all in the careful planning for the inevitable period of withdrawals. (E.g., I wound up attending many Twelve Step meetings and usually said nothing to anyone about what kind of drugs I was withdrawing from…)

    I maintain, that never did I need any psychiatric drugs.

    It was so long ago, that I came to successfully renounce my ‘treatment’ by psychiatry; it’s almost as though another lifetime altogether. I have not had any psych ‘meds’ in my body for more than 25 years, nor have I consulted any psychiatrist, in all that time.

    But, in the past couple of years, I have periodically called upon a family therapist (‘FT’) who has known my family for many years, hoping he can get my dad to let go of what I see as this mildly ‘paranoid’ obsession, of his, wherein he views me as suffering a supposed ‘susceptibility’ to Scientology. To him, I ostensibly suffer that way, as I am (what my dad calls) a “crusader against psychiatry.”

    Actually, I may seem like a ‘crusader against psychiatry’ to him; however, like you, I don’t call myself “antipsychiatry”; after all, I don’t hope to put an end to the profession. (I ‘just’ pray for an end to its use of forced and coerced psychiatric ‘medical’ treatment.)

    So, OK, my dad believes that Scientologists are the world’s leading crusaders against psychiatry, and he fears I could wind up (A) becoming a Scientologist – and then wind up (B) after he dies, giving some portion of his estate to Scientology; hence, he has even gone as far as to change the terms of the family trust, which will manage his estate; now, any money from his estate that comes to me is to be monitored and controlled by my brother and sister. (I.e., any spending of that money that I do will need come with their approval.)

    Note: In my last 1:1 session with FT, just over a week ago, FT began by explaining, that my dad is now “very concerned about your relationship with Scientology.” So, I think this problem, in my dad’s mind, is only worsening; and, at last, I’ve come to wonder: how many people who know me through my father have been told, by him, that I have a relationship with Scientology?

    None of his friends and associates ever talk to me, so I won’t find out from them whether that’s their belief, about me; but, I’m starting to think that maybe they all have been given that impression, by my dad – the impression that I have a “relationship with Scientology.”

    (Indeed, my sister has, just recently, in a long-distance phone call, asked me, “Are you really into Scientology?” From this point of view, next time I find my dad making the claim, that I supposedly do have such a relationship, I will be much more entirely clear and firm, explaining to him – in lingo that he and his friends can well understand: ‘I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the Church of Scientology.’ Then, I will ask him, does he want to know if I’ve ever associatedwith anyone who is a member?)

    Frankly, I have associated with a couple of guys who were formerly members of the Church of Scientology.

    They were entirely ‘anti-Scientology’ when I knew them. They were former Scientologists, who had lost a whole lot of money to the Church of Scientology (tens of thousands of dollars), and they were campaigning, personally, to let non-Scientologists in on the fact, of how membership in the Church of Scientology can become an incredible drain on the finances, even of members who can hardly afford to pay their own rent.

    So, in response to my sister’s above-mentioned query, a couple of weeks ago, I told my dad about those two guys, who were friends of mine, years ago. In doing so, I was aiming to reassure him, that I am not someone who would ever give any money to Scientology; but, he apparently misunderstood me, I think; for, regardless of what I say, he thinks I have friends who are currently Scientologists; does he want me to ‘name names’ perhaps?

    And, on that note, I feel I must repeat, just briefly, what I’ve said above: Really, I am in no way principally opposed to befriending anyone just because s/he happens to be a Scientologist.

    From reading your blog post, I know you’ll understand what I mean, as I say: Friends of my dad were ‘red-baited’ when he was a young man, so you’d think he would know better than to subject me to these “monitor and control” measures.

    It’s unfortunate, my dad has long been under the impression, that anyone who has ever suffered abuse, at the hands of psychiatry and who thereafter actively lobbies, online, for an end to such abuse, is somehow vulnerable to being ‘seduced’ into Scientology…

    Certainly, I know that is not true in my case – because I know I cannot be ‘converted’ to Scientology.

    It was over 25 years ago, I read quite enough of the LRH #1 best-seller – Dianetics – to become entirely convinced, forever, that I wasn’t interested in L Ron Hubbard’s teachings. And, countless revelations about his beliefs and the legacy of his organization, which have been published since then, only serve to further prove, beyond any shadow of a doubt, to my mind, that I am not interested in becoming a Scientologist.

    Not long after my purchasing and browsing that LRH book, in a local bookstore, I turned in a completely different direction, became a Buddhist and have been a Buddhist ever since; that is to say, I have been a Buddhist for the past 25 years, and I will always be a Buddhist. Period.

    And – as the particular form of Buddhism to which I’m devoted explains (here I paraphrase): The best one can do, to demonstrate respect for Buddhism itself, is to do ones utmost, always, to respect and salute the inherent buddha nature that exists in everyone, regardless of whatever may be that person’s current beliefs.

    Indeed, the basic idea is, in this particular form of Buddhist practice, is that (again, I paraphrase): As a devotee (of Buddhism’s Lotus Sutra), one salutes the reality of anyone’s and everyone’s inherent buddha nature (that is to say, ones deepest inner wisdom) and, in essence, is, at that time, predicting that person’s eventual attainment of Buddhahood.

    For that reason (if for no other reason), I feel, it’s essentially a ‘religious mandate’ that I’m following – and the mandate of every Buddhist who is likewise devoted to the Lotus Sutra – to stay as open as I can, to the possibility of befriending literally anyone…

    “Fear not” says the upraised palm of all those classic Buddha statues!


    See some great images, of the “fear not” Buddha here:

    Really, I don’t need my dad’s money (he thinks I do need it, but he’s wrong about that); I am deeply praying for my dad’s enlightenment more than ever, especially because he has become so confused about who I am; perhaps, toward that end, I’ll have him read your blog post, above.

    Again, David, great blog post! I salute you for all the great work you’ve already done, as an activist, in your lifetime; your buddha nature is very plain-to-see, in the immense wisdom, born of experience, that’s expressed through your words…

    Be Well Always…



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  5. I think it would be important to know where your father came up with the scientology obsession — did someone suggest this to him? I would guess that your reaction to his assumptions might be feeding the whole thing too, if you took the attitude “you have the right to believe whatever you want, but this whole thing is ridiculous and I won’t waste any more of my time arguing about it” — and carried through with it — he ‘d have to find another outlet for his frustration.

    If you really don’t need the money maybe you should consider dissociating a bit more, because he seems to have you in a very defensive posture when it’s really needless for you to feel that way.

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    • @ oldhead,

      Thanks, that’s perfectly good feedback you’ve offered — very fitting, considering what I wrote. Unfortunately, there’s far more to the story than I can post in comments. In fact, now, after getting a night’s sleep and coming back to this page, reading your comment then reviewing what I wrote, I’m smiling, shaking my head and laughing at myself — telling myself, never should have posted that comment, at all…

      Really, it’s embarrassingly wordy and (worse) never really gets to the point.

      I can’t get to the point. The problem is, even though I am an anonymous poster, it is such a very personal matter, I can’t possibly say what’s necessary here, to make it entirely clear for readers…

      (So, actually, I quite regret having posted it.)

      But, since I did post it, I will say this much more: My dad has done his best.

      I am grateful to him for all that he’s given me.



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      • There’s no point shaking your head Jonah, it was a personal post but one that greatly illustrates how complicated things can be when your family members buy into the myth. Trying to explain things to them brings nothing and the constant nagging may drive you insane but afterall they are your loving family so you won’t just shut the door and run. Well, that’s the curse and a blessing of families I guess :).

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  6. David, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to see this excellent article here on the “front page” of the MIA site! My heart sank when I heard of your terrible accident and I was grieved that perhaps we had lost one of the best advocates and spokespersons for those abused by mainstream psychiatry’s ill-founded practices.

    Well, I see that we have not lost you! You may not remember me, but I’ll never forget how amazed and blessed I felt about eight years ago when, after stumbling across an article you wrote (“Madness and the Mental Health System”) and looking up the phone number for your organization, Mind Freedom International, I heard your voice on the other end of the line. I was in a desperate moment because of the “no exit” nightmare my daughter was experiencing in the psych ward of a local hospital. Your genuine caring, compassion and commitment–with actions to back up the words– came through loud and clear and was a great comfort to me. She has recovered well in many ways, as I write this. I am thankful for this, although she still has a long way to go, i believe, to undo the damage inflicted upon her.

    We are definitely in different places in terms of religious belief and practice, and to me that underscores the very point you are making. When it comes to our passion to expose and stop abusive, coercive, de-humanizing practices in psychiatry, we are united! I believe within any group there is a human tendency to drift off message, form exclusionary “inner circles”, start to pick at one another over differences, etc. These, of course, undermine the unity needed to move forward and accomplish worthy goals.

    Speaking of religious groups and their involvement and/or stance with regard to the practices of psychiatry, I must say I’m extremely disappointed at how many of my fellow Christians have been bamboozled by the unholy alliance of Big Pharma and mainstream psychiatry and bought into the false and often damaging narrative promoted by these institutions. A “daydream” I’ve often had is picturing Jesus appearing at a “mental health” symposium being held in a Christian church, taking a bullwhip to the pharmaceutical reps and their “hired guns”, overturning their tables, and bellowing “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it an opium den!”–or something like that. Fortunately, I am working with some kindred spirits within my Christian community to shed the light of truth (hopefully in love) on this issue.

    I’m proud to say I’m a supporter of Mind Freedom International and Mad in America, both of which I thank God for (even for those of you in either group who may be offended that i mentioned God!). Thanks for your years of tireless advocacy, David. Keep up the good work!

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    • “I believe within any group there is a human tendency to drift off message, form exclusionary “inner circles”, start to pick at one another over differences, etc.”
      Which is why the “Scientology smear” is so effective. It makes people scared of being seen as cultists outside of the movement and it makes people within the movement distrustful and divided (“is he a Scientologist? what’s his real agenda?”). Divide et impera at its best:/.

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  7. A great article, David, packed with wonderful commentary, most of which I completely agreed with. I am glad to see your influence again in our movement.

    I was honored to be invited to speak to a special meeting of Rethinking Psychiatry last week. I can see this is rather a broad based group, who are welcoming to all sorts of people who are at least skeptical about psychiatry, including me. There are also several other groups in Portland, making up a still small but active movement there.

    I have almost made up my mind to move to Portland, to work with RP and other groups. I think I can make a contribution there.

    David, we should talk again the next time I will be in Oregon, which will be soon.

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  8. David,

    You are absolutely right, the ELCA Chicago synod headquarters stands 100% in support of psychiatric defamation and massive tranquilization of human beings. Based upon my experience with the ELCA, what my medical records say, and what Methodist pastors have confessed to me; it is because the ELCA, historically and today, uses psychiatric stigmatization and drugging to cover up their pedophilia problems. The Catholics are still doing this as well, according to some Catholics I spoke with in a child abuse support group recently. My Methodist pastors called such cover ups “the dirty little secret of the two original educated profession.”

    My family has been dealing with a cover up of the sexual abuse of my then 3/4 year old child by an ELCA pastor since 2001. According to my medical records I was tranquilized based upon a list of lies and gossip from that ELCA pastor, and his best friends, at whose home my child was sexually abused. And medical evidence of the sexual abuse was eventually handed over to me. And the ELCA synod offices has been covering this up since 2006. Their lawyer, Phillip Harris, actively works to cover up sexual abuse of children for both the Catholic and ELCA religions.

    Currently, the ELCA’s child abuse specialist, Barbara Keller, and the ELCA synod headquarters are the only people still defaming me as “bipolar,” since all my subsequent doctors were able to medically understand that misdiagnosing the withdrawal effects of a “safe smoking cessation med” / actual antidepressant as “bipolar” was a misdiagnosis. Barbara Keller recently emailed me that she won’t even look into the medical evidence of the sodomy of my innocent little child because she claims I’m “bipolar.” Of course, this does mean she believes it’s her legal right to discriminate against people with “disabilities,” however.

    Apparently, the ELCA religion actively colludes to cover up all homosexual abuse, including that of little children, like my child.

    The ELCA Chicago synod offices actively support the fraudulent psychiatric industry because the psychiatric industry defames, discredits, and poisons ELCA parishioners, to cover up sexual abuse of children by wealthy ELCA members and / or pastors. And the ELCA synod offices want to maintain their right to utilize the “dirty little secret,” forever.

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    • By the way, the ELCA synod headquarters have been updated with the reality that their “dirty little secret” way of iatrogenically creating “bipolar” in women, so pastors may cover up child abuse, is the exact same iatrogenic pathway that has led over a million children to be turned into “bipolar” patients, too. The ELCA synod headquarters apparently thinks it’s fine for the psychiatric industry to create “bipolar,” completely with drugs, in over a million children.

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  9. Thank you David for this post.
    Marcia’s “Rethinking Psychiatry” conference several years ago introduced us to Robert Whitaker, Will Hall, et al. Her work, and that conference, convinced us that we could get off our butts and start doing something in Vancouver, BC (Canada). I am the minister of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver (UCV) and our family, and many in my congregation, have tales of woe dealing with the conventional “mental health” system. And we have been honoured to have Marcia as a guest in our home in Vancouver.
    After that “Rethinking Psychiatry” Symposium, attended by my spouse Diana, we started hosting public education events with Robert Whitaker, Will Hall, Rob Wipond, Laura Delano and others at UCV, events that have attracted audiences by the hundreds eager to hear and learn about how conventional “mental health” and psychiatry have gone seriously awry, and learned that there effective alternatives that promote recovery, human flourishing and that have deepened our appreciation for human diversity.
    In Sunday worship services, I have preached about our “mental health crisis,” “unusual beliefs,” and “psychcocracy and community,” and my congregation has been very receptive and appreciative.
    For three years now, Diana and I have facilitated a twice monthly “Madness Radio” listening group, and this past year, we have scheduled weekly “Hearing Voices” and psyche drugs tapering groups that meet regularly at UCV, as well as movie nights where we’ve shown documentaries by Daniel Mackler and others on Open Dialogue, Healing Homes, etc. And Will Hall preached (!) at our church, and afterwards met with UCV teenagers. (He was a big hit with them!)
    There has been some push back from reactionaries in the BC Schizophrenia Society and elsewhere, but my Board of Trustees has been rock solid in their support for my preaching and our public education classes, working groups, and events.
    We look forward to hosting an upcoming education event (September 28th) on “School Surveillance and “Mental Health” Screening: Weak Science, High Risks, Hidden Harms,” with MIA’s Rob Wipond and Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association. And more are on the way, including a conference and workshops on the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its consequences for Canadian law, and for policies and practices in our “mental health” systems (October 24-6).
    I guess what I’m trying to say Michael, and anyone reading this MIA post, is that at least this Unitarian minister and congregation have benefited from the path-breaking, courageous work of Marcia’s Portland “Rethinking Psychiatry” group and its events. And I want to especially credit my spouse Diana for lighting the fire up here and for her skilled, dedicated work in promoting our programming and for the way she truly values human diversity.
    And if you have a passport, any and all are welcome here!
    Cheers, Rev. Steven Epperson
    Unitarian Church of Vancouver (Canada)

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    • Dear Rev. Epperson and other friends,

      Thank you very much for your work in connecting the Unitarian Church of Vancouver with liberation in the mental health industry! I have heard of your superb work already from my friend Marcia who speaks highly of your efforts! One little thing you may have already done, but I welcome anyone interested in this topic to join: Please search within Facebook for our new group, join it, and post to it. The name of this group is UU Mental Health Justice. Yes, I know that many people avoid Facebook, but this new group is a quick way to connect the many UU folks who care about this topic, and people do not need to be a UU member to join. That group, which you may already have joined Rev. Epperson, is totally independent of any church. Again, I really appreciate your work and leadership! Lead on! And to you and the many others who help our movement, much love!
      David W. Oaks

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      • Thanks David for your post and supporting Marcia. In my conversations with her, she has always been incredibly enthusiastic, kind, supportive and deeply passionate about this work. She has worked countless hours and been a true bridge builder so it has been sad to see her treated poorly by some folks.

        I also want to honor your call for Unitarians to address this immense takeover of the mental health field by psychiatry. When 20 percent of Americans are labeled mentally ill and are using drugs to manage emotional distress, something has gone deeply wrong. As a Unitarian who has attended the local Portland church many times, I was very frustrated by the break between the UU and RP. I am very glad that Steven up in Vancouver has been willing to call attention to these pivotal issues.
        There are many Unitarians who wan to examine these issues, build a place for non-violent dialogue and create deep systemic change. Thanks for all that you do David.

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  10. OK here I am again. You’re right David, your post covers a great expanse of territory.

    Let me start with your comments about the so-called Alternatives conference, which I fortunately never had the experience of to be disillusioned by. I’d like to know why movement veterans ever agreed to legitimize this sold-out affair with their presence to begin with, and, with all we have seen since, why anyone should continue to do so.

    Then there’s the larger question of “dialoguing” with mental health professionals. There are certainly those, such as Richard Lewis on this site, who by way of the legitimate support they provide are required to have some sort of “mental health” accreditation as a practical evil. Richard is firmly anti-psychiatry however and has no qualms about stating it. Richard is open to dialogue. However most are not, particularly any dialogue about the inherent contradictions in their career choices. Why should we waste our time on this? Shouldn’t we at least charge?
    Ultimately, why should their opinions matter?

    The point as I see it should not be to convince the mental health establishment to change, that’s simply not in their interest, especially when the only rational “change” would be for them to disappear. Shouldn’t we instead be organizing to take away their power to coerce whether they “agree” with it or not?

    Lastly, why in the world don’t you consider yourself anti-psychiatry? I ask this not to give you a hard time, which I most assuredly don’t want to do, but because your words carry great weight with those who consider themselves “survivors.” There has been a great deal of consciousness-raising going on at MIA lately, and more and more of us are developing the analysis and the courage to boldly declare this system a criminal fraud in the service of corporate rule. I hope you reconsider your reluctance to identify as anti-psychiatry. But most of all I hope you continue to recover and wish you the best in your latest struggle.

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    • “…why in the world don’t you consider yourself anti-psychiatry? I ask this not to give you a hard time, which I most assuredly don’t want to do, but because your words carry great weight with those who consider themselves “survivors.” […] I hope you reconsider your reluctance to identify as anti-psychiatry.”

      @ oldhead,

      Seeing that David has, by this point, responded to only one comment, I suspect your comment may go answered. But, it is a good question — that regards labeling.

      So, while I can’t answer for David, here I answer it from my own viewpoint.

      (Actually, I could answer it in a number of ways.)

      I’ll answer it now, in the following way:

      @ oldhead, you could have put that same good question, of yours, to Thomas Szasz (and, throughout his career, many people did exactly that). If you had done so, at any time in the past 15 years (prior to his passing, two years ago), he might have directed you to his book, Antipsychiatry: Quackery Squared (2009).

      Not long after it was first published, one reviewer, upon giving it the highest possible appraisal (‘five stars’), explained,

      “In this book of entirely new material, Dr Szasz sets the record straight for those who might inaccurately associate him with antipsychiatry, and lays bare both the quackery of some of the most cited icons of this misnomer movement, and the manner in which they consistently failed, or refused, to eschew the coercion and excuse-making emblematic of the psychiatry from which they purportedly broke.”

      There, rather clearly articulated, in so few words, is reason enough to not call myself “antipsychiatry” — I feel.

      And, it is the same reasoning that I was alluding to, as I offered the following lines, in my comment to David, above (on August 25, 2014 at 9:08 pm):

      “…like you, I don’t call myself “antipsychiatry”; after all, I don’t hope to put an end to the profession. (I ‘just’ pray for an end to its use of forced and coerced psychiatric ‘medical’ treatment.)”

      Really, I think psychiatry is foundering, but we will inevitably see the psychiatric profession continue to seek ways of ‘legitimizing’ itself for a long while, into the future. Yes, we can rather easily dissect their best arguments favoring their own supposed legitimacy; and, we should do so…

      But, it is the coerced and forced ‘treatment’ of so-called “patients” of psychiatry, that makes psychiatry so dangerous.

      And, I believe that was Szasz’s postion.

      So, let’s imagine for a moment, that psychiatry itself could be abolished. Would not the majority of psychologists then come to agree, to step in and approve of such ‘medical’ practices, as the forcing of certain “hospital” patients to accept unwanted intrusions, upon the workings of their brains? (I think they would.)

      So, what then? We call ourselves “antipsychology”?

      Surely, you get my point (of course, David may or may not agree with me): I will ‘just’ do my whatever I can to put an end to unwanted neuro-invasive procedures — most especially, when there’s no actual proof that such procedures are addressing actual physical diseases (as opposed to merely suppressing unpopular thought, feelings and/or behaviors) .



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      • A quick correction (as I inadvertently cut a few words out of one sentence). Those last thoughts, of mine, should have read as follows:

        I will ‘just’ do my best, to do whatever I can, to put an end to unwanted neuro-invasive procedures — most especially, when there’s no actual proof that such procedures are addressing actual physical diseases (as opposed to merely suppressing unpopular thoughts, feelings and/or behaviors).

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      • Jonah, great post. To take your point one step further, what about the fact that primary care doctors are prescribing 70% of psychotropic meds. But not one on this list would dare say they were anti primary care doctors. And in case you don’t think they can’t be coercive, think again.

        And speaking of primary care doctors, I know of one who was essentially going to cold turkey someone off of a psych med. It was an “evil” psychiatrist who was willing to provide this person a reasonable tapering schedule.

        I agree about focusing on the coercive nature of psychiatry or any medical practice. Anything else simply is a diversion and not productive in my opinion.

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        • I’m not keen on the psychiatry (i.e. pill pushing) practiced by general practitioners either. Witch doctors are more effective, and more honest to boot. The medical profession has a real iatrogenic substance abuse problem, and donning blinders to the size and scope of this problem does nothing to remedy it.

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        • To take your point one step further, what about the fact that primary care doctors are prescribing 70% of psychotropic meds. But not one on this list would dare say they were anti primary care doctors. And in case you don’t think they can’t be coercive, think again.

          I’m “anti-primary care doctors” as long as they are acting as proxy psychiatrists, and they would not be empowered to do that in the first place if psychiatry were discredited.

          And speaking of primary care doctors, I know of one who was essentially going to cold turkey someone off of a psych med. It was an “evil” psychiatrist who was willing to provide this person a reasonable tapering schedule.

          I don’t think the harshest critic of psychiatry would call that psychiatrist “evil.” I’d like to think it was unintentional, but this feels a bit like a straw man aimed at some misperception of anti-psychiatry.

          I agree about focusing on the coercive nature of psychiatry or any medical practice.

          As far as psychiatry, what else is there besides coercion?

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          • I forgot to add that the primary care doctor you spoke of was only about to do what is still standard practice in psychiatry (cold- turkeying). It is the individual psychiatrist in this case who is unusual, being better informed. This is my view not only from reading, but from the four psychiatrists I saw during acute psychiatric drug withdrawal, three of whom denied the existence of withdrawal symptoms as being caused by the drugs and one of whom acknowledged that withdrawal is real but denied the severity of it.

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      • Some of us, Jonah, would strike a stance in opposition to psychiatry. For lack of a better term, let me call such a stance ‘anti-psychiatry’. Thomas Szasz, above, was referring to people who failed to eschew coercion and excuse making, as he puts it, chiefly those associated with R.D. Laing. David Cooper, one of Laing’s co-authors, for instance, came up with the term. Now that Laing, Cooper and Szasz are deceased. I don’t think the same variables apply. Cooper’s anti-psychiatry is roughly equivalent with what passes for critical psychiatry today. I think it safe to say that there is no need for today’s anti-psychiatry activist to have pursued psychiatry as a career choice. In fact, doing so would be kind of hypocritical, don’t you think? If anti-psychiatry once came out of a career in psychiatry, well, that’s progress for you. No one need be a professional psychiatrist to oppose the excesses and abuses of psychiatry. In fact, it helps immensely, as far as anti-psychiatry is concerned, if one’s hands are completely clean of that profession. I think it easier, and less full of conflicts of interest, for people to oppose psychiatry who are not actually psychiatrists. The same principle applies to corporations and the general public. There is less hypocrisy involved in a protest by the 99 % to the policies of the 1 % than there is in the sympathies of the few one percenters who would identify with the 99 %.

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        • “Some of us, Jonah, would strike a stance in opposition to psychiatry. For lack of a better term, let me call such a stance ‘anti-psychiatry’.”


          I think that’s great. Really. Not for a moment would I ever begrudge you that choice (nor would I begrudge anyone else the choice), …to take that stance and to adopt that moniker.

          Imho, it’s wonderful that you have such a focused sense of purpose, and I have no reason to suggest you won’t do a great deal of good in developing strategies for moving forward along those lines.

          Far be it from me, to suggest, to anyone that it’s ‘wrong’ to take such a tack.

          (In fact, quite the contrary. Please know, that: from the bottom of my heart, I wish you only the very best possible successes in your endeavors, along those lines.)

          And. regarding your having conveyed to me, these following sentiments,

          “I think it safe to say that there is no need for today’s anti-psychiatry activist to have pursued psychiatry as a career choice. In fact, doing so would be kind of hypocritical, don’t you think?”

          Frank, I cannot possibly answer that question, because… not even for a single instant would I ever claim to know what “today’s anti-psychiatrist activist” should or should not be doing.

          The question of what any individual who’s describing himself or herself that way (such as you describe yourself) should or should not have pursued as a career choice is a question for others who describe themselves similarly. It’s not a question anyone should put to me, because I don’t know even the least bit of anything at all, about what it takes to be such an activist.

          Really, I have no way of knowing.

          Please, understand, Frank, though I find myself appreciating a great deal of what I read from various folk who identify themselves (as you are identifying yourself) “anti-psychiatry” and from folk who may then also (as you do) “strike a stance in opposition to psychiatry,” those forms of activism are not my forms of activism; they’re not my way.

          So, really, you might just as well be asking me questions such as, ‘Jonah, what do you believe are the most positively congruent professions for Christians to ply? And, Jonah, don’t you think it’s hypocritical for Christians to become soldiers of war?’

          (My point there, Frank, if it is not entirely self-evident: While those may be very interesting questions, I would not be able to provide meaningful answers to them, because I am not a ‘believer’ — am not a Christian.)

          As for your saying,

          “There is less hypocrisy involved in a protest by the 99 % to the policies of the 1 % than there is in the sympathies of the few one percenters who would identify with the 99 %.”

          I’m not exactly sure what you mean by that, but I will say this in response: While it does concern me to know, of the extent to which capital wealth, in this country, is now continually moving away from the masses and toward a relative few, I believe it’s a terrible mistake to attempt to judge the quality of anyone’s personal character based on the amount of income s/he manages to generate.

          In fact, if income inequality was my foremost personal ’cause’, I would not hesitate to very deliberately seek to find individuals with a great deal of wealth who were willing to help me, in promoting that ’cause’.

          (But, I would be careful to avoid accepting such help from anyone whom I could find was somehow promoting values that were pretty much antithetical to my own. That is to say, I would ‘vet’ such individuals, to the best of my ability, to determine that they weren’t, indeed, using my ’cause’ to white-wash a checkered history of malfeasance.)

          And, really, my bottom line: I aim to be open to the possibility of creating alliances with those who are sincerely interested in my own first ’cause’ — which is that, of outlawing forced brain-altering procedures; I have found that some ‘anti-psychiatry’ folk do not support this ’cause’. (Truly, I’ve noticed, that some people articulate wonderful ‘anti-psychiatry’ talk, yet, when push comes to shove, it becomes clear, they believe, that ’emergency forced drugging’ with neuroleptics is sometimes justifiable.)

          I insist there is never justification for forcing psychotropic drugs (nor for forcing any other nuero-intrusive, mind-altering procedures) on anyone.

          I say, let’s put an end to such forced ‘treatment’; and, I will put aside differences, in many instances — gladly extending an olive branch — when finding someone’s choosing to sincerely support this particular ’cause’ with me…



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        • “I think it safe to say that there is no need for today’s anti-psychiatry activist to have pursued psychiatry as a career choice. In fact, doing so would be kind of hypocritical, don’t you think?”
          Actually I can find a legitimate use for that strategy – becoming a whistle-blower. Few of surviviours and their family members will ever have a chance to go in and document the abuses from the inside and all our accounts, due to lack of hard evidence like videos, can be waved off by psychiatrists as ramblings of crazy people who are beyond help. I think psychiatry is still waiting for its Snowden.

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      • A few things. First, Szasz was not criticizing the mental patients’ liberation movement, which was also known as the anti-psychiatry movement. What he was criticizing was a school of psychiatry (often associated wwith Laing) which called itself Antipsychiatry.

        He also said he was not anti-psychiatry in the sense of wanting to ban it. But he was obviously opposed to practically everything it stood for and believed that no good can come from it.

        I think it’s important to stress this in light of current discussions going on about starting a national anti-psychiatry organization. While many or most of us are in reality anti-psychiatry, it does not follow that we would take a position that it be outlawed, only that the coercive factor be eliminated (and, I would hope, that no taxpayer money be spent on psychiatric “treatment” or testimony).

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      • So, let’s imagine for a moment, that psychiatry itself could be abolished. Would not the majority of psychologists then come to agree, to step in and approve of such ‘medical’ practices, as the forcing of certain “hospital” patients to accept unwanted intrusions, upon the workings of their brains? (I think they would.)

        So, what then? We call ourselves “antipsychology”?

        In a word, yes.

        I agree with the analysis, though. It would be naive to think that if psychiatry were no more that another profession would not try to fill the void. However, if the reason for the end of psychiatry were that it had been thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the public, then it would be much harder for it to be replaced by an equally oppressive pseudo-medical regime.

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        • It might be just replaced by real cops instead of cops pretending to be “mental health workers,” unless accompanied by basic economic restructuring and a transformation of mass consciousness.

          Psychology is a science, however flawed it often may be, i.e. a field of inquiry. It encompasses many schools of thought, many in utter opposition. It can’t be “abolished” because you can’t abolish thought and curiosity. Psychiatry is a fraudulent offshoot of true medicine which exploits convoluted misunderstandings regarding mind and brain to control and profit off of unsuspecting victims in vulnerable situations. I’m sure there’s a differentiation there somewhere.

          Anyway being anti-psychiatry doesn’t necessarily equate with calling for its abolition.

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        • True, It’s like Jim Crow having been replaced by the “war on drugs”. There are always ways to abuse and control superfluous and dangerous population. The whole system has to go not just some aspects of it.

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  11. Many good points, David. It’s good to see you in print again. I have my own mixed feeling, not wanting to contribute to the worldwide “mental illness” epidemic, about where I should stand vis a vis the ‘mental health movement’. Hopefully, outside of it. Unfortunately, I might have to really ruffle a few feathers to get there. and I’m still a little too accommodating not to feel guilty. That aspect of myself I don’t expect to last. I don’t think of a protest as a public begging event, but I’ve seen that kind of thing, too. I imagine some of us do have image issues. (Is that the way to put it?) As an activist, I guess we just have to do more. Anyway, good to see you’re still at it.

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  12. Lots of agreement from people who claim to have no real knowledge of Scientology at all. I guess if you fail to research something or inform yourself about it, you would also not be interested in the knowledge of someone who has done so.

    However, for the benefit of individuals who come to this site and are vulnerable because of psychiatric abuse, I continue to suggest that anyone who thinks Scientology is an “ally” of any organization or purpose other than its own should peruse the many resources on the web (made available finally through the brave actions of Anonymous.

    I also don’t find it odd that those who ever “fell” for psychiatry’s offers of “help” would also find Scientology attractive. That was my own case. I am here for those with open minds to offer some hard-won advice: just don’t be stupid. Unlike my case, you now have the whole web to explore and make up your own mind.

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    • Thanks for your comment, however I hope you read my actual words in my blog again, because I think you have gotten the wrong impression. It helps me, especially when there is a disagreement, if we can both agree on at least what the other is saying. We may not convince each other, but at least we can understand one another more. You use quote marks several times in your comment, but I guess you are not quoting me. You also suggest that I research the topic more. Here is what I said in my blog entry: “Do not get me wrong, I will not join that religion, I read one of the main books analyzing Scientology (Inside Scientology, by professional journalist Janet Reitman, 464 pages), and it’s not my cup of tea.” By the way, 464 pages is a lot, but the main value of Ms. Reitman, is that she is a journalist, so even if people might disagree with a lot of her point of view, she at least tried to provide interviews and source material.

      My two replies: 1. You recommend “the whole web” for your source, but I would caution people that the Internet often has rumors, but I thought everyone knew that already. 2. You seem to imply we psychiatric survivors might be a bit gullible, but actually I find a lot of diversity among us, and some of us are quite good at standing up to power (without using words that I find abusive such as “stupid”).

      My main point is to praise the work of Marcia who I do not think “fell” for anything in quite a long time!

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    • And I want to distinguish, and would like you, Ann, to distinguish, between being a Scientologist, seeing Scientology as an “ally”, seeing CCHR (which is not the same as Scientology, though they are closely linked) as an “ally,” and opposing the tactic of attacking people’s character by accusing them of being Scientologists. It is the latter that I think David (and I) are most concerned with, especially when people within the movement fall into using this tactic (as happened in the RTP debacle) to attack others who are ostensibly pursuing the same goals. To do so feeds the fires of those in the psychiatric profession or elsewhere who enjoy conflating being against psychiatry to being a Scientologist.

      To me, calling someone contesting psychiatry’s preeminence a Scientologist has become the equivalent of calling an African-American the “n” word. It doesn’t even matter if the “allegation” is true or false – the word has become so emotionally loaded that it precludes any further rational communication. And it is intended as an insult, a provocation, and a distraction, and should be labeled exactly for what it is, regardless of ones’ views on the organization.

      I know you have had bad experiences with Scientology, and you are certainly not alone in reporting that experience. But that’s a totally different subject than smearing our own ranks, or allowing them to be smeared, by using what has become the ultimate “swear word” of the psychiatrists working to discredit us. It needs to be confronted for the evil tactic that it is, regardless of one’s feelings about the religion in question. As soon as we even take up the discussion, psychiatry wins.

      I hope I’ve made myself clear. I am not intending to invalidate your experience. I just want to clarify the difference between the qualities and policies and dogma of a religious organization, which any person may or may not agree with, and the tactic of using religious bigotry and innuendo to try and malign and discredit those speaking out against psychiatric abuse, which I believe should NEVER be tolerated for a moment.

      — Steve
      —- Steve

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  13. David, I’m glad my comments prompted you to clarify. A clarification from my end: if you read my words carefully you’ll note I’m not suggesting that the whole web is reliable–I specifically give Anonymous as a reliable source, but I’ll add to that: ESMB (Ex-Scientologists Message Board), Ex-Scientology Kids (that one is heartbreaking),,and Wikileaks.

    Steve, I’m not worried about invalidation (a Scientology buzzword, btw), but I worry that vulnerable survivors will get mixed up with a predatory cult. Let me repeat that, although if you are a Scientologist it will give you pain to read it: predatory cult.

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    • Allow me to reiterate my point: there is a difference between promoting Scientology or being a Scientologist, which as you say each person must decide about, and about which of course your own experience is a very valid source of information, and accusing someone of being a cult member or “front group” because they happen to disagree with the psychiatric mainstream. I don’t hear anyone on this website promoting Scientology as a religion. But I do sometimes hear people trying to tarnish the reputation of others who have been big contributors to our movement, including Sheila Matthews, Thomas Szaz, and William Glasser, by suggesting that they are somehow associated with Scientology or CCHR. That, I find reprehensible. I make no apologies or defense of the CoS itself – that is not my job or my purpose. But I want to make sure that we don’t get caught up into pointless arguments about who is or is not influenced/members/associated/front groups, because it detracts from our efforts and energy and feeds ammunition to those who would like to discredit us.

      I hope you are able to see the difference. Scientology is whatever it is. Ad hominem attacks are ad hominem attacks, regardless of the “truth” about the group(s) to which our detractors would like to associate us all. The attackers need to be called out for using that tactic, because it harms our movement, regardless of what you or anyone else thinks about those groups.

      —- Steve

      P.S. I think invalidation is a very useful word, regardless of whatever “buzzword” status it may have in Scientology. I don’t like to have people feeling that I am judging their perception of the world as being wrong, because we’re all entitled to our perceptions. It’s only when perception collides with proven data that we move into a different territory. One of my biggest beefs with Psychiatry is that it tells people that their own personal experiences, and even their own perception of reality, is wrong, based no nothing but the psychiatrists’ personal biases, which of course are always assumed to be correct. There is nothing I know if that is more damaging to another person than having someone tell them that what they know to be true is false. As a counselor, I avoid creating that experience like the plague. I find that “invalidation” is a good short-cut word to describe it.

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      • “There is nothing I know if that is more damaging to another person than having someone tell them that what they know to be true is false. As a counselor, I avoid creating that experience like the plague. I find that “invalidation” is a good short-cut word to describe it.”

        I call it ‘gaslighting’ Steve, because that’s exactly what it is. I’ve sat and spoken to a psychiatrist about abuse by two of her colleagues, only to be told with the argument from authority that “they wouldn’t do that”, to which I responded “And you know this how?”. Hers is a dangerous position to take, and one that enabled abusers in the church for many years. How about examining the validity of my claim before making such statements.

        It’s an insidious practice and one that Ive seen used regularly to quiet complaints by patients.

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    • I think you are unnecessarily patronising to people. “I worry that vulnerable survivors will get mixed up with a predatory cult.” – I think it is up to people to decide what religious organisation if any they want to affiliate with. I find it funny that everyone criticises Scientology while abuses of this and much bigger scale has been perpetrated by other denominations like Catholic church. Maybe you should also warn us about accepting help and support from Catholics (or associate with them at all) because of the rampant sexual abuse in this church?
      Personally I am not associated with any religious and deeply suspicious of any organised form of faith but I find this picking of Scientology specifically a bit annoying. It’s like other good old churches didn’t take your money, abuse your kids and subject anyone to brainwashing.

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      • One thing we can do (this has been discussed before) is to force the issue by pointing out that the scientology smear is a prime way those who can’t discuss the issues intelligently attempt to change the subject. Then insist on discussing why the particular person finds a need to divert or sabotage the discussion, and explore exactly what the person is attempting to avoid. Sort of like reverse psychotherapy.

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  14. Thank you for that inspiring article from someone who has immense experience in organising. That’s exactly what we need:). I only wanted to add one thought to the part about publicising protests:

    “How can we complain about corporate media, when we sometimes don’t cover ourselves?”

    That is true – every protest should have people taking video and pics to post all over internet but I think even more crucial is to get people to show up in the first place and as I’ve seen with some other groups (like Occupy in my area) the info about prospective actions usually gets to me AFTER the action has taken place. So it is also crucial to post the information about protests well in advance and possibly remind people when the date is near.

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  15. Hi David, Good to see your writing here! Too bad for UU that they kicked out ReThinking Psychiatry.. Which is really not a radical organization, not as ragety as my first group I was in when I was first introduced to the movement. Marci does do a great job of pulling it all together in a gentle civll mannered way. I will let my disapointment be known when I attend the Pacific North West Social Forum. People will know about it then. I don’t have any beef with the CCHP, I wouldn’t join them, but they do have a lot going for them. Their recovery methods and detoxing programs are well designed and work really well. Their methods of conformity are a little stiff, but so is the military and no one is shutting them down, though they do look alike, with the marching and starched uniforms. All groups have their conformities that if you don’t follow them, you are subtly or not so subtly kicked out or silenced. Thats the way people do people herding. I look forward to a day when we can look back and say, “What were we thinking? ”
    I’ve got to hope for that. What is coming more and more clear to me, is that we have got to look towords respect to everyone as best we can. We have talked to psychiatrist, some of us have even become psychiatrist. To dis the CCHP is like combatting horizontally.
    As to revolution we really need a whole scale paradigm shift. Revolution just trades out different people in power, when what we have are relationships between people who need to desperately need to try and understand each other and not struggle over who is right. It is also too bad that there is such poverty in America that there is a struggle over resources instead of confronting the system head on by taking care of each other and communicating more honestly. Long road in front of America is all I can say. And yes, Forced Treatment is Not treatment, but torture or more nicely said, “Social Control” I look forward to more communication and understanding.
    Thanks for still being present with us all David!! You will always be a leader in my world!

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