Part 1: Siddharta
It has been a little more than a year since you perhaps read Rob Wipond’s story about Siddharta and I, From Compliance to Activism: A Mother’s Story. Some of you may remember that in August 2014, Siddharta was freed at last. His recovery from years of being drugged and treated as less than human, and the traumatization of confinements and imprisonment became my main focus; my advocacy scaled down to mostly phone calls and one-on-one personal email advocacy for Mothers and others across the country.
And how is Siddharta doing now? Well as his Mother, I would say he has made remarkable progress! He is living independently with support! It is clear that our victories are in the journey, and what full recovery will look like is yet unseen. Much of his progress in the eyes of most of his “mental health treatment team” and to outsiders looking in, is not visible, but thanks to the most unlikely angels in our community, and my allies, he has said phrases such as “I feel safe here, I like it here.” Those words are music to my ears… My prayers are being answered.
However, although there were many very significant experiences that happened, I only had time to share them on a small scale. There was one that I think is critical for as many people as possible to know about. It concerns the bill that was initially billed as the Murphy Bill, but keeps changing names and faces. However; the content holds the same danger — except on a larger scale — that we in the trenches, as marginalized and “labeled” people, have already experienced on a small scale.
Please take a moment and read this one-page story, which I call “Murphy and 1984.” Although this is not the real title, it very much presents what I believe the book 1984 and Murphy Bill symbolize. This story was highlighted as an example in the paper Suggested Questions and Recommendations for Universal Periodic Review of the United States, presented to the U.N. by Tina Minkowitz and others. Tina also authored the description of the dangers of the Murphy bill in an earlier paper submitted to the U.N. You can find that here, under Murphy Bill (beginning on page 12), along with year 2013-2014 of my timeline on psychiatry as a weapon used against the African American Race.
Part 2: Patterns of Abuse of Power/ We Are All in this Together
In my years of becoming aware of and advocating for those caught in the Institutional oppression of psychiatry, others have called and asked for support in other areas of institutional oppression. Slowly I began to recognize a pattern of abuse of power by institutions that seem to be shielded from justice, with no – or very little – accountability or consequences for their actions. Although their missions, as stated, are extremely important and thus have been embraced and given legal status, and at one time public support;
Each institution has a track record now of using or manipulating their power to cause serious harm to many many people; and I have listened, researched and advocated enough to know they are not isolated cases in certain states, but appear to have the right to such abuse of power and shielding from justice across the U.S..
Will Hall, in his Madness Radio article on 6/12/15 addresses the fact that indeed there are many pressing social issues and, I would add, many pressing social issues where institutional power is abused and shielded from justice. He says;
”I can’t summarize or persuade you of the pressing social issues of our time: child poverty, climate change, species extinction, homelessness, violence, the prison system, the disappearing middle class, endless war, financial giveaways to those responsible for financial crisis.”
And yes there are ever more pressing issues like fracking, the lowering of our water table for bottle water, Human trafficking and ?? and ?? and ????….
But, as he suggests, can we begin to see that we are all in this together. One struggle may be more dear to your heart, because of its personal effect, but if you open your eyes and heart, is it possible you will see that your destiny and the destiny of the “other struggles” are deeply intertwined and is in essence up against the same abuses of power.
I would like to challenge you to begin investigating the “other stories.” Pick one or two, and after you are able to identify similarities in the abuses, go to a meeting, talk to those individuals and groups targeted, begin the conversation with the intent of building bridges, building coalitions, building a win-win community.
Part 3: Coalition Building with the Four “Other” Struggles I Have Chosen
My experience as MOMS advocate, and follow-up research, has led me to identify four major institutions — including psychiatry — that have similar undeniable track records that flagrantly abuse their power and that often result in grave injustices and bodily harm, with almost no accountability or consequence.
- The institution of Guardians and Guardian ad Litems
- The institution of Child Protections Agencies
- The institution of Psychiatry/mental health systems
- The institution of the justice systems, including Police and courts
I am starting to share information with my circle of mental health survivors and allies about the abuse of power by Child Protection Agencies across the country. For example, here is a link to a story, Kidnapping in Maryland, Part 1, that started with a child protection agency and ended with the commitment of the mother, who had legal documents that were ignored and yet critical to the charges against her.
And, yes; I agree some folks in these institutions are making a real difference in people’s lives, protecting and serving those in their care. But the main influence present now is corrupting; power is being consistently abused; and serious injury is more common than not.
Matter-of-fact, to me each of these institutions have become a form of human trafficking; making huge amounts of financial gain from abusing and using another human being.
I also am sharing with as many people as possible the award-winning new documentary “Arresting Power.” It will be for sale on DVD October 12, 2015. It is a great documentary for building a coalition between Mental Health activists, Black Lives Matter Activists, Police Accountability Activists, and other groups. The Department of Justice used many of the cases in this film to cite the Portland Police for using excessive force on people diagnosed as mentally ill.
Part 5: Is it More Than Just Profit?
Having just finished Robert Whitaker and Lisa Cosgove’s new book Psychiatry under the Influence, (it is a MUST READ) I am willing to step back and concur that it is not so much a bad apple in every state in these institutions as it is the “economy of influence.” But I would like to take it one step further and ask, what was/is the goal of those behind the economy of Influence, that finance the influencing. Is it more than just profit?
The social injuries that I have witnessed over and over again often cripple physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually individuals, families, and even communities. And the power to abuse seems to be growing, such as with the expansion sought in the Murphy bill.
What is to be gained by such crippling? Referring back to my experience with the armed guard who was at my door to ensure that my son complied with the order of his outpatient commitment (mandated injections that continue to cripple his body and tranquilize his mind), I am seriously pondering the essence of 1984‘s message; is Social Control as much or more the goal than profit?
Part 6: Preventative Measures from Above Have Failed Us Over and Over and Over Again
Research has shown, I believe, that preventive measures that were/are put in place from above, without local and community input, oversight, accountability, and control, can and are — over and over again — manipulated. And just like a chameleon that can change colors to camouflage itself, so those institutions were/are able to look like they were/are now on track, and safeguards have been put in place to assure us that we’re now protected. The reality is, I believe, that the economies of influence have gears that are turning, that cannot be stopped by laws, outside experts, and centralized oversight solely from above. The goals of social control and profit are too well entrenched. We will need We, the People to create real and lasting transformation that includes community visioning, accountability, and real control at the local level.
We, the people; Individuals, Families, and Diverse Groups Must Come Together, and Build Coalitions
We can ask the professionals and experts to sit at the table with us, only if they recognize that their destiny is intimately intertwined with ours. And then, together, we must talk, strategize, laugh, cry and believe we can build a better, saner community; where hearts can heal, dreams can come true, and accountability to the community/by the community is at the core. The Community Rights Movement is one example of how that might happen.
But there is no one right way. How healing and dream-building will look in each community might be very different. Nevertheless, hand to hand, heart to heart, I believe we can do it. I know we must; for ourselves, our loved ones, and for the coming seven generations.
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.