Disobedience: What Can We Risk?


This is a post about movement, strategy, lessons and spring.

In particular, for me, lessons from the amazing water protectors movement and resistance to pipelines that coalesced as an indigenous-led movement around Standing Rock, also raising issues of treaty rights, women’s rights and leadership, community building, and more. If you have not looked into that movement, please see Stand with Standing Rock, Oceti Sakowin Camp, Sacred Stone Camp, Lakota People’s Law Project, and Honor the Earth to learn and support. I offer my support to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and to the indigenous leadership before drawing out lessons, in gratitude. Actions still needed are donations for water protectors’ legal costs, divestment from the banks supporting Dakota Access Pipeline, and joining the march in Washington on March 10.  Information can be found on the sites listed; please join in some way to protect the water, the earth and the rights of indigenous peoples who are rising in prayer and nonviolence to turn back 500 years of genocide.

The lessons I want to draw out came for me in thinking about the water protectors, many of whom are dealing with historical trauma as indigenous persons, putting their bodies on the line and facing militarized police. They are caring for each other and not denying the trauma, and yet many have faced it numerous times. It made me wonder if I would be willing to remain in prayer and nonviolence to defend my body against forced psychiatry, to refuse to cooperate with it while remaining nonviolent.

When I was 18 years old and subjected to forced psychiatry, a long time ago, I lost myself; I did not have it in me to resist and thought that their might was unanswerable. Knowing they could physically overpower me and hurt me even more led me to look away from myself and put the pills in my own mouth. Today, I would like to be strong enough to face torture without giving it any of my acquiescence, without giving it energy and remaining calm. I do not know if I can, and I don’t judge anybody who breaks under torture. It is possible to heal, and at the same time healing also means restoring the part of oneself that can face violence and disobey to protect what is most sacred.

I am that sacred, and so are you. Our bodies and minds and souls are the same earth and water and sacredness that we need to protect when it is the planet and our communities. Putting our bodies on the line is not the same as cooperating in violence. One kind of suffering and sacrifice is not the same as the other, even though suffering and sacrifice happen in both cases.

If we can contemplate prayerful nonviolence in the face of forced psychiatry, what else must we ask of ourselves and our allies? An ethical commitment to stop forced psychiatry cannot be compromised in one’s personal life without calling into question one’s actions in relation to the cause. To put it plainly, if any of us profess to support the abolition of forced psychiatry, but in one’s work or personal life continue to collude and cooperate with having someone locked up or forcibly treated, the professed support becomes questionable. It is time to walk the talk, for everyone.

Whether you are a peer specialist, a psychiatrist, a social worker, a family member, friend, lawyer, police officer, or any other role, if some situation comes up where you think about handing someone over to psychiatry, just don’t. There is always a choice, it is not a question of excuse ‘because there is no alternative.’ The alternative is always to not do it, to not be used by the system to harm another person.

There are situations where your own safety is at risk, i.e. another person threatening your life, and I will not say don’t call the police even though the police might have the person locked up in psychiatry. There are situations genuinely beyond your control, though we owe it to our own ethical commitments to consider all the ramifications and make the best choice we know how. But don’t call 911 on somebody who is singing, or crying, or tells you they have a plan to take their own life, or all the situations we know about where people are struggling. Be with your own pain and theirs. Have enough humility to know that they know, that you aren’t special for being worried, that acting on your worry just makes it about you, and (despite what we’re taught to believe) puts you into a destructive relationship with power rather than making anything better for the other person.

Being real about our ethical commitments as a movement is necessary as an ongoing challenge to rise out of hopelessness and resignation. For too long we have had no support and no prospect of changing anything; resisters just get punished harder, like so many of our warriors continue to be. CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, has changed the landscape, and a few countries are starting to make significant reforms. Costa Rica recently enacted a reform of legal capacity that is not perfect but explicitly prohibits any substitute decision-making for free and informed consent to treatment; it must be consent by the person concerned. We have many allies at the UN and one colleague in a high position has said to me that the changes we have put in motion are ‘unstoppable.’

You can read about initiatives I’m working on in my last post and join them if they appeal to you. There is also some good news about a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, on mental health and human rights, that upholds the absolute prohibition of commitment and forced treatment. It is not yet linked on the web, but I will provide as soon as it is available.

Yet all these notifications and arguments mean little if we cannot step up in some small way, whatever is in our power, to make the ethical commitment to abolition of forced psychiatry and follow through on it in every part of our lives. What can we challenge ourselves to do that has loomed as an obstacle, where do we fear to go? What are we willing to risk, and if we are not willing to risk our own bodies, our own jobs, our own possibility of being ridiculed and our own failure, can we support others who can?


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. I have been feeling low–as many in MIA have–by the latest legislative fiasco to help us die with our rights OFF. After reading this article, I realize there are other ways to interpret this. The pharma-psychiatric industry would not have gone to such great lengths to push this through if they didn’t feel threatened. They probably spent a fortune in campaign contribution$.

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  2. Tina Minkowitz,

    That reminds me 3 issues:

    A) if we want to be effective… is wise to post it at a public forum?
    The guidelines of MIA say:::::::::::::::::::

    B) I seem to recall you have legal traing (laws)? Well that is much needed. When people get locked at psychiatric hospitals, at all floors there are their “rigths & duties”.
    Which are lies. Tina, if you have the time. We need guidance on that front. We… from all countries. I am at Europe, and i am a ex-user of forced psychiatric drugs.

    C) Is wise to go to batles that can be won. In other words: choose where to figth, when to figth, for what. And that brings us back to: A) If you make publicity of you are going to do… “D day” had sucess because was a careful secret, and had lots of disinformation too.

    Naif people don win. Not calling you naif, but many write/chat a lot at MIA… and are clueless about the basics.

    That said… i am learing the basics myself. I would apreciate your input about “rigths & duties of people locked at mental hospitals”.

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    • Hi AntiP,

      Regarding rights and duties, I will speak about international human rights law, a system that has developed over time with certain principles and aims to be above and beyond the laws created by states. It is above and beyond because it talks about duties that states have towards the people.

      It is true that people also have duties to each other, and it is basically to treat one another as we want to be treated. So the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says we all have duties to each other, without which no one would enjoy their basic human rights. But people labeled by psychiatry have no more duties than anybody else is, and we sure don’t have a duty to accept subordination to psychiatry, we don’t have a duty to accept being locked up or forcibly treated. The duties that governments come up with, that might be what they post in psych wards, are how they want us to behave there. So I’d say take that with many grains of salt. They might have the power to enforce those ‘duties’ against you, the power to punish you if you don’t do what they say. And they may be supported in that by the country’s domestic law, but they may not be; what they claim to be your duties might be only the policy of a particular institution.

      Now about rights. Also with rights, we have the same rights as anyone else. This is the single most basic premise underlying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Governments that ratify the CRPD undertake an obligation to not discriminate against anyone based on disability. It is clear from the negotiation history and many of the CRPD’s provisions that it is intended to cover psychiatrically labeled people, and I don’t think there is serious disagreement on this any more. The CRPD says that everyone has legal capacity (right to make decisions) and the right to have others respect their will and preferences; that there can be no deprivation of liberty based on disability (psych commitment or similar regimes); that we have the right to free and informed consent in health care, and to not be tortured or otherwise ill-treated; and that we have a right to be provided with supports if we choose them, for living in the community and also for help with decision-making; these supports are not to be imposed against our will.

      Many governments and academics try to find ways to make the CRPD fit with psych commitment and forced treatment, by ignoring some of what it says or not taking the totality of all provisions; these are often deliberate moves rather than misinterpretation, especially post-2015 since the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issued substantive interpretive guidelines on Article 12 (legal capacity) and Article 14 (liberty and security of person). So we fight back.

      You can contact me through this website by email, if you want to talk more about your country situation and prefer to do it more privately.

      Regarding the rest, I don’t think I’m saying anything that has to be kept private for security reasons. Yes, if psychiatry is watching this blog, they may know that a level of resistance is being encouraged. But I believe it is a kind of resistance that builds our stamina and rises, it is not an aggression that they can respond to by making us feel bad or doubtful about ourselves, or provoke us into escalation that lets others paint us as bad and scary. If we are to be scary, it will be for our spiritual power. And like other non-violent movements before us, we rise because of our ethical commitments, because everything stems from that, and that is exactly where psychiatry is weak. They cannot win, because they are wrong.

      I’m not naive, violence happens and will happen and you know, violence is already happening against us just as it was happening and continues to happen against Native Americans, just as it happened and continues to happen against African Americans before, during and after the civil rights movement. It’s about how we act, how we meet the systemic, endemic violence we are surrounded by and find ways to stay grounded in our own love and the power of the sacred, however we relate to that.

      All the best,


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      • Tina,
        Thanks for your reply. I did some search for info before i asked you (my home homework, so to say). At the psychiatric hospital i know, these “rigths & duties” are written (at big fonts), at the walls. But are not real, they do not fit the situations (are lies).

        I digged a bit deeper (looked at the listed law at that publicty).

        And it gets very complicated. At the publicity it says one (1) law and the law number/time.

        Yet… at a version used by the NURSE it lists: FIVE (5) laws/regulations, from several different national organizations. Clearly… is not to be understood, is deliberatly confusing.

        And one aspect that does not help… if i want to ask a laywer to explaiin that… they ask 100 euros/hour (about 105 US dollars/hour). I cant pay that (that lawyer isnt even a expert at that, he never investigated that).

        At my country… the people that got forced into psychiatric hospitals, menage to get out, and complained (at court), and also went public (as in public newspapers), are almost ZERO.
        And worse the doctors destroy them left and rigth (with ease).

        Tina, i thank you for your will help. I will not contact you at this moment (likely will in a few months), since i want to have copies at the laws, read them and see where there are legal holes and lies. And then i post here at MIA that (under AntiP), that i am doing that, so you can see is me.
        At the time i am too busy to do that, just wanted to know you would help, Tina.
        At the moment i dont know to ask the rigth questions. And i value your time, and do not want to waste it.

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  3. I commend you, Tina, for speaking out against forced treatment and human rights violations. So many who should be doing the same are not willing to do so. The first step to fighting forced treatment and human rights violations is recognizing that they occur. Treatment alternatives, and the government funding that goes along with it, have made it more difficult for some people to speak out because they are in programs colluding with the very people that are keeping people down. The mental health system is expanding. Realize that this is not a good thing. When the system expands more people are said to be “sick”. When the system contracts fewer people are said to be “sick”. The system is not likely to contract until more people start speaking out against its expansion. When more people speak out, we are going to have more of that non-violent resistance you speak of. The subterfuge under which the Murphy bill advanced into law must have taught us something. It’s time, the time for nonviolent resistance, given the pervasive expansion of mental health services, and into all aspects of life, is long overdue.

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    • Yes, speaking out is the first step. Those in a position to speak out without risking their own bodies and lives have an obligation to do so. At a minimum. And we have to hold people in the movement – by which I am including allies, not only survivors – accountable for how they act on their ethical positions, and for whether they take a position opposing all forced psychiatry to begin with. There is no middle ground on this, I am tired of coddling people and being expected to treat someone as my friend when they refuse to support my basic human right to not be subjected to torture and arbitrary detention. (Note that all discriminatory detention is considered arbitrary detention, so using this term doesn’t mean we’re just asking them to follow their own laws, all psych commitment is arbitrary detention under the CRPD standards.)

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  4. In the Gulf of Mexico, there are more than 600 natural oil seeps that leak between one and five million barrels of oil per year, equivalent to roughly 80,000 to 200,000 tonnes. When a petroleum seep forms underwater it may form a peculiar type of volcano known as an asphalt volcano.

    There is effectively an oil spill every day at Coal Oil Point (COP), the natural seeps off Santa Barbara where 20 to 25 tons of oil have leaked from the seafloor each day for the last several hundred thousand years.


    Also Click on Google images http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/OB-BU281_kurdoi_20080708110432.jpg

    Tina your articles are my favorite cause they hit psychiatry hard, bam ! But I think fighting the DAPL is wasted rebellious energy that could be better spent on other things. I am thinking DAPL might be a ruse to divert the most effective activists and many people away from other things they don’t want protested.

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    • Have to strenuously disagree on this one, The_cat. The Donald just appointed an enemy of environmental protection head of the EPA. His administration is likely to be exploiting the very fossil fuels that are behind the current global warming crisis the world is experiencing today. What does this mean? Fewer regulations and more pollution for the sake of maximizing profits. There is no question as to who is going to be experiencing the brunt of this sort of appointment, the average citizen. Capital hill politics is no longer an exclusive millionaires club. Nope, with the Donald it has become a billionaire’s club. If you’re going to develop energy resources, at least develop clean ones, otherwise, somebody is going to have to put an end to your dirty pool game eventually anyway. It’s called ethics and good government which are not the sort of things we are going to get out of an oligarchy of the sort we’ve got at the time being.

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      • CO2 is plant food. All that oil , coal and gas was in the atmosphere as CO2 before the plants used it, died and turned into oil , coal and gas. Without CO2 everything on earth would die.

        “If your going to develop energy resources, at least develop clean ones”

        When Trump gets government off businesses backs, especially the small ones the people building the futures technology will be able to get the job done !!!!

        Zero Motorcycles – Manufacturer of 100% electric motorcycles for the street and dirt. Designed to be powerful, efficient and thrilling to ride, proudly made in the USA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrPr6GAfmwc

        Elon Musk the dude building some of the best clean energy stuff is also a billionaire, I guess the left hates him too.

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        • “CO2 is plant food. All that oil , coal and gas was in the atmosphere as CO2 before the plants used it, died and turned into oil , coal and gas. Without CO2 everything on earth would die.”

          Actually, this is a gross scientific misunderstanding. There never have been levels of C02 in the atmosphere as there are now. The carbon that became coal, oil, and gas, came from fossils – and only coal came from plants; Oil and natural gas are from animal fossils. This C02 was never in the atmosphere previously, it was in living bodies. It became sequestered in the ground via millions of years of fossilization. The unatural state of mechanical and chemical extraction and burning the fuel is what leads to the C02 being trapped in the atmosphere. That c02 is what is causing the massive Great Coral Reef bleaching and death. The widespread deforestation of the Amazon and African jungles have reduced the ability of plant life to suck that excess C02 out of the atmosphere.

          I fail to see how deregulating the industry to allow pollution will provide any of us with better health or quality of life. I do see how it might affect shareholders and profits though. Without clean water, there will be no profits.

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          • If anybody remembers the LA beltway from the 60s and 70s the thing was notorious for its pollution due to the nitrogen emissions from automobiles. If there was any apt comparison it might be with the Peking of today. Turning the world into another Peking would not be an improvement. It would be a disaster for all forms of life.

            The businesses the Donald might relieve from government interference are the big ones. Oil and gas are big, big business. The coal industry may be dying, but that’s because it should die. There are cheaper, cleaner, more effective fuels available. that don’t require the same risk to human life. The Donald might revive this dying industry at the expense, think Geo-thermal and solar, of energy that is safer, cleaner, and more effective all the way around. Just because they have a gold mine in the oil business doesn’t mean that they should have a gold mine, or that this industry license should hold out for an eternity. Sooner or later something has to be done, and it is already growing late. The Donald represents an evasion of the facts all the way around. He can call himself an environmentalist as much as he wants to, it’s just that his actions make a whopper of that one.

            As far as I’m concerned, like the hashtag #NotMyPresident, this billionaire pompous ass, regardless of what he says about boosting small business, for the sake of big business no doubt, doesn’t represent me.

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          • Plus this problem is causing the glaciers in the Himalayas to melt at rates never seen before. These glaciers, and the winds that blow across them are responsible for the monsoons that bring life to huge populations of people all across the world. Something like 60% of the world’s population depends on the monsoons in their areas to provide the rain for growing crops and for drinking. These glaciers are also the source of three main rivers that supply water to millions of people, the Ganges being one and being old I’ve forgotten the other two but they are major rivers of the world.

            So, what happens when there are no longer glaciers to provide all of this for 60% of the world? Widespread droughts of major proportions leading to famine and thirst on a huge scale.

            But who cares about all that as long as companies can make money right now here in the United States???? Money makes the world go round……..until there’s no longer any water to drink or grow food with.

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      • Take fracting for instance. People in areas where this takes place on the part of the oil companies are experiencing earthquakes. These seem to be small at this point but they’re experienced in areas where earthquakes were unknown up until now. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want to be in an earthquake no matter what the size of the damned thing. I live on the New Madrid Fault. In the early 1800’s this fault experienced an earthquake that was large enough to change the flow of the Mississippi River. It’s a huge fault that will cause terrible and widespread damage and loss of life if and when a quake happens. I don’t want fracting to set off a major occurrence in this area and yet the oil companies state that there’s no problems, no dangers, everything is perfectly safe and hunky dory fine. NOT! All this is done to enhance the production of a fossil fuel that is running out and I’m afraid that it will result in catastrophes that they never thought of.

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  5. I think if more people here would speak up about injustice using their real names with actual photos, it would be powerful… as do people like myself and Frank Blankenship and Tina Minkowitz. If so many people are commenting under pseudonyms, it speaks about how afraid many of us are to be seen and say what we have to say publicly.

    In some cases it is indeed too risky, due to threats like job loss, repercussions from the system or from family, and so on. In other cases, the fear is mostly a perception, and if a person starts speaking up under their real name, nothing that bad will happen. The latter has been my experience. So, let this be a challenge to others to come out from the shadows if they feel they can, and if they have the guts to do so.

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    • Right now I’m forced to lie to my parents about taking prescription brain drugs they call “medicine.” Tried to educate them; you would think they would want me to recover. All I can think is they’re too lazy to do the research or even listen to the research I have compiled. And too selfish to care about me. So I guess they deserve to be deceived.

      Hope to escape soon. May use my real full name then.


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      • “All I can think is they’re too lazy to do the research or even listen to the research I have compiled.”

        Send the research to there Emails. You can even be sneaky and make an e-mail like “LatestPsychiatricResearch@(any email provider goes here) so it seems like they just got on a mailing list.

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      • Rachel, I hope you will become freer soon and more able to speak up as you wish.

        I only considered speaking up publicly once I had moved away from my family to live independently, stopped taking all psych drugs, became established and secure financially. There is a certain base level of resources and self-sufficiency that is needed to limit that risk that comes with speaking out publicly about such difficult issues as psychiatric diagnoses and treatments one has been through.

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      • Rachel, thanks for being here and doing what you are doing to save yourself.

        I don’t think that disobedience means flinging yourself at everybody standing in your way, making a big show. It’s how we care for ourselves and decisions we make in every moment, what will serve and preserve the sacred in us, and in others and in the planet. Sometimes that is deception, and I have no problems with it as a means of preventing forced psychiatry.

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        • Thank you Tina. I’m hopeful I can help others to realize they can “do life” without prescription drugs–if I can succeed in freeing myself.

          I’m not actually the deceiver of my parents. Psychiatrists deceived them with their metaphors, just like they deceived me for over 20 years. Undeceiving them will take some major education. Mom has become intellectually lazy in retirement and gets all her information off television. Sometimes I despair where she’s concerned.

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    • I don’t want to tell the world or at least anyone who Googles my “official” name that I fell for the chemical imbalance lie, took psychiatric drugs, got sick and was abused in psychiatric hospitals.

      (The federal courts have ruled again and again that changing your name at will or, by “common law” is every citizen’s right under the U.S. Constitution. Using this “common law rule,” you can change your name without even going to court. Technically, you only need to begin using your chosen name to assume it – and can do so legally. http://www.google.com/search?q=common+law+name+change)

      My goal and what I do for the human rights and truth in psychiatry movement is just do my best to spread links get views and inform as many people as I can.

      I have a thread I started on this site that has to have 100,000 views by now because it appears first page second link Google results for a very popular psychiatric search term. I know this cause I tagged those keywords using another forum with a view counter and it got 400 views a week before it fell back to page 4 results. I would link to that thread but its good as is, and most importantly leads people to finding MIA and I don’t want anyone writing something stupid on it.

      Its kind of fun targeting psychiatric search terms, you make the thread topic, expose all the dirt and then in a few days search the terms and see if you scored a first page search results link. It feels like winning on a slot machine, first page result, WINNER !!!

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      • Cat, it is difficult to admit these things publicly, but I think there is nothing wrong with making mistakes and having been hurt when we didn’t know better. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I also took psych drugs, was afraid of the idea of incurable mental illnesses, etc, at one time in the past. It’s ok… sometimes we make mistakes, and now we know better.

        Having said this you should do whatever you think is best. I like your posts and think your online consciousness-raising is very valuable. I also like the humor in some of your posts as that is very therapeutic when people are seeking relief from a system as oppressive as mainstream psychiatric treatment… so well done.

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        • I agree, I don’t call falling for the psychiatric lies a mistake on our parts. Americans are trained from an early age to respect and believe what doctors tell us about our health. We take what doctors say as gospel truth with little questioning.

          Most people have no idea that many psychiatrists are little more than quacks when it comes to the specialty of medicine that they practice. True, they are doctors in general but their so-called specialty of medicine is quackery in the highest level. But most people don’t realize this.

          I know that I sure didn’t when I got hooked into the system. When I was dragged in I thought, very mistakenly, that psychiatrists did talk therapy with people in their care. Boy was I disabused of that stupidity when they came at me with the toxic drugs when all I needed was someone to listen to me and validate my experiences. Luckily, I was always able to speak for and stand up for myself; plus I had a somewhat enlightened psychiatrist who realized that I knew what I needed to regain balance in my life and it had nothing at all to do with drugs. He allowed me to set my own “treatment”. I later learned that I was extremely lucky and that most people are not nearly as lucky as I was.

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      • Then why are you fist bumping with the guy with the ex/ax to grind over there in the ‘BPD’ disorder article posted yesterday? You know, where you go on about your BPD diagnosed ex? Which is it cat? A DSM diagnosis is good for some but not for yourself?

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        • I wound up with a BPD diagnosis from my caseworker. I had suicidal thoughts and intense feelings of self-loathing. The only normal guy who ever stooped to date me broke up for no apparent reason. My mom comforted by saying he was a wonderful guy, the only nice guy I had ever gone with; he couldn’t stand to be with someone mentally ill; and someone with SMI like me should expect to live alone and die a virgin as a matter of course; so I should just shut up and get over it cause no one cared. I guess Mom had an indirect part in my BPD diagnosis as well.

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    • Matt, I do think it speaks volumes about the level of trauma that many of us have been through that we are unable to come out of the shadows. Despite graduating with triple honors in 2013, representing my honors society chapter at International convention in 2008, despite any and every ability I have shown, my paper trail says I am “low-functioning” and seriously mentally ill with years of long-term hospitalizations and extended periods taking 10+ medications at a time. As a serious childhood trauma victim who didn’t make great decisions in my early life, paper me doesn’t resemble current me in any way. Paper me led real me to be hauled off in handcuffs from a premarital counseling session just two short years ago when during the session I said “I’m done”. My fiance, who is also an ex-service user but whose paper trail faded away before electronic medical record keeping, and I were buying a house and having difficulty obtaining the mortgage and I told fiance I wanted him to take over the process because I found the roadblocks very stressful. But the therapist decided “I’m done” was a suicide threat and had me taken away by the police in handcuffs. Twelve hours later, I was released with an apology by the emergency room. The doctor said I was clearly fine and the social worker quietly said I wasn’t the only person our therapist had committed that day who was perfectly fine and had been released with an apology. I am med free after years of tapering and withdrawal. I am not out of the woods and I would rather be dead by any means necessary than go back to that low quality of life. Maybe with distance my feelings will change but right now I will keep my head down as an ex-service user until such a date as my paper trail stops haunting me.

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      • And, frankly speaking, given the ability of websites to detect a unique fingerprint from people’s web browsers now, even speaking under a pseudonym can sometimes feel unsafe. I’m not under any illusions that if someone tried hard enough, they couldn’t figure out my identity. There is only so much real anonymity one can obtain without using Tor browser, PGP, and never revealing any personal details. I find using a pseudonym but not going to great lengths to cover my electronic tracks to be an acceptable level of risk at this time.

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      • Kindredspirit, thanks for sharing this story… sorry to hear about the incredibly irresponsible therapist and what that put you through.

        Again, I think people should do whatever they feel necessary to stay safe.

        Having said this, many people, including many authors of MIA articles here like Olga Runciman, Eleanor Longden, Caleb Chafe, myself etc, eventually reach a point where they feel free enough emotionally and financially to speak up publicly about their experiences. I think this is a positive thing, because there should be no shame in having receive invalid psychiatric diagnoses, having taken drugs (however one thinks about drugs), having been harmed by treatments which one didn’t want, etc. And so I hope more people will do this.

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      • I really do not mean to say that everyone needs to blast their experiences in the world. Part of the violation committed against us was putting all our private experiences on display, to be picked over by people who were hostile to us. Decisions about what to be public about are personal and situational, in my opinion.

        It can serve the movement for people to come out publicly, but I think for too long we have acted as if telling our stories is the most important thing. Sometimes it can be better to, for instance, write a pseudonymous blog, or help others get out of psychiatry, or any number of things that can be done quietly.

        Having said that, I do think that if one is getting active on these issues, speaking out, I do ask the person to come out as a survivor and not pretend they are just an ally.

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  6. Matt Stevenson,
    As you saw recently, a female user posted under a name that was not her own. And was a great article. She told us her story and she had the guts (courage).

    You migth be aware (Robert Whitaker likely is, since he is a journalist), that some journalists that cover themes envolving big money, big power… die doing their duties.

    Not all journalists, just some of those who have guts (courage), and cant get bougth, or arrived too near profitables lies. And did not got enough brains (or technology), to protect them selves enough.

    Quote: “48 Journalists Killed in 2016/ Motive Confirmed”.

    Beats Covered by Victims:
    75% War
    38% Politics
    19% Corruption
    17% Human Rights
    17% Crime
    13% Culture
    4% Business
    4% Sports

    So, maybe: APA, DSM, PHARMA, goverments… are envolved with:
    Human Rights
    Crime (drugs, legal or not so legal)?

    You may have heard that at Africa or Brasil, activists for animals; or activists for endangered native minorities (and their lands), … those activist get in trouble, may disapear for ever… or when they appear…they are in more pieces than one.



    Quote: “A whistleblower (also known as a whistle-blower or whistle blower)[1] is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organization that is either private or public.[2] The information of alleged wrongdoing can be classified in many ways: violation of company policy/rules, law, regulation, or threat to public interest/national security, as well as fraud, and corruption.”

    A current case of whistleblower is: Edward Snowden. Had he not been gutless, nobody would know about some nice things of some pretty organizations and their programs. So Snowden had to run away the the land of the free.

    Or the poor Edward would be in jail (or dead), today. Thanks Snowden.

    Another case? Jeffrey S. Wigand.


    Quote: “Wigand became nationally known as a whistleblower on February 4, 1996, when he appeared on the CBS news program 60 Minutes and stated that Brown & Williamson had intentionally manipulated its tobacco blend with chemicals such as ammonia to increase the effect of nicotine in cigarette smoke.[2] Wigand claimed that he was subsequently harassed and received anonymous death threats.”

    Does the Big Tobaco has someting in common with Big Pharma? Dont both play very dirty?


    Deep Throat (Watergate). Well case know across the word. Another gutless? Or wise?
    Some people say a case like Watergate wont be possible anymore.

    Reason: the system is not too good at data mining. And these is no privacy/ rigths anymore.

    That is why i asked Tina, hope she can help to inform us, about the holes in that laws.

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    • Big Tobacco frightens me less than Big Pharma. Big Tobacco has no legal right to lock you up and hold you down while forcing you to hold cigarettes in your mouth. Big Tobacco can’t demonize you for refusing to smoke. Big Tobacco doesn’t fool family members into thinking that smokes are good for you. “Herby doesn’t complain as much when we make him keep a lighted cigarette in his mouth 12 hours a day, like his smoketologist ordered. His nicotine therapy must be working!” (Of course Herbert can’t talk much at all while holding something between his lips. And he’s too sick from nicotine poisoning to argue anymore.)

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      • I love your analogy. It is certainly prescient in current times, though I would argue that Big Tobacco of the 1940s – 1970s certainly did fool many into believing smokes were good for you. And many paid the price for that through life-shortening diseases. Whether it’s BigPharma shoving drugs down your throat or Big Tobacco telling you your cancer sticks are healthy, or Big Oil lobbying for pipelines, or another current controversy, BigAgriculture and their monculture, pesticides and GMOs. The ‘bigger’ picture is that these are David and Goliath scenarios where a powerful lobby groups hijack the national and political narrative to benefit their side at the expense of us lowly citizens. I have learned to look for the money whenever someone tells me what is “good” for me.

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    • AntiP, I agree. Relative to your points about journalists, if I lived in certain countries or settings I would not write online publicly or under a real name. But living where I do, being in the US and not currently involved with the psychiatric system, I feel it’s a calculated, worthwhile risk.

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  7. Thanks for this Tina. The Native Americans have had such medical, psychological, environmental traumas since western civilization crossed into their lands. It is amazing that they are still standing and fighting! It gives me hope like with other minority confluences of human groupings. So many abuses and deaths and yet we humans still rise.
    Matt, I hear you and I still struggle. I need to be able integrate my lives as a professional, parent, and psych survivor. Some of the things that have happened have been a pink-slipping while I was at a bank. The memories are torturous. I have outed myself in the past to problems. While I did the NAMI thing
    ( I had no other place to turn to talk about my hospitalizations and med concerns. I had never felt comfortable with them as a professional but I was so lonely and so angry. I thought I would give it a try. It only made things so much worse)

    I sent a letter as they suggested to neighbors asking for money. Bad idea I know. And stupid me in solidarity with others used the word ” schizophrenic”. I think that damaged our whole family in the eyes of the neighborhood. And it damaged me when they would call the police on me. It damaged my children and my husband ( a metal health professional) who was so very very ignorant ( not sure why as of now) of what was happening.
    I am super aware of ” the change of tone” many people use when you self disclose. And the problem is you never know who will be prejudiced and who won’t be. It ls like playing Russian roulette sometimes. The risk can be great and future ramifications can have a long road out.
    I would self disclose if I was in a safe space, with a community for support. I don’t have that. I feel the need to move but family issues are still keeping me here. The expsych patient as parent. There are worlds of issues that never get to see the light of day that we folks deal with unable to speak about them.
    So I have done gutsy things. When the bank had the police and EMS I shouted on purpose Michael Brown, Sandra Blonde and when they tried to put in the van I acted out again verbally saying I was a traumatized female and being surrounded by a circle of uniform men was traumatizing in and of it self. For that I was handcuffed, face masked and restrained. So I can be gutsy but sometimes not in the healthiest way for me. I can only hope I gave those men nightmares – so much for serving and protecting. I called them out on their diagnosing of me. I called them out on my history with diagnosing and doing so much better with folks than most of the psychiatrists. And the shrinks knew it! I could have told them my story. That was not allowed.
    This was an awful incident that never should have happened. The whole thing on police involved in mental health is something that is another issue. I can’t imagine any police officer who wanted to go into that type of job have the desire or the personality set to deal with people in crisis. Communities here and everywhere need folks who are trained and willing to provide emotional CPR or whatever to deescalate and help instead of traumatize and hurt.
    So I still need to cling to my pen name. When I have integrated all my history of trauma and abuse and feel safe then I can come on board.
    Could we have an encrypted site for this and for organizing? Organizing again for me is traumatic. I really don’t want to do do the acting out piece again. It wasn’t fun. But I would be willing to share my ideas.

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  8. Tina, thank you for this article. I am proud to #standwithstandingrock. My fiance and I attended the sit-in at the Army Corps and march on the white house in November and we will be at the march in March. I find it much easier to stand up for the environment (or feminism, BLM, mexicans/muslims, police brutality, abortion, etc) than for anti-psychiatry – probably because far more people understand the implications of poisoning the water than for poisoning our bodies with legal prescription drugs. I nearly went out to Standing Rock but I thought that might be irresponsible in my still healing physical state. There were several thousand people at the sit-in and rally in DC in November. When thousands show up for psych rights, I’ll be very impressed. So far, it seems that groups that manage to get themselves extracted from the DSM, do so at the expense of other groups. They don’t stand up for everyone’s rights, they distinguish themselves as “not like the real crazies”. It will be hard to form a cohesive movement against this oppression if the response from groups who get free is wholesale abandonment of the groups that are left, if that makes sense.

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    • kindredspirit,
      I believe you said something important here:
      Quote: “When thousands show up for psych rights, I’ll be very impressed.”

      Re: But… that wont be any time soon. The homosexuals menanged to to get out of the DSM? Yes.
      But they did not stopped them, they did not lost strengh under the AIDS crises
      They figthed back, they are pro-active.

      I am not very familiar with the tactics the homosexual comunity used against the APA (or the circunstances, hey i live at Europe). Yet their convictions, assertive ways and tactics… WORKED.
      And they had courage, organization, were not naif and lost their fears.

      Now… those that are “chemically lobotomized”… for years… those who are comfortable with a pay check… wont figth back against the APA and the psychiatricts.

      The reasons why SZ (for example) are so divided and lacking common sense… i am not sure. Robert Whitaker did a great job at explaining the great picture… but missed that details (how PHARMA and APA defeated us).

      Yes, i thing i read this week at MIA “un-stopable”…. nah. The worse is yet to come. Hope i am wrong.

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      • I am the hippie free-loving child and niece of lesbians and grew up in the gay community during the AIDS crisis. My activist mother marched on Washington in 1990 and staffed an AIDS hotline in the late 80’s, so I do have firsthand knowledge of this. Their (the gay community’s) tactics worked, but their tactics left everyone else behind, which I find upsetting, then and now. I have been intrigued by the tactics for acceptance by the trans community, which appear to involve wholesale embracing of traditional psychiatry to prove they are so sick as to need surgical correction to fix the sickness of gender dysphoria. It will be interesting to see in the long run how that works for them. Why we can’t just have the right to choose who to love and, as consenting adults, change the presentation of our external genitalia by right, I do not understand.

        I do think that if the gay and jewish and mexican and muslim and indiginous communities stood together with the anti-p crowd, they could elevate our voices in the same way they ask allies to elevate theirs.

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        • kindredspirit,

          Quote: “I do think that if the gay and jewish and mexican and muslim and indiginous communities stood together with the anti-p crowd, they could elevate our voices in the same way they ask allies to elevate theirs.”

          re: I have yet to see what is been by ex-users (at other countries than my own). At my country, nothing that i am aware made roots. Left no trace. The “peer illusion” or/and “self-help groups”, as i see it (at may country), fully lack energy/ drive/ vision. Seems to have stop in time and in reality are just: “all show, no play”.

          As for ex-users… they must exist, but health professionals (here), deny us any contacts among us. Keep us divided and hopless (and not informed, of course).

          As for “wanna be” ex-users. As i see it, most lack what it takes: a deep will to figth back and re-gain power.

          So, i am learning her at MIA what is necessary…

          As for get allies (gay, Jewish, or others),… is very problematic. As (at least SZ), behave… how to say it… “weird” sometimes… And half of them smoke for a living.

          I think people under psychiatric medication… think second rate thougts, have less drive (or something like that).

          I dont think is a acident that we need Robert Whitaker. The descrives the problems of Sz better than any SZ i know. And i dont see that changing any time soon…

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          • I agree. And perhaps it is asking too much of an already marginalized group to stand up against what seems like prevailing wisdom (chemical imbalance, disease-model, etc). For me it seems easier to stand up for others as an ally than to stand up against my own oppressors as the oppressed. I’ll have to think on this some more.

            I think I agree about wanna-be ex-users. I have encountered nothing but resistance from current users in my personal life, both to my leaving treatment, and defending their own treatment. Except for one who saw how well I was off meds and quit her meds cold turkey and crashed and decided it was proof her meds worked. I despair. I know I was extremely resistant for many years before I got out. I did identify as my illness. I hope I have the fortitude to continue to plant the seeds but the backlash has been so extreme that I don’t know how much to bother. I just keep my head down except for here at MIA, which is the only place I speak out anymore on the subject.

            Robert Whitaker certainly has provided the foundation to elevate other voices. I have been most grateful for Bruce Levine’s writings both here and at Zmag. They have given me a better understanding of myself as both a former patient and as a lifelong activist and contrarian.

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    • kindredspirit,

      I agree with you about groups that try to get taken out of the DSM sometimes doing that at the expense of everyone else. I am active in feminist and lesbian groups, where it is something I struggle with at times, to look at the ways that, for example, many lesbians are still being psychiatrized for their sexuality alone, or because someone suspects their sexuality. And at the same time not differentiate, not make that the sole issue facing lesbians who have been psychiatrized, because many of us are psychiatrized for other reasons, labeled in ways and circumstances that aren’t apparently related to being lesbian. That is how I approach it in this situation that I relate to personally, and I think it can be done in other intersectionalities also.

      I know a couple of psych survivors who have gone to Standing Rock, and think it is a good energy to connect with, however we relate it to the psych survivor aspect of our lives and work.

      Take care,


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  9. What can we challenge ourselves to do that has loomed as an obstacle, where do we fear to go? What are we willing to risk, and if we are not willing to risk our own bodies, our own jobs, our own possibility of being ridiculed and our own failure, can we support others who can?

    All excellent questions which we should be asking one another, and others, and which need to be soberly assessed by everyone on a personal level, without judgement or pretense, as to what each individual can afford to risk (if necessary) without being self-destructive. Impulsivity is dangerous and organization is mandatory. Hopefully more and more people at MIA will agree and will be open to organized proposals in the near future regarding where to go as a movement, and how.

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    • I agree with oldhead.
      To the readers of MIA:

      To take (calculated) risks… will be needed.
      There will be problems.
      There will be losses and regrets.
      A few will show the way… hoping at some point… others will need to do their part… taking the candle a litle further.

      Now as for naif ideas… of protests… with no plan…
      Chat about everything and then forget…
      Ask for pity…
      And speaking loudly from the sofa… and have have no useful contribution to give,,,
      Or hope for the best, and faith in GOD… and have no “plan B”…

      Well if so… 🙂
      Stay at the sofa, see TV. “The Simpsons”. Or talk about Trump.

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    • Yes, agree.

      I don’t think that we will necessarily ‘as a movement’ make decisions together, on this website or anywhere else. But who knows, maybe something will coalesce and we will only know when it happens. We have to be alert to what moves us, and what inspires us. Many good things are happening in other parts of the world, and MIA is still America-centric, for example.

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  10. Tina, I also commend you for speaking out. But I think the idea of Healing, is completely misplaced. You don’t heal from ongoing injustice. Psychotherapy, Psychiatry, Recovery, and the Middle-Class Family, these are always on going injustice.

    We survivors live in pain, not because we need healing, but because we have zero social standing. And the idea of Psychotherapy and Recovery is to keep it this way. It’s the survivors of abuse, now abusing each other.

    So we need Redress for Wrongs, not Recovery and Religion.


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      • By the way, I couldn’t reply to you when you commented about why Iran and the Palestinians hate us. It amazes me how well-read you are about so many things. Few people know that Iran hates us because we executed their duly elected prime minister in the early 50’s when he tried to nationalize the British and American oil companies that were raping his country for oil. Then we brought back the Shaw from exile in France and put him back on the Peacock Throne, a man so cruel to his own people that it’s unbelievable. We destroyed a parliamentary form of government that was elected by the Iranian people in free, democratic elections. Of course, we did this because the oil companies demanded that the American president and Congress do something about this very unfortunate development that would have taken money out of the pockets of the company that Rex Tillerson was CEO of until just recently.

        I hesitant to talk about the Palestinian problem because people will think that I’m anti-Semitic and I don’t have the energy to fool with that today.

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        • Lots of countries in Africa shouldn’t have any great love for us either because of our interference in their governments after they were freed from their colonial overlords. Most of that interference was done simply for monetary gain on the part of people in the government.

          When it comes right down to it, it’s surprising that so many countries get along with us when you look at the history of our interference in any place that we could poke our nose into. We assassinated President Allende in Chile and then supported the right wing military dictator who rose to fill the vacuum. Wonderful Pinochet, who was responsible for how many thousands of his own people “disappearing”. And it took the mothers of the Disappeared coming and putting their white handprints on the wall and meeting very week to finally lead to his downfall.

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        • The CIA engineered the overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian president, I think in 1953, and as you said, installed the Shah. At one point there wasn’t anyone in the country who didn’t know someone who had been killed or maimed by the Shah. Just imagine the reaction here if another country’s intelligence service had actually done this to us. But no, the Iranians are imagined to have some dangerous, irrational “hatred of Americans.” But it’s more hatred of the government than the people.

          A friend who works with the Palestinian support group BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) says they have a term “PEP” for certain liberals which means “progressive except for Palestine”; I’ve suggested before that we have our own equivalent PEP acronym: “progressive except for psychiatry.”

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          • I heard a reporter who was in Tehran two weeks ago state that he talked with many Iranians on the street and they did not express any hatred of the American people. Instead, we are rather admired. But they do not like our government at all.

            The Palestinian/Israeli situation was actually created by the British when they fled from Palestine in 1948. There was no state of Israel until the Jewish influx to the area. And the Israelis try to use Hebrew Scriptures to legitimate their takeover of the land of Palestine and they state that Yahweh mandated all of this. Some Palestinian families have lived in those refugee camps for three or four generations. It’s no wonder that those places are fertile beds for the development of what is referred to as terrorism. Give me a break! It reminds me of the colonization of America by White Europeans. And most people don’t realize that there were no royal and ruling families in Jordan and Saudi Arabia until the British created such families in the early 1900’s. Thank you Great Britain for causing such huge world problems.

            I was once a Religion teacher in Catholic schools. For a few years I had to teach Social Justice and boy was that a trip. The things I learned in my studies to put my lessons together about United States world policy was totally shocking. Those two years started my investigation into trying to find the truth about the things we do as a government. For instance, our Foreign Aid policies are ways of supporting American businesses at the expense of people in countries receiving our aid. We push products that are not allowed to be sold here any longer and we push surplus products that large companies have on their books that they aren’t going to be able to sell here. Most of the time these products have no relation to the actual needs of the people receiving the aid. We are actually taking advantage of people at their expense. If they protest the products and point out that they are not helpful to them our government then threatens them with revoking all aid in the future. I learned more than I ever wanted to know; ignorance is sometimes bliss. And then the students called me a Communist when I tried to teach about these things! That was back in the day when such a thing was actually a slur.

            I guess I’m way off topic but it’s always of interest to me when I find someone else who knows about all this stuff.

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  11. What can we risk? What are we risking if we do nothing. We must start opposing Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery, and doing so in public, and by all available means.

    Lets start organizing actions, rather than having senseless debates with those who collaborate with the mental health and recovery system.


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  12. We are at varying stages of leaving that old world behind. This mean varying degrees of safety from it. As I left that old world behind, I got safer and safer from it, breathing a sigh of relief at last, and I must say, the fear does fade. i know I still feel the effects of trauma. I still have a lot of trouble trusting people. I flinch upon hearing a siren. Still. But now, I laugh a lot, and the nightmares stopped. I can safely do many things I couldn’t do before. I can use my real name. My name is EASY because everyone has it anyway. Five of me in every USA city!

    I cannot state my location. That I keep to myself. Others can. We are at varying degrees of how private we must remain, because for some, we have other demons to face that may be linked to the System somehow. It is a matter of common sense, not a matter of how committed we are to a cause. We must remain vigilant.

    I feel much safer now. Last night I did a Toastmasters speech about antipsychiatry. I do not see well anymore, but I was thrilled to see jaws dropping, eyes wide open, heads nodding, almost in unison along with what I was saying, especially when I said, “No one should be locked up.”

    That felt very good.

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