Many advocates for human rights in the US mental health system already know this sad fact:
The main US government agency that addresses mental health is increasingly under the influence of a special interest group, founded by extremist psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey. This group, Treatment Advocate Center, promotes court-ordered involuntary outpatient mental health treatment, even if the client lives outside of a psychiatric institution.
However, even after working for decades for human rights in mental health, I have been surprised about how involuntary outpatient ideology is taking over in this government agency, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA plans to spend as much as $54 million of US taxpayer money for 17 programs across the country to spread this coercive approach. Four members of a new advisory committee for SAMHSA promote involuntary mental health.
What should be the response from people who care about human rights and mental health?
Sex and Murphy’s Last Law?
The congressperson behind the push for involuntary mental health has been Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA). Earlier this month, Sept. 2017, mainstream media spotlighted a sex scandal involving Rep. Murphy. It turns out that over the last few years, Rep. Murphy betrayed his wife by hooking up with a volunteer for his horrible mental health legislation. His mistress is also a psychologist, about half his age, and those interested may read a Washington Post article about it here. Of course, the sex life of anyone is their own business, but remember that Rep. Murphy pushes involuntary mental health. Has he had a mental health checkup?
Needless to say, Rep. Murphy’s problems have hurt him on both sides of the aisle.
Of course, involuntary approaches have been a part of the mental health industry for centuries. I oppose all involuntary mental health treatment, because true recovery is based on empowerment. Usually this coercion is behind closed doors inside of locked psychiatric institutions. But since the 1980’s, in the US, state after state has quietly passed mental health laws allowing courts to order people living out in their own neighborhoods to follow mental health treatment, typically psychiatric drugs.
Today, almost all US states practice Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC). Proponents of IOC have found it useful to cover up this coercion. First, they dropped the word “involuntary.” Then they adopted the misnamed euphemism “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (AOT).
The movie “Brazil” has an arrest scene in which the subject is “invited to assist” the authorities, and this dark vision accurately describes this kind of “assistance.”
In reality, IOC does not rely on direct physical force. However, knowing that refusal to take your meds will typically result in your immediate detention is extremely coercive.
IOC or AOT, whatever you call it, involves a judge ordering you to follow instructions from your local community mental health system, even if you are law-abiding and living in your own home, peacefully. The special interest group Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), founded by the psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, lobbies for IOC.
TAC cites studies that claim there are 3.9 million Americans with “untreated serious mental illness.” While some of these Americans have a lack of access to mental health care, many simply do not want the traditional mental health treatment, which is often psychiatric drugs. I am one of those who refuses that kind of approach. Are you one of the 3.9 million Americans in the crosshairs of TAC?
TAC Gaining Power in US Government
This involuntary community treatment seems to be gaining even more authority at SAMHSA, one of the largest mental health agencies on earth. SAMHSA, led by director Kimberly Johnson, PhD, asked for $4.3 billion in its 2017 budget.
SAMHSA includes the half-billion dollar agency Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), headed by Paolo del Vecchio. Paolo is one of the few agency heads who publicly discloses that he has lived experience as, his agency calls it, a “mental health consumer.” Until this year, 2017, CMHS has funded the popular Alternatives Conference in the USA, the main place for networking for thousands of mental health consumers since 1985. Apparently this amazingly successful gathering is no longer worth their money, as they find millions for outpatient coerced treatment.
CMHS funds many of the mental health consumer groups in the US. While many of these nonprofits provide important peer support activities, the reliance on CMHS has chilled out and silenced resistance to the rise of disempowerment.
Examples of how IOC is gaining influence in SAMHSA:
- SAMHSA directs millions in taxpayer money to 17 grant award winners, in a four-year program, that promote IOC, or AOT as they call it. So far, 256 Americans have been included in these programs. According to SAMHSA’s Press Officer Phillip Walls, “The total could go up to about $54 million.”
- SAMHSA now has a new Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee’s (ISMICC), to advise it about folks who are considered to have a significant psychiatric disability for a long duration. ISMICC held its first meeting last month, August 2017. I did a simple Google search, and found that four of the 14 members promote involuntary mental health treatment. In fact, one directs TAC.
- As I have blogged previously, SAMHSA now has a new position that is popularly called the “mental health czar,” given to psychiatrist Elinore McCance-Katz, who supports AOT.
There is some recent good news. Earlier this month, September 2017, proponents of IOC, or as they call it, AOT, tried to get an extra $5 million per year, which would figure out to more than $20 million dollars over four years. Thankfully, Congress voted this extra money down, 219 to 198 on September 13, 2017. I do not know if money or liberty was the main concern. But if you would like to see how US Representatives voted, go here.
The sex scandal involving Rep. Murphy may be a contributing cause to this failure. Let us hope that the tide is turning for involuntary mental health at SAMSHA.
What Should be Our Response?
Few people know about our little social change movement affectionately called the “Mad Movement.” After centuries of mental health oppression this movement began in about 1969. Quietly, under the radar, some of those who have been through the mental health system, along with supportive allies, have worked for human rights and social change in the mental health industry. So what should we do now?
As a survivor of involuntary psychiatry myself, and as a community organizer, my approach tends to be activism.
I worked for MindFreedom International, one of the main independent coalitions in the Mad Movement, for more than 25 years as executive director. Nearly five years ago I experienced a major accident and I retired. Recently, I have acted as a volunteer consultant for MindFreedom with Aciu Institute, a new consulting group I am helping to start with my friend Jeff Bousquet.
Several folks who I respect in the field of mental health empowerment, who bravely survived abuse by their psychiatrists, are funded by SAMSHA directly or indirectly. They have privately told me that they cannot speak out publicly about the rise of involuntary approaches, because of their funding source.
If we are serious, truly serious, about challenging the mental health industry, then we need to develop funding that is independent of that industry. MindFreedom has been one of these groups, refusing to take mental health system money, not that it was offered.
During the past five years, being a quad with a few other disabilities has meant that I have had a bit more time to reflect about our social change movement. When we should be calling for revolution, it feels like humanity has learned to conform. But let us not give up. Whatever our disabilities, however much SAMSHA is captured by involuntary approaches, fight back! For me personally, one of these ways is that I am looking at a new power chair that can stand me up (see photo).
How can our movement rise now, faced with this push for involuntary mental health? You can leave a public comment on this blog. However, it would be helpful for MindFreedom to get your ideas. We are conducting a survey, and you can indicate if you want your answers to be private or public. I intend to blog about the results. We all want your feedback now! A number of you have already taken this free, brief, private, online survey.
Please take a moment now and fill it out: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/mfi-survey-2017
MindFreedom leaders need to hear from folks about their concerns and strategy ideas. Early results show that resisting involuntary psychiatric drugging is the most important issue by far. People taking the survey appreciate MindFreedom’s activism, support for psychiatric survivors, and independence the most.
For more information about the MindFreedom survey, contact me, co-founder of Aciu Institute, at [email protected].
My Research About SAMSHA
Mr. del Vecchio responded to my email this spring asking about CMHS support for what is called AOT, and is actually IOC. Whatever it is called, a judge court-orders individuals to follow community mental health instructions. Mr. del Vecchio confirmed by email that this grant program exists, and he sent the list of successful awardees. Below is a copy of his email, with both links to the grant program and the awardees.
To clarify this information, I exchanged email with Mr. Phil Walls, SAMHSA press officer, after a Freedom of Information Act request. Below, you will also find the email from Mr. Walls, confirming that more than $50 million is budgeted for this four-year program with 17 awardees. The only change is that the program for Seattle was cancelled and instead it was redirected to an agency in New Mexico, which just passed an IOC law in 2016.
Delvecchio, Paolo (SAMHSA/CMHS) <[email protected]>
Apr 17  to [David W. Oaks]
Here’s a start:
Last year’s grant announcement: https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/grant-announcements/sm-16-011
Walls, Phillip (SAMHSA/OC) <[email protected]>
Aug 24  to [David W. Oaks]
. . . As of July 2017, 256 individuals have been served in the 17 grantee programs.
Walls, Phillip (SAMHSA/OC) <[email protected]>
Sep 6  to [David W. Oaks]
What you are looking for is here: https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2016/SM-16-011. All numbers are per year, for up to four years. The total could go up to about $54 million.
COUNTY DEPT OF CMTY & HUMAN SRVS, Seattle WA is no longer a recipient.
But Dona Ana County, New Mexico is now on the list. They receive 700,000/ yr for 4 years.
New Committee Has Several Involuntary Mental Health Proponents
The Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee’s (ISMICC) non-federal membership were selected in August 2017 to serve three-year terms. Their first meeting was held August 31, 2017. Four of those who promote involuntary mental health care include:
- Pete Earley, author, who is a big fan of Treatment Advocacy Center, and felt they had the most impact of any US mental health group in 2015.
- Mary Giliberti, J.D., Chief Executive Officer, NAMI, one of the main groups to promote involuntary mental treatment, including Involuntary Outpatient Commitment.
- Elyn Saks, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Law, Legal Scholar, University of Southern California Gould School of Law, has a seemingly complicated position about involuntary treatment. She famously said, “My bottom line? I like to say that I am very pro-psychiatry but very anti-force.” However, she promotes a strange “one-free-shot” philosophy where the mental health system could impose treatment the first time, since she notes some are grateful after the fact. However, others are not grateful. In fact, some do not survive.
- John Snook, Esq., Executive Director/Attorney, Treatment Advocacy Center, actually runs TAC and spends his professional career promoting involuntary mental health treatment.
What Is Your Strategy to Respond?
On this blog comment section, those of you willing to be public may leave your ideas for effective revolution. It is OK if circumstances require that you must be private about your resistance to this rise of disempowerment at SAMHSA. However, I hope you do take some kind of action. This is no time for the sidelines.
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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I am taking the sidelines , thanks. There is no way of stopping their idiocy. Drugging people stupid then blaming them for being stupid, then continuing the drugging. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=c0swAAAAIBAJ&sjid=bagFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6205%2C1412744
The general public dislikes the mentally ill so much that they removed “so-called incurables” from the original “First they came for…”
1946 version “Dann hat man die Kranken, die sogenannten Unheilbaren beseitigt.”
Als Pastor Niemöller ins Konzentrationslager kam, schrieben wir 1937, als das Konzentrationslager aufgemacht wurde, da schrieben wir 1933, und die damals in die Konzentrationslager kamen, waren Kommunisten. Wer hat sich darum gekümmert? Wir haben es gewußt, es stand in den Zeitungen. Wer hat die Stimme erhoben, etwa die Bekennende Kirche? Wir haben gedacht: Kommunisten, diese Religionsgegner, diese Christenfeinde – “soll ich meines Bruders Hüter sein?” Dann hat man die Kranken, die sogenannten Unheilbaren beseitigt. –
otherwise in English
When Pastor Niemöller was put in a concentration camp we wrote the year 1937; when the concentration camp was opened we wrote the year 1933, and the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers. Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians – “should I be my brother’s keeper?” Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. –
Thanks so much for this insight about history! Never, never again!
Yes David, sorry for my first post being so negative.
In hindsight we the “mentally ill” should form demonstrations and educate the public we are friendly and do not deserve punishment. We do not deserve poison those in power call medicine.
We should ask the general public how they would feel if they were forced to take drugs/poison in the demonstration. but this fractures the mentally ill group, as some do, or have to take the drugs to stay “healthy”/mentally stable.
Exposure to sunlight as in exposing the truth is the way to go.
NEAR FATAL MODECATE EXPERIENCE
These drugs do not make people safer they make people more Dangerous.
I’ve had 4 suicidal hospitalizations on the drug (Fluphenazine Deconoate)
Modecate Depot Injection.
This drug suicide connection was covered up by my Psychiatrist Dr P A Carney in Ireland, who produced several Promotional Research Papers on these drugs.
At the moment 35 years later my Doctor Surgery, Newton Medical in Central London is also attempting to suppress the historical connection.
I can present documentary evidence to support what I have said here regarding Adverse Drug Reaction Suppression in Ireland and the UK.
(I have more than 30 years of Substantiated Recovery as a result of not consuming strong Psychiatric Drugs).
With luck, I will send you the evidence of what I have stated above.
NEAR FATAL MODECATE EXPERIENCE
I would recommend investigations into the Killings Of “Psychiatric Patients” on these Drugs:-
“…..TRIED AND TRUSTED
19 years ago, E. R. Squibb & Sons helped lead a revolution in the community based treatment of schizophrenia when they introduced the depot neuroleptic concept. Since then worldwide clinical experience has confirmed the efficacy and safety of Modecate in over 800,000 patients. Modecate is now regarded by many psychiatrists as the standard depot neuroleptic. …”
(Professor Thomas Fahy, Galway, Associate Editor)
In the link that you posted, read the story titled “Grynszpan boy weeps….”…. carefully. It states that he was “examined by alienists”….
They weren’t checking his immigration status. “Alienist” is the older term for “psychiatrist”. There’s an excellent novel titled “The Alienist”, which gives a good feel for the flavor of life in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s. We have NOT made as much “progress”, human rights wise, as we’d like to think….
Elyn Saks’ position makes me think of the street dealer who says “The first one’s on the house!” Only the person getting the first one usually asks for it. If you lock someone up and forcibly drug them long enough they can become addicts and then they will likely come back for more. Or they could show gratitude through developing Stockholm Syndrome. Whatever works. Ends justify the means is always the name of the game when tyrants are in charge.
Saks hypocritically contradicts herself when claiming to be “very pro-psychiatry but very anti-force”, and then coming up with this ‘one free shot’ at, of all things, unfree, that is, forced treatment. Not everybody who is labeled psychotic wants treatment, forced or otherwise. The supposition, false from where I sit, is that anybody who finds themselves labeled “psychotic” would prefer forced treatment over no treatment at all, and this is that person’s chance to get it (torture, poison, brainwashing, abduction, and confinement). I don’t see that. I think there are non-dangerous people characterized as “psychotic” who don’t want treatment. With other branches of medicine one has a right to refuse treatment. Only psychiatry imposes treatment on you regardless of whether you want it or not. Now which is it, “a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed or while awaiting trial”, a prison, or. “an institution providing medical and surgical treatment and nursing care for sick or injured people”, a hospital? So long as the doors to the units are locked, and people are not free to come and go as they please, I’m saying what you’ve got here is actually the first sort of institution.
Not exactly. Most psychiatric prisoners have committed no crimes and they have no debt to society to pay. Therefore there is ironically no limit to the time they will be incarcerated. Though insurance often pays a role.
Then why are they being locked up like…you tell me what? They certainly aren’t being locked up for “illnesses”. This is a far cry from quarantining people on account of contagion. Thomas Szasz suggested that it is rule breaking, but what are those rules but unwritten laws? All in all, what have we got if not a loophole in rule of law? I will tell you. Mental health law IS a loophole in rule of law that allows for locking up people who have not necessarily broken a law, but may have violated some social injunction, protocol, custom, or other, that is to say, it is a loophole for locking people up by getting around rule of law. What does this mean? Rule of rules? Crazy is illegal? I don’t know. You tell me. Technically there are time limits, but these time limits can be ignored every time they come up. Law doesn’t apply there. It’s a “civil” matter and, therefore, we don’t have the rights of people in the criminal justice system. Excuse me, they don’t have the rights of people in the criminal justice system.
According to the New Mental Health Czar, you can be locked up for wearing a shabby overcoat or jotting things down in a notebook. Signs that you MUST BE VERY SICK. Yes, she is that dumb!
Elyn Saks is a disgrace people like her are part of the problem not part of the solution
She should know better
SAMHSA program is four years long. We all need to ask Professor Saks, exactly how long is this “first shot”? Even a first involuntary shot is of course wrong, but the duration of this “first” is very up in the air.
Please note that when Walter Freeman in the 1950’s gave tens of thousands of lobotomies, a few recipients were grateful and even sent him fan letters and gifts. Some even had a second lobotomy. Really.
Just because some folks are so pressured does not mean that others should lose their rights! I was forcibly drugged, and I am still not grateful about 40 years later.
Thanks, everyone for this interesting discussion.
Origen, a very weird monk, in the fourth century had himself castrated. I believe he was grateful to his physician. Still not a good idea overall. Especially if you are not of Origen’s mind set.
MindFreedom served a valuable function during the period when the movement had been destroyed via cooptation, and that should be commended. However we need to progress “back to the future” and resurrect the original movement, which was ANTI-psychiatry. Those who call for “reforms” at this point are merely propping up the system. SAMHSA has always been our enemy and those who hold their tongues and refuse to speak the truth because they fear losing their SAMHSA blood money should not be surprised when they/we get screwed and worse.
_ Make thorough inquiries into the legality of questionable procedures,
_ attack institutions in court,
_ have them pay overwhelming compensation.
If a person complains about the violation of their rights, investigate by calling the psychiatrists and nurses of the facility and record the conversation clandestinely. Talk to them in a friendly way, trying to get them to confess offenses. Call several people several times to compile as many offenses as possible, and waste their time. Never dismiss your “kindness”: find evidence by all legal means.
Do administrative procedures. Ask for administrative documents that they are obliged to transmit to you, ask for procedures they are obliged to do, write to them and phone them again and again for the most complex and time-consuming procedures. The more complex is the procedure and the more time the administration wastes, the more likely it is to commit a procedural error, which may justify even more procedures. All the time and money lost in procedure can not be used in forced treatment.
Make solid and reliable investigation files. Use them agains institutions, psychiatrists, nurses, etc. Ruin their reputation by publicly denouncing them, or attack them in court. By all legal means, ensure that forced treatment is associed with bad advertisement, procedures and trials as costly as possible.
Thanks very much for this very informative article, Mr. Oaks. I would like to respond in the spirit that you requested we do.
I have been working recently on a new article for MIA which contained a section which, unfortunately, it was best to cut simply because the piece was a little too long as it was and, even though the ideas were important, it wasn’t directly connected to the main thrust of the piece. However, the part that was cut bears on a subject which I feel is extremely important, and which I have been trying to draw attention to for some time now, and which I had thought I might devote an entire article to. However, if Mind Freedom is actually looking for these sorts of initiatives, you might be more successful in gaining some traction for it than I have been. This issue is our use of medicalized language.
In this article of yours, for instance, you used the expression “mental health system.” I’m sure that you’re more than aware of the idea that “mental illness,” so-called, is a contradiction in terms and that no such creature ever has or ever will exist — that it is nothing more than a metaphor at best, yet it is a very dangerous and perilous metaphor for us to allow people to believe in. One of the ways that we allow it to continue is by allowing others to use such terms as “disorder” and “disease” (as opposed to difficulties) “mental health” (as opposed to state of mind or experiences or alternative realities), “medication” (as opposed to drugs or chemicals), and so on ad nauseam. Even worse is when we adopt this misleading and damaging language ourselves and in so doing perpetuate their system by allowing it to remain the dominant paradigm in both our language and in the public’s conception of what we are experiencing. As I say, I’m sure that you’re fully aware of this, and in fact MIA itself uses a default medicalized language, probably for lack of anything else, and though I have approached Mr. Whitaker about it, he seems to be unable at this time to be able to see what would be a solution to that problem at this time. So this is not just you, this is many of us.
But it’s a major problem. The continued success and power of the psychiatric establishment and their cohorts (the pharmaceutical industry and the prison industry/Jim Crow system that is disguised as psychiatric hospitals and as AOT, for instance) are only able to maintain their power by maintaining control of how people perceive what is going on. As long as I have a “mental illness” which can only be “medicated” because it is an inherent “disorder” and would otherwise be “uncontrolled,” then it is perfectly justifiable for society to take over my “health care” and also protect itself from my potentially dangerous “delusional behavior.” And if that were in fact the case, I would probably agree. And that is how the public perceives the situation, a situation that is created by the power of psychiatrists to move in lockstep with each other on a rhetorical basis by speaking a unified language which everyone thinks they understand, even though we (and they, most of them) are fully aware that it is false. This rhetorical unity and universal understanding then gives them the power to enlist the media, which promotes their ideas, and to publish articles and talk to people on the street and publish ads that then go to perpetuate this rhetorical hold on public discourse and public power. And until that hold is broken, we will never succeed.
We have no unity. One person calls it extreme experiences, another calls it alternate realities, another calls it spiritual emergence, while others default to psychiatry’s own language. We fail to break down their power structure even when not actively supporting it by default. It is imperative to change this situation and for us all to get on the same page so that we can shift the course of this public conversation into the path that we need for it to go and into which we know it must go in order to save lives. It’s that simple. As the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states, the structure of my language is the structure of my world. Until we set up the right structure, one that accurately reflects our shared reality (even though composed of many different perspectives), we will get nowhere. It’s really that simple. The first thing to do is clean up how we talk and get on the same page with each other and start talking in unison so that we can finally change the whole conversation. Until then, no one will ever understand what we’re talking about. The word will never spread.
Just as one for instance, I myself do not care for or ever use the expression “extreme experiences.” For one thing, my experiences are not at all “extreme” — for me they are perfectly normal and routine, even if they might be odd to an outsider. Yet I am being branded with that outsider’s perception. Likewise, I do not ever use the expression “mental distress.” I am not at all distressed. I am “schizophrenic” as hell, all day long, every day, but I am not distressed. Maybe some people are, and maybe outsiders are, but I am not, and the term is not up to being a catch-all for every form of mental oddity or individual experience out there. Some manic people are quite delighted with what they’re going through, after all, and so am I.
So let’s have a conversation. I believe that a conference of some kind, or some other kind of organized communication, and some sort of organized body, such as Mind Freedom might be capable of organizing, should be brought together in order to sort through the various language paradigms, where everyone can say their piece and we can all have some debate and discussion and maybe even some disagreement with each other for a while (in a polite and respectful forum, of course) so that we can finally come to agreement with each other on what you might call “a party line.” This could very well be a virtual conference, one that even meets periodically in order to have new reports and an evolving discussion instead of trying to get it all done in one single shot. There could even be little subcommittees that put reports together. Who knows what such a diverse group of extremely creative people could do?
For instance, I use the term “alternate reality” myself because 1) I believe that what I am experiencing, no matter how strange it might seem to you, is quite real, and that it’s time for people to open their minds to that possibility and have it acknowledged, and 2) because it’s actually quite inclusive. There are, after all, many, many, many different realities that people like us talk about, and I see absolutely no reason at all that every single one of them isn’t legitimate and important. You don’t have to buy what I say, but what I say needs to be respected in exactly the same way as what the next person says, and it’s time that that was acknowledged. In this way, we could replace the term “psychosis” and “delusion” with a simple term: people who are experiencing another reality. It’s really that simple. Yet I am sure that my own term might not reflect everything that others might think is important to express in our new language that we’re creating, so I think it’s absolutely crucial that there be a forum in which all viewpoints are heard, discussed, and if possible a consensus reached so that we can finally, finally, finally make some progress. We are losing this fight. Badly. And until we begin to move like an army, with a common language and set of goals, we will never get where we want to be. That’s what psychiatry and the whole “mental health establishment” and the pharmaceutical industry does. And that’s why they’re winning. And probably only an organization like Mind Freedom could pull something like this off. I’ve tried on my own, and gotten nowhere. Maybe you would be more successful.
Bear this one thing in mind: No political party that ever let itself be controlled by the terms that its opposition created the way that we are controlled by their terms would ever be successful. You have to take control of the conversation, or you will never be heard, and you will never succeed. This is not a fight against psychiatry, because they will never concede. This is a fight for public opinion, and with that on our side we can do anything.
Thanks for your efforts. And good luck with that new chair!
Lots of good stuff here, Eric.
Thanks for not ceding the semantic high ground to psychiatry, ever. A thought or two:
One person calls it extreme experiences, another calls it alternate realities, another calls it spiritual emergence
That’s because “it” is different for everyone. Actually there is no “it.” So this divergence of descriptiveness is not a bad thing. Anything but “psychosis.”
I believe that a conference of some kind, or some other kind of organized communication, and some sort of organized body, such as Mind Freedom might be capable of organizing, should be brought together in order to sort through the various language paradigms
A conference right now would be premature and chaotic, and would collapse under the weight of everyone’s ego. Plus a Mind Freedom conference would not be antipsychiatry unless MF changed it’s entire raison d’etre. (The allusions in the article to “revolution” and surreptitious activity also strike me as politically immature, and romanticize the nature of our struggle.)
HOWEVER we SERIOUSLY need a survivor-controlled anti-psychiatry website, though creating this in a democratic way is not a simple endeavor. But there’s a way, once we have the collective will and determination. Out of this could come dialogue which could eventually lead to the creation of a conference that’s more than window dressing, or fodder for someone’s agenda.
I was at the last two MFI national-type conferences. (MFI is having min-conferences around the ISEPP conference, too). The orientation has become more about creation of drug-free alternatives than political actions on behalf of attaining and protecting human rights. Perhaps it’s a defensive mode, but I’d like to see a few strong and offensive actions taken against the psychiatric state.
A conference is not premature. We had the Psych-Out conferences a few years back, and to my knowledge (I was at the one in NYC), they went over great. I’d love to see a few more conferences of that sort, at least, a conference apart from the Alternatives “pe-ah” mental patients’ movement-type thing. I was wondering what happened. Supposedly they were going to take it to Boston, or something like that, but, fizzle, fizzle, Toronto and New York were it.
We need a specifically antipsychiatry organization coalition more than we need a website, and then a website could grow out of the group, because that’s how that sort of thing works. What kind of stake, after all, do people have in a website without some kind of group backing? MIA, for instance, is a 501c3 with a BOD (board of directors, not anatomy) and all of that. Having an organized community of like-minded people makes throwing up interactive websites and organizing things like conferences all that much easier. Some organizations, for instance, exist primarily for the conferences associated with them.
There is a way, surely, but until then, I encourage people, if they can, to turn their back on the mental health system. Seriously, who needs all that disability, injury, and dying? Not me. Why aren’t we doing something about it? Not becoming involved in it is a way of acting against it. Of course, we should be doing more. Anybody up to the work? I will sign you up, if you sign me up.
@oldhead: There’s no such thing as an “ego”. As with so-called “mental illness”, “ego” is an imaginary construct. “Ego” only exists in the minds of those who choose to believe in “ego”. “Egos” have NO “weight”, so there’s no way that a conference could collapse under the weight of them. Well, how much does *your* “ego” weigh?
Good point, Eric! Way too much pandering to psych “experts” even on this site.
I tell people the anti-psychiatry message in simple soundbites. (Unlike propaganda because they’re true.) Psychiatric drugs do not work. No physical cause of madness. Unhappiness is not a disease.
Completely agree with you the purity of your piece is breathtaking
I think we need to counterbalance the “mental health” propaganda financed by the drug industry.
So I created 12 “no forced treatment” memes to be shared freely, under creative commons licence, in english and in french.
These are great
I agree with John.
Wondering, given political loses, about whether there will be an Alternatives 2018, and what direction the movement will take in the future.
It has been my feeling that fighting for human rights, and against forced treatment, makes more sense than promoting “mental illness” industry expansion through alternative “mental health” treatment modality development. This being the case, I would prefer to see more direct political action, demonstrations, civil disobedience, guerrilla theater, satire (public education) and the like.
Yes, some things work and some things don’t, while the powers that be disregard what works completely. No treatment whatsoever is better than that treatment which causes harm, and much harm at that. Among options, rejection of treatment entirely should an option. Fighting for the mental patient role, no, I can’t see doing that. I’m more partial to dispensing with the mental patient role entirely. I think that something worth fighting for is what we used to call mental patients’ liberation, that is, complete independence from the “mental health” system and similar forms of governmental social control and intrusion.
I’d also like to point out that Harriet Tubman has her own park and museum in Maryland. We need our own underground railroad, and we need operators to help get people free of unwanted mistreatment. I don’t know that we will ever achieve what they did before emancipation from slavery, but we need our own functioning underground railroad to break people out of involuntary treatment and those prisons that deceptively call themselves hospitals.
We also have to move beyond doing the predictable. Protesting APA conventions is fine and dandy, but there is the TAC, too, and NAMI, and pharmaceutical companies as well, not to mention shock docs galore. I see a danger when one’s actions become too predictable to one’s adversaries, and that’s the point at which a surprise attack is long overdue.
This marks the beginning of an era where you don’t go to shrinks at all, if you find yourself beginning to feel weird. In big cities, you could now go to an SA meeting instead of the E-room. Someone there likely has an HOD test, if only the pocket version, giving you the opportunity to see just how weird you’re becoming. They’ll also know at least one trustworthy practitioner who doesn’t rely on zombie drugs as the core of treatment.
What have we got that works? Soteria houses and Open Dialogue, but the Soteria approach a rarity and an exception, and Open Dialogue gets diluted where translated outside of Finland. It seems to me that the basic common denominator is psych drugs. People get better without ’em, people get worse on ’em. Behind it all is the presumption of “disease”. A fight for human rights is a fight against forced treatment of any variety. Also, informing people about the problem of damage due to long term treatment with drugs. This being the case, promoting more conventional ‘alternatives’ ends up being counterproductive. Doing so expands the mental health system, and increases the numbers of people in it. Those ‘alternatives’ end up for their own survival becoming closer to the conventional system, and this involves making compromises with forced treatment, and the human rights violations embodied by it. We’re better off, rather than doing so, promoting the non-treatment option. We should be offering some kind of resistance to the bureaucracy that has evolved around not tolerating people who don’t conform rather than aiding and abetting the scandalous crime of creating this entirely artificial “epidemic” of phony “disease”, and destroying a countless number of peoples lives and health in the process.
thank you Frank
Agree completely there is no alternative treatment out there at all.. you either sort it out yourself or rely on the spawn of the devil to give you drugs ….
Devil and the deep blue sea ..
As for “positive” suggestions, I think it is incumbent upon us to thoroughly expose Torrey as the renegade hustler he is. This could be done on many levels, and there would no doubt be those in “the field” who resent Torrey’s lying and manipulative tactics and would cooperate. It shouldn’t be that hard to pull together what we know about this clown and organize it into something the public can grasp.
The message has to be kept as simple as possible so “we” do not appear crazy in our description of what is wrong.
For instance Torrey is a human brain hoarder , he collects hundreds or brains and can find nothing wrong with them. Except for the consequences to long term drugging.
There is no psychotic molecule, virus or bacteria. Short and simple.
If we can document it we’re not crazy.
There’s SO much to be said about Torrey. I consider him the David Horowitz of the anti-psychiatry movement, who wrote “The Death of Psychiatry” — a total take-down of “mental illness” and the medical model — then went 180 degrees to embrace both with a vengeance, which proved more profitable.
Yes. Aluraphobe and collector of human brains in jars. Definitely an authority on normal behavior. Lol.
A cat hater? I’ll see if the ones I live with can put a telepathic curse on him.
Both sadly and ironically, the ONLY person quoted in the Time Magazine obit for Dr. Thomas Szasz was Torrey…. That couldn’t have been just a coincidence. I wonder what PR firm arranged it?….
Disgusting. Like giving Aaron Burr the only quote in Hamilton’s obituary. (Not that Burr was a terrible person from what I hear, but he would be clearly biased.)
I am sorry to hear from your suffering and want to say thank you for your hard work and dedication.
From a german perspective the issue doesnt look that grim, but the loss of human rights remains if one doesnt have the funds to let someone else fight for your rights.
The stand of the UN on our concerns has changed and hardened just recently and the time for a legal revolution seems to draw nearer.
Unfortunately i do not have any money to spend.
But i am collecting evidence for a psychogenic affliction model (coming from souls) and against the biomedical model in order to scientifically rediscover the soul as discernible entity and seat of consciousness. Originally, i just wanted to enforce and edit of the wikipedia article on schizophrenia, but had to discover that pubmed and virtually all scientific aviability of data had been nerfed. So i had the idea to go back in time not forward and considered writing a review article on the duality/polyidity of the mind. But now the chance seems to have opened up to do a documentary or even more than one.
The existence of soul or spirit is ancient knowledge but has invaded all religions, even if only experientially provable. It is not strictly natural science to go that way, but could establish a strong baseline for argumentation against the pseudo sciences and criminalisation and victimisation of behavior differing from an imagined norm. I get great reactions on this project from spiritual people that have experienced the psychiatric system and would be happy if anyone from this great website would like to participate in any way.
Naturally, i would like to participate in any other movement, too.
I am this guy on facebook:
Maybe a dictionary of terms? It could be self published and it would create interest. I would suggest contacting all and every movement whether it is in total agreement or not and create a safe space to work together discuss, dialogue, and disagree. I am thinking of the King James Bible framework here. It became a literary work of art. There were several main translators and all had their own issues but it worked more than well.
We have Community Treatment Orders in the UK, where if people do not take their – antipsychotic – drugs they can be removed by force to a psych hospital for forced drugging. That happens and people have killed themselves to get out of the abuse.
latest Rickard’s (CIA advisor) on N Korea
Be interesting to find out if this latest Vegas shooter was on psych drugs.
This article both empowers and frightens me. It’s nice to know that there are people out there resisting, but the more I learn about how Psychiatry serves as Legislature, Judge, Jury, and Executioner, the more hopeless I feel.
My mother is a district court judge. She has regularly presided over the mental health calendar over about twenty years, a function I’m sure many of you are familiar with. A few months prior to my first psychosis, when I was home for winter break, she came into my room with a file and said something along the lines of: “I’m afraid if you keep doing those drugs, you’re going to end up like this.”
What she gave me was an actual confidential case file of someone who was facing court-ordered indefinite detention in a psychiatric hospital, and more importantly court-ordered drugging. This file had in it an evaluation composed by the overseeing psychiatrist. I don’t remember every detail, especially since at the time I thought it was a joke to scare me straight. When I read it, I thought it was ridiculous. The most salient points were that the man was homeless, believed he was a greek god, and admitted to taking several hallucinogens. At the time I didn’t quite grasp the gravity of what I had seen
How can believing you’re a greek god be used against you in a court of law? More importantly, how did the psychiatrist reach this damning conclusion? Did the man just blurt out “I’m a greek god!”, was he asked “Are you a greek god?” and answered “yes”?! In his hearing, was he put on the stand to swear over the bible and answer yes or no to that question? It is clear to me now that psychiatrists will not only use everything you say or do against you, but actively editorialize and decide what is an permissible thought or idea or a delusion.
Can admitting to using hallucinogens to a psychiatrist serve as basis for indefinite detention and drugging? The fact that it appeared in that file makes me believe that it can and commonly is.
Can you be detained indefinitely and drugged for being homeless? The fact that it was present in the file suggests to me that it can and commonly is.
I don’t know the result of that man’s hearing, but I can only expect it ended with the psychiatrists getting what they wanted.
A few months after I read this file, I experienced my first psychosis. A few months after that, my first forced hospitalization. I’ve been on anti-psychotics ever since. I’ve tried quitting them twice, but only ended up forced back into the hospital and getting defeated and just resuming “treatment”. Coincidence or random chance? You be the judge.
I can handle the abuse from the psychiatrists, the police, the justice system. But the fact that my own mother is in on the joke haunts me to my core.
Kevin Earley could sympathize with you.
My own parents really wanted me to get better at first. Now that I’m no longer depressed and thinking clearly it seems to bug Mom. Sadly that’s often how it is, I hear.
Yep, she needs to see you as being in need of her “care” or advice and goes into withdrawal when you don’t cooperate with the script. Or something like that.
I’m glad I’m doing better. Codependency is bad for Mom too–even though she wants it. Now that I’m more independent she is forced to get a life and stop vegging in front of the tube 12 hours a day. 🙂
When I was locked up a Black fellow inmate spoke to the shrink about wanting to go home to see his “Queen,” who was named Esther Martin. Later as an advocate I obtained his records from the “hospital”; in them it stated that he had spoken of going to see a “Queen Esther Martin” — this honky-ass shrink obviously thought the guy was having delusions of royalty.
I saw a job coach named Queen Yoder. Her real, legal name. She came from East Africa and married an American Mennonite.
Many people think people with mental illness are violent and dangerous. This is not the case, with help from Heavenly Father and support of love ones this can be managed. Media is partly to be blamed whenever a person commits crime and they found out the person has mental illness, they automatically put it down to his mental state which gives bad reputation to people with this condition. Myself I have never committed a crime nor am I violent . I am genuinely a kind guy with a heart of gold who just wants to have a voice . I never was given the opportunity to go back to school due to raymond west wind school division and there choices. I am smart , I have inherited gifts and abilities from god. I am not going to let the system dictate me! I am a leader and I am child of god with Divine potential .
Most violent “crazy” killers are having bad reactions to psych drugs. Some are simply evil and shrinks publicly diagnose them as MI for their five minutes of glory and to drum up business.
Then some, like Eric Harris the Columbine shooter, are a little of both.
OK since this seems to be a free-for-all at the moment let me add this latest from Peter Breggin to the mix in you haven't seen it:
Alert 18 : Las Vegas Shooter on Valium!
Stephen Paddock, the worst mass murderer in US history, was prescribed benzodiazepines in the form of fifty 10-milligram diazepam (Valium) tablets on June 21, according to records from the Nevada Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). I have also received an unconfirmed report that he was prescribed antidepressants, which are commonly given along with benzos. Unlike Valium, antidepressant prescriptions are not reported by physicians to the PMP, which monitors scheduled narcotic-like or addictive drugs. For decades, it has been known that benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax and Klonopin can cause impulsivity, disinhibition, or loss of self-control resulting in violence. See my book, Medication Madness: the Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime. Check these Frequent Alerts for the breaking news on this story.
Peter R. Breggin, MD
Based on my personal experience with Valium, fifty 10-mg. would be about 100 days’ worth….. And I’d be real chill, until and unless the script ran out…. then I *might* become a homicidal maniac…. I’d heard the Vegas shooter was on psych drugs, but it’s been (somewhat) suppressed in the liberal, lame-stream media….
Given that the guy is dead, I think the Public has a right to, and deserves to KNOW the WHOLE TRUTH here….
I tend to believe that Dr. Peter Breggin isn’t in the “fake news” business…. Thnx, “oldhead”…. ~B./
I mean, every time this kind of thing happens I wait to see what drugs they were on. Hoping each time that THIS will be the incident to blow the lid off the psychiatric drug connection. Breggin says that often Valium is prescribed with other “anti-depressants,” presumably SSRIs. So we’ll have to see what develops. Meanwhile people should be talking about this and posting this alert around.
People need to call out the advocates for these “effective treatments” on some undeniable facts they ignore. The drugs they claim will end shooting sprees have (mostly) only existed for 20 years or so. The shooting sprees were not a problem 20 years ago.
Shouldn’t take an Einstein to figure out something is wrong.
With the popularity of “conservative” talk radio it would seem that at least some of the hosts’ eyes would pop out (even if only opportunistically) at the mention of Eric Harris, Aurora, Sandy Hook and the SSRI connection. That’s the only place you can ever get any anti-VAX info too.
Also Breggin is a regular guest on “Coast to Coast,” formerly the Art Bell show.
Any and every way we can get the info out.
Tried to tell my dad the Las Vegas shooter was on Valium. He argued there was no proof of that. He also argued that Kirsty Alley said psych drugs were behind shootings. Since she is a Scientologist it must be a lie. Scientologists also believe racism is wrong. He doesn’t advocate joining the Alt-Right movement.
Sometimes my dad uses critical thinking skills and holds his own in a debate. Not on this issue.
Pretty stupid how a Blaze article said “mental illness” was the motivation behind the killing. Even assuming “mental illness” to be a thing, how could that be a motivation? “His real motivation was the fact that he was black”! That stupid statement would get them in trouble. So they pick on the one group it’s okay to hate.
Glad I no longer self identify as bipolar!
So what we need to do is fight back. But this is impossible to do the way that MindFreedom tries.
First of all they seek pity. Their main concern is in convincing people not to oppose the ‘mentally ill’. MindFreedom goes along with the concept of mental illness, that there are people who cannot be trusted to use good judgement. So in stead of following every other group fighting for social justice, MindFreedom expects its members to accept a serious stigma.
And remember, primarily this is about creating an economically stratified society. The claim is that the mentally ill somehow lack what it takes to live in this world. So when you pledge non-violence, you are supporting this kind of psuedo science eugenics attack.
Mostly those who have been such rejected, were rejected by the middle-class family. This may or may not have involved doctors. More often than not, it does. Being the family scapegoat makes one far more likely to end up in the hands of white coats.
And then everytime talk is make of therapy, recovery, or healing, this is turning it back on the survivor. MindFreedom goes along with this.
Study history, learn how people have defined themselves in order to resist oppression.
Learn from history:
Need to always have a response to forced treatment, like with this guy:
Need to respond anytime a survivor is being abused by someone telling them they need therapy, recovery, or healing.
We should have people on the ground, working to block the election of the above guy!
David, what your organization does is argue for Recovery, as opposed to Psychiatry. This is wrong, its being an Uncle Tom, its asking for pity.
We should be Resisting, by arguing in public against anyone who promotes Therapy, Recovery, Healing, Motivationalism, or Religion. Instead we call upon survivors to reject all of these things. We call for an end to licensed Psychiatry and Psychotherapy and an end to their drugs. We also call for prosecution of anyone doing anything therapy like on a minor when that minor is not currently being represented by an attorney in court.
And then as most of these cases do start as familial stigmatizing, the US needs to go where other industrialized countries already are, prohibiting disinheritance.
We have to get people to accept that all Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery Programs are abuse. And then mobilize at the street level. Picket, for example in front of county hospitals, in front of UC Irvine’s gates over this new ‘Integrative Psychiatry’ building, and in front of the offices of individual psychotherapists.
Make people understand that it is all abuse, even if voluntary. Promote law suits, one patient, one plaintiff.
And we must track all mental health and recovery program workers.
Make people understand that the Mental Health and Recovery system is Crime Against Humanity, and it is the modern version of the bogus sciences of Social Darwinism and Eugenics.
No time for the sidelines, indeed!!
Thank you for this piece, David. I feel so refreshed when I hear people seriously use the word “revolution” in this context.
My first thought in reading what you’ve put together: might it be a good idea to hire/ask for help from some “grassroots” experts on activism in other, more “mainstream” areas? I think of the animal-rights campaigns I have participated in via Mercy for Animals and The Humane League, and the way a daily/weekly email schedule with one or two tasks each (call a congressman/business, tweet back, among others), and how these created public media storms & private disruptions in business that have accomplished quite a bit. Maybe a few people well-versed in this kind of coordination can help MFI, MIA, or any of us willing to sign up behind a central source of direction, to create public campaigns that are cohesive & direct? Having a consistent presence in the public discourse, however small, I think is a necessary foundation in the new millenium.
I think also that dissident psychiatrists (as people “above” the marginalized status of “patient”) directly speaking out together can make more of the waves that bring the movement into the public discourse. We humble readers tend not to be well-connected, but maybe you or someone in your circle could convene these folks? (Naturally it can pose a risk to them, I know.)
Another idea, and this is my favorite, pitching an exposé-style documentary on Mr. Torrey to Netflix, which seems to be a company willing to make a few waves in general, given not only the anti-authoritarian media they’ve distributed to date, but also the sprinklings of anti-pharma (even anti-psychiatry… yes!) media they’ve profited off of showcasing. I can see Dr Breggin and Mr Whitaker giving their two cents as accomplished professionals – documentary watchers like me love that stuff, and having those names go more public to the younger generation is also good news in my opinion.
Also, I have been doing some volunteer freelance-style advocacy for people currently under psychiatric coercion – showing a very watchful eye to physicians, BEFORE people become incarcerated or incapacitated, can be enough in many cases to shake the system off of a person’s back before the claws are too deep. I believe that organizing some standard messages to send to psychiatrists, (re: “harmed by their care,” “possibilities of pursuing legal action,” general “ahem I’m watching” ‘s) at their “patients’ ” request, wouldnt be too hard. Anyone can act as a patient advocate, so these documents or templates could act as resources for people to send on behalf of friends, siblings, parents, you name it. MFI already has a good program for rallying behind those whose voices are stolen, so I think that this written/digital version could help in the same efforts 🙂
Thank you for being clear Mr. Oaks. I’m digging the standing chair ♥️