Martin Luther King Jr. and the Psychiatric Violence Survivor Movement


Can we honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a vital and meaningful way? On his birthday holiday, can we recognize how King and the civil rights movement are essential for us to succeed in mental health system change?

To truly rise to the invitation this day brings us, we need to set aside some of the more dominant, and wrong, responses to King’s legacy. As I’ve written before on Mad In America, the US civil rights movement and the Black Power movement were integral to the emergence of patients rights activism in the 1970s and have deep relevance today. We forget that and it’s all over for what we want to achieve. It’s wrong to do what we usually do: treat Dr. King and civil rights as somehow an “add on” discussion or a sideline interest, a “topic” that comes up and then gets set aside, over and over. If we forget this history, if we move ahead propelled by the wake King and the civil rights movement made in US culture but not recognizing it, then we make a terrible mistake and we cannot succeed in our aims. Worse, if we forget or deny what made the “mad movement” possible, we risk just ending up doing what the US has done since its inception: take the work of African-Americans for granted, reap the fruits of their labor without recognition or acknowledgment, stand on the shoulders of those silenced and forgotten.

King was just one leading, charismatic, and central figure in a broader mass change that reached from Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and so many others we are still gathering stories of. Celebrating and honoring King’s personal legacy should be no more or less important to understanding our movement than when we honor, say, Judi Chamberlin. Her vital leadership was also charismatic and central — but only one part of a broader mass of individuals making change, large and small. King’s legacy is truly not the legacy of a “great man” of history, but a story of one person carried by many countless ordinary people to represent something for all of us. He illuminated a vision that shines light on the heart of what it is to be human in this world. Everyone, not just the heroes on television or the loud ones speaking from the pulpit, is invited to be part of this vision. And it is very concrete, very specific, and asks very practical participation from each of us.

King is significant because he was part of a movement. The civil rights movement has a clear name and identity in our historical memory and political discussion. Does our movement? When I write about “our movement” I immediate face our lack of such a clear name. “Mad movement”? “Critical psychiatry?” “Psychiatric survivor movement?” In our early days the language was different and made immediate sense and easy identification. Our groups were named “anti-psychiatry” and “mental patient liberation.” That’s pretty clear. I do recognize we moved from “patient” to “consumer,” from “psychiatric abuse survivor” to just “survivor,” and away from “anti-psychiatry” for (in part) good reasons, but what about on a more fundamental level? When we lost a grip on our language we lost a grip on our power.

(When I talk about and name our movement I tend to take a bit more time to notice and point out how our language is not established or clear. I might say “the movement of patients, critical professionals and our supporters to challenge dominant mental health” or something clumsy and awkward like that, but intentionally — to open up the conversation. I certainly don’t call our work “the recovery movement” — what a confusing mess that is, to take the name of a different movement for our own; one based, no less, on the idea of powerlessness in face of an incurable disease. We bury ourselves insulated in in-group jargon and bureaucratese at our peril. Not to put down the hard work of those making change, but I cringe when I hear the phrase “peer respite” because it is such an awkward, jargon term that leaves people out of the conversation. One of the best ways to defeat a mass movement is to start using language to describe it that people don’t understand. Movements are called mass movements for a reason: they need to be understood on a mass level, not just to the insider initiated, so they can build power. Using jargon is a bureaucratic and political derailing of our immediate, common sense vision. It may be done for “practical” political and funding reasons, but don’t you see how losing touch with ourselves as a movement means we are much less likely to get those “peer respites” that we are aiming for in the first place? Don’t get me wrong, of course I do want to see more peer respites. I just think we should name our goal and vision clearly, and leave the jargon and compromise up to the bureaucrats, who never were pushing for our goals to begin with, just responding to the efforts we — not them — have made. Why not say hospital alternatives? That is what we want, that’s our goal, it taps into broad and common experience of hospitals as not nice places for anyone. It’s language for the mass of the society — not language for the bureaucrats at the table. Being clear and direct with our language is a political imperative; George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” deserves wide reading by those seeking mental health system change.)

Back to my main point: We fail to honor or understand the legacy of King when we don’t understand that he was part of a movement. The movement wasn’t single issue. It wasn’t about segregated schools, although that was part of the broader agenda. It wasn’t about labor rights, although that was part of the broader agenda. It wasn’t even about ending the US War in Vietnam, though that was also part of a broader agenda. King’s vision was to overturn elite rule and put people above the monied special interests responsible for war, racism, and poverty. As we remember and celebrate King’s legacy, do we accurately remember this movement and its far-reaching, radical vision of a transformed US politics?

Here are some key myths and facts we might need to look at on MLK Day, and every day we seek real change in society:

“Creative maladjustment” is a wonderful slogan, but are we using the term the way King used it? Are we tapping King’s words without actually reading or understanding his message and how he intended it?

King’s legacy is visible in the movement today in talk about “creative maladjustment” from his speeches. But he picks up “maladjusted,” a term widely used in the time, as a rhetorical invitation to reject acceptance of social injustice — not a mental health system critique. When he used this idea, King wasn’t arguing against mental health stigma; he endorsed using the term “schizophrenia” for example, and did not claim (in anything I’ve come across, please correct me if I’m wrong) that what gets labeled as mental illness should be seen as a protest against society. He is trying to expand the narrow social concern for helping the “maladjusted” — which he does not negate, only sees as not radical enough — to a broader movement agenda. His examples of creative maladjustment were Amos and Abraham Lincoln, both of whom proclaimed equality in an era of inequality. He notably does not give examples of any mad social disturbers. King was an orator and rhetorician, and he is using the term metaphorically and provocatively: his aim is the aim of someone who is part of a movement challenging complacency. He is not making a point against the medical model, other than saying to professionals: “Hey, you are privileged people who are part of an unjust system — join a movement.” King is calling on psychologists, and everyone, to rise up against social injustice itself; he’s not making a case against psychiatry.

King’s image of creative maladjustment is certainly evocative and implicitly cautioning against pathologizing protest (a trend in psychology at the time). He is certainly saying that accepting an unjust society should be questioned. But there is no critique there of diagnosis. He gave one of the “creative maladjustment” speeches at the American Psychological Association, who he was challenging in his inimical, powerful, and eloquent way. His problem with the APA was that these were a bunch of almost exclusively white, privileged people who were part of an unjust society. He was asking them to stop smugly seeing themselves as doing good by helping distressed people, and instead recognize how they perpetuate injustice by going along with it. He was asking people to stop being concerned about social maladjustment exclusively, and, with rhetorical flourish, to start to organize against social injustice by being “maladjusted” to it. By joining a movement.

I am 100% supportive of psychiatric survivors taking up the creative inspiration of King’s vision to guide them in our work, and “creative maladjustment” is a wonderful vision and evocation — certainly effective. But is it incorrectly citing King, enlisting him for a more narrow contemporary agenda of psychiatry reform, and removing his words from the context of his work against war, racism, and poverty. Does it risk misusing his legacy and missing the point of his message? Do we lose the bigger discussion of movement-building if King becomes for us the “creative maladjustment” guy and that’s it? King did not champion “let’s get rid of the DSM and start seeing what’s labeled as mental illness as a response to an unjust society.” His goal was much broader, that’s why he was part of a movement. Everyone today — right, left and beyond — is on the bandwagon to get King associated with them through King quotes taken out of context. King is even used in a twisted way to argue against King himself. Let’s not misappropriate his eloquence and provocation. Let’s instead honor his legacy by reading his words and doing what he wants us to do: join a movement.

King was not a pluralist: he didn’t see the the point of single issue politics.

King moved from bus boycotts and labor strikes and voting enfranchisement as battles in a broader movement with deeper aims: ending war, racism, and poverty. That was his goal and that should be our goal. If you think that is somehow “losing focus” and “off topic” from our goals, then I challenge you: Sit down with anyone who has been diagnosed schizophrenic. Interview them deeply about their lives. Then see if you can convince me that a society dedicated to war, racism, and poverty didn’t play a central role in the distress that got them there, or doesn’t play a central role in preventing them from receiving a truly healing response from society, really getting their needs met. If you are looking for a place to start to do this thinking, you might ask yourself why, in the richest country on earth, there are no “resources” and “budgets” for funding the kinds of programs that might make a difference for this person (military spending? inequality?). You might ask why ordinary people have so little power in a so-called democracy against the entrenched power of medical, pharmaceutical, etc. elites (racism as divide and conquer?). You might ask what prospects this person has for adequately meeting their needs as an “unproductive” unemployed person (inequality and poverty?). Now think about whether your own calls for single-issue change are really, really going to help this person in the long run and prevent others from getting into the same situation. Doesn’t the real solution mean addressing the roots of war, racism, and poverty in society as King asked us to do? King’s colleague Ella Baker put it clearly: “Remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit, a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind.” To think we can truly help those diagnosed with “mental illness” without working for broader human freedom is itself a kind of madness.

Ending forced treatment is not meaningful if you are facing forced homelessness. Getting people off psychiatric drugs is not helpful if your job is driving you crazy with stress and meaninglessness. Hospital alternatives are not useful if people are running from police brutality and terrified of white supremacist mass shootings. Depathologizing mental distress is not useful if people need a diagnosis to get a disability check to survive. People live in the world, not in the mental health system. The mental health system is part of the world — a reflection of it, intimately connected to it. Promising to fix the mental health system without fixing the world it exists in is a false and fraudulent promise.

“But Will, that’s so big, we have to stay focused and manageable.” Perhaps now King’s provocation about “creative maladjustment” might make sense to you. His critique and call applies to anyone who, like the psychologists one of his speeches was delivered to, see themselves as “doing good” without being part of a movement to make real change and end social injustice as a whole. Maybe, in our drift from being part of a real movement, we’ve become part of the system that needs to change? Maybe our identities and job descriptions are narrowing our focus, maybe fear of losing our reputations or having our funding cut off, not an honest look at what it will take for real change in this country, is making these decisions for us?

King did not turn race into an issue separate from other issues: he saw racism as a symptom.

In today’s reality-television political circus, those of us who are “against racism” are often just manipulated into supporting a Dem-against-Repub discussion that loses the deeper goals King and the civil rights movement were aiming for. The issue is a failed democracy and the powerlessness of all ordinary people, not just the animosity and division that are expressions of that failed democracy. The problem is upstream, in how democracy is unfulfilled and taken over by monied elites buying votes and dividing us against each other. Again King is misunderstood here: King saw racism for what it is — his goal was upstream, at the source, changing the power structure of the US as a whole.

Racism is more than the reflexive tribal suspicion and derision of the Other. Racism is more than bigotry towards difference. Racism is even much more than institutional differences in power. Racism — not just racism but race or whiteness itself — is a very effective strategy to divide powerless and impoverished people against each other to prevent challenging elite rule. This is what race is about in the US: talking about race without understanding that this is a dead end. It’s all about power and democracy, and popular control against monied elites. That is what King understood in launching the Poor People’s Campaign to end poverty, and why he challenged the US War in Vietnam. Race is dividing us because of the Democrat and Republican political use of race: how television and troll politics wants us to frame race as a single issue in itself, separate from discussion about elite rule.

King’s goal and the civil rights movement’s goal was to end war, racism and poverty by empowering the disempowered and rebuilding society. He called for specific changes in US economic, social, and foreign policy based on overturning elite rule and fulfilling the promise of real democracy for all citizens. Real voting power, as a way to express popular democratic power, was key for that. Today the voting rights King fought for are still not achieved because the power of votes has been taken over by those who have the money to buy votes.

Slavery built modern society and was kept in place by deeming one less human than the other in order to endorse brutality and murder. The political system built on slavery to enrich elites was, and is, kept in place by promising advantages to the artificially categorized group of “whites” that are denied to the artificially categorized group of “blacks.” As James Baldwin put it, “As long as you think you’re white, I’m going to be forced to think I’m black.” As soon as we divide we are lost. This is not to be color blind — Baldwin marched with King and the advantages of whiteness over blackness are stark and need abolition. Whites do need to be challenged for our privilege, and specific expressions of racism also need to be challenged. But not at the expense of the larger message and goal that King lived and died for: a movement that has as its goal real democracy.

King’s proposals for change are as vital now, for us, as they ever were.

One example: King was a strong supporter of a universal basic income. Set at a level too low — or manipulated by political elites — a universal basic income could just be another form of cutbacks and austerity. But the potential of universal basic income raises our discussion about disability, healthcare, poverty and alternatives to the level of real, lasting, and meaningful change. What leading mad movement organization is having this discussion?

I travel around the US and speak again and again with people working at mental health programs. They understand that “mental illness” is so often a label to avoid problems of poverty and inequality. When will we start to really address this? “The solution to poverty,” wrote King,”is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” That’s clear. That’s a goal. That will take a movement. He wrote it in 1968 (in a book called Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community — and the answer of course is that we went to chaos), and now guaranteed income or universal guaranteed income is being discussed anew (partly because robots are threatening to take over the labor market — not exaggerating). Think about it, people: since one of the biggest rationales for psychiatric diagnosis itself is to play gatekeeper to receive anti-poverty benefits, doesn’t a universal anti-poverty measure offer a meaningful way out of needing psychiatric diagnosis? Hammering away at the logical fallacy and pseudoscience of the DSM for 40 years hasn’t gotten us anywhere; a real movement with real change can.

King fought fiercely for voting rights. Why? We have become so accepting that “electoral politics” isn’t relevant to our day-to-day lives that we lose sight of how voting and elections in a real democracy are the way forward to challenge elite rule. As our reality-television political circus pits Dem against Repub we lose sight of the very basic truth of our political system: not that electoral politiics in itself is meaningless, but that electoral politics becomes meaningless when our vote does not matter. You could even convince everyone in the US to endorse your vision of real change in the mental health system, you could get everyone to agree with you (opinion polls actually show people strongly supportive of our goals), and it would make zero difference, none, if the elite interests who can afford to buy votes are still against it. Elites and monied interests have made US democracy into a fraud. On every issue — quality teachers, gun safety, abortion, foreign policy, climate honesty, pharmaceutical company greed — monied interests block the way.

All of us are now urgently challenged to join the movement to end corruption of our democracy and make our votes count. HR1, the anti-corruption electoral reform bill, is a huge watershed change in our national discussion. That the bill pits Dems against Repubs is an unfortunate symptom, but the broader question — transpartisan support for change — is now on the agenda. My question to the mental health reform movement, the mad movement, the patient movement, the critical psychiatry movement — whatever we call our movement — is: Where are we in this discussion? Not “can we join the chorus of anti-Trump,” which to me is more reality-television spectacle distraction. But the real question — the question King asked — is this: Will we join the movement to make real change, to get to the heart of human freedom and work to fulfill the promise of democracy against control by monied elites? Because that’s what it’s going to take to get the mental health system change we are all talking about.

King was not simply a leader of more compassion, tolerance, respect, and treating people equally, as his sanitized legacy and co-opted holiday shrink him down to be. He was all of those things, but he was something much bigger and much more important — and he died for it. He was a leader raising his voice across this country to ask us to join a movement. A provocative, militant, loud, disciplined, multi-racial, upstream, system-change and concrete-goal-focused mass movement, with one specific aim: fixing democracy. His goal was to overturn the anti-democratic control of our political system by elites and put power back in the hands where it belongs — with us, ordinary people. Is the movement we think we are part of, whatever we name it, the same as the movement King fought for, whether or not we invoke his legacy or reference his words? Most importantly, can we admit we will never succeed if we don’t join the movement King was creating when he was murdered? Are we instead professional complainers and critics in a narrow, single-issue pluralistic fantasy, promising single-issue reforms that can never become real?

Do we want to see meaningful mental health reforms that actually work? Do we want to meet the great moral challenge of our day and be part of a real movement for a real solution? Because that’s how we can truly honor the legacy of Dr. King.


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 see much more misuse of King’s legacy, when it comes to the way “mental health movement” proselytizers employ it to support their positions, than I see any understanding of the man himself there. You point to this at one point, but you hardly go far enough. One psychiatrist, Nassir Ghaemi, has gone so far as to diagnose Martin Luther King, Jr., posthumously, and after the fact, bipolar. I agree that we do need to, as King himself put it, “join the movement”, however, that in itself might cause a little confusion. While I embrace the mad movement, I also embrace the antipsychiatry movement, psychiatry being primarily a medicalization movement, or a movement to pathologize what in itself is not pathological.

    I would qualify one statement you make: Promising to fix the mental health system without fixing the world it exists in is a false and fraudulent promise, by saying instead, fix the world and you will have gotten rid of the need for a “mental health” system altogether. I guess that is another way of saying, “fix the world and you’ve fixed the mental health system”. Get rid of it, in my estimation, and you’re that much closer to ‘fixing’ the world.

    We used to have a saying, the personal is political, and in Martin Luther King, Jr.s case, I think his support for creative maladjustment (no quotation marks) and ‘joining a movement’, were, to some measure, personal.

    King suffered from depression through much of his life. In his adolescent years, he initially felt resentment against whites due to the “racial humiliation” that he, his family, and his neighbors often had to endure in the segregated South. At the age of 12, shortly after his maternal grandmother died, King blamed himself and jumped out of a second-story window, but survived.

    The above sounds like a few lines from the poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg if anybody has read it. Usually, “suffered from depression” means the “mental health” system had an excuse to march in and “intervene” with labels and ‘treatment’. Judging from his position on creative maladjustment, maybe these attempts to ‘adjust’ King to an “unjust” world didn’t go over so well as the system would have preferred.

    Given this little disagreement, when it comes to the “mental health” or “mental illness” system, I’m in complete agreement when it comes to joining a cause and tackling governmental corruption. From the corruption of government by big money follows much of the corruption that effects this country elsewhere. “Fix” that, and it will go a long ways towards correcting a lot of other things, powerlessness, impoverishment, and disenfranchisement among them, that are wrong here.

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    • fix the world and you will have gotten rid of the need for a “mental health” system

      So do you now acknowledge a “need” for a “mental health system,” or have you unwittingly allowed yourself to echo the narrative of that system that it is “needed,” at least for now?

      Don’t want to get caught up in tangents, the article itself contains enough contradiction to go around. Just sayin’…

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    • He felt resentment against Whites, eh? And that’s a sign of “mental illness,” per the authors? What would be the appropriate response to being treated as a second-class citizen your entire life? Cheerfulness? Or would that be too “manic?”

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      • I’d like some documentation about this stuff, I think people may be taking a few comments by MLK and blowing them way out of proportion. Also it is demeaning to say he “suffered from depression,” and the phrase “resentment against whites” sounds suspiciously like a white person’s interpretation of things.

        Sorry to sound like I’m picking on Will Hall, as he isn’t responsible for creating the distorted accounts of “movement” history which permeate the internet, but his notions of a once gritty dirty radical movement “evolving” into a polite, refined, compliant “consumer movement” reflect what I believe is a deliberately distorted and biased mythology promulgated on the web by the same anti-anti-psychiatry opportunists who sold out the real movement decades ago, and must be seen for what they are.

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          • I get the gist of that, except that simply being Black at this stage of history doesn’t necessarily mean that a Black author would represent the “voice” of Black Liberation, and MIA has problems with tokenism anyway in my view. I think Hall is addressing his thoughts primarily to white people, btw, whether he realizes it or not.

            Incidentally, since I’m the only person here who capitalizes “Black,” it’s because I use it as a national term, basically synonymous with African. I don’t know if nationalists even do that anymore, but that’s where it comes from and how I got in the habit of doing it, should anyone wonder.

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          • I generally say African American or Afro-American in public since it’s considered polite now.

            I am white, but I admired MLK since reading about him at age 7. How he turned the other cheek and fought hatred with love and overcame evil with good.

            He’s a great role model for all people dealing with injustice and senseless cruelties from the world around us.

            If he were Roman Catholic he might have been canonized.

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  2. What we really need is the right to housing. The feudalistic system we have is slavery.

    You don’t own your home – and you never will And even better

    Imagine that, a world where you could just live extortion free. Everyone focuses on getting government money or $15 an hour for a “living wage” meanwhile its government itself that made living so expensive and difficult. Government hates the tiny house and off grid people.

    The rest of this article is contradictory.

    “His goal was to overturn the anti-democratic control of our political system by elites and put power back in the hands where it belongs — with us, ordinary people.”

    Meanwhile the link promotes “super delegates” the scam the robbed Bernie Sanders.

    “It is the view of many that the Constitution secures to presidential electors the freedom to vote their conscience for president and vice president. ”

    So which is it and how do superdelgates put power with ordinary people ?

    And “gun safety” ok sure, nothing slows down systems of oppression faster then disarming the population. Show me one example from history where THAT happened.

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    • We need the right to employment, too. Decent employment. I think there are a lot of “disabled” people who are only “disabled” by convenient theorizing, lack of opportunity, and corporate scheming.

      What is “automation” but “robotics”? Who are those “robotics” working for? My guess is they’re working for rich people and their corporations. Give jobs to poor people, and not robots, then we’d be getting somewhere.

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      • I don’t want “them” giving me some slave job a machine could do.
        Abandoning farm tractors and go back to rakes and shovels is an incredibly stupid idea.

        Farm labor is “fun” we could bring back sweat shops too. Lets get rid of automated sewing machines and cnc milling machines.

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      • I agree with Frank Blankenship that people have the right to decent employment. I would love for our movement to focus as much on poverty and the right to a decent standard of living in ADDITION to treatment by force. Poverty is a part of a wider conversation and I’m assuming that Universal Guaranteed Income is only one of many poverty alleviation strategies and since I know very little on the topic, i don’t know if Guaranteed Universal income can go hand in hand with economic development, job development job training, vocational rehabilitation, subsidized housing, supported employment, etc., I would love to have a discussion about job discrimination and how this may prevent full inclusion in the formal economy among those who have been psychiatrized.

        If we are talking about a guaranteed universal income as a pathway out of permanent poverty that is one thing. Currently, not enough focus is put on poverty alleviation for those who have been psychaitrized. Supported employment for the ‘mentally ill’ should be under scrutiny because if the work is tedious, dead-end work, such work would be counterproductive to mental and emotional wellness.

        In this sense, we should talk less about employment and talk more about purpose. Everyone needs a purpose. It is empowering to know that one is important and needed. I don’t think the Highlander 30 Statement of Principles listed meaningful employment as a human right (I’ll check) but if it was not listed there, I think the movement needs to expand as Will suggested by enlarging the scope of what we ask for in ADDITION to ending force and coercion in the mental health system because I agree with Frank that employment is a right.

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          • I agree completely with Cat and Oldhead here.

            I don’t feel any need to work for someone else to support their business ventures and their profit while laboring under the current system of wage slavery.

            I’d be happy to contribute if the system were set up in a way that was fair and didn’t specially reward those clever enough to exploit the efforts of others for the gain of a relative few.

            Yeah, no thanks.

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          • You and I think alike here, Cat.

            Shocked my parents by “coming out” as a Libertarian. Less is more when t comes to government.

            Legalize all drugs and we can end psychiatry altogether. Let “mentally ill” people pick their drugs off the shelf and buy them over the counter. That’s what they do in many Latin American counties like Uruguay.

            Btw, I don’t even drink wine. Personally opposed to mind altering drugs. Once I found out that’s all psych drugs are I felt it was my moral duty to go off them.

            But people have the right to make their own choices. Including bad ones.

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      • I think the white men who invaded Malhuer Wildlife Refuge were pretty successful with their guns.

        The gun rights issue is way too complicated to be reduced to a soundbite. Right now their tactic is to keep the guns from the crazies which only works if a small percentage is crazy and there’s a defined group to be protected from. When greater than 20% of the population is mentally ill at any one time (and this doesn’t take into account disenfranchised felons and red flag laws), a larger and larger portion of the population is now finding themselves part of the “potentially violent” demographic.

        Although I agree that weaponry and military offense has advanced to the point that anyone who seriously thinks an armed uprising wouldn’t be squashed is kidding themselves. I’m happy to not have weapons in my home, not happy to be on a government watch list as a potential violent person when 99.999999999999999999 percent of the violence in my life has been committed against me, even times when I’ve been violent, it’s been self directed. But Sandy Hook Promise wants you to be protected from the people who’ve been victimized because god forbid any of them were to respond in kind, however misdirected their violence may be. It’s far easier to finger the victim than take on the juggernaut of oppression and systemic violence that leads people to act out publicly in such horrific ways.

        Divide and conquer.

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  3. Psychiatry without psyche is a clock without time. We need Luther King who will demand bringing back the phenomenology of the psyche in place of false empiricism. Now, we have Apollo hegemony, which is so destructive, so empty. We need Zeus/Hades in the place of apollonian hegemony, because Apollo is too psychopatic. Without reading Hillman no one will understand this. Psychiatry is so toxic because for them only apollonian ego is a real part of psychological reality. The rest belongs to trash bin. This is ridiculous, and this is invisible regime. Psyche must regain its stolen image.
    James Hillman, Re -Visioning psychology.
    heil psyche

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  4. For those who are not well acquainted with the poem
    It can be triggering even in its beauty.

    Allen Ginsberg 1955-1956 dates of writing
    Part I
    I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…..
    who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold- water flats
    who bored their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan Angels staggering….
    who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes…..
    who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside of Time…..
    ah Carl,while you are not safe and now you’re actually in the total animal soup
    of time…..
    Part II
    I am with you in Rockland where you must feel very strange….
    I am with you in Rockland where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from the pilgrimage to a cross in the road….
    Holy, holy, holy,
    Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul

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    • On Will’s thoughts.
      Currently if one is disabled for more than two years one can receive Medicare. If one is younger than 65 my best guess is that one is red glued in the eyes of medical office personal, banks and others. And since we live in such desperate times there is chatter much or all of it negative. “ Well I wonder what is “ wrong” with him/ her?
      Nasty times increase nasty talk and crazy seems like an explanation of the too many woefuly ignorant of our country. Whether deaf, or on the spectrum of various conditions, there is even more than ever the sense of ANY type of otherness as not only wrong but dangerous. The extreme tragedy of this is many of the worst offenders are victims of our system but can’t see it.
      So Universal Healthcare would decrease the othering. We would ALL have the same cards.
      Universal Income Star Trek? Yes. Robots are here and more much more to come and can really alleviate awful jobs but society is still bound by past historical conventions about employment.
      Employment and vocation are actually two vastly different concepts and we all could be Tevye’s rich man doing what we enjoy instead of gearing up to work in jobs that are awful or dangerous.
      Geel, Belgium has had a long long history of including those with differences in their daily lives.
      Everyone has something to contribute. My college President was a well known scientist and was considered a laughing stock by most of the students who mainly came from a business perspective.
      He was most known for walking the campus st 5: am and picking up the trash from the mostly white like 97% of the students nights of drinking and stupid revelry.
      Once I meet him, I found him to be a kind gentle man and still consider him a true hero. In today’s era one of the neighbors or a visitor could have seen him at dawn and called the police. A crazy man having now idea who he really was.
      Just some thoughts. I appreciate Eill’s efforts and the discussion.

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  5. Yes, this is the day we insult the work and courage of Dr. King by dedicating his birthday to picking up trash and raking leaves, and reducing his revolutionary message to one of “voluntarism,” when what King “volunteered” for was risking his life fighting racism and, eventually, capitalism itself.

    I’m sick and tired of hearing people extolling Dr. King and other murdered revolutionaries when the greatest Black revolutionary of our day, Mumia Abu-Jamal, sits in a Pennsylvania prison as most of the country sits by complacent and ignorant. This is the essence of liberal hypocrisy. If people invoke Malcolm, Martin, Mandela or Tupac and ignore LIVING Black political prisoners in U.S. jails RIGHT NOW their words are meaningless. Mumia just won an important court case which will allow him to appeal much of his frame-up, but he is sick, and has been locked up unjustly for 37 years. If the so-called “progressive” D.A. appeals the decision it could keep Mumia locked up years more. If people want to put their actions where their mouths are, they will email the Phila. District attorney at [email protected] and urge him NOT to appeal Judge Tucker’s decision and to let Mumia’s appeal proceed. (Info on Mumia can be found everywhere, btw, try Google.)

    As for this so-called “movement” Will Hall alludes to, I don’t see much evidence that more than a handful of people are serious about aligning the anti-psychiatry movement with other serious revolutionary movements. In fact many here at MIA wouldn’t describe “our movement” as either anti-psychiatry OR revolutionary. Certainly none of the “solutions” Hall qualify as such, they are unacceptably naive attempts to “reform” a system that thrives on the misplaced idealism of people such as him. They represent mere tinkering with the minutiae of capitalism as people continue to drop all around. And many of the attitudes reflected in pieces such as this demonstrate why MIA continues to be a primarily white upper-“middle class” operation.

    To be continued, I’m sure. Thanks Dr. King for initiating this discussion, as embarrassing as I find it after all these years. 🙂

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        • No the development of trash is the core issue, not the mess it makes. We “clean” the mess by creating toxic landfills that poison our water tables and create massive underground fires.

          What we need societally is to figure out why we create so much trash to begin with, both physically and metaphorically.

          We wouldn’t need people cleaning trash from streams if governments didn’t make the production of trash so profitable. It’s capitalist business ventures under the direction of a massive central government that are killing our planet and polluting our environment and creating the necessity of feel good clean up days.

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          • We are buried in it. Our bodies are full of micro plastics and other chemical by products of manufacturing. “Recycling” is a clever term for exporting our refuse to other countries where less than environmentally sound practices allow it to be turned into new things to varying degrees. Very few things are truly used and recycled into new products with anything resembling efficiency of tertiary resources though – especially water. Metals are one of those. Plastics, by and large, are not.

            We also have a concept of trash because we have the concept of central manufacture and distribution of goods rather than small communities locally producing what it’s inhabitants need outside of what they can sustainably produce in their own homes.

            You know it’s a relatively recent phenomena – only since the women’s revolution and two earner homes became the norm – that producing many of your household’s products yourself went out of fashion. During my grandmother’s generation, conservation of resources (both money and personal belongings) was the norm. And making your own products was valued more than purchasing them. Now it’s practically patriotic to spend, spend, spend. Who has the time to do anything yourself anymore? I sure feel liberated. How about you?

            The fact is our government encourages spending for its own survival. Taxes come out of your income and if you have less of it, so does Uncle Sam. The whole concept of the federal reserve is to manage the country financially (both business and consumer behavior) by artificially making spending or saving the desired behavior at different points in time. You see this reflected quite readily in the control and manipulation of interest rates. Consumers are encouraged to go into debt when rates are low and conserve when rates are higher. But we’re not encouraged to think too deeply about who benefits the most from this manipulation of consumer behavior. And we are encouraged to think of work and labor as synonyms so that we will more readily labor for others in exchange for a paycheck when laboring for ourselves would be less environmentally damaging and ultimately produce a species more capable of survival, which the west currently is not.

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          • For a very long time, producers of any product had the luxury of dumping their waste into the environment for free. It’s only recently that the levels of waste have gotten so high that people demand some action, yet it is still not accounted for when calculating the cost of production. There is still this sense that making corporations pay to clean up their own messes is somehow unfair or undermining of “competition.” But of course, anything that is dumped leads to a cost, and most of the time, the taxpayers end up paying that cost and the producer gets off with little or no responsibility for the effects of their production.

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  6. One underdeveloped piece of your argument is the universal guaranteed income could potentially pit individuals against one another, some individuals need greater supports, such as those with complex medical needs, therefore there couldn’t possibly be a one size fits all guarantee universal income that would eliminate are the need for medical diagnoses, of course if people with psycho social disabilities had fruitful dialogues with people with physical disabilities and there could be flexible systems for evaluating people’s physical, mental and needs under the umbrella of estblishing dignified yet pragmatic universal guaranteed income , I guess anything is possible

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    • Sort of off the MLK theme, but a guaranteed income would alleviate the need for many to identify with a “mental illness” label in order to receive receive sustenance. But this would be a band-aid at best and would not solve the problems of capitalism or of racism, to which I assume this piece is dedicated.

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      • Painfully true: “a guaranteed income would alleviate the need for many to identify with a “mental illness” label in order to receive receive sustenance.” I spoke with a woman this week who was struggling for sustenance; they would not give her food stamps because she could work even though she could not find employment and was hungry.

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      • There have been plenty of instances of paying people not to work, but I don’t think any of them worked so well. The cost of non-production, I don’t think it has ever been calculated. I understand it has sustainability issues.

        I’m not against a guaranteed minimum income so long as it goes along with a guaranteed minimum employment.

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        • The problem with that, Frank, is that if one chooses to be an artist, and ends up being a critical or anti psychiatry, anti-child abuse artist, in this world where the psychiatric industry is functioning as an iatrogenic illness creating, primarily child abuse covering up, industry. And pedophilia and ‘Spirit cooking’ art is all the rage with the current ‘powers that be.’

          The psychiatrists will consider you “unemployed,” as you’re working on your portfolio, because they haven’t yet seen your work. Then once they see your work, they will initially consider your work to be “insightful.” Until you’ve truthfully medically explained the work as visually describing iatrogenic harm, as opposed to a “genetic” illness.

          At which point, the “mental health professionals” will then try to steal your work, and the rights to your story, not to mention all your family’s money – via a BS legalese contract. Because your work quite poignantly, visually describes the massive in scope, child abuse covering up, iatrogenic illness creating crimes of the psychiatric industry.

          In other words, only “work” that pushes the propaganda, lies and sick desires of the ‘powers that be’ would be allowed, if there were a universal basic income.

          But since we don’t have a universal basic income, and there are lots of artists who have been attacked by our pharmaceutically deluded medical community. There is now lots of art visually describing our run amok, greed inspired only, and murderous medical community’s crimes against humanity. And the job of artists is to visually describe what is going on in a society, at the time in which that artist lived.

          Will the art history books some day only include the current ‘powers that be’s’ satanic pedophilia and ‘Spirit cooking’ art? Or will the art history books some day also confess that our society at this time in history was a very divisive society, and include the artwork of the decent masses? Including the artists who were attacked by our pharmaceutically deluded, child abuse covering up and profiteering, medical and religious industries? I hope the history books will some day record the reality of our very divisive, unjust, to the point of being sick, society.

          I do agree with Will that the Democrats and Republicans are two wings of the same corrupt bird. And I agree with MLK, Jr. that our goal should be “to overturn the anti-democratic control of our political system by elites and put power back in the hands where it belongs — with us, ordinary people.”

          But I also see today’s “mental health professionals” as the “omnipotent moral busy bodies” hell bent on maintaining the current satanic status quo, for today’s war mongering and profiteering, bailout needing, fiscally irresponsible, human and drug trafficking, globalist “elite.”

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          • I don’t disagree with you here. I’m just not going to promote a social welfare system as a form of socialism, or a worker’s state. A bum’s state is not a worker’s state.

            There’s a lot wrong with our world and it’s elites. This is more reason to work to change things. Many, many people are under appreciated. Acknowledge that, and you can work to change it.

            Any one person’s notion of him or herself as the misunderstood genius and artiste, or even unemployed CEO? I’d say, the world is bigger than that, get over yourself.

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  7. Doesn’t the real solution mean addressing the roots of war, racism, and poverty in society as King asked us to do?

    My own brain is getting sore from the mental contortions Will goes through throughout this article trying to address all these issues without ONCE uttering the word “capitalism.” Or did I miss it?

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    • He does utter the word “democracy”. When corporations, much like mobsters, buy politicians, it’s hard to speak, with a straight face, of representative government. Should we get the dirty money out, democracy would be much more, to my way of thinking, representative of the common people, and less so of the elites.

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    • This blog raises some interesting historical questions about how to assess MLK’s legacy and the lessons to be learned from the struggles he was a part of. HOWEVER, it ends up promoting more confusion by obscuring the huge “elephant in the room.”

      “Doesn’t the real solution mean addressing the roots of war, racism, and poverty in society as King asked us to do?”

      As Oldhead pointed out, there is not a single reference to the MAIN obstacle to human progress in the world today – CAPITALISM.

      We live in a CLASS based/profit based system. Will keeps making reference to the “monied elites.” Where the hell did they (the monied elites) get their money and power??? There would be NO modern day American empire without the vicious exploitation of one hundred years of slavery. AND also the on going exploitation of American and Third World workers in those countries totally dominated by U.S. imperialism.

      The U.S. Imperialist empire will NEVER be able to integrate (provide economic and social equality) to minorities and people of color.

      Nor will this system (now that it understands the value of the Medical Model to it future preservation) EVER allow psychiatry and the Disease/Drug Based “Mental Health” system to lose power as a significant form of social control.

      The profit motive corrupts every aspect of society, and it is most obvious when looking at how it pervert all scientific endeavors. Look at what it has done to help create the so-called pseudo-scientific backdrop for today’s “mental health” system.

      To Will and others: we can’t move forward and build ANY significant political movement in today’s world WITHOUT clearly identifying to the masses what they are up against.

      The “monied elites” IS the capitalist class -running a class based/profit based economic system.

      Yes, the under classes should have more resources available to them, but a “guaranteed income” is not a real solution.

      If ALL of today’s wealth was redistributed equally to every citizen in this country (with the capitalist system still in tact) it would be a VERY SHORT TIME before ALL the same class based disparities and inequalities would reassert themselves within society.

      It’s time for humanity to move beyond the capitalist system before the planet is destroyed through environmental destruction or a new imperialist world war.


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      • If ALL of today’s wealth was redistributed equally to every citizen in this country (with the capitalist system still in tact) it would be a VERY SHORT TIME before ALL the same class based disparities and inequalities would reassert themselves within society.

        Very important point, worth re-reading, especially for those who say they are interested in “systemic” change.

        To Will and others: we can’t move forward and build ANY significant political movement in today’s world WITHOUT clearly identifying to the masses what they are up against.


        Nor will this system (now that it understands the value of the Medical Model to it future preservation) EVER allow psychiatry and the Disease/Drug Based “Mental Health” system to lose power as a significant form of social control.

        That’s their plan of course. But never say never — they are not invincible, especially once the people learn to see through the “empire’s new clothes.” Echoing Hendrix again, “Castles made of sand melt to the sea, eventually.”

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  8. I think this is a great article, but Will Hall really does flip flop back and forth throughout.

    I eventually drifted from my youthful flirtations with liberal politics as I got older, and saw more and more of what this world is made of which is bad. However, I’m really grateful to Will for reawakening within me an appreciation of the larger legacy for which Dr. King is known, via Will’s eloquent enumerations of King’s significances. Can’t we get away from this infernal use of the term, “racism,” though? Will actually acknowledges King stood for something far greater than race. You know perfectly well that the term, “racism,” has very bad connotations to us Republicans. At the very least, it’s limiting.

    Will also talks about the importance of the language we use when self-describing. Will is a very articulate guy and because of this, you can actually see how we disempower ourselves by using pat, superflous jargon. A word of caution here, however; too much emphasis on the specificity of words used opens one up to accusations of political correctness, and the subsequent censorship of vocabulary used. The two of these things must not be confused.

    One occasionally hears, (more and more frequently,) exhortations to abandon the capitalist system in order to achieve a trauma-free, economically equal society. As far as I’m concerned this is nothing more than nostalgic, 1960’s poppycock. Even if we didn’t remain in this era of Trump and the Republicans, do you think there would be any likelihood of the U.S. economy converting to that of socialism? Socialist governance blew up in the faces of its protagonists in the late 1980’s. Remember?

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    • Can’t we get away from this infernal use of the term, “racism,” though? Will actually acknowledges King stood for something far greater than race.

      Very revealing, I’m afraid. What other word for “racism” do you prefer? There aren’t many synonyms. This is sort of like saying “All lives matter” (after all these years) in response to “Black Lives Matter.”

      Any attempt to downplay the primacy of fighting racism in King’s work is racist in itself, whether the term annoys Republicans, Democrats, or Trumpians. I was about to say earlier that to the degree Hall makes such an implication the article is racist itself, in that convoluted way liberals are so good at, but I chose to pull my punches at that point. However I see that this is the exact message Kumin takes from the piece.

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      • Can I just point out the inherently racist nature of a group of white men pontificating on the causes, effects or solutions of racism as practiced by the American empire? Without black and brown voices here to speak for themselves and how racism affects them and the solutions they’d like to see to address their struggles, this is nothing more than a white circle jerk.

        ‘Nothing about us without us’ applies to all marginalized groups, not just psychiatric survivors.

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        • There are those who would have us believe that all the potential Black MIA’ers have been chased off by AP people referring to “psychiatric slavery.” This is about as credible as the myth that Clinton was defeated because of the Russians. It’s a forest vs. trees sort of thing. So most likely in five years people here will still be wondering where all the POC’s are.

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          • That’s pretty reductive, Oldhead. I don’t think anyone believes that “psychiatric slavery” is what has chase black and other people of color away from here. In general, non-white people weren’t here to begin with. But weirdly appropriative stuff like the insistence on clinging to that particular phrase, along with appropriation related to MLK and so on certainly doesn’t help.

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          • That exact statement was made to me by an MIA representative.

            Psychiatric slavery is not just a “phrase.” It is part of an analysis, and recognizes psychiatry as part of the legacy of slavery. Refusing to deal with racism and its role in history is one of the reasons MIA remains an overwhelmingly “white” thing. Your concept of “appropriation” is faulty. Also, as I have repeatedly stressed, white people evoking Black martyrs on MIA is hypocritical when they ignore the very present situation of Black political prisoners.

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          • Oldhead,

            Whoever said that to you was also being silly. The reasons why black and other non-white people aren’t more present here runs deep, and is reflected throughout any movement closely associated with pushing back on the psychiatric system. The reasons run from the fact that people of different backgrounds and privileges are shuffled into different systems, to how the psychiatric system and racism already intersect to even further marginalize non-white people, to how shitty white people are at making space and centering voices other than their own or hearing and respecting people other than those they see as representing their own image, and beyond. Whether you call people asking folks here not to use the term “psychiatric slavery” as appropriation or simply a show of lack of respect for the multiple black voices who’ve come here and said it doesn’t sit well with them… it doesn’t really matter. If becoming less white were more important to folks around here, they’ve be willing to give on these points even if they don’t fully agree.

            But regardless… I’m not going to continue arguing about this. We’ve been round this circle before.

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          • Forest for the trees. There’s nothing too “complex” about the lack of Black participation at MIA.

            All this “anti-racist” talk and, after all these years, not a word about Black political prisoners. Complete radio silence. So all this so-called “anti-racist,” “intersectionality” stuff rings hollow to me, and reeks of the white privilege you claim to oppose. And you’re far from the only one to demonstrate this attitude. Free Mumia!

            P.S. The so-called “argument” about “psychiatric slavery” is a tempest in a teapot between a few white liberals, certainly not a matter of controversy among Black anti-psychiatry survivors with an historical perspective. The prison/psychiatric system has replaced straight up slavery, and has more Blacks under its control than slavery ever did. But never mind.

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        • @kindredspirit: “American empire” is the creation of European Imperialism. Mostly England, but also Spain and France, colonized the “new world”, what we know today as North and South America. The European countries also had colonies literally all over the planet. Slavery was up and running globally, long before 1776. Yes, many if not most of the creators of U.S.A., inc., were “white slave owners”. That was NORMAL, given the times and state of the world they lived in. The majority of the “GREG B.’s”, – the Global Ruling Elites and Global Banksters, just so happen to be “white people”. But that’s not the result of anything intrinsic to “whiteness”. The world would be exactly the same if all “blacks” were “white”, and all “whites” were “black”. So-called “racism” is NOT a black-and-white issue. It’s about money, and power, and control. Some “blacks” oppress other “blacks”, and some “whites” oppress other “whites”, and the fact that they’re the same “color” doesn’t prevent the oppression….

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          • So-called “racism” is NOT a black-and-white issue.

            “So-called”? That’s racist in itself. Racism is a black/white issue just as sexism is a male/female issue. There are of course class issues involved too, but that doesn’t negate the rest.

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      • MLK fought racism. So what he stood FOR was not racism but universal love and getting along together instead of fighting and driving people away based on their skin tone.

        Racism is indeed a “black and white” issue. Bigotry or prejudice are not. All racism is a form of bigotry. Not all bigotry is racism though.

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        • You don’t get it. You’re not understanding what I’m saying. Both you, “Rachel777”, and “oldhead” have argued back against me when I said “racism is not a black & white issue”. There’s an inherent double entendre that you’re missing. In the 1800’s, “settled scientific consensus” said there were “3 races”, “Negroid”, “Caucasoid”, and “Mongoloid”. Is that “black”, “white”, and “brown”? Or “yellow”? What about the “red man”, the Native American Indians? You may have seen a “4 directions” artwork depicting the “4 races” of red, black, white and yellow. Where’s the BROWN? We use “race”, and “color” as if they are interchangeable words and concepts. It’s only by reference to context that we know whether we mean “race” or “color”. And I saw a video recently, from a black guy that argues that there’s really only ONE “race”, the “black” race, which ranges to a shade so light we’d call them “white”. He claims that what we might call “white people”, are actually NEANDERTHAL, who only fairly recently interbred with BLACK Homo Sapiens. So they are in fact 2 distinct SPECIES, who can’t possibly be the same “race”!
          ANY PERSON is capable of prejudice, discrimination, oppression, etc. The whole issue of “race” and “racism” is used a wedge, to divide-and-conquer the most of us, by the few rich, moneyed&powered elite few of us. I still say there’s only ONE “race”, the human race. If you don’t agree with me, fine, too bad, that’s your problem. Please stop trying to make your problem be my problem. Maybe it’s ME who doesn’t understand what YOU mean when you say that “racism IS a black-and-white issue”. I think it’s NOT, that’s all….

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  9. I do not know about your experiences of the 1990’s, but it seems obnoxious to claim that “I was never a racist until that decade came along” in commenting about a tribute to Dr. King. Consistently, yes, I believe that racism had something to do with Trump winning.

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    • Just as racism would have been involved in Hillary winning, it’s just a matter of style; Trumps’ is primarily reflected in poorly-chosen words, as opposed to the thousands of “predatory” Black men locked up under the Clinton crime bill, and the thousands of brown-skinned people in the Mideast wiped out by U.S. drones under Obama. Racism has always been the driving dynamic of capitalism, no matter who the figurehead is at the time. Most people of color would prefer to be insulted as opposed to killed.

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        • Kumininexile

          You cannot escape the fact that Trump is a racist. This is obvious in so many ways, and very much based on multiple things he has said or done (or not done).

          And ANY person supporting him in today’s world is either an OVERT racist or a COVERT racist.

          “Covert,” meaning that through both ignorance and overall lack of social and political awareness, they tolerate and/or engage in various forms of racist behavior.


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          • This is simply taking sides on which form of racism you prefer, and by focusing on Trump to the exclusion of his Democratic/Republican counterparts you implicitly support the institutional racism promulgated by one branch of the ruling class as “better” than that of the other. This is a recurring pattern I see among leftists and those who consider themselves such. Your “overt/covert” formula applies to ANY POLITICIAN, including Black and Hispanic politicians who acquiesce to the racist agendas of either party. I don’t understand why you still insist on focusing on Trump and not capitalist politicians in general, as the difference can never be more than a matter of degree.

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          • Oldhead

            I have consistently exposed the entire ruling class and their system in this country.

            However, it is VERY important to focus attention on Trump and those who support him. because he represents the most serious threat to institute some type of “fascist” rule in this country. Which would most likely include the most naked forms of racial oppression, pogroms etc. They could even become part of a set of new laws

            This would make it virtually impossible to exercise ANY type of political forms of protest and dissent. That includes, with any form of freedom of the press etc.

            To not recognize the dangerous LEAP in the objective situation with Trump’s election in this country is a serious ultra-left error.


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          • I see no proof or even solid evidence of this, though I’m still open to hearing about it. To me this seems like a meme favored by some organized leftists to promote their theories of how the revolution is supposed to progress. Corporate power remains entrenched in the hands of neoliberals/neoconservatives from what I can see, and to me these represent the true face of fascism; if you want to argue this go for it. Part of the reason the establishment hates Trump is that he’s just like them except he talks about it out loud. For me, for now, focusing on Trump just encourages people to put their faith in “better” candidates.

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          • It’s also possible that the term “fascism” has run its course, and is too simplistic to describe the highly sophisticated form of totalitarianism currently in effect. Psychiatry plays a key role in this by inculcating in people the idea that concrete reality and metaphorical interpretations of such are identical, as are the material and the abstract.

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  10. I found out recently that MLK suffered horrible depression all his life. Especially in his teens. At 12 or 13 he tried to kill himself.

    He survived the fall and overcame his gloom to do great things.

    Just think what would have happened if he’d had access to psychiatric “care”? The Civil Rights movement might never have gotten off the ground.

    Btw, surprised no one here has mentioned the Violence Initiative which is rife with covert racism. But–since it’s disguised as medical help for poor youth–the psych bureaucrats get away with it. Check out Peter Breggins’s videos on this. Eugenics is alive and well thanks to psychiatry.

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    • Glad to know that someone else knows about this awful plan. The guy who created it said that African Americans are no better than monkeys who spend all their time trying to kill each other off and create chaos everywhere they go. Breggin stopped it in it’s tracks but the guy tried to initiate it twice. Breggin was there both times to keep it from happening.

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  11. Will,

    I’m not too sure what to make of this article. It seems a little all over the place. I *think* I appreciate the challenge to using the “creative maladjustment” term as its always struck me as appropriative rather than unifying in any way. But, overall, I’m finding myself a little lost in your point.

    I’m also a little perplexed as to why you zeroed in on “peer respite” here. I’m not super fond of that terminology because of the word “peer” and how strangely it’s come to be understood and used within the mental health system. However, your focus on it here suggests to me you have some deeper issue against peer respite (or the people connected to them) than anything else. Ultimately, “hospital alternative” strikes me as no solution, although it’s often a piece of the explanation as to what “peer respite” is. Certainly, I’d see little to no improvement in automatic understanding if I began using that terminology instead of “peer respite” , and may actually see an *increase* in people who *think* they understand what I’m talking about but don’t.

    I’m all for looking deeply at the power of language, and I’m not at all against looking for an alternative to “peer respite” , but I question the reason for your focus here.


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    • First, every year, on MLK day, “mental health consumers”, and people impacted by “mental health” and “intellectual disabilities” services in the state of Virginia march on the state capital in Richmond. Of course, the big demand is for more money, and the marches themselves, almost state planned, are far from anything Martin Luther King Jr. might have wanted his name attached to. Will Hall’s article is spot on when it comes to critiquing this sort of thing.

      Second, I had to search a second time for any mention of “peer respite” in the post, and eventually I found it. I don’t, in other words, think Will was focusing on “peer respites”, or, with you, the need for more “hospital alternatives” as he calls them. I think his piece is about going beyond that sort of myopia of vision. I have my own issues with the matter when it comes to the “peer respite” thing. Is the world really improved by opening more adult baby sitting centers, and should expansion, in that form, of social services be the sole aim of our protests and organizing? I have to say I’m will Will on this one, or rather, I’d go further than Will on the matter. I don’t have a big investment in the proliferation of “peer respites”, should it ever come about, but I do think our movement is connected to other movements, and that the matter of being human, irregardless of race, rather than a number in the DSM (for insurance company billing purposes, of course) is what counts.

      When it comes to creative maladjustment, or Mad Pride as some people put it, and joining the larger movements for social change and justice everywhere, I kind of have to agree with Martin Luther King Jr. and Will Hall in saying that, yes, that is something we should be doing.

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      • Will spent a fair amount of lines on ‘peer respite, Frank. It wasn’t just one casual mention. And I think it was out of place. I actually think Will fairly frequently has include off handed lines in several of his blogs here that are targeted at particular people or groups in ways that don’t feel honest to me. This is but one example.

        That aside, your reference to “adult babysitting” just tells me you don’t know much about what peer respites are actually intended to be or what the ones done with integrity have to offer, and you are missing my point entirely. I also think it’s strangely naive to suggest that creating alternative supports is a waste of time… that echoes of the criticism many of us often receive about pretending nothing is wrong when we argue against the medical model. Mostly, people who hurl that criticism aren’t actually paying attention… because often many of us *are* acknowledging fully that something may be wrong for lots of people… that their pain and struggles are legit and that they deserve support. Just not within the framework the system has to offer.

        I also think you are giving Will way too much credit in what you ascribe to what he was saying there.

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        • I think we have to go outside and beyond “our movement” in particular and embrace other movements. I was agreeing with Will (and MLK Jr.) on the need for us to do so. Admittedly, I’m not as invested in respites as much as you are, nor am I invested in the profession of psychology as much as Will Hall must be. That’s not the issue. The issue is going beyond such to embrace other movements and causes, and as such I think his was a much needed tribute and perspective. I also think that the bill he mentions is a very important one, and that supporting such legislation might help get some of the dirty money out of politics, and doing so would affect all sorts of other issues for the better. I see this article as being about Martin Luther King Jr., expanding ones reach, and joining political action movements. I’d like to thank Will for giving us a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., and for making his tribute so relevant to what is going on here and now. I don’t think the post had so much to do with either the psychiatric survivor movement, nor the mental health movement, in particular, as you might credit it with having, but that is that. I think it has more to do with the overall struggle for change and social justice around the world.

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      • First, every year, on MLK day, “mental health consumers”, and people impacted by “mental health” and “intellectual disabilities” services in the state of Virginia march on the state capital in Richmond.

        THIS is pretty much the definition of “appropriation,” and constitutes racism imo.

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  12. It seems that Will Hall doesn’t want to discuss his article here, but I’m puzzled by something he said and I have a question for him…

    WH: “When I write about “our movement” I immediate face our lack of such a clear name. “Mad movement”? “Critical psychiatry?” “Psychiatric survivor movement?”… [We] moved away from “anti-psychiatry” for (in part) good reasons, but what about on a more fundamental level? When we lost a grip on our language we lost a grip on our power.”

    Why did “we” move away from using “anti-psychiatry”? What are the “good reasons”? I ask because in 2015, I consciously adopted the word for my cartoon alter ego. At the time I didn’t know it was particularly controversial, I just thought it meant “against Psychiatry”.

    Since then, I have come to realise that “anti-psychiatry” has been successfully weaponised by senior players in Psychiatry – it is used as a powerful code-word meaning “anti-science, flaky, bizarre, deviant.” They target fellow professionals, academics and authors, and anyone else with a vested interest in the MH system, who truly fear the dreaded “anti-psychiatry” slur. Maybe this is the “good reason” Will Hall alludes to…? If so, I am now happier than ever that I chose it. I agree with Will that when we lose a grip on our language, we lose a grip on our power… so why hand “our language” on a plate to guild Psychiatry for them to use against us?

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      • Oldhead: “The turmoil the term “anti-psychiatry” creates among the ranks of the “pros” is testimony to its power.”

        Yes, and we need all the power we can get! I have sent a message to Will Hall via his website to make him aware of this conversation because I would like his input… but I’m not sure he’s keen to join the fray.

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        • If antipsychiatry is a form of resistance when it comes to psychiatric oppression, would surrender be an improvement? Think. It was a great number of years that chattel slavery existed in this country before it was finally abolished, and people in such bondage emancipated, wasn’t it? Given no movement against slavery, nothing but surrender, the story would have been a different one, wouldn’t it? You know where this argument leads, don’t you? It goes exactly where it should go, towards defiance, resistance, and opposition to psychiatric oppression in all of its manifestations.

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      • Oh yes! Although I don’t see the “Scientology” slur all that often in the UK. The top-dog psychiatrists here tend to stick to snide remarks and put-downs. For instance, “flat-earth types with odd ideas about health” (Prof Allan Young). The Royal College of Psychiatrists has strong links to the mainstream media, particularly the BBC, which is a powerful platform.

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        • It is so important to call out these “ad hominem attack” strategies for what they are! The reason they resort to these tactics is because using actual data and logic will be a losing proposition. Unfortunately, the tactic is often extremely effective in silencing dissent!

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        • Thanks to America’s ubiquitous drug ads, Big Pharma owns our television air waves. Even the content of doctor shows/crime dramas/sit coms is full of psychiatric “facts.” 😛

          Though real shrinks would laugh at most since they know you don’t need hours of rigorous testing to “diagnose” someone. I actually saw this on a crime drama episode. A fictional shrink said this. The writers didn’t do their homework.

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    • “We” didn’t move away from anti-psychiatry. A false narrative permeates the net, obviously created by the opportunists who sold out the original movement for a few pieces of silver and a therapeutic pat on the head. It says in essence that the original raw, unsophisticated, “extreme” mental patients’ liberation movement “evolved” into the compliant, polite “consumer movement,” which just wants better treatment for patients, none of that “radical” stuff. This is the sort of utter bullshit you’ll find in places like Wikipedia, and the propaganda put out by “consumer movement” honchos. (And yes, we know their names.)

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    • Antipsychiatry has been “criticized” for being excessively negative. I consider this “criticism” essentially null and void. After psychiatry has engaged in all sorts of destructive activities, including slander, defamation, abduction, sterilization, imprisonment, brain mutilation, all sorts of heath destroying methods of “treatment” (AKA torture), and even mass murder, it has the unmitigated gall to call its opposition negative. I, on the other hand, tend to see such forms of devastation as the pseudo-science implements as negative, and anything to counter it a highly positive matter indeed.

      Antipsychiatry is a way of flipping off the entire mental health system, and I couldn’t imagine a better use for one’s Mad Pride than in returning the disservice that psychiatry has offered one with the constructive and positive use of this word, except perhaps, given a little bit of poetic justice, and a passage in the Bible, you know, “an eye for an eye”, in the sterilization, imprisonment, brain mutilation, mass murder, etc., of psychiatrists.

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      • Psychiatry is a “science” of insults. Do cardiologists show up on 48 Hours to bad mouth heart patients and call them a menace to society? Do endocrinologists tell the public how most crimes are committed by people with kidney or thyroid problems?

        That’s why there’s no anti cardiology or anti endocrinology movement “Dr.” Torrey. 😛

        High ranking, prominent shrinks do nothing but malign those they say they want to help in PSA’s. They can dish it out but they can’t take it.

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        • Do endocrinologists tell the public how most crimes are committed by people with kidney or thyroid problems?

          I’ve proposed getting crime rates for heart attack victims, diabetes sufferers, etc. to see which groups might have comparable or higher rates of violence than “mental patients,” then demanding laws to monitor and control their personal lives just as rigidly. Let’s see how that goes over.

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          • The thing is they often “diagnose” people who commit grotesque, horrible murders as SMI. No known pathology for “mental illness” so they can label anyone.

            Bizarre crimes are proof of “mental illness” since “mentally ill” usually refers to extreme behaviors. This would inflate the crime stats of the “mentally ill.”

            Ted Bundy was “bipolar” just like the harmless eccentric Aunt Betty everybody loves. Different=bad. Ergo murders like Bundy committed are proof of his “mental illness” since most people don’t do what he did.

            We don’t need “mental health experts” to label criminals like Bundy. The penal system can function well without them.

            Law abiding Aunt Betty will be better off too!

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    • I, personally, would love to see us refer to what we do as what I believe was the original nomenclature in the 1970’s: the psychiatric inmates’ liberation movement. This is far more dynamic and hard-hitting than anything as silly and milque toast as a, “consumer movement,” a term S.A.M.H.S.A., (N.I.M.H.) came up with when they coopted what we were doing by funding our annual conferences.

      That’s all over with now, thank God. Why not dispense with their masquerade job for us and go back to our dynamic roots?

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  13. I’d also love to see the name of our annual gatherings revert back to that of the International Conferences for Human Rights and Against Psychiatric Oppression. This was so much more of a dynamic, in-your-face title than any staid moniker such as an, “Alternatives Conference.” First, though, we really need to repossess these gatherings from Dan Fisher, who uses them as conduits for his own personal priorities, all of which are extremely milque toast and pro-status quo Establishment-oriented. No radical is he, not by a long shot. He’ll even confirm that to your face if you ask him.

    I have a number of differences with Dan, though these do not include his altruistic outreach to me. I send the organization he founded and owns, the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, money each year. In a week or so, I’m going to send him my contribution for 2019 which will be $2,000. I think Dan uses this to help fund the cost of our annual gatherings since we, blessedly, don’t have anymore S.A.M.H.S.A. money for them. These conferences have been so much of an integral part of the mental patients’ movement for decades that I don’t want to see them whither on the vine, such as some would be perfectly content to see happen. I also send an equal amount of money to MindFreedom each year.

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    • PLEASE stop wasting your money. That’s INSANE!!! ALL the so-called “ALTERNATIVES” conferences have been set up ENEMIES of the mental patients’ liberation/anti-psychiatry movement, and to DESTROY the real movement, as embodied in the Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression.

      I would ask for money BACK!!!

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      • Oldhead, I agree with you in the sense that, hopefully, it remains to be seen how far Dan Fisher gets with his designs to coopt the patients’ movement with his milque toast/Establishmentarian constrictions . Dan is both a patient and a psychiatrist, meaning he has the Establishmentarian respectability which so many foolish patients crave and salivate over. He’s far more of an Establishmentarian psychiatrist than he is a patient, however. He’s exactly the kind of enemy you’re describing above. On the other hand, our annual gatherings are no longer government funded, probably a good thing. I like to think my money helps to sustain the tradition of these conferences. And I did state in my other post that we need to reclaim this tradition from Dan and the rest of the Establishment.

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          • Look, Oldhead, the only way we’re going to recapture our annual gatherings, (call them what you like,) is if longtime dedicated founding activists such as you, David Gonzalez, Ted Chabasinski, Jay Mahler, George and Marianne Ebert, and whoever else is still with us from the ’70’s start ATTENDING them again! And I don’t just mean once, I mean CONSISENTLY! As far as I can see, it’s only that kind of sustained pressure which will succeed in wrenching the hearts and souls of these conferences away from the clutches of Dan Fisher and his silly milque toast compatriots. Financial aid is available for attendance, for crying out loud! I know because I’m the one who coughs up money for this every year! By the way does the name, Sally Zinman, ring a bell with you? Sally’s one of the very few surviving founding activists from the ’70’s. She’s now in her 70’s, and SHE still comes to these conventions of ours. Were you aware of that?

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          • These so-called “Alternatives” conferences are not “our” gatherings, and never were, they are their gatherings, bought and paid for by the system. I wouldn’t go if you paid me.

            Sally was not exactly a “founding” activist, she started MPRA in the late 70’s. She’s a nice person but her politics are very liberal, hence she apparently drank the Kool-Aid that the mental patients movement had “evolved” into the “consumers movement,” which is the opposite of what we stood for. Sorry you’ve been wasting your money. Obviously someone is getting paid.

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      • OldHead, you keep talking about psychiatric survivor leadership in the antipsychiatry movement. Problem. I think Bonnie Burstow is very correct in emphasizing the distinction between these two movements. It was, if you will recall, the psychiatric survivor movement that abandoned, in the main, the antipsychiatry movement, and not vice versa. I think we have to ally with those who are there, be they victims of the system or professionals within it. I don’t think dividing the antipsychiatry people does anything but impede progress. The old psychiatric survivor movement was what the present psychiatric survivor movement is not, and that is antipsychiatric. The movement, more or less, sold opposition to human rights violations and oppression out for government funded “alternatives”, “alternatives” that you wouldn’t need if you didn’t have human rights violations and oppression. Go figure. I think we need psychiatric survivor leadership within the antipsychiatry movement, however, I don’t think it should be led chiefly by psychiatric survivors. I’d say, on a practical level, working with the public and professionals has to work a whole lot better than complaining about them.

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        • The setup in Canada has the so-called movement split into 2 camps, in a way which ultimately disempowers survivors: on one hand is the “survivors movement” and on the other the “anti-psychiatry” movement. So if one is a survivor who is anti-psychiatry you must be part of the “anti-psychiatry” movement — in which survivors can be outvoted by professionals and others. Also if there is a “survivors” movement that is not anti-psychiatry, this is a contradiction in terms, and I am not interested in working with “survivors” who don’t consider themselves anti-psychiatry by definition, and I question what they even mean by “surviving.” I prefer a vanguard movement led by survivors who define our agenda, and coalitions with non-survivors who are allies — by OUR definition. All the complaining about this by non-survivors is little more than an excuse to avoid organizing.

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          • Actually, Oldhead, I understand PERFECTLY where you’re coming from with the above remarks.

            I honestly don’t know what kind of “collaboration,” there will be or should be, between victimized patients and others. Maybe in all of our bumbling ways, we’re all getting stuff done under any circumstances. Bonnie Burstow certainly seems to be doing great things in Canada.

            I’ve reached the point in life where I’ve come to the conclusion that the entire scandal which is the medical model MH system, will eventually self-destruct. I think the homelessness problem is the Achilles’ heel in the Establishment’s designs against patients, and that this will eventually blow up in the Establishment’s face. I hope I’m not being overly optimistic.

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          • KumininExile, could you elaborate how homeless rates will cause psychiatry’s downfall? I don’t care how it happens, I long for its destruction. No one is safe from shrinks anymore. Not even toddlers!

            I’ve noticed severe housing shortages for folks disabled and labeled by psychiatry. But I can’t see how this will bite shrinks in the butt. They can (indirectly) cause mass shooting sprees with their Hellish drugs, then use the drug induced violence for unlimited expansion of powers by lying to the public on TV. Nobody holds them accountable for anything.

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  14. Rachel 777, I’m not an expert in any of this stuff, but I’ll tell you what it is I’m thinking about regarding my comment above.

    Last summer when Mickey Weinberg was exhorting us to write letters to Benedict Carey of necessity, I think he explained to us that the strategy behind doing this would be that this would be a way of publically discrediting psychiatry, assuming Carey was willing to cooperate with us. I hope I have that right. I thought it was a great plan and I’m sorry it doesn’t seem to have panned out, at least not as yet.

    I’m simply suggesting that, eventually, the homelessness epidemic is going to grow to such gargantuan proportions that this objective of ours will be accomplished afterall. Speaking of homelessness, is that what the term, “zombie apocalypse,” refers to?

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    • Yes. It could also be a metaphor for mindless hyper consumerism. Noteworthy how homelessness expands even as psychiatry does. Also disability rates. As RW has already pointed out if the “treatments” helped people function and lead productive lives shouldn’t the reverse have occurred?

      Before I found out about all the writings discrediting pharna-psychiatry I would sit in day treatment feeling confused. (More than just the drugs at work.) They told us how much our “meds” were helping us; how they made our lives so much better; and how these “meds” were saving our lives. I noticed how sick everyone was with legitimate ailments–but at a rate most folks did not. We still acted on impulse, had crazy thoughts, heard voices, and struggled making ordinary decisions. We couldn’t work or get along with other people. Most of us wanted to die and struggled with suicidal desires.

      They told us how great things were and it made me angry. What was good enough for us would not have been good enough for “real people.” I knew our lives stunk but no one dared admit it.

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        • Rachel, to elaborate further, I don’t buy into N.A.M.I.’s incantation that the reason why patients become homeless is because they’re too sick to know what’s good for them. Being in another stratosphere may or may not have something to do with that. But even if it does, the other 50% percent of the reason why patients choose homelessness and make the decision to go to jail, is because this is the only means of protest we have at our disposal. This is the only monkeywrench we’ve got available to us to toss into the Establishment’s machinery. Hence, the neverending rise in rates of homelessness I anticipate. I hope this clears things up for you.

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          • Drugs and psych labels make gainful employment all but impossible. Not enough subsidized housing for all of psychiatry’s victims. And SSI payments will not cover rent in any state.

            Hoping to bootstrap myself up now that I’m drug free and can write more easily and don’t need 12 hours of sleep per day. If not for my kind relatives I’d be homeless probably.

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