From Mad in Sweden: Survivor and activist Dunja Grisell presents an adaptation of The Queer Nation Manifesto, expressing outrage at the violence and coercion against people suffering from psychological distress at the hands of psychiatry, and the prejudices still prevalent in society at large. It must be highlighted that, beyond the rage and an impassionate call for action, there is a clear message of hope permeating this piece. We struggle, the odds are oftentimes stacked against us but we will never surrender. We will fight until we win. As stated in the original version of the manifesto: “an army of lovers cannot lose”. Read in original Swedish, or in English translation.
EVERYONE READ THIS!
How can I tell you. How can I convince you that their lives are in danger every day? That every day they wake up as free people, they commit a rebellious act. It is a miracle that they survive and forgive. They should by all rights be dead.
Don’t be fooled, you well-adjusted people own the world and the only reason you have been spared is that you have been lucky or manage to keep the facade. You well-adjusted people have privileges that allow you to live without fear. But you do not only live lives free from fear; you also take it for granted.
Every day, psychiatry and society take one of them. Whether it is a death in solitude due to the passivity of the people around them or a deadly psychiatric treatment, they will be systematically erased and they will continue to be wiped out until you realize that if they take one of them, they can also take one of you.
Being seen as mentally ill or disabled is about surviving daily against oppression and ableism, but often also self-hatred. They have internalized your stigma of them, you no longer have to show contempt, it already exists within them.
I’m angry. I’m angry that my friends are sentenced to death by strangers who say, “they have to be coerced!” Angry when my friends get as many diagnoses as psychotropic drugs. The fury erupts when people make a difference between my friends and themselves only through a psychiatric label. Angry when I see my friends impoverished because all the jobs and universities are tailored to you. Angry that I never witnessed a light march for the victims of psychiatry.
And I get angry when the newspapers call them mentally ill and sound alarms that they can be dangerous. And I want to scream, “What the f— are you then?” I’m angry and I want to shout at psychiatry with its white bed sheets and its patriarchal power structures. And I’m angry at the well-adjusted people who are self-righteous behind their protective shields of normalcy. I’m angry.
My beautiful survivors, norm-breaking and diverse, be proud. Do whatever you need to tear the rest of us away from our customary state of acceptance. Be free. Shout! In the 1960s, you fought back. Now you say ok.
The next time you say “they have rights”, or “you overreact” or “they have a victim mentality”. I tell you: Go out and try their world, spend a month in involuntary commitment, a year of forced medication, electric shocks and belts and then try to walk the streets with pride. After you have survived that, then we can listen to what you have to say about anger. Otherwise, shut up and listen!
(This is a revised version of the 1990 Queer Nation Manifesto, here reworked into a mad pride manifesto. All oppressions rest on the same foundation and all oppressed people have the same hopes and dreams of freedom.)
Dunja Grisell, July 2021