The History of Madness Network News and the Early Anti-Psychiatry Movement

Jenny Miller
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There has been a tremendous amount of misinformation and/or censorship of information about the paper Madness Network News (MNN) and the early days of the psychiatric survivors’ movement, written by people who were not part of it.

For example, if you look up “psychiatric survivors movement” in Wikipedia, the period of time when Madness Network News was most active (1974-1985)—organizing local and national demonstrations and conferences, putting out the journal that connected the different activist groups, having civil disobedience protests and sit-ins—the existence of these organizing activities is not mentioned. There is one sentence acknowledging that there was a journal called Madness Network News.

In another bit of political white-washing, the Network Against Psychiatric Assault (NAPA), the anti-psychiatry group that shared offices with MNN, is described as a peer-run support group. NAPA’s purpose was never to “provide support” and its membership was open to anyone who shared its goal of ending forced treatment. Understandably, most of the members were people who had suffered as a result of psychiatric assault.

The autonomous groups of psychiatric survivors are weirdly described in Wikipedia as either having a humanistic socialist perspective, or being united with Marxist radical therapists, from whom they supposedly broke away. This is pure fantasy. Issues like humanistic socialism or Marxism were never discussed in the pages of MNN or in the autonomous groups of survivors that were connected by the paper. (There are, however, occasional references in the pages of MNN, by various writers over the years, of the connection between capitalism and the profit-driven drug companies, and the extreme oppression experienced by institutionalized people.)

I’ve seen numerous very garbled descriptions of the early days of the survivors’ movement and the history of MNN, which has now culminated in a website calling itself Madness Network News Redux. The Redux site has listed a bunch of people as the editors, around half of whom are (or were, since some are now deceased) either mental health or legal professionals.

Some of the people listed never attended a single editorial meeting or contributed in any way to the production of the paper, or else were only involved in an extremely minimal way. The creators of the Redux site had nothing (zero) to do with the creation of Madness Network News, and never got the permission from any of the surviving editors to post the back issues, of which they are now trying to claim ownership.

Redux has violated the true history of MNN by erasing the fact that it was founded by two inmates of a psychiatric institution, Tulia Tesauro and Jennifer Gleissner. They are also trying to give the world the impression that over the many years of its existence, it was largely a joint effort of mental health professionals and people who had been on the receiving end of psychiatric “treatment.”

It’s true that in the very early days of its creation, MNN was a joint creation of ex-psychiatric inmates and mental health professionals (none of whom, I should note, ever identified themselves as Marxists or wrote about Marxism in the pages of MNN). I honor all these brave pioneers who challenged the oppressive psychiatric paradigms, most especially Sherry Hirsch and the psychiatrist who went by the pen name of Dr. Caligari. The latter doctor contributed many invaluable articles about the extremely detrimental effects of psychiatric drugs.

As time went on, MNN became more and more dominated by the mental health professionals. Tulia Tesauro, one of the founders, committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate bridge. The tension between the mental health professionals and a group of ex-inmates who felt their participation was being systematically excluded reached a breaking point in 1976. The ex-inmates took control of the paper and, from then on, it became the legendary voice of the psychiatric survivor movement.

This article hopefully will set the record straight about the history of MNN and the early days of the anti-psychiatry movement. There is much more that could be said about the founding of the paper and its earliest days—and about the early psychiatric survivor groups as they sprang up in various parts of the country. This article is focused on the period of time, beginning in 1976, when MNN was the voice of the psychiatric survivor movement, and the related activities of that movement, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Birth of MNN

The organized psychiatric inmates’ liberation movement in North America began in 1970 with the founding of the Insane Liberation Front in Portland, Oregon. Dorothy Weiner and Howie the Harp are the people usually associated with its creation. Soon thereafter, activist groups of psychiatric survivors sprang up in New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Vancouver.  By the early ‘80s, there were 70 such groups in North America, Europe, and Australia.

Madness Network News, founded in 1972 by two women inmates of Agnews State Hospital, was an anti-psychiatry journal that served as the focal point for organizing throughout North America, and even overseas. From 1976 to its demise in 1986, the journal was written, edited, and produced entirely by psychiatric survivors (people who had been in psychiatric institutions), with the exception of one spouse of a survivor. In addition to its role in inspiring ex-psychiatric inmates to take political action, it also served as a place where people could truthfully write about their experiences as mad people, and survivors of psychiatric oppression.

In an office next door was its sister organization, Network Against Psychiatric Assault, or NAPA, which organized protests and educational events regarding extreme human rights violations and psychological oppression being perpetuated against current and former inmates of psychiatric hospitals. NAPA was started by Leonard Frank and Wade Hudson, in order to oppose all forms of forced psychiatric treatment.

In addition to numerous demonstrations against ECT (electro-convulsive treatment), NAPA presented frequent film showings and seminars on topics related to the issue of forced drugging. (The films “Hurry Tomorrow” and “Do No Harm” were often shown.) NAPA also produced and sold literature about the harmful effects of ECT and drugs, including Leonard Frank’s book “The History of Shock Treatment” and Dr. Caligari’s booklet “Psychiatric Drugs,” which became an underground classic.

MNN and NAPA rejected the term “mental illness.” They did not believe that psychiatric survivors had any particular illness or mental impairment, other than the emotional and physical damage created by brain-damaging tranquilizers, electroshock, poverty, institutionalization, oppressive family situations, and/or the stigma against people who had been in psychiatric institutions.

While the terms “mentally ill” and “mental patient” are often associated with the mass murderers and others who threaten the social fabric, rarely are successful and creative people identified that way. Yet many ex-inmate members of NAPA became (or already were) lawyers, journalists, book authors, editors, musicians, program administrators, professional patient advocates, artists—as well as a researcher for a large hospital, a neurologist, an acupuncturist, a college professor, a nurse, and a landscape designer.

The well-known feminist author Kate Millett was briefly a member, and said later that her contact with the ex-inmate movement helped inspire her to write the book “The Loony Bin Trip” about her own experiences of incarceration.

Madness Network News and the NAPA offices were located first on Market Street in San Francisco for many years, then on Capp Street in San Francisco, and finally on University Avenue in Berkeley. In addition to the two inmates who founded the paper, in the beginning, the paper was the creation of both psychiatric survivors and dissident mental health professionals.

As it evolved after its inception, aside from the participation of one ex-inmate, the staff consisted entirely of dissident mental health professionals. In 1976, the psychiatric survivors who were involved with NAPA protested against what they perceived as a pattern of repeated discrimination and exclusion of ex-inmates from participation in running the paper. When confronted, the mental health professionals claimed that the paper’s staff had always been open to anyone.

The response of the ex-inmates to this bit of obfuscation was to demand to know when the next staff meeting was, since the editors had never been willing to tell any of them when the meetings were occurring. They were given a date and time, and when the appointed time arrived, none of the mental health professionals showed up. The one ex-inmate who was on the staff did show up, and tried to cancel the meeting, but the group of ex-inmates refused to let it be cancelled.

Without any communication or explanation, none of the mental health professionals ever returned to work on the paper, but one of them, Dr. Caligari, was kind enough to show one of the new editors the mechanics of doing lay-out and where to take it to get printed.

From then on, Madness Network News became the legendary voice of the psychiatric survivor movement. While many activists came and went at the paper, the primary staff of Madness during the ten-year period when it represented the survivor movement were: myself (often using the pen name of Arrow), Tanya Temkin, Dianne Walker, Kelso Walker, Judy Hughes, and Anne Boldt.

Those who also made valuable contributions during their brief periods of involvement as staff members (during the period when it was produced by psych survivors) were Howie Harp, Leonard Frank, Sally Zinman, Ted Chabasinksi, Jeannie Andrews, Deedee NiHera—and others too numerous to mention. Hundreds of people were involved as contributors of articles, poetry, and art work. Tanya Temkin’s brilliant artwork was featured on numerous Madness covers.

Women Against Psychiatric Assault (WAPA) was formed when a 17-year-old girl was being given ECT against her will at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley. A hospital staff person contacted NAPA and a demonstration was held, consisting of many women not previously involved. This then became the core of WAPA. (The demonstration was successful in stopping the shock treatment of this young woman.) WAPA was both a support group for women psychiatric survivors and a political action group.

In 1976, NAPA members came up with the idea for a sit-in at Governor Jerry Brown’s office, to protest forced labor without pay and forced treatment and incarceration in state hospitals. Wade Hudson and myself were the organizers of the sit-in. Jackie Daymoon and Saralinda Grimes brought a strong contingent of women from WAPA.

The sit-in, held in Jerry Brown’s outer office, was so successful that the group decided to keep it going for another two weeks, with an around-the-clock presence in his outer office at the state capitol.

An MNN cover showing some members of the sit-in in Gov. Brown’s office in 1976. (Photo by Richard Cohen, courtesy of Richard Cohen films.)

During the sit-in, NAPA and WAPA organized a Tribunal on Psychiatric Crimes which was held in the governor’s outer office on July 14, 1976. It was attended by approximately 150 people, many of whom gave testimony about the terrible and inhumane treatment they had experienced. The Tribunal received excellent media coverage, including a front-page article in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle.

During the sit-in, some members of the group met with Gov. Brown to discuss the issues and show him Richard Cohen’s film “Hurry Tomorrow,” a devastating documentary about life on a locked psychiatric ward. The immediate effect of the sit-in was to spark an investigation into inmate deaths in the California state hospital system, which received a tremendous amount of publicity.

Although the sit-in was not successful in ending forced drugging and forced labor without pay, it did shine a spotlight on the issue of forced drugging and over-medication, and set the stage for the legal and legislative battle that followed some years later—the Riese v. St. Mary’s Hospital court case. (The story of Eleanor Riese and her attorneys Colette Hughes and Mort Cohen was recently dramatized in a major motion picture called 55 Steps.)

After the CA Supreme Court affirmed the right of short-term involuntary patients to give informed consent or refusal to psychiatric drugs in the Riese case, there was a huge battle in the legislature to get it passed there. (Since the court case was based on CA legislation, the legislature had the ability to overturn it.) Members of the California Network of Mental Health Clients played a decisive role in getting the legislation passed, along with dedicated patient advocates and lawyers, and the ACLU.

NAPA’s frequent protests and the attendant publicity regarding forced psychiatric treatment undoubtedly helped speed up the creation of a statewide patients’ rights advocacy system, with a government-funded Office of Patients Rights in each county in California.

In the early days of the movement, ex-inmate activists organized an annual International Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression. Although only two of these conferences were held in the Bay Area (Tilden Park in Berkeley and at an art museum in SF), the staff of Madness Network News coordinated the conferences that were held every year in different parts of the country. Each year during the International Conference, the participants held a demonstration at an appropriate location.

In 1978, hundreds of Conference participants and friends demonstrated at the Smith, Kline, and French headquarters in Philadelphia to protest the vast profits made from dangerous mind-control chemicals, such as Thorazine and Stelazine. Also at that conference, a national boycott of all SKF products was organized. In 1977, the Conference called for a national day of protest against psychosurgy (lobotomy), and demonstrations were later held in eight cities.

In 1982, 16 Conference participants, who called themselves the Psychiatric Inmates Liberation Lobby, were arrested while holding a silent vigil in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto, where they were protesting the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

During the protest, demonstrators sat silently in a circle on the floor, holding signs assailing such psychiatric crimes as forced treatment with brain-damaging drugs, electroshock, and psychosurgery. A large crowd of supporters, police, hotel security, reporters, and smirking psychiatrists gathered around the silent group. After an hour and a half, supporters were forced to leave the lobby, and members of the vigil were dragged to waiting police vans.

Later, psychiatric survivors became active as legal advocates and began attending the annual conference of the National Association of Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA), where a number of them served on the Board of Directors. This conference, consisting of lawyers, advocates, and psychiatric survivors, eventually took the place of the Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression. Psychiatric survivors were frequent presenters at the annual NARPA conference, and that of other state and national patients’ rights legal organizations.

Mental Health Consumer Concerns (MHCC), founded by Jay Mahler in Contra Costa County, became a model ex-inmate-controlled Office of Patients Rights, a model which was then repeated in other counties. At MHCC, psychiatric survivors worked as patient advocates, representing people at their short-term certification hearings and assisting them in resolving complaints about hospital treatment and conditions.

Due to the heightened awareness of the ex-inmate advocates about what life was like for psychiatric inmates, and empathy for the circumstances that led to the person’s incarceration, MHCC had one of the highest patient release rates of any county in the state. Psychiatric survivors also served as the organization’s administrators.

In 1982, ex-inmate activists in Berkeley, organized as The Coalition to Stop Electroshock, put a measure on the city’s ballot to ban electroshock. Ted Chabasinski, who had received shock treatment at age six, took the lead in organizing the campaign. The measure made electroshock a crime in Berkeley, punishable by six months imprisonment, a fine of not more than $500, or both. An activist who was very talented as a singer and songwriter won the support of the black community by going to church services and singing about the death of Lynette Miller, a black teenager who was killed by ECT.

The shock ban was passed by an overwhelming number of votes. The psychiatric associations sued to have it overturned, and there followed a battle for many years to ensure that it be upheld in court. Since the city attorney was not familiar with patients’ rights issues, the Coalition to Stop Electroshock became an intervenor so they could have a patients’ rights attorney present arguments in the case. The case was ultimately dismissed by summary judgment, and the Coalition was not given the opportunity to participate.

The city appealed it to the California Supreme Court, where the justices refused to hear the case. A year or so later, when one of the Supreme Court justices was giving a presentation to the public about human rights at the UC Berkeley Law School, local activists held a demonstration and disrupted his speech to protest the court’s allowing the shock ban to be overturned without even a hearing of the case.

In the mid-seventies, psychiatric survivors had their own radio show on Pacifica radio station KPFA, entitled “Radio Free Madness.” They provided first hand coverage of the sit-in at the governor’s office and interviewed psychiatric survivors about their personal struggles and political activism.

NAPA organized repeated demonstrations against ECT in San Francisco.  As a result, the city stopped performing ECT for 10 years. When a panel of government officials met in SF to discuss a plan to re-introduce lobotomies for children and prisoners, NAPA disrupted their meeting, and the plans to bring back lobotomy were dropped.

Every time the APA held their Annual Meeting in San Francisco, NAPA and members of other psychiatric survivor groups were there to protest. In later years, after the demise of NAPA and Madness Network News, Mind Freedom International (founded by David Oaks and located in Eugene, Oregon) continued with this tradition.

An MNN cover depicting a protest at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatric survivors block the main entrance to the APA conference building. An unknown person removed some of the letters from the announcement for the meeting overhead. (Photo by Kelso Walker.)
The End of MNN

Why did Madness Network News come to an end? I have seen commentaries that explain that it got taken over by the “consumer” movement and that the creators decided to compromise their fiercely-held anti-psychiatry beliefs in exchange for cushy government-funded jobs in the mental illness industry.

That never happened. What happened is the longtime editors got burnt out. For many years, they were able to support the work of the paper and the movement fueled entirely by idealistic passion. The need for a secure income and stable future was of little or no concern.

Eventually, dedicating their lives 24/7 to fighting psychiatric oppression began to take its toll. One longtime staff person died at an early age. One developed major health challenges that required her to withdraw from activism for a while. Several left the paper to get advanced degrees or training, and went into careers that were unrelated to the mental health system. Only one staff person, who was a founder of the movement for peer-run drop-in centers and government-funded consumer groups, continued doing that work.

When the longtime editors could no longer put out the paper, they turned it over to an ex-inmate activist from another state who had experience editing an alternative journal. She, and the one remaining MNN staff person, changed the focus of the paper from organizing against psychiatry to denouncing the psychiatric survivors who they thought should be doing a better job of organizing against psychiatry.

They failed to note the irony of the fact that it was always the editors of MNN who had provided the impetus for the protests in the Bay Area, and for quite a few of the conferences and protests in other parts of the country. If “they” were no longer organizing protests, as the MNN editors were claiming, maybe they needed to look in the mirror for the source of that problem.

Eventually, and perhaps inevitably, the two remaining editors ended up denouncing each other, and the paper folded.

It is my hope, in writing this account of what could be described as the halcyon days of the psychiatric survivors’/anti-psychiatry movement, that other individuals and groups will take up the challenge and continue this tradition. There are already signs that new anti-psychiatry groups are beginning to emerge, and I hope this history will give a big boost to those, and similar, efforts.

Editor’s Note: The new “Madness Network News” site has been launched, and you can find it at www.madnessnetworknews.com. Please do not confuse this with the site madnessnetworknews.net, which is critiqued in this article. Here you can read almost all of the back issues of MNN, and contribute articles, poetry and art work to its newest incarnation. 

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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.

77 COMMENTS

      • oldhead:

        ‘Course.

        And as far as you (and others) educating the rest of us about AP, you are a hero, as far as I’m concerned. You’ve changed my life. I cannot even fathom how exhausting it must have been (and is) for you to unravel the endless lies, epistemological knots, & revisionist history of both Psychiatry & the consumer movement. I’ve seen you debate online for years. I could always check in in the comments section if I needed clarity on a topic I did not fully understand.

        Check in between reading books on other subjects.

        Because remember: all roads lead to AP. ; )

        The amount of money, time, staff, technology, public relations, law, media-power, & political power (have I forgotten anything?) “the other side” has … it’s beyond a David & Goliath fight.

        I don’t know any literary or mythical trope that hopes to cover it. IT HAS GOT TO STOP!

        DEFUND PSYCHIATRY!

        (I was especially sorry to hear about the legal choke hold Psychiatry got on survivors. The image of the APA fighting to overturn a ban on ECT &, also, government officials intervening to reintroduce lobotomies to CHILDREN & prisoners….

        made my blood boil….

        (thank you again, OH. You have worked so tirelessly. You don’t need adulation, publication, or fame to keep you going. Just the need to kick some Psychiatry ASS!)

        • Wow, I really appreciate this snowy; it heartens me to know that the essence of my argumentation does get through to some people sometimes, as I often get crickets on MIA after I post something I think is particularly insightful, only to learn months later from an email that it helped someone make a major connection. So I know not to draw conclusions based on the immediate response. But you’re one of those who “gets it” regarding the intricacies of the revisionism, albeit unrecognized, which still permeates much of our “anti-psychiatry” thinking and remains a big factor in holding back the movement to defund and abolish psychiatry.

          And you’re right, is it exhausting, thanks for getting that too. But supportive communications such as yours are just as energizing.

          I don’t want to divert the focus here from Jenny however, who was a tireless AP activist “back in the day,” not just a journalist, and was personally involved in many of the actions and events she describes above. I’m certain she also appreciates your effusive thanks.

          • Oldhead et al: First, from having been shaped quite early in part by history, I wonder about your phrase “Get’s It”. For often I have been stopped and others ask me, “What is the It”. In attending Little Rock Central High, time was spent taking a journlism class, and working the camera as a hobby in photography was developing. Charles Lance, the teacher would ask us when we were working on “Letters to the Editor” about signing one’s name to the letter.

            The other time I would hear clearly the context of “He gets it” was in a brief visit with the head of Ducks Unlimited. Those who love and appreciate the design of Nature, know the value of a cricket, whether in terms o validating, echoing, or even pondering how much power is there in being in the moment requires from each of us. There is something I believe quite fascinating in how ecologies are interwoven to the extent we can learn to not repeat in the present what we have and are learning from the past.

            There is no question is my mind, the value for documenting history; seemingly a good historian sifts out for what really happened in the past, to bring the story to the surface. If there is a concern or comittment to write the history of this unique movement, what or how were the actors communicating in code or in a way the power differential was and can be challenged, such that the awakening can occur to what happened and is happening?

            Writing, posting, blogging, youtubing…. are impacting the message that seemingly needs to be conserved? Or preserved? For one becomes aware of the extent of the injustices that are occurring when one begins to understand the case by case in the context of the broader issues.

            I think, I understand the cocnerns voiced about Alternatives and the political struggles which I would witness at that level. The question in part I believe, now and even then as in the past, is how did and can any movement create a viable currency? The monetization by which MIA operates or the Madness Network News effected the change? Then and Now?

            If our thinking is becoming better in knowing the self, then how is the context held that recognizes the value and values for being different in a civil manner?

            Will look forward to your reply…. And thanks, even if you do not reply. Silence is important, also in the movement of thinking.

          • I’ll come back to this because I’m about to crash and I want to make sure I understand what you’re asking.

            For now, my inner smart alec wants to reply to your initial question with a Clintonian-sounding “it depends on what ‘it’ is.”

          • So I’m awake again and still don’t really know what you’re asking, it’s pretty abstract.

            You mention the “Alternatives” conference, which I never had the misfortune to attend, though I’ve heard more than I need to. Fortunately, I believe these events no longer take place. However, “concerns” is an understatement; these were system sponsored events designed to appropriate our language and our issues and lead us down the road of reformism. And they succeeded. Although MIA is not an anti-psychiatry site per se, conversations which have been taking place here have done much to resurrect anti-psychiatry/anti-reformist consciousness and help us begin to regain our direction. However there is much further to go. We need to cleanse our thinking of “medical model” concepts, and beyond that of the idea that the individual is where “recovery” efforts should be focused, rather than the system which is the source of the alienation at the heart of emotional trauma.

            Can you be more specific?

        • Pretty Abstract?

          For me, the greater, perhaps even the heighented state of “awakening” from the depression slow dive that occurred over months, where upon after consultation with the literal family doctor, one Saturday morning in the summer of ’76, explanations were given by the Dr. along with the admonition “to go out and live like there was no tomorrow”.

          About four months laters, the mania experience was being realized. These concepts of how our thinking can awaken, at different speeds, is indeed a window into the abstraction of the construct by which we begin to define ourselves. So many times, when the phrase is made, “this is not rocket science”, when in the presence of the computing and analog world that makes the engagement vis-i-vis a machine, then we begin to become aware of multiple abstractions, shifts in thinking and even an emergent language for the age that is being framed as socio-technical systems.

          Regarding the Alternatives Conference, to have witnessed was an experience that literally afforded me 1) a ballroom to meet a whole bunch of people just like me and 2) a visit to Indepence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Indepence Hall was shut down due to the brief feud between a former neighbor, (about a block and 1/2) Bill Clinton and Newt Gingerich. Perhaps because I saw democracy, time would be spent the past week sending a letter to the Congressman whose office is not far from Independence Hall in an effort to realize a more profound future, regardless of whatever labels and traumatic experiences I have encounterd at the local, state and national level.

          So with regards to today, and that of the events that contributed to the recent organizational chaos of our House of Democracy, then understand the importance of how we heal while sttriving to rise again, again and again through our representative forms of democracy.
          The workings of Alternatives as well as the visits to Brown’s Office have all been a way of trying to communicate and channel our individual and collected concerns into our goverance of self-determination.

          The systems that are working to afford the citizenry a way to awaken surely were inspired this day, perhaps as much by the voice of the young poet from Los Angeles.

          Finally in a bit of irony, out of the 70’s/80’s an article would appear in the American Planning Association Journal that conveyed a Requiem for Large Scale Planning Models. Douglas Lee might have been the author. The point, and perhaps an affirmation for the issue to “medical model” language I’ve beeen hearing for 50 years, is that policy makers began to advance the term of scenario planning. Along with a more resilent management style. Though as we know, the whole experience of being processed into “recovery” is what I would have to call as pretty abstract to an outsider. Learning how to write, speak and create a bridge language seems to be for me a challenge from the heart to your heart as well as others who might choose to ponder and meditate. One thing for certain, our work is cut out for us.

          Finally, can you please elaborate on your vision for how to cleanse the thinking aligned with medical models? For to be frank about it, the past, the trauma still creeps in, and people will say to me, “You are living in the past”. When in fact, part of what Jenny has given us (along with many others) is a piece of our history; a history that is liberation in more ways than I can count.

          Thank you for your request, please advise if this did not clarify while also raising some more points.

          • I have no use for “models” or “alternatives,” they are all based on the assumption that psychiatry serves a legitimate purpose, or that it tries to and fails. The real purpose of psychiatry is to police our thoughts and suppress our aspirations in the service of corporate profit. The solution to people’s personal misery lies in the defeat of capitalism and the alienation it engenders and requires, not in trying to change people’s attitudes towards their oppression, no matter what the “model.” Psychiatry is a weapon of capitalism and, just like ICE, a tool of law enforcement and containment. Why would we want an “alternative” once we’ve ridden ourselves of it?

            Even more than the drugs, the destructiveness of psychiatry lies in its mystification of people’s pain, convincing them that their unhappiness with life is a problem within themselves to shamefully hide from others and “work on,” rather than arising from a collective problem requiring a political solution. So the energy which should be directed against the oppressive system is instead channeled into self-negating beliefs and behaviors.

            Is that any better?

  1. Jenny, thank you for writing this. As the other commenters have written, such an important article. I encourage you to write further posts about this movement, which, in my opinion, should be understood as part of a larger struggle for civil rights in the United States. This history should be taught in U.S. history classes and texts.

    • I & others have been attempting to educate people about movement history on MIA for years. An important part of this history is how the movement was stolen and its legacy distorted, and how the anti-psychiatry movement was replaced by the thoroughly fake “consumer movement.”

      The idea of anti-psychiatry being taught in history classes is pretty out there considering that the abolition of psychiatry is considered “crazy” even among many at MIA. Why teach our “history” when the present is ignored? The movement to eradicate psychiatry is more than a “civil rights” struggle; our most essential right is the right to never be subjected to hate speech labels such as “mental illness” and “psychosis.” The primary right of a “mental patient” is to never be considered a “mental patient.”

  2. Wasn’t expecting this, but I’m very glad that Jenny’s article has been published on MIA; some of us are already familiar with a previous version but it needs a wider audience.

    While I would disagree that there are “many” anti-psychiatry groupings at the moment, as snowyowl knows there is definitely one — which is the only survivor-run abolitionist organization with which I am familiar. I’m not talking about “peer” organizations but those whose sole goal is to end psychiatry completely or, as Auntie Psychiatry would say, to “make psychiatry history.” Those who want more info should contact us at [email protected]

    There are efforts underway to put the MNN archives online, which is long overdue. However there has also been talk of “resurrecting” MNN, which I oppose. I strongly believe that the voice of the Mental Patients’ Liberation Movement should not be appropriated by current activists, as such a publication or site could easily end up watering down and misrepresenting the militant anti-psychiatry activism of that day by those who were not part of it. We should absolutely continue to create our own media. But the name Madness Network News should have a special reverence, and be preserved for the ages.

  3. Great article. You and I met a few times way back when. I stand on the shoulders of giants, it was MNN writings, and the conferences, that formed me politically and where I first read anyone talking about forced psychiatry as state repression and torture. Thank you for this history, and I hope more of our true early history gets written and collected.

  4. We need to know our history! From the Alternatives and NARPA Conferences, insight would be gained into the unique way of working towards developing our politics. By comparison, would you have a way to realize the history that was emerging in the 49 other states? For just because we live in other locations, does not mean an injustice is not happening. I recall meeting Howie-the-Harp, Sally Zinman, and Jay Mahler while also learning of Leonard Frank if not countless others who impacted our lives in Kentucky. In viewing the marquee, and in part because of the way I would experience “the treatment”, the medicating is not limited to the psychiatrists.

    Several years ago I would acquire a publication from the American Enterprise Institute where data had been graphed. I could not understand how they could map the population in hospitals as being “inmates”. And yet now, perhaps even more so, the amount of misinformation creates more barriers. For within the last four years time would be spent driving over to Arkansas to participate in a discussion by people who were trying to intervene in the execution of several who been labeled as “the mentally ill”. And so, in going by the Governor’s Office, the response would be the realization of being escorted out the State Capitol by Security.

    Do we have a collective library, a repsository for the papers, booklets, papers that will show the struggle and then how can the protests help transform our self-determination into a healthier understanding for what life means to being human? And then my last question, “Would you know the name of the Art Museum in San Francisco?

  5. Wow! Yet another example of history rewritten or ignored.

    I was invovled in a demonstration held in the Berkeley City Council chambers somewhere around 1979 where I believe a petition was delivered to the council urging them to ban shock treatment in Berkeley. We arrived during a hearing at which a psychiatrist was attempting (rather unsuccessfully) to explain why shock treatment was so necessary. I have no idea who organized that event! I know that Berkeley was one of the few cities to ever enact an ECT ban.

    This was an active, boots-on-the-ground movement back then. I don’t see many activities like that these days (although CCHR does make sure to show up at every major psych convention, and I know that some other groups do this, too).

    But these days most in the mood to protest are spending their street time on other issues. I do hope the focus comes back around to this issue. It is a very central one.

  6. Thank you so much Jenny for writing this important article. It make me wonder where and why the great anti-psychiatry energy has gone.

    I received permission from Leonard Roy Frank to use the Network Against Psychiatric Assault name for a website and Facebook group to organize and aggregate protests against psychiatry. It was used for that purpose for a while, but has now just become another group where everyone (including me) just posts anti-psychiatry information. It is still available for its original purpose, but who knows what would happen in the current Facebook environment.

    I am happy to find an archive of Madness Network News at https://madnessnetworknews.net/volumes-of-madness-network-news/

    Another great psychiatric survivor anti-psychiatry publication was Phoenix Rising, published in Toronto from 1980-1990. I had the honor of being allowed to publish an archive of this marvelous publication on psychiatrized.org. http://psychiatrized.org/PhoenixRising/PhoenixRising.htm

    • Thanks Jim.

      You should be aware that there is an active survivor-led anti-psychiatry organization with a consistently growing membership which has been functioning for several years now. Some but not all our members are well known MIA “veterans” (in some cases expatriates). And we are appreciative of your work.

      At the appropriate time – likely very soon — we will be contacting you, and although our organization is run exclusively by survivors who wish to “make psychiatry history,” we are open to working with all truly anti-psychiatry allies, and forming coalitions around specific issues. We haven’t officially “launched,” which will happen as soon as our website — exclusively dedicated to ending psychiatry — is finished. However many of the people reading this are aware of our existence and our basic principles and demands. (Our email is posted earlier in this thread.) Hopefully we can work together in the future in some form.

      This is the first I’d heard of your relationship with Leonard, which is noteworthy. I do urge you to abandon FACEBOOK, it is primarily a tracking, surveillance and profiling site, and I consider it highly problematic to be urging survivors to go there. Additionally — if it isn’t already — FB will soon get around to banning anti-psychiatry content as “false information.” (I always recommend this site for details, written by a member of the Internet Hall of Fame : http://stallman.org/facebook.html )

      Meanwhile some sad news for many people who may be reading this: As I don’t have the ability to post this as a news item, I just want to pass along that longtime AP movement activist George Ebert — co-founder of the Mental Patients Alliance of Central New York — has just died. While I do not have the capacity to write a proper memorial, hopefully MIA will find a way to get this done, even though I don’t believe George spent much time on MIA.

        • I’m still hoping MIA will find someone to do a memorial piece for George. Any ideas anyone?

          How can something have “organizing potential” knowing the personal information of all your members and associates, not to mention your conversations, are being delivered on a silver platter to your — and more importantly their — enemies? This strikes me as irresponsible and self-destructive, especially now that FB/Google/Twitter have taken a quantum leap into totalitarianism. Please check the link to Richard Stallman for more essential info.

          That aside, I or someone will be in touch soon, I believe we have your email.

          • I did check out Stallman’s web pages about Facebook some. I basically agree and never granted permission for any app to access my Facebook Friends. That probably wasn’t the same for the Group, though.

            The idea for the Network Against Psychiatric Assault was to organize physical demonstrations and be a place where people could see how much such activity was going on. It was pretty successful while a number of people were using it for that purpose, but only Lauren Tenney seems to be now.

          • Glad you’re in touch with Lauren. And it’s good we’re all sort of stumbling into one another here, because we need to coordinate our goals, tactics and activities to the extent possible. The “new” group I’m referencing is actually over 3 years old by now, and includes a growing cross-section of survivors who START with an abolitionist perspective, and with other shared understandings about psychiatry which constitute our “self-evident truths” (concurrence with which is required as a condition of membership). We have been creating the organizational and ideological infrastructure for a successful anti-psychiatry effort based on a consistent and “scientific” analysis and strategy, not on unexamined assumptions and wishful thinking.

            I don’t remember whether the original NAPA was an exclusively survivor organization (actually the term “survivor” didn’t come into play till later; “inmate” was the prevailing term, as more of the psych population then was physically locked up ). But it looks like information sharing is something we have in common; we hope to soon have a functioning AP website which will serve as a hub for AP discussions, organizing, education, strategizing, etc. and will be for all people, not just survivors. Wanting to have our site up is the main thing holding us back from officially announcing ourselves in an MIA article, and elsewhere (assuming our request to do so is accommodated by MIA when the time comes).

            There are plenty of ways to communicate without, as Stallman says, “being used by” Facebook. I only brought this up because you mentioned your NAPA page. But FB aside there may still be a useful function for the NAPA name — one thought is that “NAPA” might eventually encompass the entire anti-psychiatry movement, with the “survivor vanguard” (us) using another name. There are all sorts of possibilities.

            I mentioned elsewhere that I love what you’ve done with the Phoenix Rising archives — no spin, “interpretation” or solicitations — and the PR “alumni” we’re in touch with give you high praise. I’m wondering if you would have the capacity to do the same thing for MNN if they provided you with the raw material. Then people could go there, link it to their sites, etc. without having to worry about what sort of “baggage” might come along with it. Wondering what the general response to this might be. (I mentioned this to Jenny too.)

          • It absolutely does, because the site you cite above could be a big problem for many of us. This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about. The people responsible for hosting it are apparently planning to “resurrect” MNN, as though they represent the legacy of Madness Network News, BUT THEY DO NOT! We don’t even know who they are, except for one individual. To my knowledge they have no connection to the anti-psychiatry movement and have never engaged with AP activists on MIA or anywhere else in the world (except maybe for, again, Facebook).

            One immediate conflict posed by the site is that MANY serious anti-psychiatry activists and survivors in general object to being expected to identify as “mad.” People who were not even born when ex-inmates began to use the term, primarily ironically, now literally see “madness” as an “identity.” Someone who chooses to identify as “mad” or anything else is free to do so, but to try to impose it on an entire movement is egotistical and oppressive.

            While I can only take reading the site in little bits so far, my impression is that this “new MNN” will also embrace the peer industry wholeheartedly, which is the antithesis of anti-psychiatry.

            This is the kind of thing I meant when I praised your approach as free of spin, interpretation or solicitation. As it stands, it looks like serious anti-psychiatry survivors — i.e. those who are actually trying to eliminate psychiatry and not replace it — have our work cut out for us.

            “A revolution is not a garden party. In a revolution one wins or dies. — Che Guevara

      • Thanks Jim, Jenny for opening us up to our history. Ironcially, as I shared the the post from George Ebert in the from the newspaper in the librrary, with friends who work for SAIC, then the post surfaced how George’s life had ended. And yet, by shariing these stories, regardless with one occuppied Brown’s Office, the brutality of how one can be disregarded for thinking differently remains important. And George’s story and George perhaps is kept alive in the spirit of profound advocacy.

        From the grant ATAK/Mi (Advocates Taking Action in Kentucky Againt Mental Illness) the printer would switch the term to Mental Health in our handbills to read “Advocates Taking Action in Kentucky Against Mental Health”.

        So what are we fighting?

        When so many say, “Well, I am not political?” (That statement, as in my writing is by nature a reflection of a politic from within.) Then there is also, the time our organziaiton would assist with evaluations of the mental hospitals around the state. In one of the site visits to Western State Hospital in Bowling Green I thought I could learn something about the operation or visit with other patients by going to the cafeteria for breakfast prior to our day’s work.

        When I went up to the serving line to ask for something else, the security guard would be watching and came up and said to me, “That you know you are not supposed to have more” or something to that effect. In terms of security then and now with camera eyes everywhere or the potential by govenrment to monitor those deemed to be on their lists, how do we create healthier curiosity and economies by which we are part of the answers?

        In our exist interview, with hosptial staff, the shame of what happend imparted testimony to the brutality of the care in a hospital operating from a different era.

  7. Jenny, thank for the compelling history in this blog. It’s a wonderful tribute to those who worked so hard and put so much energy into the struggle for dignity and human rights.
    On the website it appears the email to reach them to demand they stop lying about the history of Madness Network News is MnnRedux @ gmail .com
    I will send off an email and hope others do as well.

  8. “the destructiveness of psychiatry lies in its mystification of people’s pain, convincing them that their unhappiness with life is a problem within themselves to shamefully hide from others and “work on,” rather than arising from a collective problem requiring a political solution. So the energy which should be directed against the oppressive system is instead channeled into self-negating beliefs and behaviors.”

    Bears repeating

  9. Oldhead:

    On the new MNN comment:
    “While I can only take reading the site in little bits so far, my impression is that this “new MNN” will also embrace the peer industry wholeheartedly, which is the antithesis of anti-psychiatry.”

    MIND MELD CITY. (this continues to freak me out, because I was on that site today too)

    The newest article on the MIA factory belt (at the time of this midnight write) is called “The Politics of Emotion in Psychotherapy,” & talks about a therapist doing zoom meetings who says:

    “She also reports that applications to counseling and psychotherapy master’s programs have doubled. In her experience, clients are coming to her because they struggle with the anxiety of feeling trapped and isolated during the lockdown.”

    CLICK!

    Namely, these young therapists-to-be will have a large body of new “MAD” clients just in time for granulation. (yes, granulation, it’s not a typo)

    And the article is about intersectional therapy too, which is all the rage. But as you’ve explained to many of us, repeatedly: intersectionalISM is inside out. It’s the exploits of Authoritarian Corporatism that creates the oppression of human groups in the first place.

    And in terms of OUR oppression, we don’t even have words yet. Or we wouldn’t, if it weren’t for you.

    (and if it weren’t for some of the other AP Titans, those alive, & those who are no longer with us)

    I am amazed that every five years or so, I have to stop everything I am interested in & want to study, to go back & find out what new argument I need for permission to exist. Or what the IOT laws are if I want to move.

    I’M SICK OF IT!!!!

  10. OK so now the people who hosted the site which ACTUALLY CONTAINED the Madness archives have apparently been intimidated into taking down the site, and the “new” MNN site CONTAINS NO ARCHIVES.

    So once again Madness Network News, the historical record of the Mental Patients Liberation Movement, is INACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE.

    Great job guys.

  11. Hi O.H.,

    I will email you privately but on this public forum, I will say this. The accusation of our process being undemocratic is incorrect. We have gathered the consensus and permission of many throughout this movement over the past 2 years, not just Jenny, and the others you are referring to. The archives are accessible on our website here: https://madnessnetworknews.com/archives-original

    and our page’s mission clearly states: Madness Network News is a communications network for the interchange of energy and support of psychiatric survivors and mad people. We are an anti-psychiatry and mad liberation entity. This means we are committed to fighting against psychiatric oppression and violence everywhere. Simultaneously, we are also a network that focuses on the freedom to explore our inner/altered states.

    So I don’t understand why you believe we are not an anti-psychiatry entity nor do I understand why you believe we don’t have the archives as they were the first thing we posted. Again pertaining to democracy a lot of work has been done around consensus. I even emailed you a few months ago with the hope of working with your group to which you have replied.

    O.H. we don’t know each other well enough for these assumptions. We are committed to being an anti-psychiatry entity. We would like to work collaboratively with you and your group if you would give us the opportunity.

  12. Jenny, I am not familiar enough to comment on the history of the zine. I am elated that they were kept and definitely should be seen IMO. They speak for themselves. As well as Phoenix Rising, and the writings of Don Weitz. All of the writers were instrumental in education and most importantly I feel confident in saying that it might have saved some people’s lives. Not only did they educate in print, but on the ground.

    I also liked this part at the end of your article

    “It is my hope, in writing this account of what could be described as the halcyon days of the psychiatric survivors’/anti-psychiatry movement, that other individuals and groups will take up the challenge and continue this tradition. There are already signs that new anti-psychiatry groups are beginning to emerge, and I hope this history will give a big boost to those, and similar, efforts.”

  13. A Stepping Stone. The use of the word “Mad.”

    I overheard a “peer counselor” telling a healer that she was allowed to talk about spirituality, but not coming off drugs. Do you see?

    They’ll “let us” explore our spirituality, as long as they can “have their mental illness.”

    Also, vision quests were never meant to be safe. It was considered to be a dangerous journey which you might not come back from. Look at the Sioux Sun Dance Ceremony. It’s brutal.

    Medicine men were kidnapped by other tribes, sometimes. And if they failed to heal someone important in the tribe, they were killed. Sounds pretty trauma based to me. Again, I am a practitioner of 34 years, not a scholar. There are many, many traditions & I view the term “Mad” as a theft of them.

    But by all means, let’s explore that Inner Space! But keep the MHS’s hands off of it. I think that’s going to be a bigger fight than people realize.

    And why Anti Psychiatry & other topics need to be addressed separately. Again, free will choice fan here! People can do what they want. Call themselves what they want.

    I’m just saying, please don’t underestimate their financial stake in our spirituality as proxy for “mental illness.”

    We think of it as the other way around.

    They don’t.

  14. I think this is a very interesting article with important historical perspective, but, there is no way we could resurrect this type of movement again. We have to consider an anti-psychiatry movement in light of the current widespread psychiatric infiltration in all aspects of our culture and society. Since “prozac nation” psychiatry changed. Psychiatry found a way to make it very attractive to drug as many people as possible. And the drugs are not just prescribed by the psychiatrists. Other doctors prescribe these drugs for a million reasons. Additionally, our children are more vulnerable to this drugging. Our children are not only prescribed dangerous drugs like ritalin and adderall, but also the SSRIS and the anti-psychotics like risperidal and others. And, we are very well at the precipice of more intense technological and computerized invasions in to our brain and mind. Psychiatry is a major fraud perpetuated onto the world, but it is a fraud with massive implications and ramifications that are essentially dangerous and damaging to what makes us all truly human. Thank you.

    • I agree. The new movement is going to have to look a lot different. Their takeover, you might say, has been executed with a degree of sophistication (and finance) that we have not matched. We can at least become more sophisticated. It will not be easy now. Some of my closest friends and loved ones think psych drugs are totally fine and the way to go. Now we are in a hole that must somehow be climbed out of.

  15. Hi everyone,

    On the topic of madness and its importance in our social movement. I thought this recorded event the Seneca Falls Convention’s Mad Feminist Dialogue could be a great resource in recognizing the importance of mad identities not only as a means of decolonizing our society but also as a way of deconstructing our psychiatrized culture which by extension leads to the abolition of psychiatry.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXAnrTUJLA8&fbclid=IwAR1e3jEaaoTiX1U4wV_K-RAjxcTu8XZipJ9DkvIpPVzRx8Lf27cd0Rs6nog

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