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.
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.
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.
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.
A brilliant piece and a vital piece of survivor history. Thank you so much for writing it.
This is one of the best articles I have ever read on this site. I am indebted to you for filling in many, many gaps in my knowledge with one fell swoop! Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou….
Lost your email snowy, can you give a shout?
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!
(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?
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?
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.”
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.
The three still-living people who were the main psych survivor- editors of Madness Network News, myself being one, are very much in support of the new effort to put all the back issues of MNN online, and to use it as a starting point to recreate the “next generation” version of Madness Network News. We do not consider this to be “appropriation” because we have given the creators of the new MNN site (which can be seen at http://www.madnetworknews.com) our blessing, and in fact have been working closely with them to help make the site possible. They have gone to great trouble to get permissions not just from us, but from the previous editors, all of whom have gladly granted permission.
There appears to be some confusion between that new site and the site called Madness Network News Redux (which is located at http://www.madnessnetworknews.NET) which is the one i critiqued in the article and in my previous comment. I won’t repeat those criticisms here. Just please note that the exciting new site madnessnetworknews.,com has no relationship with the rip-off site i described in the article.
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.
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?
Madness Network News should be considered our historical record, along with Phoenix Rising from Canada.
The “Alternatives Conference” was the product of those who disrupted and stole the movement from survivors, and will go down in infamy. It was never a part of the legitimate movement.
There is a new archive of Phoenix Rising at http://psychiatrized.org/PhoenixRising/PhoenixRising.htm
Thank you, Jenny, it was wonderful to read this!
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.
Thank you Jenny for this sheer amount of hard work.
I’m thankful to all of those who devoted their time and efforts to show what goes on in our government
funded abuse systems.
Thank you Jenny ,
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
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 have been struggling with staying on Facebook because I think it still has organizing potential. I will be interested in discussing your plans.
I am very sad to hear about George. He was a giant.
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.)
P.S. I should have added that on the same site the author provides a strategy for maintaining a Facebook “presence” without exposing users to as much risk; this essentially involves posting only very basic info on FB and directing people to your website for direct interaction. Check out https://stallman.org/facebook-presence.html
Madness Network News doesn’t need to be archived on psychiatrized.org because it is up at https://madnessnetworknews.com/ I think this one is good.
At both of their requests, it does have an archive of some of Don Weitz’s papers at http://psychiatrized.org/DonWeitz/DonWeitz.htm and Leonard Roy Frank at http://psychiatrized.org/LeonardRoyFrank/FromTheFilesOfLeonardRoyFrank.htm an
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
Just to be clear, my comments do not refer to the Don Weitz or Leonard Roy Frank collections, only to the faux Madness Network News.
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.
Thanks for your appreciative comment. Just wanted to alert you to the fact that the site you recommended as containing the back issues of Madness Network News is the same rip-off site that i mentioned in my article, that uses the name Madness Network News Redux. This site represents a complete theft of the MNN editors/writers/artists’ intellectual property.
The organizer of the site was given permission by Leonard Frank, the highly regarded anti-psychiatry leader, to publish the back issues of MNN in book form. Leonard was not one of the primary editors of MNN after it became the journal of the survivor movement, though he did participate occasionally, and he had no right to “give permission” to this rip-off artist to publish and sell the back issues in book form, with no consultation with the primary editors.
MNN Redux proceeded to erase and pervert the true history of MNN and the survivor movement, as i noted in the article. When he was selling the book volumes, he listed as editors the most well-known people they could think of in the “consumer” movement, i.e. Judi Chamberlin, Sally Zinman, Howie Harp, David Oaks, and of course, Leonard Frank.
None of these people were primary editors (except Leonard in the very earliest days, before the psychiatric survivors took over the paper). Judi never attended a single editorial meeting since she lived thousands of miles away. Howie, Sally, and David all did participate for shorter or longer periods of time, but were not the primary editors during the ten years that MNN was the voice of the anti-psychiatry survivor movement. The real editors were not “famous consumers” because we were not part of, and did not identify with, the consumer movement in any way.
When the three surviving MNN editors contacted Rip Off Guy to request that the names of the actual editors be indicated on the sites where he advertised the volumes of back issues, he at first agreed, then decided he would rather stop selling the books rather than give credit to the true editors. He has now greatly intensified his refusal to credit the MNN creators by posting online the back issues, which he now is claiming are his property, and adding even more names of people as “editors,” people who were, for the most part, minimally involved (or not involved at all) in the creation and publishing of MNN.
None of the editors has ever given their permission for him to publish the back issues online. Leonard was deceased when the online site was created, and none of the people he lists as “editors”, or any of the real editors, gave him permission to appropriate our work.
He has listed on the first page of the Redux site the people he claims were editors. Some i actually never heard of, though in looking through the early issues, i see that their names appeared in the credits for the very earliest issues, meaning they were involved for one or two years out of MNN’s 14-year existence. A lot of the ones he highlights are mental health or legal professionals, not psychiatric survivors. And of course Judi Chamberlin because, well, she’s “famous” so why not?
Since you’re a lawyer, maybe you can help us figure out how to prevent this guy from stealing our intellectual property. We don’t have the money to sue. I would also appreciate if if people who read my article, and these comments, write to the madnessnetworknews.net site and demand that he and his partner in crime stop lying about the history of Madness Network News. Our hope is that some other survivor activists will take on the task of publishing the true history of MNN, along with the back issues, and that appears to be happening.
As an aside, we who are the surviving editors of MNN (myself, Tanya Temkin and Dianne Walker) do not object to your using the name Network Against Psychiatric Assault for your facebook and website page, Jim. I think Dianne wrote you previously how touched she was to see that name still in use. I disagree with OH’s extreme distaste for facebook, even though the censorship there has gotten so much worse in the last year. I have not seen them censoring anti-psychiatry articles, including the one above.
Censorship is not the main problem with FACEBOOK, although of course they do that too, and will be doing it more & more in the immediate future. What is unconscionable is encouraging survivors (in particular) to unthinkingly turn over their personal information to what is primarily a tracking, surveillance, and profiling site, and which will give provide said info to date banks, government agencies and god knows who else. This is not conspiracy theory, it is easily documented; again an authoritative site explaining all this can be found here: https://stallman.org/facebook.html (I don’t see why this is even controversial; it certainly represents far more than my personal opinion.)
I would hate to see MNN “canceled” from the web, as I think the most important consideration is that our true history be accessible to all, especially AP activists. But I also consider it vital to correct any misinformation such as Jenny has mentioned, and to remain vigilant in the face of any other opportunistic attempts to appropriate MNN to promote any private agenda unrelated to fighting psychiatry. I also urge people to NOT “sign up” with or send any sort of personal information to ANYONE who is using the imprimatur of MNN to solicit it.
In fact if Jim could give MNN the same treatment he gave Phoenix Rising, with no attempts at “spin,” it would be a great service.
I would like to take a moment to address the comments made against the new Madness Network News. The new Madness Network News is intended to educate new generations about anti-psychiatry. The site is also to serve as a network for survivors regardless of how they identify with their experiences. Also the new Madness Network News will have nothing to do with the “peer industry”. In fact the intention is for MNN to be a way for people to be exposed to and learn about these ideologies outside of the “peer industry.”
As for my involvement as an anti-psychiatry activist there are quite a few things I have done. I have on several occasions protested the APA. I have fought against legislature on restraint and involuntary commitment. In fact I am doing a presentation on abolishing psychiatry next month. As for others who are involved in MNN. We had three temporary volunteers for website development. Currently it is just myself working on Madnessnetworknews.com as we search for more volunteers.
Way to go Vesper! Thanks for doing this!
In fact, I planned on emailing you about the principles of AP you sent me. I want to post them on Madnessnetworknews.com. I want the resurrection of Madness Network News to be done correctly and true to the original mission and vision this is why I am working closely with Jenny. OH, this website will be an important part of introducing AP to a younger generation of psychiatric survivor who have only been exposed to the peer industry. You do not have to identify as mad but identifying as mad is accepted because we seek to be an uncompromising but also inclusive platform.
While I respect the people involved in “approving” your MNN project and have fond memories of working with all of them, by Jenny’s account none have been in touch with the movement, or what remains of it, for decades, and are not in touch with the current state of anti-psychiatry consciousness, or other developments since the movement was soundly defeated in the mid-80’s. And that they don’t intend to be involved in activism now. If this changes that would be a good thing. But I don’t think this move to claim the imprimatur of MNN is in the interest of current AP survivor solidarity, and as it stands seems more like a power play.
MNN had a large diverse editorial staff who were not always in lockstep; beyond that MNN reflected the spirit of an entire movement, and the energy of hundreds who were part of the movement in many ways. So to appropriate the “MNN” identity — as opposed to posting the archives, which speak for themselves — is inappropriate, or at least premature, without trying to coordinate with the largest existing group of AP survivors who are in accordance with the principles and spirit of the Mental Patients Liberation Movement. We consider our Principles of Unity to be the bottom line summation of what separates anti-psychiatry from reformism, and the basis for resurrecting the movement. They are not really “ours,” as they all derive from the principles last reaffirmed at the 1982 Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression in Toronto.
An effective movement cannot be divided against itself. It must be representative and democratic, and simply springing something like this on everyone without notice and calling it Madness Network News is not at all democratic. I also notice the term “anti-psychiatry” is nowhere to be found.
Still I’m glad you care enough to respond. As I said, MIA is not the appropriate forum for internal survivor discussions. But I and no doubt others will be happy to continue this by email, possibly even on our work site, as we don’t yet have a public site. I already had signed off from the MIA portion of all this, but noticed your post and thought I should respond. But this time I mean it! 🙂
I apologize, Jenny. I should have made the connection.
I am the person Jenny mentioned who is working on the new Madness Network News. I would like to connect particularly around Phoenix Rising and linking your site. I would also like to connect around other efforts.
Please email me at [email protected]
Great article, Jenny. Thank you. I would like to see our movement return to what it was. Wishful thinking or not, I’m still there.
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.
Thanks Rosalee, and thanks to everyone else who has been saying such positive things about my article. I appreciate your following up on my suggestion.
“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.”
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.”
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!!!!
I hope that Jim G will agree to post all of the original MNN on his site; we must not allow this wonderful piece of history to continue to be co-opted.
I understand there is an authorized archive of the entire collection at https://madnessnetworknews.com/archives-original/ so I see no reason to post another. Otherwise I would have been happy to.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about the MNN site that I critiqued in my article (MNN Redux) and the “new” Madness Network News site that just got created a few days ago, which contains all the back issues of MNN (located at http://www.madnessnetworknews.com). I think this confusion is compounded by some heavy criticism of the new MNN which was posted in the comments section. People might get the impression that both OH and I are in agreement that the new site is totally compromised and actually pro-psychiatry.
Nothing can be further from the truth. I think the criticisms of the site are unfair and not based on any evidence.
The criticism of the site was that Vesper, the creator of the new site, has never reached out to, or worked with, any anti-psychiatry activists. Vesper has actually been working closely with me and other antipsychiatry activists in getting the new site launched, and took great care to communicate with, and get permissions from, all the MNN editors before publishing the back issues.
Oldhead is claiming that the “old” MNN only used the term “madness” ironically, and that real activists now reject the identity of being mad people. In my experience, this was not the case. The name of the journal wasn’t some silly accident. Many of the articles, art work, and poetry reflected our identification with, and support for, the state of consciousness that psychiatrists (and others who are threatened by out-of-the ordinary states) find so unacceptable.
I think the cultural attacks on people’s experience of madness is part of the elitist mind control tactics that the corporatocracy uses against people of differing cultural backgrounds, or people who have chosen non-traditional lifestyles. Non-western and indigenous cultures all over the world honor and celebrate the states of consciousness that in western society are labelled “mad.” The idea that antipsychiatry automatically rejects the concept of “madness” is not speaking for many activists who created and contributed to Madness Network News. I would hazard a guess that some of the contributors to this site, “Mad” in America, also identify with the term.
Since no issues have been published of the “new” MNN, there is no factual basis to claim that the creators whole-heartedly support the “peer consumer” outlook. Everything that Vesper has told me is the opposite. If you go the new MNN site, all you will see is numerous photos and artwork reflecting an anti-psychiatry perspective, my article on the history of MNN, their new vision for the paper, and a “call for articles.” What exactly about that would an antipsychiatry activist find “sickening?”
Another criticism lodged against the founder of the new MNN page is that he is acting entirely alone, with no connection to other activists or patients’ rights activism. I’ve already noted the involvement of myself and other activists in working with him to get his site up and running. I noticed on Vesper’s Facebook page that he gave a presentation about patients rights issues to the United Nations. I am not aware of any other psych survivor who has had that honor. He has been a speaker, writer and singer about these issues for a quite some time and I’ve been impressed by the efforts he’s made to reach out to a large number of psych survivor groups.
I said in my article that what destroyed MNN was the last editors’ position that only anti psychiatry activists who met a very narrow criteria were worthy of the name, and with a big enough magnifying glass, even those activists could be shown to be fake. (I just found out, in looking over the back issues of Phoenix Rising that Jim Gottstein posted above, that Judi Chamberlin, who was one of the people being denounced by those editors, was getting arrested a year later for engaging in civil disobedience at the Vermont Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression, along with the recently-deceased hero, George Ebert. I had to wonder what those Madness editors were doing that day?)
I am writing this as a plea to not let the new MNN get destroyed the way its namesake did, before it even gets off the ground.
I have no intention of engaging this on MIA as it could only have a divisive effect. Certainly Vesper is someone who anti-psychiatry people should be open to. But there has been serious COLLECTIVE AP abolitionist survivor organizing going on for years and no one person defines what constitutes anti-psychiatry. However MIA is not a forum for anti-psychiatry survivors and this remains an internal discussion, and after this post I will not engage it at MIA, and invite any interested people to contact us at [email protected], until we get our website up (till then we will be at a disadvantage communications wise).
Btw there is no “OH’s work” and to characterize what we do as such dismisses the hard work and commitment of a dedicated core group of 15 or more survivors — many of whom regular MIA readers know — who have struggled together for over 3 years to create the ideological and organizational infrastructure for a successful anti-psychiatry movement. And the goal of an anti-psychiatry movement is to abolish psychiatry, period; there is no secondary goal. But there’s another time and place for this discussion.
Meanwhile, while I hadn’t planned on posting these until our website is up, I think it would be appropriate to share the basic principles with which we all agree, and the two basic demands which have always characterized the movement’s collective sentiment:
⦁ That psychiatry is not a legitimate field of medicine.
⦁ That psychiatry is a tool of social control which enforces conformity to the prevailing social order.
⦁ That “mental illness” is a semantically absurd concept which falsely conflates the abstraction known as the “mind” with the physical brain to mislead people into believing they have literal diseases.
⦁ That the psychiatric system cannot be reformed but must be abolished.
⦁ An end to all forced psychiatric procedures and “treatments,” including but not limited to incarceration, solitary confinement, physical restraints, drugging, and electroshock.
⦁ An end to all state support for psychiatry, including but not limited to the use of psychiatric testimony in legal proceedings; psychiatric screenings in schools, prisons, and workplaces; licensing of psychiatrists; and the use of public monies to support psychiatric programs or research.
We Assert — and plan to exercise — our right as an oppressed class to self-determination.
Oldhead, Thank you for your “We Believe” Statement about your “Anti-Psychiatry Movement.” In my opinion, in addition to “an end to state support for psychiatry, etc.” you should also include an “end to corporate support for psychiatry, etc.” I think this might help get the corporate money involved and not just “Big Pharma” money in the state and in employment and other practices, etc. Thank you.
I step into this with some trepidation as I have no real dog in this fight between you and Oldhead and don’t want to get involved in that aspect about what to do with MNN which is way before my time.
I would only like to clarify that there are survivors that object to the term “madness” for very similar reasons to why you say you embrace it. My own feeling is that these many states of consciousness are not ‘altered’ per se, but exist on the spectrum of normality. It pains me to see references to “madness” for the same reasons I object to terms like “neurodiversity”. It creates an “other” through which we are stigmatized.
You are correct that in other cultures, these states of being are accepted and even cultivated. The identification of future shamans, for example. In some cultures, the ability to connect to the spiritual realm is seen as a gift. But I don’t understand why should I identify as “mad” or call this experience an altered reality when that concept is so heavily stigmatized in THIS culture that I actually live in? And doesn’t this reference to other cultures approach cultural appropriation were I to use it here as a middle class white female American?
I see this situation as very similar to the fight for acceptance that the gay community experienced in the 80s and 90s. Many in the gay community that are not flamboyant simply wanted to be seen as being just like everyone else. They’re people with jobs and houses and families who go to church and the movies and are as normal as the straight community. But there is another contingent of the gay community that IS flamboyant, who DOES want their differences celebrated, who DOES want to have all sorts of PDA and participate in big marches and be in your face about their gayness. It turns out that both sides have solid points. And that doesn’t seem to be any different for the mad/survivor community. Some of us just want to exist and do our thing and not be pathologized when we’re struggling. I personally have no desire to be pathologized as mad or autistic or different. Even though the number of autism labeled people in my family has skyrocketed, and though I share their experiences, I personally want to be viewed as being on the spectrum of normal.
Additionally, there are of studies on prison conditions that show that anyone can become “psychotic” from solitary confinement. It takes about two weeks. Or from sleep deprivation, which only takes a few days. Are these people gifted or tortured? I don’t feel like it is right to appropriate other cultures to suggest that a born and raised American is reaching some other spiritual realm when the likelihood is they are simply severely traumatized.
I hope that clarifies why some of us do not embrace these labels. I respect your right and self-determination to identify in this way, but on this particular point, I am with Oldhead. “Mad”, “Autistic”, and similar labels do not serve me. “Psychiatric Survivor” does.
Thanks for the article, by the way. I find the history of the survivor movement fascinating.
Thanks for your thoughtful input into the discussion about whether it’s ok for some psych survivors to choose to accept the identify of “mad people.” Although your comment is addressed to me, there were two of us in this thread who are advocating the right of survivors to choose to identify as mad people. One of the two has a Native American background.
The editors of MNN were quite often members of an oppressed group (not surprising due to the classist, racist, sexist and homophobic nature of psychiatric oppression), and we also reached out to to survivors with non-culturally-dominant backgrounds, to request submissions or interviews, to make sure their viewpoints were represented. Sometimes their response was “I’m already dealing with so much stigma because of my (race or sexual orientation or….), why would i want to deal with the additional stigma of being known as a former mental patient?” Nonetheless we did our best to include a range of cultural perspectives, so i don’t think your suggestion that we were “born and raised Americans,” who are “appropriating” other cultures, is fair. Many Americans born in this country also are raised in families and cultures where having spiritual experiences is entirely accepted and approved.
My feeling, and the perspective of the staff of MNN, was that people get psychiatrized with diagnoses for a wide range of experiences. In my case, and the case of a number of other psych survivors i’ve met, we got labelled due to our experiences that were outside the ordinary, actually in a good way. One non-culturally-dominant woman who was a contributor to MNN later became quite famous as a writer and speaker regarding her native culture’s spiritual practices. In other cases, as you said, people got labelled because they had been tortured in one way or another, and i would add it was often because they had no financial resources, and ended up in a psych hospital as a result.
Having spiritual experiences is not the domain of any particular cultural group. It is a universal phenomenon. Accepting that aspect of our inner reality is not accepting being pathologized. I greatly doubt there is even a label in the DSM for being “mad.” The approach that we are advocating is to accept survivors’ self-identification of whatever type, rather than accept the psychiatrists’ attempt to force us into cookie-cutter identities, that fit into whatever they define as define as “normal.” The slogan of the early survivors’ movement was “We’d rather be mad with the truth than sane with lies.”
OK, let’s address what I actually said.
I’ll start out with pointing out this sentence that you didn’t seem to read:
“I respect your right and self-determination to identify in this way…”
Secondly, I was addressing your comment, not anyone else’s. I am not aware of the ethnic, racial or cultural backgrounds of most of the commenters here who use pseudonyms and do not have profile photos identifying themselves. And I am careful to identify my own background since my own photo and screen name also leaves that ambiguous. So with that said, I am addressing what for all appearances seems to be another person in my subculture – white, educated, and female within the dominant class.
Third, these issues are near and dear to my heart for many reasons but as the grandmother of an Afro-Indigenous child, I am extremely careful to NEVER speak on her behalf when I am talking about my own experiences and identity. I also do not speak for my friends of various descent when I am referring to my own cultural heritage and identity. The experiences of historically oppressed peoples are not mine to use for my own purposes. My oppressions have been unique and within the framework of the still-dominant WASP culture. And I find it abhorrent when other white women within my subculture appropriate these people’s experiences when speaking of their own identity. You are not the cultural spokesperson of oppressed people but you wear the “mad” identity like white women typically wear ceremonial dress without understanding appropriation. I’ve heard “shouldn’t they be glad I’m taking an interest in their culture” too many times to not speak up on this matter.
Fourth, spirituality is not synonymous with cultural heritage. Your religious beliefs, whatever they may be, are not on the same level as Indigenous and Aboriginal beliefs of connection with the dead, spirit realms, etc. Even the spiritual baptism of Pentacostals speaking in tongues is still operating within the framework of a Judeo-Christian God, being filled with the Holy Spirit. In no way has this ever been interpreted as “madness” – it is fully accepted within Judeo-Christian belief systems.
Fifth, when advocating for the right of those experiencing altered mental states to be free from police brutality, for example, it has to be acknowledged that other people generally find those states extremely disturbing. We are not just talking about someone who is having a spiritual experience with odd beliefs. We are often talking about someone standing in the road at midnight in their underwear, brandishing a weapon, and completely disconnected from consensus reality. If we want to advocate for those people not to be shot and killed on sight, we have to be able to acknowledge that witnessing these disturbances can be extremely traumatizing, and not pretend that that person represents zero threat to anyone. Otherwise, those who might be sympathetic to dialing down police use of force will dismiss us. So let’s stop pretending that we all fit in the same bowl of skittles when we are talking about the current cultural response to people experiencing extreme states.
Sixth, as for psychiatry, it is not necessary to use the cultural aspects of Black and Brown people’s experiences to also identify as oppressed psychiatric survivors with our own unique cultural backgrounds. However, under Intersectional theory, it’s entirely appropriate for psychiatrically oppressed people within those subcultures to say “psychiatric oppression” adds another layer to the oppressions I already experience. That is their experience and one you’ll never fully grok despite whatever spiritual and religious views you have. The fact is that Psychiatry as a profession is still dominated by white male figures and that Psychotherapy as a profession is still dominated by white female figures. These people exist within the same cultural subset as you and I. In most of your and my experiences within psychiatric oppression, we will have been oppressed by people who look like us, and who are oppressing us for not fitting within that dominant cultural paradigm in which we were born and raised.
Seventh, under Capitalism, the dominant economic theory promoted by white, male europeans, there is now a concept of “multi-racial whiteness”, which is the idea that whiteness is becoming more of an economic status than simply a skin color. You are right that many are oppressed by psychiatry for responding poorly to what are largely economic struggles in their lives. Cornell West refers to this concept as the “Niggerization of America”, where poor whites have slowly been “Niggerized” in social status. It’s an interesting theory in economic terms but still never really quite intersects with the lived experience of actual Black and Brown experience. The reason being that oppressed white folk generally have within their reach a much greater possibility of climbing back up and reattaining a respectable socialeconomic status. I personally had the intellect to date and marry my way back into the dominant socioeconomic class. I can piggyback on my husband’s professional status and I can be careful to present in such a way that I am not targeted, which is a luxury that more visually oppressed peoples do not have even when they possess far greater amounts of money and social status than I have.
For these reasons, I do not ever find it appropriate for white women like you and I to take on the identity of “madness”. I have been psychiatrically oppressed. I am a psychiatric survivor. I am in no way ever going to be oppressed on the same level as my granddaughter, who is likely to be labeled Autistic before long, showing behaviors both I and her mother displayed at that age. Her gorgeous brown skin and natural afro add layers to her oppression I will never experience; You have not and never will experience. When she is old enough to identify in any way, within her Indigenous cultural heritage, it still won’t be “madness” but instead a gift that her people value.
I am a psychiatric survivor. I am not “mad” and I will not fight for my or your right to assume that identity. Feel free to identify however you wish. I respect your perspective and that it differs from mine. But if you cannot respect that I have a different experience and viewpoint without denigrating it and drawing upon other people’s oppressions to back up your idenity, you are exercising your privilege. That’s not advocacy.
You are saying two totally opposite things, Kindredspririt, so it’s hard to know how to respond. You start out emphasizing that i didn’t seem to read your statement where you wrote “I respect your right to self-determination to identify in this way” and towards the end you wrote “i don’t ever find it appropriate for white women like you or i to take on the identify of madness.” Since the latter statement seems to be the most consistent viewpoint in your comment, i will reply to that.
You seem to making a huge number of assumptions about me, a person you’ve never met or communicated with previously. You said you have the privilege of advanced education and marrying into a comfortable socio-economic class, and seem to assume that i have had similar privileges myself. I haven’t. True, my parents (who did not have middle class backgrounds) ended up joining the middle class, but i did not experience a lot of socio-economic benefit from that, as they had major economic struggles while i was growing up, and after i became an adult, they did not look favorably on my experience of being psychiatrized (to which they had contributed) or upon my later work as an anti psychiatry activist. So as an adult i’ve had to struggle with poverty for long stretches of my life, and the resulting horrors which that entails, such as being refused treatment after a serious car accident because i didn’t have insurance.
I actually don’t think one’s racial or class background has anything to do with whether or not she or he has the “right” to identify as a mad person. But since you obviously do think it’s important in this discussion, to provide some clarification, my background is Russian on one side (speaking of hisotrically oppressed peoples, my grandfather endured tremendous hardship escaping from the deadly pogroms against Jewish people in Russia), and i’m Irish/British on the other side. Russians have a a very strong mystical tradition, as do the Celts in Ireland and Britain, as snowy owl points out.
Mystical and altered-state experiences are not limited to people of a particular racial or cultural background. I also have some Native American blood from a great grandmother in Oklahoma. Does that make it OK for me to validate my own experience of “madness,” which the psychiatric establishment tried so hard to erase?
I’m not speaking on behalf of anyone. The subject of my article and this discussion, is the existence of a mad persons/survivors journal in the 1970s and 80s, and to what extent the new incarnation of Madness Network News should support people who embrace the identify of “madness”? I do think it’s relevant to this discussion that the creator of this new incarnation of the madness journal is Native American. (He is the person i was referring to when i said there was more than one person in this thread who supported survivors no matter what their outlook is on the use of that terminology or identity).
As i said in my last comment, we, the previous editors of MNN made every attempt to include the experiences of people from non-culturally-dominant backgrounds so they could speak for themselves. We felt it was important for their perspectives to be heard and i think it’s important that your own experience be heard. I never said anything to denigrate your experience.
POSTING AS MODERATOR:
OK, this is enough. People have had their say. I am going to end the discussion at this point. Time to move on.
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“Many Americans born in this country also are raised in families and cultures where having spiritual experiences is entirely accepted and approved.”
YES! The Celts had their language, imagery, & ritual/ceremonies beaten out of them by the Romans, absolutely. I am more of a practitioner than a scholar of this universal phenomenon.
I subscribe to Metaphysics & I’ll bring it up if it’s relevant to AP, or if I can be funny. I was with a group of heavy hitters on a 3 day retreat that kicked our collective asses. Three days with a deep trance channeler who channeled “The Big One,” or Prime Creator (Goddess & God).
After a grueling three days where we were more or less successful in healing some trauma codes,
I said, “lets do a spoof channel & ask P.C.” –since S/He is politically correct, as you would imagine–JOKE!
“where the socks disappear in the dryer?” !!!!!
Can you imagine? You have your chance to talk to Goddess, God, the flaming skull on the stick, Heavenly Father, the Most High, Allah, or Artificial Intelligence (if thats what whips your winnie)…
(ooo, censor Steve, censor Steve–I know I am pushing it : )
…there’s a heavy seriousness….you’ve been waiting all your life….and you ask:
“where do the socks disappear to in the dryer?”
In which Heavenly Father (you know, the guy with the beard on the throne) bellows:
“THAT’S your question???? You DIP SHIT!!!!!….
…er, I mean, my son, my SON, I give you one question, ONE question, to ask me anything about the mysteries of the universe…”
SO: I’ll just let that sink in because the next things not so funny.
We never got around to doing our spoof channel, because two of the six of us are MK Ultras (one American, me, & one Polish, my friend Grzegorz)–& we have the global intelligence apparatus on our heels at ALL TIMES! (see essay below).
Also, at this point, thank you, thank you, thank you AGAIN! for your article–it was brilliant.
(snowyowl is a reference to Native American medicine & not really an altogether flattering one at that–although I realize I am speaking to someone from the Bay Area–so you prob. already know this & are snoring now –what? who me? *I* don’t snore!
& one of my mentors in Native American medicine told me never to tell anyone 1) what your totem animal is–even though there is an ostensible 7 layer salad to the totem or 2) what’s in your medicine bag. I don’t know if that’s true or not. Maybe Vesper knows???
Owl medicine can be “bringing death to your door,” but it varies from tribe to tribe. Dunno. I lived in Montana for 10 years & we have 12 tribes there. Just sorting out what happened between and/to those tribes was enough for me & I don’t feel like I even scratched the surface. I had affinity with the Blackfeet; they never trusted Lewis & Clark–NEVER! Go Blackfeet.
Why do I bring this up?
Because All Roads Lead to AP (Anti Psychiatry), which I said to Oldhead, & he is prob. scratching his head, ’cause I told him I was going into retirement.
But I had to come out of retirement to tell me socks in the dryer joke. A joke which I made up to cheer me up for this kamikaze run I call my life.
Another observation on the word “Mad.” If you are taking it *apart* from AP discourse (which I would encourage, again, see essay below, which will spell out why I encourage that),
do you and/or Vesper see the word “MAD” as kinda being stuck in a vision quest forever? Like, NEVER getting out of it? Or calling YOURSELF the vision quest, instead of the hero or warrior?
I see you both as the heroes. Or warriors (Native American medicine) But that’s just my take.
Here’s the essay. It’s long, but worth the read.
One of the original links: https://everydayconcerned.net/2016/12/12/seth-farber-ph-d-the-psychiatric-metanarrative-targeted-individuals-and-the-deep-state-a-response-to-the-new-york-times/
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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.
I found the Madness Network News archive still there at https://madnessnetworknews.com/archives-original/. The one Jenny identified as unauthorized and inaccurately portraying the history is gone. This seems good.
We are also physically typing each issue because a big focus of ours is accessibility. You can find the typed versions of volume 1 here: https://madnessnetworknews.com/archives-vol-1-accessible-version
We are in the process of typing the rest of them.
Original Archives here: https://madnessnetworknews.com/archives-original
I always love it when people say “it’s a terrible idea for anyone to discuss these issues in such and such a forum” and then proceed to give their opinion at length about the issues in question. And if anyone dares to ignore this instruction, and comment on what they said, these people will again elaborate on their own views, while reiterating how incorrect it is for anyone else to discuss such issues in this forum.
Everything that you’ve been saying about the new Madness Network News site and its creator, Vesper, represents an extreme distortion or outright falsehood. I have been in touch with both you and Vesper for months about the possibility of making the back issues of MNN available online. (The idea came from Vesper.) All three of the surviving editors of MNN, who were involved when it was run by psych survivors, have clearly stated that everyone who is in alignment with the anti psychiatry views of the original Madness Network News–and who does not lie about the history of the paper or who created it–is welcome to publish the back issues, as long as they don’t alter the content or try to make money from selling them. You can see the statement from the three editors posted on the new Madness Network News site. I also sent it to you a while back.
Now you are claiming that you had no advance knowledge of the fact that Vesper was publishing the back issues, despite our numerous email exchanges on the subject. Previously in these comments you expressed outrage that the new site would undoubtedly (based on your conjecture, not on anything on the site itself) embrace the peer/consumer ideology that is completely antithetical to anti psychiatry work. Vesper has now specifically clarified on the site that it’s viewpoint is anti psychiatry. OK, we can’t keep criticizing him for that, so let’s find something else to denounce the site for. Like the fact that you don’t see the archives posted there! And the one seemingly legitimate site that had the archives posted is now taken down. Your sarcastic comment: “Nice work guys.”
I can hardly believe that this is being said by the same person who wrote me a couple of months ago, about how you were totally in agreement with the position of MNN editors that this other site was a rip-off of our work, and you would support us however you could in opposing it. Now you are mourning the fact that the rip-off site (the one i critiqued in my article) got taken down–a site i should mention was filled advertisements for books containing consumer-peer ideology, in addition to its blatant and extreme misrepresentations about the history of MNN.
Instead you are attacking the efforts of MNN editors and Vesper/his friends to once again make MNN available online, without all the distorting spin. You are so immersed in negative conjectures about the new MNN site that you weren’t even able to see the words at the top of the front page that say “Archives.” Yes, the new site does have all the back issues of Madness Network News posted online (if you click on “Archives”) for anyone to read. Vesper also indicated to me that the group you work with is free to make use of those issues if you want to post them on the new website that you hope to create. The MNN editors already granted that group permission to post them, but Vesper is offering to let you utilize the online versions that he has made available.
Despite, our numerous communications on the subject of the posting the back issues, and Vesper’s plans to publish them (which included him reaching out to you in the interest of working together), you are claiming that none of us have been in touch with you and we are just springing this on the anti-psychiatry (AP) movement with no advance warning or discussion. Of course in your mind “the anti psychiatry movement” consists entirely of the group of 15 people with which you are affiliated. So, for example, Vesper going to protests against the APA or giving a talk supporting the abolition of psychiatry “doesn’t count” because he is not part of the group you are affiliated with.
As far as the three remaining MNN editors no longer “being involved in anti psychiatry work,” we’re all seniors and are all dealing with major survival issues of one kind or another. Our many, many years of work on Madness Network News and in the anti psychiatry movement speaks for itself. If nothing else, it gives us the right to determine who has the right to post the back issues.
Unfortunately atm NO ONE is posting the MNN archives. So this debate is sort of moot. Vesper’s political perspectives are not overly relevant here, and there are forums where ISSUES rather than personalities can be discussed, and this thread has veered WAY too far in the direction of personalities.
Again, my personal concern is NOT with who posts the MNN archives (I personally wish they were public domain). It is with labeling a completely new project “Madness Network News” and misleading people into assuming that this is the same Madness and the same movement. (What’s wrong with using a different name, for god’s sake?) I have made this clear both publicly and privately, at least I thought I had. Since Vesper was responsible enough to respond I felt obliged to give him some sort of reply, even though I’d said I was done with the public discussion of what amounts to movement “dirty laundry.”
Then I discovered not only that the Redux site had been taken down but that the mnn.com site CONTAINS NO ARCHIVES. As of now, or at least last night, NO ONE can see the archives at all. So y’all need to work this out.
The most important issue right now is that MNN must be available SOMEWHERE for serious movement activists, strategists and scholars to examine, since without knowing our history it’s difficult to make sound decisions about where to go next, and how to avoid the mistakes which led to the movement’s defeat circa 1985.
So that’s my response, after this I will give you the last word and hope MIA puts a merciful end to this. Everyone has everyone else’s email addresses, if you want to retrace the course of our offline discussions, and there are some limited forums (other than Facebook) where AP survivor discussions are possible.
Signing off for now & I regret the turn all this has taken.
POSTING AS MODERATOR:
I am going to agree here that this has most definitely veered in too personal a direction. I think everyone has had a chance to make their points, and folks can go ahead and read and make up their own minds about it. Or better yet, visit the site and see what you think.
At this point, I am not going to post any further comments along this line of discussion. It is apparent that there are personal feelings and disagreements here that are best resolved by individual conversations. I’m happy to connect people who feel the need to talk to each other via email, but for purposes of this discussion, we need to refer back to the content of the article, and any personal complaints or criticisms will no longer be published.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
I agree with everything you are saying, rebel, except the part about “there is no way we could resurrect such a movement again.” I’m assuming you’re of a younger generation, or at least a younger generation than the time period discussed in my article, but massive drugging of children with psychiatric drugs existed then also. MNN published articles by people who had survived such drugging as children, and sounded the alarm that this massive drugging was just the tip of the iceberg and could get worse. (You’re right, it did get worse.)
In my article “Psychiatry as a Tool of Repression” (which appeared in Utne Reader but unfortunately is no longer viewable online) i discussed the history of how psychiatry has traditionally been used for the purpose of social control of women and minorities (e.g. ECT and lobotomy), and how the use of psychiatric drugs had become pervasive everywhere. The pervasive drugging did not just apply to the way children were routinely drugged in schools, but also how elders were often automatically drugged in elder facilities, as were prisoners who were considered uncooperative.,
I recently engaged in a huge uphill battle to help a friend free her adopted father from forced drugging with psychiatric drugs in the board and care home where he lived. He had no psychiatric history, and had no obvious mental/behavioral deficits, yet it was just assumed, because his doctor had prescribed mind control drugs as a matter of course, that they were essential for his well being and appropriate treatment. This was despite the fact that he said the drugs made him feel a lot worse. It was only the intervention of an attorney who specialized in patients rights that my friend was able to penetrate the nonsensical laws governing her father’s situation and free him from the forcible drugging.
I couldn’t agree more with your statement about our society now being on “the precipice of more complex technological and computerized invasions into our brain and mind.” Which is all the more reason that people need to fight back, as was done by the previous generation of mind control resisters whom i described in my article.
With all due respect to your comments about what I said, your assumptions about my being of an entirely younger generation are not quite right. During much of the first part of this movement (and I am specifically refencing the dates the the Madness Network News was being published -1974-1985) I was a student aimlessly trying to obtain a BA in Psychology. During the latter part of the movement, I was at my first real job, aimlessly attempting to be a Correctional Services Officer in two different men’s prisons. I say what I say about the inability of “resurrecting such a movement again” because the tenor and the times of psychiatry have changed. This, I, as a non-academic, partly trace back to what we call “prozac nation.” We actually have a movement now, but it might still be in its infancy stage. Psychiatry has gained such a hold in our society that prominent people now like to discuss on tv through ads and commentaries, etc. how therapy and drugs have helped them. We are now being gaslighted about the “stigma issue.” Each day we are bombarded with tv ads about available drugs that will take away our misery or how teletherapy will make our day better. Big Pharma money and Big Insurance money flow into our Representatives on all levels. Psychiatry is a behemoth now and that’s what has changed since the early days of the Madness Network News. We must change our tactics. We must get our message out in ways that do not harm, but are successful. We must be strategic. In this respect, the world has tragically changed. I could go further, but, I’ll stop here. But, what always comes to my mind is the phrase, “while we were sleeping . . . ” Thank you.
All I can say here is THANK YOU. Beautiful. Well-written, brilliant, necessary.
Jenny, the photo of you, with the late activist Saralinda Grimes has been a touchstone of my escape from these genocidal systems.
You are an American heroine.
Hi Madrina, I appreciate your comments. How interesting that the photo provided help in your escape.
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.
I’m glad to see that Jenny Miller’s excellent, informative article and analysis has received such great interest and praise in the comments here. I myself was very active in the anti-psychiatry movement from 1978-1986 in the latter year bringing out the book “Mass Murderers in White Coats: Psychiatric Genocide in Nazi Germany and the United States” (by Lenny Lapon–that’s me :)). In order to reach more interested people at a more affordable price, just last month I have made available an e-book edition, which is basically the same as the 1986 paperback with a brief additional 2021 Preface and a new cover. I believe the book is of much value in understanding the history and politics of both psychiatry’s oppressiveness and of the anti-psychiatry/psychiatric inmates liberation movement up until that time. I worked/organized/militantly protested with both Mental Patients Liberation Front (MPLF) in Boston and the Alliance for the Liberation of Mental Patients (ALMP) in Philadelphia. I was also part of the “human chain” that disrupted the APA convention in San Francisco in 1980 and of the arrested members of the Psychiatric Inmates Liberation Lobby that carried out a civil disobedience action at the APA’s annual meeting in Toronto in 1982, both of which were mentioned in Jenny’s article. The e-book is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on other formats. My best to all here, Lenny Lapon