Will US Agency New Head End Stonewalling About Money for Involuntary Outpatient Mental Health?

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The US Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nomination for a new leader of
a key federal mental health agency. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, PhD, an African-
American psychologist and former director of Connecticut’s mental health
services, immediately became the new Assistant Secretary at the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Miriam Delphin-Rittmon

Hopefully, one of the first actions Dr. Delphin-Rittmon takes at SAMHSA will be ending the stonewalling about support for involuntary mental health care, which can often mean court-ordering US citizens to take powerful, controversial psychiatric drugs in their own homes, out in the community.

SAMHSA has betrayed the principles of the mental health consumer movement for transparency and empowerment. Whatever happened to “Nothing about us without us”? Will Dr. Delphin-Rittmon begin to repair the damage?

Background: Trends Toward Community Coercion

Most US States now have laws allowing court-ordered involuntary mental health treatment of individuals living out in the community, even in their own homes. Since 2016, SAMHSA, the large US mental health agency, has quietly supported this rise of Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) through two major grants impacting hundreds of American citizens, and this endorsement can carry a lot of weight throughout the nation.

More than one year ago, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for any information about these two SAMHSA grants. Despite promises to reply, the agency never did. In April 2021, a major disability advocacy nonprofit filed an FOIA to get information from that agency. SAMHSA, illegally, has not provided any information.

SAMHSA, which requested an annual budget of more than $5 billion, funded these two major grants, one in 2016 and another in 2020, for 32 projects for IOC. We have created a spreadsheet to show the awardees of both of these grants, for a total of more than $25 million in various states across the country.

For over a year, I frequently requested any information from SAMHSA evaluating these projects, and I even filed a FOIA, but I have never ever received any information at all. This is despite several responses to my emails with promises to send the information soon. I have documented these interactions that I had with SAMHSA staff.

SAMHSA logoAfter my futile attempts, the major disability advocacy nonprofit, National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), filed their own official FOIA to SAMHSA on 13 April 2021. SAMHSA was required by law to reply in a timely way, but has broken the law and to date has not provided NCIL with any information about either grant. NCIL’s Subcommittee on Mental Health has decided to monitor this situation, reach out to allied groups, and contact members of Congress who will make inquiries.

Along with the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), SAMHSA is one of the biggest federal agencies in behavioral health, and of course where a lot of the mental health consumer movement gets its money. SAMHSA is a part of the larger US agency, Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is now led by Secretary Xavier Becerra, who is in Biden’s cabinet.

Actions You Can Take To Stop SAMHSA’s Stonewalling
  1. Please email to President Joe Biden about SAMHSA’s refusal to provide basic information about the above. You can email him here.
  2. You may email the new director of SAMHSA, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, here: [email protected]
  3. For ongoing updates, please get on the alert list for my blog: com/david-w-oaks-news
Happy MAD Pride Month of July!

I coordinate the regional Affiliate for MindFreedom International, MindFreedom Oregon. We are calling for every July to be MAD Pride Month!

For example, the Alternatives 2021 Conference will be totally free, online, with dozens of presenters with lived experience of mental health issues: https://www.alternatives-conference.org/

Leonard Roy Frank

I will give a workshop about Green Disability on 15 July, which is the birthday of one of my psychiatric survivor heroes, the late Leonard Roy Frank, an activist, friend, and author.

In 1985, SAMHSA funded the first Alternatives Conference, and continued to bring together thousands of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors each year for decades. But a few years ago, SAMHSA stopped funding the event, claiming lack of funds. However, as we’ve seen, somehow SAMHSA found more than $25 million to support involuntary outpatient mental health for hundreds of US citizens.

We have a list of MAD Pride Month events and resources here. If you have anything to add, let us know! [email protected]

***

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.

54 COMMENTS

  1. I think the answer is to stop identifying as “mad” and to stop begging our captors for money.

    I am not “mad” and I don’t believe that other people who have “psychiatric” labeled emotional and altered mental states after trauma or illness are “mad”. These are normal responses. These responses are no different than what happens to non-“mad” people when they are severely sleep deprived, have drug-induced reactions (such as happens with normal controls in drug studies), or have responses to severe social stress. I think it is counter productive, and gives them ammunition to other us when we identify as having those struggles beingan internal part of us. It flies in the face of those fighting against various traumas and oppressions to frame these extreme states as innate or something to have “pride” in.

    And how can anyone fault SAMHSA for not cooperating with the requests of “mad” people? When we agree we are “mad”, we walk into the biomedical trap being set that allows them to internalize and individualize our struggles. Let’s go back to what Britney Spears said in her testimony. She’s done with evaluations, with human rights abuses, with control. She’s competent, as are the vast majority of people having normal reactions to abnormal conditions.

  2. Kindred spirit.

    as a mother who has often wished my daughter would pass for ‘normal’ (she often walks down the street talking to invisible friends) I am beginning to think that there is greater value in reclaiming labels than you are crediting. As I deal with past trauma–i go through various evolutionary milestones–I am still frightened of psychiatrists unchecked power, but I am lightening up a bit.

    One thing that gives me comfort is people who claim to be ‘mad’ are no longer running from the labels makers and the enforcers of normality, something I often do.

    They are stopping dead in their tracks, turning, looking at their former abusers squarely in the eye and holding up a mirror, saying “your labels including ‘mad’ don’t scare me anymore.”

    That kind of comfort level with my human identity is something I aspire to. To be mad is to be human!

    Go mad pride! Go humanity! Thank you David Oaks!!

    • My position is that a very wide range of behavior is normal, not the very narrow culturally approved range. I talk to myself all the time. I answer myself too. It helps me to vocalize my thoughts. I get to the answer more quickly. But that behavior has also been disturbing to others who don’t understand it. Why should it matter if the conversation is one-sided or if we have imaginary friends?

      There’s a thing about culture and that what is considered normal varies widely and its location based. Someone from the Deep South may be very different from someone from NYC who will be different from someone from the upper Midwest who is different from someone from coastal California. And yet all of these differences are normal human variation. I travel extensively and I like to remind people that the United States is not one culture. It is a series of overlapping cultures that change by location but also by race and ethnicity, income and education, political and religious leanings, etc.

      The enforcers of normality as you put it are really enforcing a very rigid narrow definition of normal that is extremely unhealthy. How is “mad” any different from “bipolar” or “psychotic” or “psycho” or “nuts”? These labels are all the same. I do not run from them. I reject them all. They are all stigmatizing normal variation in human behavior. I reject them for the same reason I reject the concept of neurodiversity. It’s not that doesn’t isn’t real. It’s that again we put some people in the category of normal and some people in the category of neurodiverse and some people in the category of mad or crazy, etc.

      I posit that the “normal” range of human behavior and expression is far greater than what local cultures consider “acceptable” in that culture. So then we start to see that this isn’t about anyone actually being normal or mad or neurodiverse but people being pidgeonholed into a narrow range of acceptable presentation for other reasons.

      What we really need to grapple with then is the deeper question: “who is this serving?”

    • To be mad is to be human!

      Which sort of demonstrates the point — if “madness” is a characteristic of all humans, there’s nothing special about being “mad.” So what’s the point of a “movement”?

      Rachel777 has posited that “madness” describes a state of mind, like sadness or confusion — it doesn’t define a person’s essence. How about a “sad pride” movement, wouldn’t that be just as logical?

  3. I think…honestly, my -own personal- approach has been to do my best to build a life as a human being who happens to be burdened by a serious psych label. ever read Stigma, by Goffman? brilliant stuff, really. in all likelihood, my labels and lies, etc. will outlive me. I choose not to engage the “mad” vs “severely mentally ill,” etc. so much as…

    do what I can, with the resources I have at my disposal, despite the labels. Each individual is different, to some extent. In my own situation — and I also think my outlook as a fairly traditional (but not “conservative”) Christian plays a strong role in this — I choose to see the psych labels/lies as more lies from a fallen world that is filled with lying liars, anyway.

    on a day to day basis, I guess I can say…I see the social and legal fiction of “mental illness” at play around me, every day. And yet…

    In large part because of my faith, I do believe in absolute truth. To that end, I do not and cannot “believe” in psychiatry anymore than I can believe in any other false religion. 🙂

  4. Done. I mean, I emailed the President and the new SAMSA head. Thank you so much to David Oaks for the work he is doing. We need more concrete actions like these. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes and to send these emails – and thank you, David, for making this so convenient, with the links right in the text!

  5. Cheers to Kindred Spirit (whether she needs them or not) for her continuing deconstruction of the notion of “Mad Pride.”

    The only thing I would add is that the slogan of the original mental patients liberation liberation movement was NOT “Mad Pride” but “Abolish Psychiatry.” This is documented in the Principles of the 1982 Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression, which can be found in the archives of Mindfreedom.

    To imply that the vast majority of anti-psychiatry “mental patients” have historically regarded themselves as “mad” is a distortion of history, pure and simple. The term is a euphemism for “mentally ill,” with flowery “woke” trappings. This is demonstrated by the fact that the vast majority of those who consider themselves “mad” never saw themselves as such until they had been diagnosed as “mentally ill,” then defined themselves as “mad” as a substitute label — but a label generated by psychiatry nonetheless.

    • “This is demonstrated by the fact that the vast majority of those who consider themselves “mad” never saw themselves as such until they had been diagnosed as “mentally ill,” then defined themselves as “mad” as a substitute label — but a label generated by psychiatry nonetheless.”

      Well put.

      The romanticizing of experiences that many find distressing in the extreme seems extraordinarily out of touch to me. If we are to reach the majority celebrating mental health awareness, we need to recognize that most people simply want relief from their distress.

      This isn’t Alice in Wonderland. It’s an increasingly desperate and suicidal population that doesn’t want to live. Psychiatry is mad! It boasts of how its iatrogenic effects are proof of latent illness! That’s the only madness I see!

  6. David, Thank you and your helper for getting this conversation back on track, since your point wasn’t about the issue of language and ‘mad pride’ v.s. ‘normality’, whatever that is. The important issues you raised, getting data from the President and the new SAMSA head is critical. I will try and follow Yulia’s lead by writing to both. That sounds much more productive than arguing about language. I appreciate the reminder that you have been around the horn a little and are well qualified by experience as a leader to bring priority issues to the attention of others and make suggestions as to what is important. In the case of the SAMSA grant, I would like to know as the mother of a psych survivor and a tax payer, what are the outcomes of our nation’s lastest investment in a carceral mental health system, more people living independently and peaceably in their communities, socially connected, hopeful and purposeful, or more people holed up in substandard housing situations or institutions, afraid, hopeless, looking over their shoulder, dreading the possibility of more state sanctioned torture

    • I find the several claims that the article wasn’t about “mad” pride to be disingenuous in the extreme. The entire second half of the article was about an effort to make July “mad pride month” and “Happy Mad Pride Month of July” was in bold preceding that.

      I do not find this policing of what people are allowed to agree with or object to in any way helpful especially when such a huge emphasis was placed on this subject by the author himself! It’s comical and highly illogical to suggest that comments should only focus on the first half regarding SAMHSA!

      People don’t turn to psychiatry for help because there is something to be proud of in their struggles. Most people who deliberately “get help” do so because they’re miserable! The portion of survivors who identify as having had a misunderstood spiritual experience is SMALL compared to those of us who were desperately trying to survive extreme depression, panic attacks, dissociation, perhaps physical illnesses, intense anger, nightmares, etc. Who in their right mind would interpret those experiences as something to be proud of?

      Do I not get a voice here?

      • The portion of survivors who identify as having had a misunderstood spiritual experience is SMALL compared to those of us who were desperately trying to survive extreme depression, panic attacks, dissociation, perhaps physical illnesses, intense anger, nightmares, etc.

        Agreed again, for what it’s worth. (Not to imply that those who have had what they consider spiritual experiences invalidated as “pathological” have not also been violated.)

        And yes, it is disingenuous to insert an ideological narrative — here in support of the concept of “mad” pride and “mad” culture — into an unrelated discussion of SAMHSA, then disregard the response as irrelevant.

  7. I don’t want to be divisive, so if there is a Mad Pride movement, count me in. I suppose I could say the same thing about some folk’s anti-Mad Pride movement if asked. Camouflage, after all, is sometimes a necessity.

    Um, the government is spending a lot of money on forced “mental health” torture, is it? Just think of what sort of a world we might have if they stopped spending so much on that sort of thing. Being tight lipped and secretive about the matter isn’t a spend thrift tactic in this case. I’d say that there are a lot of people that could be helped if we were to pressure the government to make a few changes.

    Thanks for making the case, David. I hope people are paying attention.

  8. Moving beyond the issue of so-called “madness” to other attitudes and positions which are strategically and practically counterproductive (for those whose goal is to defeat psychiatry and not “reform” it):

    SAMHSA is one of the biggest federal agencies in behavioral health, and of course where a lot of the mental health consumer movement gets its money.

    Got that folks? Anti-psychiatry activists please take note, as it is a clear indictment of the so-called “mental health consumers movement” (which was always and remains a ruse designed to undermine the anti-psychiatry movement). It also demonstrates the true purposes and motives of neoliberal agencies such as SAMHSA, which are similar on a domestic level to such imperialist groupings as the Agency for International Development (AID). Why on earth would survivors who truly want to eliminate psychiatry have anything to do with SAMHSA at all?

    Since 2016, SAMHSA, the large US mental health agency, has quietly supported this rise of Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) through two major grants impacting hundreds of American citizens, and this endorsement can carry a lot of weight throughout the nation.

    Demonstrating again that SAMHSA is our ENEMY…

    In 1985, SAMHSA funded the first Alternatives Conference, and continued to bring together thousands of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors each year for decades.

    Confirming what every serious AP activist and historian already knows — that the so-called “Alternatives” conferences were instituted by the psychiatric establishment, as an “alternative” to the Mental Patients Liberation Movement, and have always been a treacherous betrayal of what the movement stood for. I am stunned that David would use his prominent status to endorse its continuation in any form. As for SAMHSA, what the devil gives he takes away — why should we bargain with it in any form or take its money?

    A growing number of survivors who oppose psychiatry completely have been quietly organizing for over four years to resurrect the Mental Patients Liberation/Anti-Psychiatry movement and return to the true goals of the movement. There are currently close to 20 active members united around some basic anti-psychiatry principles. While there has been some resistance to announcing ourselves publicly I hope this will be resolved soon. Meanwhile if you are a survivor who wants to abolish psychiatry give us a shout at [email protected]

    It is and always will be a losing proposition to waste our energy “convincing” totalitarian government agencies and their bureaucrats to do anything simply because it would be in the peoples interest. The grip of the psychiatric system will be ended only by exposing it and rejecting it completely, and educating others to do the the same. Only then will there be sufficient pressure for such agencies to act in a non-oppressive manner (which will of course only be a tactic on their part). The idea that such people can be “talked into” ending something as basic as involuntary “treatment” is absurd, and ignores some basic realities about what psychiatry is in the first place.

    The sole purpose of psychiatry in any society is control and regimentation, whether on a physical level of incarceration, drugging and other restraints, or a psychological one, by convincing dissatisfied citizens that their dissatisfaction is the result of individual “pathology,” rather than an understandable reaction to a dehumanizing society. The obvious benefit of this to the prevailing order is to keep its subjects blaming themselves for their unhappiness, rather than engaging in political resistance to the conditions which engender it.

    Why on earth would the government ever support ending forced psychiatry? In the end coercive force is the only thing propping up the psychiatric system — if there were a true choice involved psychiatry would wither away within 25 years on its own merits, or lack of such.

    Paraphrasing Frederick Douglas, power cedes nothing without a demand. If our demand is confined to begging mh bureaucrats for favors and cash the results will be predictable. This also applies to hunger strikes and other traditional guilt-based white liberal actions which miss the point over & over — that psychiatry cannot be reformed, and must be abolished.

    • I am a bit late to the discussion trying to sift through the discourse before nose-diving into airing out a list of concerns based on what I’ve suffered myself in searching through the past 6 months maybe it will just naturally unfold but if not please refer to additional commentary. With that being said, respectfully and with the utmost consideration for conscientiously continuing this discourse….

      *SAMHSA is one of the biggest federal agencies in behavioral health, and of course where a lot of the mental health consumer movement gets its money.*

      I am of the understanding that SAMHSA is the sole federal agency charged with the near if not total entirety of fiduciary responsibility over distributing discretionary funds approved by the legislature and its appropriate appropriations subcommittees who agree upon a budget that is carried out over the term of a 4 year Fiscal Cycle. They are clearly compiling numbers but this is SAMHSA and the Federal Government ergo why it would be expected that they are in possession of the numbers is beyond me since I can safely presume the management of any and all of such information is beyond them ie the responsible parties are clearly going to be seated at the sites of the agencies that have been awarded grantee status.

      May I beg in no uncertain desperation:

      *PLEASE RELEASE THE COMPILED DATABASE OF ACTIVE GRANT SITES IMMEDIATELY FOR CLAIRITY ON WHERE THESE PROJECTS ARE UNFOLDING.*

      At this moment we are well into FY 2 of the multi-million dollar cross national federally funded series of grant-based demonstration projects that will be assuredly used to adulterate the evidence base to justify the unreasonable yet seemingly unavoidable formalization of systemic programs of court-ordered compliance to ensure community containment, involuntary community commitment, and/or forced drugging for community living.

      This practice is called Assisted Outpatient Treatment and aside from the truly abhorrent funding directed towards early identification and treatment of children in schools (re: project aware, suicide prevention programs, etc) nearly all focus for funding traditionally used in terms of community mental health services for adults has been now placed under fire as the advocates of AOT have successfully convinced congress that such programs do not serve the needs of the seriously mentally ill (if only they realized the same seriously mentally ill deserve the credit for all formerly worth but long since co-opted community based supports) Rather they successfully argue that for those psychiatrized as “seriously mentally ill” “seriously and persistently mentally ill” and my personal favorite “seriously and persistently VIOLENTLY mentally ill,” are a population that require coercion and force due to their lack of insight and alleged likelihood to be violent to themselves or others. Or isn’t everyone familiar with the Treatment Advocacy’s “preventable tragedies database” https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/evidence-and-research/preventable-tragedies

      What does this mean? Well it means that money for mental illness is by and large being used in ways that entail forced drugging of adults via court ordered treatment and it would appear children who by way of their child-status are not autonomous and therefore must be considered bereft of their bodily autonomy ergo all child and adolescent treatment is inherently forced drugging when psych is concerned…

      Whatever you’re stand on mad pride the powers at be could give a damn. They’ve decided our label and are effortlessly moving along in order to make sure the related professional experts are emboldened and supported in their curative crusades.

      Sorry but this is where it is and where it’s going and unfortunately

      So, with all respect to and the utmost compassion considering the justified discussion on how one might choose to identify themselves subsequent to being systematically psychiatrized or following the medical opinion that catalogues a psychiatric diagnosis as a qualifier to their personhood at this time, let’s get real about one thing: in the eyes of the sate this demographic—the psychiatrized or whatever best suits your self-determined right to have emancipatory ownership over your identity and preferred language over your sovereign and valid lived experience—is referred to as the mentally ill.

      Furthermore, with consideration to the oversaturation of what constitutes mentally ill or mental health condition broadly (ie adhd, depress, anxiety vs bipolar 1, schizo-affective, schizophrenic, psychosis) it is important to point out that together when combined with the seriously mentally ill, the seriously persistently mentally ill, the seriously persistently violently mentally ill, this demographic now is largely evaluated and grouped in terms of the biggest economic burden to the public welfare state with ranges of 80-90% unemployment. So again that’s how we are being spoken of that is how we are known and I fear that until a vast number of consequential realities are dually rectified this hyperfocus on discussions that render us less aligned than unified towards our shared needs is a bullet to the head.

      Abolition yes. But in the meantime how about the right to informed choice and bodily autonomy broadly. I am not speaking of reform I am rather seeking to secure an entering wedge, one that is takes mindful intention to the actual lives of those who are currently constrained and contained to the orders of their prescriptive treatments or simply the internalized oppression and desperate survival strategy of many of us successfully living in invisibility or rather relative system expiry.

      Moving forward,

      ***“mental health consumers movement” (which was always and remains a ruse designed to undermine the anti-psychiatry movement)…**

      It is unfair to say that it was and remains a ruse as they were quite clear in the time subsequent to their power grab, I want to point out that Judi Chamberlin (shame to her name), in particular did not shy away from this fact as she spoke fiercely and plainly against anti-psychiatry and repeatedly disavowed the movement in the course of her tenure and in the vein of justify and garnering support for the consumer movement which I guess decided that you have the right to choose but not the right to abstain in radical autonomy if that means other people can’t choose to play your bodily sovereignty in jeopardy by choosing to support reform.

      Just saying what may have felt like a ruse, in retrospect reads as a story of in-fighting wherein the victor so to speak made sure to nail the coffin shut on their adversary despite future casualties which unfortunately should have and initially may have existed as their most relevant ally and co-conspirator. At least that is how it comes across in the Academic literature, which is itself not adequately all encompassing but nevertheless plays the role of historic record for those learning about it from the position of institutional knowledge and that matters as their subsequent influence will undoubtedly be informed by it and what it informs is that some of us are more deserving of visibility and voice than other simultaneously revealing we take no hesitations when it comes to serving up our discontents to the slaughter.

      In any case it absolutely played into the division and disunity necessary to ensure a marginalized population would never begin to reach that of relevant constituency let alone fully recognized citizen because full stop if you have a psych diagnosis regardless of what you want to term your individual citizenry and human dignity are inherently under conditionality per the needs of carceral care. The dissolution of this comment thread and many other similar breakdowns in discourse have me fearing little has changed in terms of stalling out on semantics while the wheels of injustice reach warp speed.

      Which leads me to…

      ***Since 2016, SAMHSA, the large US mental health agency, has quietly supported this rise of Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) through two major grants impacting hundreds of American citizens, and this endorsement can carry a lot of weight throughout the nation.****

      This has not been quiet it has just been well organized and spectacularly executed by a dedicated group of friends and families in cohorts with the vested interests of pharma lobbies and gun rights advocates all working for their own best interest. (Much of it is even available for viewing on youtube). Meanwhile the rest of the relevant stakeholders (ie persons that have been psychiatrized) have been for whatever reason (I have my thoughts but that is a whole different aside) have been unable to successfully disrupt the process to the point that it is noted in testimony to no resolution (ie legislator where are the people with lived experience at this hearing, response: idk probably to sick or something did i mention they murdered this man’s wife, enter the widower and father of currently detained adult with SMI, rinse repeat from 2012-2016)

      If we’re keeping with the slickness of it all it would appear that those most impacted were robbed like a thief in the night if one considers what the “bipartisan” midnight signing of the 21st century cares act was and takes as a literal and metaphorical example the silent dismantling of lived experience stakeholder representation and fortification of medical-models of biologically based justifications that coercion tactics should remain paramount in many cases or all those if one is dealing with a serious and persistent matter.

      Unfortunately and fortunately there are hours upon hours of c-span congressional archives available to review to see that for the broader interests concerned this was done loudly and proudly and with ruthless disregard I’d even wager outright defiance for involving the population at hand. There are patent expirations and rebranding of Bluetooth trackable Abilify to give a little light on the name of just one vested interest in the hundreds of thousands of dollars that were spent on crafting the worst of the Murphy Bill into the bulwark of the Cures Act. The NRA did it’s due diligence in dollars too.

      The unmistakably loaded rhetoric of it all even made it into the annual c-span archive projects on footage from the time wherein the language used was coldly examined in terms of future retrospectives on languages used to effectively sensationalize and enliven the feeling of crisis at hand needed to ensure swift and speedy consensus.

      *As for SAMHSA, what the devil gives he takes away — why should we bargain with it in any form or take its money?*

      Considering the entry way to my rabbit hole was largely over how and why the Alternatives Conference unceremoniously stopped I’d tend to agree except for the caveat that if money is taken it should be done so strategically and with an eye to create community-level sustainability and development of space that intends to become financially independent.

      Best to do better with the money while it’s still around and it is ALWAYS in our interest to know with crystal clarity what money is being used to pollute or detoxify the services and systems of support that provide or at least attempt to provide life saving aid. I’m talking about food and housing and fellowship but then again this has always been an issue of anti-poverty and broader failure to unify under that banner is surely not helping the languishing levels of growing impoverishment. What’s more again circles back to the need for systematic and comprehensive organizing that can center around a goal for abolition (joining up with all other abolitionary groups) and then start to chip away at the reality at hand.

      • Hi Mad — We never resumed our email conversation. Let’s take some of this up there (at the group address) as I prefer not to splash what should be primarily internal survivor discussions all over MIA — especially as much of this can get pretty nuanced.

        As for “Alternatives” XX — let’s cut to the chase: who have the primary funding sources been for all this “free” money (aside from SAMHSA)? Who pulls the strings? (I stand by my characterization btw.)

        Btw the International Conference On Human Rights & Psychiatric Oppression also was funded entirely by the individuals and groups which attended. The last conference in Vermont was disrupted by at least one person I would describe as a provocateur (who later became a honcho in the “consumers’ rights” movement). This has been portrayed as “infighting,” but in retrospect can be seen as part of a premeditated assault on our integrity, motivated by our growing success.

  9. “empowered mental health consumers”

    I’m sorry, but this makes it abundantly clear we aren’t pitching for the same team.

    I’m an abolitionist. Psychiatry is a pseudoscience and tool of oppression. Promoting the notion of “empowered consumerism” is capitalist propaganda.

  10. I just visited the site of a new organization called MadFreedom founded by Wilda L. White, a fantastic leader in the psychiatric survivors movement. I highly encourage folks to read why she uses the term ‘mad’ in her own organizing work.

  11. SAMSHA has been a questionable agency since its inception. I choose to live, have no desperation to die and therefore I refuse to call my self “mad.” I think it was Shakespeare who gave the notion that there is a thin line between “madness” and “genius.” I barely made it through Shakespeare, fell asleep in art history, dropped chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and microbiology. I fell asleep in Psych 1, too. I failed geometry and had to take it in summer school. In statistics, I finally got a tutor. Such an awful student I was. So I can’t be mad according to Shakespeare’s definition. But, most importantly, according to me, I will never be mad and never was. Thank you.

  12. As you can see David, SAMSHA is quite MAD. Psychiatry is MAD. There is just absolutely NO WAY, to “work” with any psych related agencies. It is about power and money, nothing more.

    Really all labels are just psychiatry defining people as MAD. So might as well
    have the various labels pride month.

  13. The concept of “alternatives” itself is basically a scam which upholds the unwarranted legitimacy of psychiatry in the public mindset.

    This should not be a major leap of logic for those who understand what psychiatry is. But it seems to require an “aha” moment for many to grasp: that something which is designed as a tool of repression does not need an “alternative,” it just needs to be rooted out and excised.

    To say that anything which addresses true human needs in a positive manner is an “alternative to psychiatry,” which is inherently destructive and oppressive, is an absurd characterization.

    To say that the anti-psychiatry movement — which is designed to eliminate psychiatry — must simultaneously satisfy the needs that psychiatry falsely claims to satisfy is equally absurd. Only revolution can do that.

    This is not to say that people can’t explore ways of addressing their personal pain (as the system which creates it continues to grind on relentlessly and without serious challenge). But even were they to be successful these would not represent “alternatives to psychiatry” but temporary “band-aid” strategies to weather the ongoing assaults on their humanity. Psychiatry exists to reinforce disempowerment and alienation, and should be dismembered before it has another opportunity to rear its head. The last thing we need is an “alternative,” any more than we need “alternatives” to slavery or to drinking arsenic; we just need it to STOP.

  14. When I think of the idea of “mad pride” I am reminded that “pride goeth before the fall.” Psych survivors need to realize that this is something of which we cannot fall or rather fail. We must end psychiatry, etc. We can not let our pride get in the way or impede us from this goal. In order to do this, we can not revel in the falsehood of “mad pride.” We must remind ourselves of who we are. We are not mad, crazy, whacko, cuckoo, insane, psychiatrically disabled, mentally ill or any of those lies they have tried to ram down our throats through their drugs and therapizing. We have every right to be here, to live, to survive, to exist, to contribute, to be human. We are not defective or a fraction of a human or a sub-human or any such nonsense. And considering oneself “mad” as in “mad pride” lets them win. This is inexcusable. We must win; for we are not mere survivors; but we are warriors. We will not be silenced. We have goodness and righteousness on our side. So, please don’t slow us down by selling us the lie of “mad pride.” There is no pride in being mad; only sadness. Thank you.

  15. This will be my last comment as I do not believe Mad in America has any intention of ever addressing the concerns brought up by survivors ad nauseam in both its own publication and in these comments sections. I think this continued rehashing of the same stories of victim blaming and abuse by the psychiatric industry is disgraceful, and the encouragement of “mad pride” in those who have been subject to such has been a source of contention for at least 50 years, going back to the writings on women and madness by feminist authors Phyllis Chesler, Kate Millet, and Shulamith Firestone, among others. There is nothing that I have personally brought up that hasn’t been discussed and written about by feminist survivors for many decades now. It is time for this organization to take an actual stand that is clearly in line with the science against this system of harm. There is nothing left to rethink.

    The whole concept of ‘madness’ is more gaslighting and abuse and it doesn’t matter if it’s coming from professionals or survivors. But don’t take it from me. Generation after generation of feminist survivors have come to the same damn conclusions. There is a wonderful British radical feminist psychologist, Dr Jessica Taylor, who has been standing up for women and girls for years. This is from 2019!!

    https://victimfocusblog.com/2019/09/14/work-with-women-and-girls-its-time-to-reject-psychiatry/

    I’m done here and won’t return until there is a serious reckoning within this organization about its own complicity in this system of harm.

    • Completely agree with you KS.
      I have personally learned much from your comments, which
      have been as valuable or more so than many of the articles…
      but then of course I would not have benefitted if not for
      these articles 🙂
      I hope others get to hear or read your writings. Thanks
      for all the work you do.

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