Comments by David W. Oaks

Showing 81 of 81 comments.

  • Thank you Bob, for your very supportive words. My honor. As someone who is both a psychiatric survivor (such as forced drugging on the sharp end of the needle) AND ALSO a mental health consumer (such as my daring — gasp — to be in voluntary mutual support peer groups, as well as talking regularly with a wonderful counselor), this dialogue has convinced me to REDOUBLE my efforts to build bridges between psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers.

    There are so many misconceptions. For example, none of us is forcing or requiring anyone, anywhere to dialogue with us mental health consumers. In fact, a core belief is for CHOICE. Ironically, the last few days have had several dialogues to us mental health consumers.

    Mainly, Bob, I am supportive of wonderful allies, such as the late Loren Mosher who was a friend, psychiatrist, and dissident: He quit the APA with a famous letter.

    All this focus on “psychiatry” is a bit old fashioned. Today, the vast majority of psychiatric drugs are prescribed by general practitioners.

    I hope that supportive allies such as Benedetto feel welcome by us c/s human rights activists. And to repeat, absolutely no one is forcing anyone to be part of our international, 54 yr old, c/s movement.

    Moving from theory to reality: I just got a communication that a friend of mine, young, brilliant, standup comedian, is being forced to have powerful psychiatric drugs. He is asking for a Shield campaign for us all to reach decision-makers and pressure his captors for freedom. I have seen this approach work many times.

    I hope all of us that use social media, also take actual real action for human rights. Today my friend’s life and freedom may depend on that.

    Thanks again Bob!

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  • Of course I would never recommend any poison or quicksand. Actually, in my 47 years of work for human rights, I promote informed choice, rather than promote any specific approach. The peer support and counseling I use are definitely supportive of human rights.

    I think perhaps the real dividing line is being on the side of love or not. I have personally known hundreds of folks who have found all-too-rare humane and empowering alternatives, such as mutual peer support groups.

    One of the important goals for those who support human rights is to decide what specific laws they would like to pass against human rights violations and discrimination. When several consenting informed adults meet and exchange, voluntary support, that is their personal private right to do so.

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  • Of course I would never recommend any poison or quicksand. Actually, in my 47 years of work for human rights, I promote informed choice, rather than promote any specific approach. The peer support and counseling I use are definitely supportive of human rights.

    I think perhaps the real dividing line is being on the side of love or not. I have personally known hundreds of folks who have found all-too-rare humane and empowering alternatives, such as mutual peer support groups.

    One of the important goals for those who support human rights is to decide what specific laws they would like to pass against human rights violations and discrimination. When several consenting informed adults meet and exchange, voluntary support, that is their personal private right to do so.

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  • I am a survivor of brutal involuntary psych drugging, labeling, lock up, more. As a quad who experienced a serious fall and accident, I have also used empowering peer support and counselling. Still do. I am both a survivor and consumer. I am sorry you oppose absolutely all us consumers, 100%. Your approach to denounce huge groups is ineffective. I prefer effective, ethical approaches.

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  • Wow, Benedetto, grazie! I would love to hear comments from folks about any aspect, especially:

    Who are some of the other great allies? What makes a helpful ally? And how can we support more allies? Don’t we human rights activists love to turn the table on the industry, and encourage their own “Divide and Conquer”?

    What about the potential of the UN, WHO and CRPD?

    What suggestions do you have to unite our diverse movement?

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  • Rev. Barbara Meyers, thanks for posting this supportive comment. More than a decade ago, when I read materials produced by you, I very much enjoyed reading a sermon supportive of our MindFreedom campaign against involuntary electroshock over the expressed, clear wishes of the subject.

    Some readers may not know, that such atrocities are “legal” and practiced in the USA and many other nations. Forced shock in the US may be “rare,” but even one is too many. And some forced shock is court-ordered on an outpatient basis, incredibly.

    Bottom line, even folks in our field with very different experiences & perspectives can unite on many human rights issues. For years, I went to the Alternatives Conference. I only met one individual who opposed our human rights approach. But even he was actually very friendly and broke into tears with me at one point: The late Fred told me about how when he was in the institution he ALMOST got involuntary electroshock, and that still traumatized him.

    Thanks again for your unifying statement & you’re being so open to dialogue about unifying principles.

    While of course, all faiths & non-faiths are welcome to this work, I have very much appreciated being a Unitarian Universalist (UU) this past decade. Rev. Barbara is a key national UU leader on improving the lives of folks diagnosed with either mental or physical disabilities. Thanks!

    I own the kindle version of your recent book, Held, and I look forward to reading this soon.

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  • Frank, your support as a friend over the decades is so much appreciated, and more treasured than ever. Hope you are doing well. Yes, while I have definitely found some individuals members of NAMI to be supportive of human rights, because of their funding they have nationally (obviously) been very biased toward the dominant medical model. People should know it took a US Senate hearing to uncover the private fact that most of NAMI’s funding at that time was from Pharma.

    What I have found helpful in challenging that bias, is working with other marginalized communities. For example, many disability leaders understand the necessity of empowerment. After all, their main slogan is: Nothing about us without us! Yes, Mad Pride is different from, though allied with, other marginalized groups. But when cross-disability leaders support us, it really amplifies us. Though as I point out in the blog, unfortunately a few leaders do not “get it.”

    My wonderful wife, Debra, read your remarks here to me and she really really loved the idea that MAD stands for Magnificent And Dynamic. Perhaps others have supportive acronyms? Thanks again, let’s get more in touch soon. I love supporting activism in Florida. Even a few of us working together can make a big difference.

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  • My understanding is that one of the origins of “Mad Pride” is that several psychiatric survivors were watching a Gay Pride parade in London, and got inspired. Toronto also lit the spark. Yes, celebrating is a positive development, giving thanks for our differences that are often so positive in unexpected ways. In the spirit of choice, totally OK if someone chooses not to use the word “pride.” But, many folks in Gay Pride events and Mad Pride events do choose, and our movement celebrates choice!

    Thanks again.

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  • Thanks, Ron. Hope folks noticed in my blog that I credit your fascinating webinar on YouTube. I highly recommend that. There are no simple answers, but this helps us embrace the complexity of paradox.

    Your support for states of curiosity and wonder remind me of one of the most famous fictional characters in our field, Don Quixote. Certainly, he brought the old view with fresh eyes looking at the so-called modern world. One of the best books I’ve read on our topic is by feminist anthropologist Ann Goldberg, “Sex, Religion, and the Making of Modern Madness.” Wonderful perspective, and points to the value of inquiry and open dialogue when folks have challenges. I especially enjoyed the story about the mill owner who was going through extreme issues.

    Thanks for the “Midnight Clown” info. I have started to look at these links and seems helpful.

    I love that we are both in Eugene. We ought to have a chat with Chuck in our backyard while the weather is nice. Let us be in touch.

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  • Ian, working with you for years has been a real gift. It is wonderful that you support Mad Pride and Mad Pride Month. I’d like to draw attention to folks to check out your July Is Mad Pride Month page on Facebook:

    I hope you like and comment this page.

    Also, you encouraged me to work with you for a Reddit discussion page on Mad Pride. Reddit is very easy to join, and I hope folks have a great discussion there.

    It would be impossible for me to thank you enough, Ian, keep it up!

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  • Thanks much, Irit, for your comment and your decades of creative communication about our movement. Two quick replies:

    If you have a suggested name for our “movement,” wonderful… The reality is that we psychiatric survivors definitely do need bridges to the many folks who use the current mental health system. In fact, at the Alternatives Conference, which I have attended many times, I almost always found tremendous support for liberation and also a warmth and tolerance that was incredible. For me, the slash in consumer/survivor is a bridge. One may be one or the other, but we need to bridge.

    Second, I support both Mad Pride and Liberation!

    Forward to a global nonviolent revolution!

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  • My MIA blog inspired some folks to look into details. Here is one I have always been curious about: Were there really psychiatric survivors freed when the Bastille was stormed? Here is Jillian’s article:

    Actual Psychiatric Survivors Were Freed During the Storming of the Bastille!

    Remember James F.X. Whyte and Auguste-Claude Tavernier!

    By Jillian

    Although a powerful symbol, the Bastille in Paris wasn’t the functional center of state terror it had been in previous decades by the time French revolutionaries beset it, on 14 July 1789. Only seven prisoners were actually liberated from the Bastille. Two of these prisoners were described as “lunatics.” Their stories are interesting and informative from human rights and historical perspectives.

    One of the psychiatric prisoners freed that day is named by some as “James F.X. Whyte.” His full name is given several different ways, all very long:

    Jacques François Xavier Whyte or
    Seigneur De Malleville or
    James Francis Xavier Whyte

    He was a captain of the Irish Brigade in the French Army who apparently experienced a mental breakdown in 1781. His family had him declared insane and he was committed, eventually arriving at the Bastille in 1784. It is said he believed himself to be Julius Caesar, Saint Louis, or possibly both. After being freed subsequent to the events at the Bastille, he looted the home of one of his sympathizers and was then committed to the “lunatic asylum” at Charenton where he renewed his previous acquaintance with the Marquis de Sade.

    Whyte made quite an impression on observers. He dressed in a long red cape and had an unkempt white beard three feet long. His uncombed hair was similarly long, grown past his knees, and described as either divided into two parts or matted in a net. Whyte seems to have viewed people and events around him with perpetual curiosity, interest, and astonishment. Consistent with his reported belief that he was Julius Caesar, at times when Whyte was paraded through the streets as a “lunatic,” he waved to the crowds, thinking they were there to praise him.

    Auguste-Claude Tavernier was a different sort of man. In his youth, he fell out of favor with his family and was imprisoned at their request and expense for being lazy and making trouble (“excessive idleness and libertinage”). This state of affairs went on for some time, until a fellow inmate accused him of plotting to kill the King. The court case was complicated and was never actually resolved. At the age of sixty, he had spent most of his life in prison when he was suddenly liberated by the events of 14 July.

    Tavernier is described as both clever and “unstable,” although particulars of this instability were not easy to find. From the easily-available information, it simply seems his family found him embarrassing and there were credible but unproven accusations that he plotted against a widely unpopular King. Tavernier is said to have written some interesting things during his long incarceration, particularly regarding arbitrary imprisonment. After the storming of the Bastille, he was rounded up and sent to the asylum at Charenton along with Whyte. He was eventually released in 1795, but after that no mention of him is made again that I could find.

    For more information, here are some links:

    Origins and description of Whyte:

    Information on Bastille, Whyte, and Tavernier:
    A man’s brief article about Whyte, his distant relative:

    Artist’s fanciful portrayal of Tavernier:

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  • A few brief comments about facts & apparent mis-information in these comments, which has become unfortunately “normal” on the internet in general.

    1. Way back in 1976, I walked into my first radical psychiatric survivor meeting, Mental Patients Liberation Front. That is where I met my friend, the late author Judi Chamberlin. Certainly, some individuals had major differences of opinion, we all do. However, I have never ever seen Judi Chamberlin denounce the “anti-psychiatry movement.” If anyone can point to any reliable quote on the internet to back up such an outrageously false claim, please do so. It is sad to see an opportunity for discussion about SAMHSA’s failing, to defame this amazing activist. She and I may have differed, but Judi was super-duper amazing.

    2. During this discussion, the concept of “neurodiversity” was opposed. I do not understand the call for major change, while engaging in such minor, trivial reform as telling OTHER people what they should call themselves. Not only is that minor reform, it is absurdly irrelevant.

    3. Some individuals may choose to not use “alternatives” themselves. However, in a major international conference that was totally independently funded and included many psychiatric survivors, almost every single workshop was on the topic of humane, empowering alternatives. The reality is that many people want wonderful choices like humane respite, empowering peer support, and much more. This often takes money. My background is working class. Working people pay for the bulk of taxes and they want their tax money to go to positive programs, and in my mind the above “alternatives” are exactly the positive programs folks will some day WANT to fund as they become more informed.

    You know, this direction of discussion seems irrelevant. If folks have questions for me that are on topic, please email me at [email protected].

    And if anyone else sees obvious factual misinformation, let me know!

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  • During my 45 years of work as a psychiatric survivor human rights activist, I have been one of the main leaders to point out the problem with funding advocacy with government funds. I have worked very hard and publicly for independent funding for such activism. I am proud, even though it has been very challenging, to reach out for People Power and small foundation founding for advocacy groups.

    I am saddened that several individuals seem to think that I have crawled and begged for government funding. Where have you been for the past 45 years? What do I have to do to prove pursuing independence?

    That said, government is taxpayer money, produced often by hard-working people. That money ought to be funding positive alternatives for humane support. During the past few decades, a great deal has been accomplished by mental health consumers who have gotten federal and State money. Keep it up!

    The comment above calls for “exposing” oppression. That is what I have been doing about SAMHSA. I am not crawling to SAMHSA to ask for funds, I have been exposing oppression.

    That said, I think it is beautiful that so many empowered mental health consumers have been able to get funding for positive humane alternatives from federal and State governments.

    Back in 1985, I was not able to attend the final International Conference for Human Rights and Against Psychiatric Oppression, which was held in Vermont. For ten years, my friends who were also radical psychiatric survivors held these gatherings.

    Please note, that it was not the funding for the Alternatives Conference that same year that “ended” the International Conference.

    It was the incredible amount of infighting which I have personally witnessed for decades among us so-called radical psychiatric survivors.

    Above you asked: “Why on earth would the government ever support ending forced psychiatry?”

    Some day, we will WIN. There is a hopelessness in the above statement. I have seen taxpayer funding go to good activities. It is obviously true that there is an immense amount of oppression. But we will WIN.

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  • Thanks for continuing the dialogue, especially bringing up a problem beyond semantics: SAMHSA

    Two quick brief questions:

    1. By your definition of “normal” which I understand is expanded, is there anyone doing anything ever that is NOT normal?

    Unfortunately, since scientists have warned about the climate crisis, for instance, the last few decades it has been “normal” to actually increase global greenhouse gas emissions.

    So is anything NOT normal?

    2. Can you please tell us all about any currently-existing group that is in your view working well for human rights in mental health?

    Posting comments on websites does not count.


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  • Thanks for bringing up the 1982 Toronto “International Conference for Human Rights and Against Psychiatric Oppression.”

    By that time, I had already been in involved in our movement for about six years.

    As the name of our conference says, we focused on opposing involuntary, forced and tyrannical mental health.

    We organized in Toronto partly because the American Psychiatric Association was also meeting there, and we held a counter-conference.

    We also marched over to the APA to protest. I am proud that I am one of the organizers of perhaps the most protests of the APA by psychiatric survivors.

    When we arrived, I happily remembered that one of our members did a handstand in front of one of the doors to the conference. Another began doing a Tarot reading, by laying out a bunch of cards on the sidewalk. She happily announced to everyone in the crowd, “Justice is in the outcome position!”

    Yes, we focused on opposing oppression, tyranny, force.

    However, we also embraced life, enjoyed freedom, and liberty. We were far too busy to wave our fingers and scold folks for acting odd or being different. In fact, the whole idea is to be ourselves and experience freedom.

    By the way, you mentioned MindFreedom, and I helped co-found MindFreedom. I ran MFI as Executive Director for more than 25 years. The Executive Director who took my placer is a wonderful friend, Ron Bassman, who personally experienced involuntary shock as a young person.

    Please note that MindFreedom is spelled with a capital M and capital F. You spelled it with the lower-case F. In a way that is symbolic, because Freedom is key to our movement.

    Whole purpose of my blog was to challenge a major federal agency about their support for involuntary outpatient commitment. Rather than discuss that topic, there has mainly been a discussion here about the “proper” use of certain words. Let us get back to the topic at hand. A few of us are actually working on re-starting the International Conference, partly because we can now more easily do that using Facebook, Zoom, etc.

    If anyone will go to my “follow-up” blog about updates regarding the above, they will find a link to resources about MAD Pride. Folks will see that I am presenting on the birthday of my friend, the late Leonard Roy Frank. Leonard very much supported FREEDOM:

    The page about MAD Pride resources is here:

    One really fun and amazing aspect of embracing MAD Pride, is that folks who describe themselves as “normal” are often upset. Wow, must be so amazing to be “normal.” “Normal folks” seem to enjoy telling other people how to think, behave, what we can call ourselves, how we can act, what is correct, wow. So effing normal!

    My friend, the late John McArthy, poet from Ireland, frequently talked about the interesting feature of reality that there is a “Madness of normality and normality of madness.”

    Each of us as individuals can describe ourselves. But overall, I am actually calling ALL of humanity, 100%, by any accepted definition or non-accepted definition, MAD. To be human is to have strong feelings, passion, difference. Part of what is going on with the “medical model” is trying to medicalize simply being human.

    I appreciate that by my describing myself as MAD, I am apparently causing paraxisms of upset among some folks who think of themselves as “normal.”

    Yesterday, our MindFreedom Oregon group (capital F) had a special Zoom about MAD Pride. We may be small, but as our Principles say, what matters is embracing the truth of freedom.

    The link for our principles that helped write many decades ago is here:

    Please especially note these principles that talk about freedom & liberty:

    19. We believe that people should have the right to live in any manner or lifestyle they choose.
    24. We believe that so long as one individual’s freedom is unjustly restricted no one is truly free.
    28. We demand an end to involuntary psychiatric intervention.
    29. We demand individual liberty and social justice for everyone.
    30. We intend to make these words real and will not rest until we do.

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  • More than a decade ago, MindFreedom won campaigns about two other people in Minnesota getting forced outpatient electroshock, see:

    MF’s past involuntary outpatient shock campaigns in Minn. are described here:

    As well as Ray, there was Elizabeth Ellis, almost exactly ten years ago:

    MF won both campaigns, with support from many.

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  • Thanks for replying. Over the decades, many, many psychiatric survivor led groups have been pursuing the goal:

    “Most obviously, if forced intervention were outlawed the entire system would collapse forthwith. . .”

    Before she died, Bonnie Burstow gave a talk that I found very helpful. Yes, she identified as “anti-psychiatry” but she encouraged folks for the same goals working well and positively together. There may be major differences, but she hoped we would hear each other in a civil way.

    There are many groups against coerced mental health. Yes, achieving that goal will take a long time and a lot of strength, as you said. But the goal will be achieved.

    The reason I note there are many groups over the years for this goal, is that sometimes an individual may not perfectly fit with all the goals in the group, or feel they are missing some goals. But we can work together anyway.

    For example, this whole project here is called “Mad In America.” Mad. If a person feels that word is so terribly horribly negative, I am glad they will work together anyway.

    Thanks again for your thoughts!

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  • Thanks much for the wonderfully supportive statements and feelings! I very much appreciate it, especially the call for revolution!

    Especially since you are an Oregonian, I hope you email to our MindFreedom Oregon Affiliate, [email protected]. Then we will keep you informed about our monthly Zoom meeting each first Friday of the month at 2 pm PST.

    I am also on the board for Oregon Consumer/Survivor Coalition, and I have been talking with two board members about working together with MF-Oregon. I plan to be more in touch with OCSC, except for a few contacts, I have been out of touch for a while.

    Thanks again!

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  • Thanks. Over the decades, I have worked with many, many psychiatric survivors such as Leonard Roy Frank, who certainly wanted to eliminate all psychiatric oppression. About the issue of “abolishing,” the major questions I believe are two:

    1. Abolish WHAT exactly?

    2. Abolish it HOW exactly?

    Perhaps some examples?

    Every single psychiatric survivor I have known for decades who subscribes to the basic principles from the International Conference has certainly sought to abolish involuntary psychiatric procedures through legislation, etc.

    So aside from that, abolish what and how?

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  • Thanks, but perhaps my mentioning Amnesty International led to some confusion.

    Perhaps I might better have said, issuing human rights similar to many other human rights organizations.

    I was simply trying to communicate about the value of a good human rights alert. My blog should not be interpreted as an evaluation of any organization.

    People frequently ask about “wins” and this is a good question. There should be many, many more.

    One of my favorite was my activate to stop the forced outpatient electroshock of a person in Minnesota.

    To read about this campaign, which took many months, Google the following phrase:

    ray sanford forced electroshock mindfreedom

    Thanks again!

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  • Thanks. I have just spent more than four decades fighting:

    My forced psychiatric drug injections

    Harm caused by being corrosively lableled with the bipolar and Schizophrenic labels

    Fighting folks labeling others as “mentally ill” please Google my old essay: david w oaks let’s stop saying mental illness


    But thanks much for restating much of this to me.

    In the mean time, a few hours ago I very much enjoyed doing a Bed Push inspired by Mad Pride Seoul in Korea. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is mine.

    Thanks again!

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  • Thanks so much for being the first to comment with so many ideas!

    A few responses:

    I personally like affirming both Mad Pride and equality. Both.

    I hear you about not wanting to be in a Mad Pride event. By coincidence, I just was in such a event and loved it. We will get up the video as soon as possible.

    Sorry I did not emphasize the following, I thought everyone knew this, but I will say this clearly:

    Absolutely, positively no COERCED Mad Pride events. In fact, voluntary approaches are central to my values.

    If someone does not want to be in a Mad Pride event, please do not go.

    But, yes, we decide to do activities for ourselves, and I very much enjoy Mad Pride.

    By the way, I have spent more than 40 years fighting the harm of coerced psychiatric labeling.

    My realizing that the trauma of my severe accident led to stress that impacted my life was very real. We can all discuss the linguistics. It seems that many discussions in our difficult field often go back to the basics of language.

    If folks Googled this phrase they can read a popular essay I wrote some time ago:

    david w oaks let’s stop saying mental illness

    A key challenge is coercion, and uplifting the dominance of the medical model is counter productive.

    But if my trauma impacted my life, then by any name this is a trauma that impacted my life.

    Thanks again!

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  • Thanks, Rob Wipond, for addressing this unimaginably important & urgent topic. I appreciate his interview of me. So very glad to see a quick interest in dialogue on these comments. Good point, Ron Unger, that there can be unwell responses to the enormity of climate crisis. Personally, I have found a wide range of alternatives to support myself, and I would especially like to include nature (going out on 3-day fasts in Oregon wilderness, for example) and small peer group support. We need alternatives to look at the immensity of our challenges, and think/act creatively and helpfully. I look forward to reading other comments & questions by folks, and I hope to reply to some. By the way, Rob mentions my consulting. A plug, you can find that by directing your browser to: — Aciu! Institute, revolutionary consulting. And we on the West Coast of the USA as we peer at the dirty skies sure know we need a revolution for sure, soon.

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  • No, my immediately previous comment was not responding to anything from you. A comment talked about not identifying as a psych survivor with Mad Pride, etc. My reply is not “directed” at anyone. Each of us chooses our own path. But rather than hearing mainly what groups and folks NOT to align with, I am curious what groups, small or large, are recommended. I am honestly curious.

    Certainly we need lone wolves such as artists and writers. But if we mainly say NO to any group, are there any we say YES to?

    If not, what steps are recommended to create one?

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  • Thanks. Briefly, several of the comments from psych survivors, create a distance from the disability movement. But you see, many of the leading, wonderful thinkers in the disability movement challenge “labeling” in ways very similar to us: ultimately, labels of disability have a major part created by society.

    If someone in a wheelchair cannot enter a building with only stairs available, then is not the building itself “ramp disabled”? There is a lot more to say, but my main point is this:

    True social change movements need to link up with other justice movements for “one big movement.”

    Yes, even in the physical disability movement, each individual creates and chooses their own unique path. One person’s perspective on their own challenges, is very different from the next person.

    Empowerment, choice, human rights ought to unite us all. I am proud to be a psych survivor with Mad Pride and I am proud to be a quad with Dis Pride!

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  • Totally OK if any particular group does not float your boat. But I would ask a question: What group do you suggest folks become active with? What I have seen a lot in the USA is isolation, thinking that somehow as an individual we are going to change things. But the reality is it is often organized groups of folks that challenge problems and change them. I remember the old saying:

    Lead, follow, or get out of the way!

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  • Certainly, many folks who receive a psych diagnosis get this kind of slapped on us. We are often fraudulently told these labels are scientific. That happened to me. I well remember sitting face-to-face with a psychiatrist at McLean Psychiatric Hospital, and being told falsely that my label of “schizophrenia” meant a lifetime of psych drugs for chemical imbalance. Lie!

    But, some individuals, I do not know exactly how many, willingly accept nomenclature from the licensed pro about their challenges. Certainly, I have done this personally when I experienced severe PTSD after breaking my neck.

    Once again, the real issue is human rights. We need to focus on choice and empowerment. That is the real line between labeling and voluntary diagnosis.

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  • Thanks much for your feedback! First, in terms of accuracy, you use quote marks around the word “acceptable” but actually I never used the word “acceptable” in my blog. My point was that a disability leader falsely claimed that MindFreedom activists were pushing verbally for someone to quit their drugs, making him uncomfortable. They did not point to any evidence that this specific incident happened, it appears to be a misinterpretation.

    Honestly, of course, the vast majority of activists I know in the radical psychiatric survivor movement choose NOT to take psych drugs, and discussing the facts about those drugs can certainly lead some folks to decide not to take them.

    But this is not pushing, prodding, coercing anyone falsely to quit anything. To repeat, many people I know are comfortable in our movement and choose to take psych drugs.

    Quick ending story: Preparing for the MindFreedom hunger strike, we had a long dinner and at the end someone proposed “hugs not drugs” as a motto. All over the table were empty bottles and glasses from our enjoying various beverages. I think we need to refocus more than ever on the human rights aspects. If someone personally decides to take a prescribed substance, that is their personal and private right.

    We all can get out the word about difficulties with these substances, we can promote alternatives, but we should be careful not to push, prod, shame.

    Again, I have seen CHOICE emphasized over and over in our movement. Yes, a few folks do push, prod, shame others… But overall, folks in our movement have been very tolerant of a wide spread diversity in belief systems.

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  • For the past few months, I have been on several teleconferences by MindFreedom International to help retool their Shield campaign. Any day now, MindFreedom will probably be announcing changes. I do not know exactly when, I recommend watching their website and Facebook page.

    The new Shield campaign will investigate and put out alerts to support folks who report involuntary psych procedures. Plus, there will be a great new patch with a unique design to celebrate this campaign.

    All of this is for anyone, whether or not they are a member of MindFreedom, but I highly recommend that folks be current members. Just go to their website and click on “Donate.”

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  • Thanks, aciu for feedback. Yes, I very much enjoyed being on both panels for the virtual screening of Piss On Pity. In fact, my watching this flick for a second time to be ready helped inspire my recent blog on Mad In America about Mad Pride disability.

    The web stream of the doc and panels was 3 days before the blog was published by MIA.

    Folks who missed the showing can rent Piss On Pity which you can read about on their website here:

    I rented the flick on Vimeo.

    Another great flick on the disability movement, that just came out recently, is Crip Camp which I highly recommend and is on Netflix.

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  • Thanks, aciu for our feedback. You have been a contributor to Mad In America, for years and your help creating a vibrant community is appreciated. Three quick comments:

    1) I am a psychiatric survivor and I identify as “mad” and having “mad pride” and our community is indeed “special.” Sorry to disagree with you, but to disagree in a civil way is just fine.

    2) You endorse anti-psychiatry abolition. OK, but how? I see many paths. But certainly outlawing two individuals getting together, one who calls themselves a patient and one who calls themselves a therapist, would be absurd. Even voluntary bondage in sexual privacy is fine. So exactly what is the path to this “abolition”? Law?

    3) You are correct, my brief blog did not include “capitalism” and now I have brought up the topic. By the way, I would maintain that human challenges begin far, far before capitalism. There are other difficulties in the world, it ain’t that simple.

    Thanks again!

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  • Welcome home! Aciu for your feedback. My one reply is that the “movement” can feel like one person at times. We can then feel the ups and downs of relating to one person. But the reality and truth are that literally millions and millions of people are critical of our mental health system, and seek far deeper and empowering, humane approaches. Of course many do not even know each other.

    In other words, even though you may be disappointed by some people in the movement, please remember that this is a huge movement.

    A while back, someone lamented that we did not seem to be accomplishing much. I recalled an individual who was spared forced shock because our movement swung into action. Certainly for that single individual, our movement helped so much.

    Stay involved, and there are plenty of folks to interact with “in the shadows” outside of the spotlight. All approaches are needed!

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  • I was very sad to hear about the death of Bonnie Burstow. Fittingly, this important news was shared with several of us during a psychiatric survivor strategy planning meeting to defend human rights. I just read the essay by my friend Don Weitz, tremendous. I am so grateful that Bonnie and our movement has the friendship and support of this courageous psychiatric survivor, Don. Bonnie and Don created quite a team for activism, writing and perseverance for decades.

    The main opportunity I had to know and work with Bonnie face-to-face is when the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) organized the 2010 PsychOUT: An International Conference for Organizing Resistance Against Psychiatry. Certainly, the leadership and call-to-action by Bonnie were felt by many by me and I am sure all of those present and impacted.

    Several times I have remembered and repeated to folks a key point that I heard from a keynote by Bonnie there. I do not have the exact words, but the lesson I recall for us all is that it is very okay to have a very strong position and share that with others. Expressing your vision, even if different from others, is not coercive, and should be heard peaceably, even if radically different from others.

    Yes, Bonnie, you spoke out for “antipsychiatry” even though others do not. I have used the phrase “human rights activist” rather than “antipsychiatry.” But you, Bonnie, made several important values clear when you spoke about this topic: We are all called to contemplate this principle in how we relate to this dream. Also, even if folks have a different point of view, and of course there are many, there are often civil and unifying ways to discuss these differences.

    This may seem like an obvious value. But hearing Bonnie express this to our gathering in Toronto was powerful and memorable.

    I have many other treasured memories of Bonnie from that event, such as getting to know her complex personality more at a restaurant, and certainly protesting electroshock with many others at an outdoor park/government building location.

    Bonnie, thank you so very much for genuinely and strongly taking clever, beautiful, uplifting actions that supported our difficult movement and so many psychiatric survivors internationally. Thanks thanks thanks!

    And to Don and the many who loved Bonnie, I offer my deepest support. Revolution!

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  • Thanks, Sarah! A few years ago, I was very moved when I first found out about the skyrocketing suicide rate among India farmers because of extreme climate changes. In a way, humanity on Earth is generally speaking suicidal because of the way we have procrastinated too much about the climate catastrophe.

    Please note everyone that I found out about Sarah’s important piece because of the following Facebook group: Unitarian Universalists for Mental Health Justice. If anyone is interested in this open group, you can find it on Facebook at this name: “UU Mental Health Justice.”

    Sarah, your speaking out as a survivor helps get this conversation going, we appreciate that!

    In terms of stressors, it is amazing how negative aspects of the mental health industry match factors that push suicide such as hopelessness, isolation, etc. Survivors speaking out is a potential antidote. I hope others speak out too!

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  • SAMHSA program is four years long. We all need to ask Professor Saks, exactly how long is this “first shot”? Even a first involuntary shot is of course wrong, but the duration of this “first” is very up in the air.

    Please note that when Walter Freeman in the 1950’s gave tens of thousands of lobotomies, a few recipients were grateful and even sent him fan letters and gifts. Some even had a second lobotomy. Really.

    Just because some folks are so pressured does not mean that others should lose their rights! I was forcibly drugged, and I am still not grateful about 40 years later.

    Thanks, everyone for this interesting discussion.

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  • “And let’s not talk about ‘morality'” Really? Truly?

    In terms of “weaponizing” language, as a quad in a powerchair I guess I should be kind of honored to be falsely accused of violence, however as a psychiatric survivor for the past few decades I can tell you that a lot of us are falsely accused of violence. Fact is, I do not support violence. Also, I do not use psychiatric language such as “disorder” or the common phrase “mentally ill” even though a few folks elsewhere have complained about my use of that phrase… I do not use that phrase “mentally ill” because medicalizing mental health labels gives the industry more power.

    Just trying to silence the general public of the world as we look at President Trump and see obvious, undeniable, repeated moral and mental and emotional problems, seems to fly in the face of community organizing strategy. For decades I have seen a few of the groups in our mental health field tell the public they cannot use words ever, ever, ever such as: Nuts, cuckoo, crazy, mad, bonkers, etc.

    My feeling has always been that such shushing is the opposite of what we need. It is fine and dandy to have a crazy shirt, to be crazy in love. There is a whole website that uses the phrase “Mad in America” and this movement calls itself the Mad Movement.

    Should we instead call ourselves the normality movement? Is that the goal of recovery? To recover normal?

    Fact: President Trump has severe mental and emotional problems. Now, if someone wants to debate me about that particular sentence, without making up falsehoods about using the phrase “mentally ill,” without any psychiatric language at all, try and do it.

    And, yes I will continue to talk about “morality” and to try to prevent anyone from talking about “morality” is an example of very challenging community organizing.

    I am proud to think outside the box of normality, and there are millions of us, both labeled and not labeled, who are proud to think outside the box of normality. All of us are always “mad” if that word is used at all.

    The President could easily be a more difficult opponent, by hiding his challenges with false language. For example, he could pretend to be rational about the climate crisis, while doing nothing. I am not saying this pretend sanity is better.

    On the other hand, I could very easily imagine a President who obviously thinks outside of the box in a positive way: Perhaps she might wear bizarre clothing, talk now and again in riddles, discuss challenges she has had. Nothing wrong with that, in fact this would make her far more human.

    For another third time, or fourth time, all of us are always mad all the time. The choice is what kind of mad. I am the kind of mad that will continue to talk about morality.

    If anyone says I should be silent, if anyone claims my reasonable points are “weapons,” then may I ask questions? What about you right now, this moment? It seems to me this attempt at silencing is kind of a pretend “normality,” am I correct? Right now are you “mad” or so-called “normal”? And I mean that question with respect, I would never accuse someone of exercising free speech to make reasonable points as “weaponizing,” I am just asking a question. Are you “mad” or do you think you are “normal”?

    Right now?

    Thanks, everyone, for contributing to this fascinating and I hope ongoing dialogue. It is OK to have differences of opinions and discuss this difference in a mutually respectful way.

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  • Thanks Ron, you are a thoughtful and caring person. There is a very good point of concern that calling anyone a name, anyone, does not truly help them. The peace movement has long warned us all that the ends and the means are connected.

    I note that some folks have used words on Mad in America discussions in the last few days calling Trump the following: clown, buffoon, asshole, motherfucker.

    Perhaps it might help to think of this dangerous president for a moment as a troubled relative or friend. Many of us have family members who actually support Trump, or deny climate crisis. How should each of us feel with a troubled relative or friend? However, calling for silence about the mental and emotional state of Trump is a surprisingly-futile and odd request. Much of the whole world knows that he has overwhelming challenges. Perhaps some other politicians hide them better, but the public resonates generally with understanding that Trump has mental and emotional problems that threaten us all.

    As a psychiatric survivor myself, I see breaking the silence about truth to be part of Mad Pride. Yes, let us do this in as peaceful ways as possible, but really is this silence a top priority for our movement? For decades I have seen hundreds of great psychiatric survivors doing great projects, but funded by the mental health system on a state and national level.

    The chickens are coming home to roost on this, with Trump’s mental health czar, and many other examples. I will end by pointing out that the moment witch-burning in the USA became unpopular, was when the young accusers began to point their fingers at judges!

    Fingers may not always be pointed correctly, but let us not be the movement of wagging fingers of shame at folks who are pointing out the obvious.

    I am proud to have Mad Pride and pursue “positive craziness.” Thanks again for advancing a respectful dialogue. Let us continue to show that is okay to disagree and chat about that. After all, that is part of mental wellness right?

    Psychiatric survivor, David

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  • Thanks, Frank, you are a great friend and I miss you. It is okay to talk about issues such as the mental and emotional problems in the White House. My friend Patch Adams, MD, by coincidence, wrote me a little message that arrived just now. I will blog about this later, but we need to howl at so-called normality! Peace to you, the President and everyone who reads this. Patch is a psychiatric survivor, who is not normal and would be a far better President than Trump! It is not the craziness, we are all crazy, it is the kind of craziness. Thanks for your Positive Craziness!

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  • Thanks for your comment. And I appreciate being thought of as “enlightened.” The name of this website is “Mad in America” and many of us bloggers refer to the “Mad Movement” and even “Mad Pride.” Yes, of course we do see that vulnerable folks can be hurt and seek a solution that our society may call mad. If we use that phrase at all, may I ask a question? What about the individual standing on a ledge threatening to jump to their death many stories below. It is interesting to me that we collectively can view that individual as “mad.” But what about the presidential figure who obviously lies every day, denies a reality that hurts their own family and kids, obviously is not in touch with reality. Yes, if we use the phrase “mad” at all in any sense that is commonly accepted, I do believe that 100% of everyone all the time matches that criteria. We need to educate society that we are the 100%. We had better educate quickly, because our society is standing on the edge of a ledge right now. Thanks again, I look forward to other comments. There is no easy answer but we sure need to address climate crisis throughout our world, and I would like to see global revolution. Sounds like you agree with that, and I think many readers do. How do we make that more likely? How would the year 2192 hear us?

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  • As well as to my 2 US Senators for Oregon, I have sent a copy of the below message to several Senators in the HELP Committee who might be interested, such as Senators Sanders, Franken, Warren and Paul:

    As a member of the HELP Committee you are being asked right now to examine a President Trump appointee to a powerful new mental health position. The questions being proposed have been fairly easy.

    For the past 40 years I have worked on human rights and mental health. My blog entry about 9 questions for the HELP Committee to ask right now is urgent! Here is the brief essay, broadcast by a popular website:

    Next week should be interesting, perhaps revolutionary, for those of us who care about human rights, disability and mental health. I heard from leaders at the National Council for Independent Living (NCIL) that the US Senate HELP Committee will be quizzing Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz, the psychiatrist appointed by President Trump to a powerful new mental health position in the federal government.

    This new job is commonly now known as “Mental Health Czar” — if you are new to this little-known controversy, see my blog from a few weeks ago.

    9 Questions that Should Be Asked that Haven’t Been

    Technically, Dr. McCance-Katz is being recommended by Pres. Trump to be Assistant Secretary for the huge US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). Mental health agencies are mainly asking about her positions regarding “recovery” and “peers,” important topics for sure, but here are some tougher questions:

    Do you support or oppose SAMHSA Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), such as court-ordered coerced psychiatric drugging? (Yes, in the last few years, some of your US taxpayer millions have gone to support court-ordered psychiatric procedures, mainly to enforce involuntary drugging. This has been done for decades by laws changing quietly on the state level. Now your US federal government has thrown its weight behind this atrocity.)
    If you do support this, then about how many more million Americans do you feel should get court-ordered drugging? (Fanatics for IOC, which they call Assisted Treatment to hide what it really does, are a bit shy about the number of Americans they would like to see involuntarily drugged.)
    Do you endorse the current use of federal money for IOC? (Let us hear about how many millions have already been spent by federal agencies to promote IOC. Easy enough to find out. How many more millions are planned for, how many more millions would Dr. McCance-Katz want?)
    Do you admit that court-ordered involuntary electroshock on an outpatient basis can be done? (Find this incredible? Very occasionally, on the state level, IOC has reached the bizarre extreme of court-ordered involuntary outpatient electroshock, where the subject has to report regularly to a local hospital for another forced outpatient electroshock or face re-institutionalization. For more proof, use your web search engine for these phrases: ray sandford electroshock, elizabeth ellis electroshock. An attorney confirmed federal support for IOC could conceivably mean more forced outpatient electroshock. Even one more American forced shock is wrong. Outpatient forced shock is horrible. So is inpatient forced shock, which has gone on continuously in the USA and most countries for decades, including now!)
    What is the long-term impact of psychiatric drugs?
    Did you know that neuroleptic psychiatric drugs, commonly called antipsychotics, are often used during IOC?
    Did you know that infants and children in the USA and globally are given off-label neuroleptics?
    Did you know that these drugs are well known to cause brain damage, such as tardive dyskinesia (easily viewed on Youtube) or an actual lobotomy effect, shrinking the frontal lobes?
    Why aren’t non-drug alternatives offered to Americans, including the millions of vets?
    And many other questions!

    You may suggest more questions here in the comment section. My last blog about this topic led to a flurry of predictable controversy about Hillary vs. Trump vs. whoever. But this is far deeper than who is in the White House. Whether it is Vice Pres. Pence or Barack Obama, the signer of the 21st Century Cures Act (one of his last acts as President), can we discuss that later?

    Whether you are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian (which has had a plank for years against government-forced psychiatry, of course), a Berniecrat, Green, whatever, okay. For more than 40 years I have worked for human rights and mental health. I have seen Americans and people from other countries of all political stripes speak up. For example, we psychiatric survivors warned about the undue power of the drug industry to SAMHSA, in 2010.

    Come on, especially we who are survivors of psychiatric coercion! Let us have a revolution. Certainly no one can stop us from speaking up with the truth!

    Mad with the truth!

    Speak out against this violation, speak out for freedom!

    NCIL is holding their annual conference during this same week that the US Senate should be asking tough questions. NCIL’s theme is Revolution.

    The last time I was able to attend this great conference, I heard one of the last speeches from my late, departed friend Justin Dart, Jr., known as the father of the ADA. Justin called for revolution, and both he and his amazing widow have known that psychiatric survivors tend to have the fire in our bellies for freedom, love, and revolution!

    Lead on!

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  • Reaching your US Senators to oppose this nomination is easy but very urgent!

    1. If you do not know who your two US Senators are or how to reach them, go here:

    2. Send a web note to each Senator, it takes just a moment: “I oppose the Trump nomination for the new, powerful mental health position, Assistant Secretary to SAMSHA. The US Senate HELP Committee is supposed to ask psychiatrist Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz questions, here are 9:

    3.Add your own questions, if any. Copy and post your message, so we all know you speak out for human rights!

    4. If your US Senator is on the Senate HELP (Health Education Labor Pensions) Committee, you have extra weight. The list of members is here:

    5. For extra, phone up your US Senators. They have both local and D.C. offices. Get to know the staff people who work on health by their first name.

    6. Spread the word via email, FB, comments on blogs, Twitter, etc.

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  • Please note that I have never used the phrase “mentally ill” for the duration of my many decades in this field. In fact, one of my most popular essays is on this topic. Please direct your search engine to this phrase:

    david w oaks says stop saying mentally ill

    That search should lead you to my essay against saying the phase “mentally ill.” I wrote this years ago, and folks seem to like it. If anyone has feedback about it, let me know. I may do a revision, but I still very much oppose using this phrase.

    Also, I was one of the hunger strikers that demanded that the mental health industry stop lying to us about this phrase, search:

    mindfreedom hunger strike

    Yet, I had just a moment this morning, but in one of the comments to my new blog entry that claims that I called our President “mentally ill.”


    I assume everyone, including everybody who comments, is deep down a wonderful, loving, beautiful, fantastic being! But as a wise person once said, “Answer falsehood with truth.”

    I have not called anyone “mentally ill.”

    In terms of logic, debate and rationality, saying that I called anyone “mentally ill” and then arguing with that point is called a “straw man” argument. Fascinating discussion, but let us focus on liberty.

    For more than 40 years I have watched amazing, authentic, loving, brave Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Berniecrats, Trump-lovers, yes even Scientologists, and even folks wearing Guy Fawkes masks in Anonymous, even some Unitarians (I am UU), speak out and stand up for Free Speech, for human rights, for the First Amendment! I have watched spectacular folks in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa stand up to the bullying by the mental health industry and psychiatry.

    Yes, I wish it was a much larger number of allies.

    My point is, I have seen Freedom Lovers of all sizes, shapes and varieties.

    If folks want to argue politics, this is not ideal. But if anyone wants to, please be accurate.

    My Dad was in D-Day (day 5, MP). I do not recall people asking each other if they were Republicans or Democrats as they charged the beach, ran up the hills into machine gun nests, faced off with machine guns, and then headed to Berlin.

    Oh, there were mistakes, in fact some repeated mistakes. Plenty of decades to think about that. During D-Day, the focus was remarkable.

    Yesterday, July 7, 2017 was the first day of “Creative Maladjustment Week.” This celebration was created by MindFreedom to honor the idea that was first championed by MLK.

    The theme yesterday was “Creativity.”

    How do we re-ignite this very important social change movement?

    Instead of our movement dividing along political lines, we should unite for freedom.

    Groups promoting forced drugging should have a little discussion about divisions between Libertarians, Big Government, Small Government, Christianity, science, etc. etc.

    Everyone, reach out to the US Senate! Americans, we each have two Senators, please post a copy of your message to your US Senator here on this Mad in America blog, my blog comments, facebook, anywhere.

    Please ask everyone for a copy of their message.

    Outside the USA, you can ask the World Health Organization in Geneva to speak out.

    Keep your eyes on the prize!

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  • Thanks. I remember a few years ago, Bonnie, when you encouraged those of us attending a Toronto conference to hear each other without necessarily feeling that we had to convert each other. That helped us listen to the real diversity at that event, including those who called themselves ‘anti-psychiatry’. I assume this piece is along the same lines, and I hope to read it soon. In the meantime, I know there were some folks eager to post comments, and posting to a 2017 article should be more doable than to an older piece, which tends to have closed comments. So you may get some more comments here before the individual reads the whole piece. As I said, I will strive to do that soon.

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  • Thanks for the comments, please keep up the feedback, I try to read the main idea of every post. Yes, let us USA folks contact our US Senators. Win or lose, here is a chance to communicate on these issues. I am also calling my congressperson, Rep. Peter DeFazio, to ask their help in reaching our US Senators. And yes, Peter is a Democrat and he helped the Murphy Bill through, as one of the many co-sponsors, so both Democrats and Republicans need information about this industry. Note that one of Oregon’s US Senators, Ron Wyden, lost his only sibling a number of years ago, Jeff Wyden, who experienced involuntary shock and psych drugs. Let us all speak up, because this repression impacts everyone. If society had more free thought, perhaps it would produce alternatives to carbon pollution more quickly: Nonviolent revolution! Now!

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  • Thanks for the round of applause, Dr. Steingard. I have been reflecting a great deal about our 40th reunion at Harvard. Yes, a few very minor corrections, but important to me: I co-created MindFreedom, there were a bunch of other folks. Also, please note there is no space between “Mind” and “Freedom” which can be read metaphorically.

    But mainly I do very much appreciate the encouragement. Yes, I do focus more on the environment, and this is because I seriously am exploring how to support nonviolent revolution. I have spent my career on the first amendment, but if this one doesn’t work I do believe there are some people working somewhere on the second amendment. I would prefer to launch the revolution via the first amendment, if at all possible. Please note that my reference to the second amendment is general, and I have no specific info about people and their guns. However, I will note that one of the popular songs on YouTube features African-American singers who dance to the song, “You Better Run, We Got the Guillotine!”

    Seriously, back at Harvard I experienced being locked into a psychiatric facility about five times. I am proud that I decided to throw my lot into the under class and marginalized groups of those of us considered “psychotic.” This is a very challenging closet to come out of!

    I used to blog at Mad in America, and many of the bloggers are friends. However, because of my interests I have needed to suspend submitting blogs there. I do not have time right now to explain, however, a root for my decision is because of my concern about religious discrimination. I am a Unitarian Universalist, so I tend not to experience a lot of prejudice. However, there are some individuals who may experience discrimination here who follow excluded, minority religions. Again, I do not have time at the moment to adequately explain my concerns, but I will note that I encourage dialogue about this and other topics.

    In the meantime please find my blog by googling the phrase, I like to use Search Engine Term Inquities or SETI rather than URL’s: david w oaks blog

    Thanks again for the support. I would like to be there in Cambridge for our 40th, but that would take bringing into the 1% and/or getting a camera onto a drone I guess during the ceremonies.

    In the meantime, thanks to Phillips Brooks House, as you probably know they have helped place many interns, and their placement of me in my senior year led to my career, they have posted a brief summary of that a few years ago.

    You or others who are supportive, or just want to have dialogue, are encouraged to contact me via email at [email protected] or via Facebook (which is a bit less reliable).

    I would like to read your whole column and reflect on this, which I hope to do very soon.

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  • Thanks, for many decades I have been saying that we need quality “revolution” in mental health, and it fact the whole planet. For one thing, the mental health industry has grown via a cycle of having catastrophes and then reform. The mental health industry eats reform and grows and grows.

    Briefly, we must also consider the way our world is not responding adequately to emergencies such as climate change. It takes decades for excess carbon to impact our environment. And because of this delay the public needs to use our minds to understand the threat. Also, the butterfly effect means that once we enter chaos, there is a great deal of uncertainty about exact outcomes.

    Therefore, we certainly need quality revolution on a planetary scale. Unfortunately, centuries of mental health oppression has helped harm the human spirit into the death of conformity.

    Thanks again for calling revolution!

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  • Thanks everyone who commented. I note there was a concern that my talking about MLK, the Pope, etc. that I am for mild reform. However, one of the reasons I have used the word “revolution” is to move beyond reform. My mentioning people like Ike is of course not to imply at all about them being ideal, yes of course our nation has had huge problems about imperialism, however I do think it was a good idea to defeat Hitler and many people agree. Thanks again.

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  • Thanks, these are good ideas! I like the idea of asking a Vermont activist. I used my search engine and found contact info for one. Will you please email to me at [email protected] and I will include you in the email exchange, if one develops. Since my major fall, I am moving much more slowly, so I am a bit surprised that this info is not out there. Maybe it is? Someone in Vermont must have asked Bernie and his staff where they stand on some of these issues? I asked one contact a few weeks ago and got nowhere. I will also ask on the FB page to stop the Murphy bill.

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  • Thanks for the quick replies from many folks to this blog! Presidential politics can heighten interest, this particular primary is getting a lot of attention, plus it is curious what each of the mainstream candidates thinks about forced psych drugging, outpatient coercion, and the Murphy bill.

    I would remind everyone that we need to stay civil with each other. It is totally okay to very much disagree with each other. But if anyone goes after the motives of anyone else, I need to ask them: Is there some kind of crystal ball into the inner soul of anyone? If not, then please keep comments to civility about differences, facts with evidence, etc.

    Last night I saw a rather fascinating documentary about low-level mind control, compared to forced drugging, but even low-level is bad. I saw “The Brainwashing of My Dad” last night. Frankly, I feel like we need to be careful about talking about our opposites politically. After all, even though some folks have tried to pigeon-hole me as left-wing, I have often seen folks considered libertarian or right-wing do some great stuff in the field of human rights in mental health.

    Yes, our issue can be overwhelming. But, a silver lining is that people for us, such as opposing forced outpatient psychiatry including electroshock, can be from all political stripes. On good days, our topic can be an amazing unify-er.

    With that, here is the URL to hear more about the documentary, and watch the trailer. I have seen a great group divided when one of their key people went extreme and negative because of this problem. The website is here, even if you are right-wing please give this a chance (after all, even right-wing people have expressed very honest and positive concern about the extreme bigotry and irrationality displayed by Donald Trump recently):

    Again, please view this by still respecting folks on the other side of politics. Remember, in the past few years some of the best fighters on childhood psych drugs has been so-called right-wingers. The Libertarian Party and the Green Party are some of the few parties that have ever had official planks in their platform in recent years for our folks!

    Please focus on uniting! I agree with Micah White, PhD, who helped start Occupy, that we need innovative right-wing/left-wing unity right now! Yes, that might be surprising but to have a real global revolution we need both right-wing and left-wing and libertarian. When my dad went to Normandy on day five of D-Day, no one asked soldiers charging Nazis if they were Democrats or Republicans or anything. They just ran up the hills at great personal sacrifice, and won!

    Now, we need something many times bigger than D-Day, and global.

    You can read about the unique and refreshing views of Micah here:

    Please tell people you trust about this!

    Yes, in a few weeks I intend to announce that I am running as a write-in in November to symbolically challenge my friend Rep. Pete Defazio, unless he wakes up and opposes the Murphy bill! Surprising? The element of surprise is something we often have. When we are not quite considered human, in a way we have a shield of invisibility, and that often means surprise!

    AdBusters, which Micah used to work for and which launched Occupy, once did a special issue about Mad Pride. They called MindFreedom the epicenter of the Mad Movement! Micah now lives in Oregon near the coast. He knows that I am in his corner. Yes, I hope folks reading this will also be in our corner, both right-wing, left-wing, and all kinds of wings. Let us unify for global peaceful revolution! Even the Pope is calling for that!

    Millions of us in the world are calling for that! We might not win, but we can make the fact that we are trying undeniable!

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  • Thanks, but by the end of my blog I was precisely talking about looking at more important topics than Trump. I do think we must do a one-time good response to people who promote fascism and torture, which Trump has done. Thankfully the people in D-Day did not “ignore” Hitler, and I am only bringing this up because it is not always obvious who to ignore, I am not saying that Trump is the same as Hitler. Bottom line, is that some advise zero attention to Trump and others advise very little attention to Trump. That is does not seem like a big distinction. Frankly, I kind of wish to ignore the whole topic of choosing the amount of de-emphasis!

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  • Thanks, I try to like everyone. I do not have time at the moment for lengthy and back-and-forth on complex topics. Since I, like the vast majority of Americans, am for both gun rights and safety, this would take more than bumper sticker to discuss. I will say that some of the folks pushing hard for absolutely zero regulation, are actually for some obvious regulation. For example, many are for regulating improvised explosive devices and shoulder launched heat seeking missiles that could knock out a plane. They just want to be the ones to decide where the line should be drawn. I believe we, the people, in a democracy should decide where that line is drawn. The two words missing from “nuts for guns” tends to be the words “well regulated” in the Second Amendment which reads: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

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  • Thanks for the remarks from several folks. About my listing of groups that are resisting the Murphy Bill: in no way was I trying to create a comprehensive list! At one point I do note that all, repeat all, of the groups led by people who have been through the mental health system are opposed to the bill, as far as I know. The lack of dialogue between Murphy and such groups is part of the problem, and this lack of dialogue has always been a problem with the psychiatric industry. However, it is very revealing to me that for years I have noted that survivors of sexual abuse by the catholic church have several groups that bring them together, as far as I know fairly effectively and powerfully. However, while mental health consumers have a few groups, organizations specifically set up for psychiatric survivors are difficult to find. MindFreedom is great but our goal has always been to unite a large diversity of groups with psychiatric survivors. There was in the USA a National Association of Psychiatric Survivors run by the late Rae Unzicker, however it only lasted a few years. Solidarity, unity and skill are needed to unite and maintain a group. It is not too late and I really think we need a major international group by and for psychiatric survivors. I realize there is a World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, I have not been in touch with them for a while. As great as it is that users and survivors have such a group, I see a need for groups that are focused on survivors of human rights violations by the mental health industry. Thanks again!

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  • Thanks to everyone who read this blog entry about mental health activism, revolution and climate justice. This has led to a bunch of great discussions, including a comment today! Yes, of course I very much agree that there are special interests who have a bizarre amount of influence compared to their numbers. However, what Kari is talking about, I think, is something far bigger and more general. Her book about Norway discusses the fact that this fairly-progressive country gets one heck of a lot of money from their extraction of carbon fuels. Rather than giving the lions share to a very few people as in some poorer countries, my understanding is that Norway spreads around this good financial fortune among its citizens. As with anything, no doubt there are imperfections, but from what I have read the citizens of Norway are fairly prosperous and a bunch of their wealth comes from selling fuel. This more general corruption plays a role in the silence about climate crisis, compared to the outcry and activism that ought to happen right now. In other words, while we might blame Rush here in the USA, this book is really not about him and folks like him. The book and work that Kari does is much more about everyone, me included. I have heard a prominent leader in climate justice who is also an author say that we are all in denial. That sounds much closer to Kari’s analysis, though of course the elite undue influence is an enormous problem. I believe that if we the people really flexed our collective muscles, we would see that we are far more powerful than the Rush’s of the world, and we would instead focus on the emergency task right now of creating a revolution of empowerment, and addressing the climate crisis as if life itself might be at stake.

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  • Thanks for this dialogue. I encourage others to add their voices!
    Because of this discussion I have visited the websites for two fascinating centers over in the UK:
    1. Here is their info from the about section:
    An existential risk is one that threatens the existence of our entire species. The Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) — a joint initiative between a philosopher, a scientist, and a software entrepreneur — was founded on the conviction that these risks require a great deal more scientific investigation than they presently receive. CSER is a multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to the study and mitigation of risks that could lead to human extinction.

    2. From their about area, their mission;
    The Future of Humanity Institute is a leading research centre looking at big-picture questions for human civilization. The last few centuries have seen tremendous change, and this century might transform the human condition in even more fundamental ways. Using the tools of mathematics, philosophy, and science, we explore the risks and opportunities that will arise from technological change, weigh ethical dilemmas, and evaluate global priorities. Our goal is to clarify the choices that will shape humanity’s long-term future.

    I will explore these web sites and their centers later, but I wanted people to know about them. A number of years ago I became interested in the risk of having a big, huge object from a sky land on Earth. You know, bigger than the Manhattan-sized object that wiped out most of the dinos about 65 million years ago (I guess leaving birds). Large topic, but my point is this:
    After dinos were wiped out mainly, there were these little rodent sized creatures that burrowed a bit in Earth, so they were able to survive and thrive. Our ancestor!
    Well, an alien observer from far away might think that Earth as an organism got a lot smarter in a few million years, because if a big object headed toward Earth, as long as it did not surprise us directly blocked by the sun, Earth would now have a chance to send up a rocket and deflect the sucker. Hell, that sure would excuse humanity doing a lot of bad stuff during our history, if we guarded and stopped some object from the sky wiping out future life!
    Well, today, a lot of very, very smart/wise folks are warning that wiping out the future of humanity and maybe life itself is on the table. Sure, feel free to argue about the percent of risk and the exact sharpness of the blade. But we could our butterfly wings right now and maybe end up with a horrible disaster instead of a complete obliteration in the near future. So please make your revolution visible, now.
    What is mistakenly called normal is not given to the planet by some God. What is mistakenly called normal is co-created each day by us all.
    So if we are to have a new normal, let us choose it!

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  • Thanks again. I read this comment: “but do not see such a direct link between ‘severe mental problems’ and global warming. We’ll have to disagree on this.”
    Yes, I guess we will have to disagree. For the record, if a state of mind leads humanity to greatly harm our one and only collective habitat, then yes indeed I feel that state has a “severe mental problem.” But we will have to disagree.
    One other point: Because the comment by Stephen Hawking where he warned that Earth could become like Venus was made about nine years ago, apparently there is a need to hear something more recent.
    Here is an interesting article from a highly-respected magazine, Scientific American, just a couple of years ago. Note that the author says that such discussions are essentially an “academic point.” That is because the nightmarish possible hit on humanity and life is so enormous, that arguing about whether Earth tips into a Venus-like planet or destroys all of human species before that moment, becomes a bit ridiculous:
    Fact: We cannot predict the exact future.
    Fact: Climate crisis has gone on for so long that we are entering chaotic feedback-loop situations.
    Fact: At this point we are not only to be concerned about things like losing some coastal cities and some worse hurricanes; we wisely ought to be concerned about the possibility, impossible to predict exactly, but the possibility of extreme catastrophe for humanity and life on Earth.
    All this proves my point exactly, that we very much need the global revolution that even Pope Francis is calling for! While Kari Norgaard is in the field of sociology and not psychology, her study of human behavior/thinking appears valid. In fact, it is a big relief to hear from academic professionals who are outside of psychology and who analyze behavior/thinking.
    So humanity risks destroying our one and only planet, but severe mental problems are not a challenge for 100% of that humanity.
    Yep, I guess we just will need to disagree here.
    In the meantime, I am glad that this dialogue helps provide more of a focus on this topic!
    Call me crazy, you certainly would not be the first if you did, but every breath we take needs to be pulling in the direction of this visible, global revolution!
    If I have just spent my whole adult life working to peacefully overthrow the mental health industry, then I sure hope that this work was relevant to topics such as confronting this environmental issue.
    Our generation has done pretty good remembering the two words “Never Again!”
    Now that we are at risk of something literally billions or even trillions of times bigger, let us be strong enough to act!
    While the enormity of the risks might help explain the paralysis we see, we are all in this together.
    Make your climate crisis revolution visible now, now, now, now, now!!!!

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  • Thanks again for this respectful dialogue between different perspectives. Making this topic more visible is of course one of my main goals. Very brief comments:

    1. I noted that an individual who objected to my topic “seeks” to silence this point of view here. I never said this individual will succeed because the human spirit will never, ever be silenced. However, it is obviously true that a complaint is more about the appropriateness of me bringing up this issue as a focus. I add that the origin of appropriate is the word proper. I am with Groucho Marx about approaching proper.
    2. Stephen Hawking warns us that the Venus effect is a possibility. Note that the person who disagreed with me has moved over to whether this worst case scenario is likely or unlikely. Hey, the undeniable fact that this nightmare is on the table at all is the thing I am bringing up. I have no idea of the percent risk. No one does. That it is on the table at all is the emergency!
    3. Finally, where I differ most with many people in our field is that I believe that if severe mental problems exist at all, this is a one hundred percent thing, every moment, womb to tomb. This is why making our climate crisis revolution visible is directly relevant here! Mental health is not about the 10 percent or the 20 percent or the 30 percent:
    We are the 100 percent!

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  • Thanks for this interesting, respectful dialogue between you two. Note that the individual who finds a problem with my blog entry, mainly seeks to silence my voice, rather than opposing particular points with evidence and logic. In a way this response that seeks to silence me is a very good example of mental health oppression, which I have spent about 4 decades of my life resisting. I will make one comment: The individual who opposes my having platform here, said that my review of worst case outcomes is shallow, but actually I have spent many hours on that topic. I will end here by quoting a disability leader who is more famous and is well known as a scientist: You may watch the YouTube of Stephen Hawking as he warns us out of control feedback loops may indeed reach a worst case, though of course we hope for the best:

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  • It is hard to have a mind or even a brain, if the sea begins to boil! And yes, one of the worst case scenarios in global warming, the risk of runaway climate change, Normalgeddon is boiling seas. One of the smartest scientists alive, Stephen Hawking, said that he was worried about the risk of boiling seas. After all, the main difference between our planet and Venus is greenhouse effects. Venus has a temperature of several hundred degrees.

    A few months ago, I blogged about mental health activism and global warming here. Strangely, I did see a reply that tried to deny the reality of global warming. This response gave a citation, and I actually looked this up and looked through the document. Unfortunately, this document was simply a several hundred page pdf of amateur statements, more like a petition of interested people. I could not find much or any research, science, logic, evidence, etc. I went onto the web itself to try to find what was fueling the denial. Yes, I understand that weather and climate (two different things) can be very complex and therefore lend themselves to debate. However, there is such overwhelming proof about global warming that denial is rather odd. One of the great thinkers about this crisis, has pointed out that more of the public believes that Elvis Presley is still alive, than the minority who deny the climate crisis. The author Naomi Klein says that in a way, all of us in the whole world are climate crisis deniers, because none of us are doing enough. Sadly, as global warming becomes more and more obvious, many deniers will experience some of the worst emotional harm, in my opinion. We ought to have compassion for the suffering deniers will tend to experience, but we probably should not get distracted by this. For decades, I have worked for people’s right to have strange beliefs, for example, it is okay if you talk to space aliens. However, when people try to impose strange beliefs like that on others, I have a right to ask for the evidence. A few years ago, there was debate about the Dust Bowl and the hole in the ozone. Is there such a debate today? No. By the way, President Ronald Reagan actually helped sign off on addressing the hole in the ozone. It is a tragedy that his party today has chosen to be a party of climate crisis denial. Even they are now cushioning some of their denial by saying, “We are not scientists.” Well, that is enough space by me for now about denial. How about the vast majority of us work on saving nature, let us simply have compassion now for deniers.

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  • Thanks for your post and your disclosure about your grief. I like to say there is a possibility and even an increasing possibility of a worst case scenario. However, more incremental catastrophes, such as sea level rising, is certain. When it comes to worst case scenarios, as I call it, Normalgeddon, that is harder to predict because when a complex system such as nature itself is pressured with enough monkey wrenches, we are in a chaotic state and this is an uncharted territory, we can reach a tipping point, we are in a non-linear space where it can be very hard to see into the future. However, the way humanity is acting, the worst case scenario is becoming more and more likely. In other words, it is difficult to predict the more uncertain worst case scenario, and therefore I think this adds to the tremendous denial we are seeing today. As we in the Mad Movement can see, a big problem is the complacency of normality. I have worked in the field of psychiatric industry overthrow for 40 years, and it has only been in the last few years that I can take more than a glance at this overwhelming phenomenon. To put it simply, we are saying the same thing many wise people have said for many millennia, which is that the whole world is mad. However, we are adding our own unique and hopeful twist, which is that the whole world being mad is not hopeless, that those of us who have experienced what is considered madness and have reached some level of recovery, have a lot to offer humanity. As I said in the blog entry, I like what we heard about hope: let us act from our highest principle now, without certainty about the final outcome. I sure hope for a climate miracle! But I will continue to do what I consider to be helpful, without knowledge of the exact final outcome.

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  • I knew Tom, a little bit from my work. He sure reached a lot of people, and comparing the DSM to the Malleus Maleficarum is not just a metaphor, it is accurate. I have a copy of that book MM a few feet away and it is still very chilling to me.

    I would like to make a brief comment about the word “failure.” A few years ago, when I directed MindFreedom, in fact just before its name changed when we were called Support Coalition, we directly addressed that topic. For three years in a row, we hand invited about forty folks based on diversity and working well together, realized we had to limit the numbers because our purpose was that we could all talk together directly in a circle. As I said for three years we met annually for a few days and they were very helpful for me and very supportive. We did this because as we said we knew that we were facing a huge tsunami of oppression. What strategy do you take in the face of such a juggernaut?

    Two of the three times we met at the Highlander Center, which is where MLK and Rosa Parks among other people in the poor south civil rights movement met. Though the center itself moved a bit from those days, the spirit is still the same. For example, I was delighted to hear that apparently when the song “We shall overcome” produces royalties, that is apparently where the royalties go. They actually helped produce that song, even if the story about royalties proves an exaggeration. Until then I kind of thought the song came from thin air!

    If you want to see one of the results from these gatherings, here is a link to the second year statement:

    My point is this: a few years ago I saw a black congressman respond to the many people who bitterly pointed out that obviously the civil rights movement has a long way to go, so was it a failure? But he ticked off many wins including the fact that there are now hundreds of black elected leaders in the south.

    A few years ago, I realized that we need to do the same thing when our people feel a little down and negative. Failure? Over the years I have head many bitter people talk about failure. But I remember years of phone calls from Ray Sandford of Minnesota to me. He would say that he had jokingly not gotten forced electroshock, about every time we had a phone call. If you google his name with the phrase forced electroshock, you will see that he got many forced shocks, but we at MindFreedom stopped those! His psychiatrist said that he would never make it! But years later after the forced shock he was still doing well, and may still today.

    So, yes, in a way right now our whole movement and everybody who works to peacefully overthrow psychiatry is having a “failure.” After all, today there are people in solitary confinement in psychiatric facilities getting forced drugs, as I once did.

    But for Ray Sandford, is it a failure? Every Wednesday morning, they told him in his group home that he could not have any food, because a court order required him to get a forced shock at the hospital every Wednesday morning. But our social change movement came to his aid, and Ray is a hero who impacts many people.

    By the way, my last lock up in 1977, the MAD movement came to my aid, helped me get out of the institution, and helped me get over the trauma of forced psychiatry. Failure? The MAD movement did not fail me, either.

    Let us remember the folks who are still there, but if we are truly serious about revolution in mental health, let us remember the many successes!

    I also remember that it took 75 years or up there abouts for US women to get the right to vote. Some struggles are multi-generational.

    And one more thing: MLK said over and over “Beware the paralysis of analysis!”

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  • Thanks for your comment, however I hope you read my actual words in my blog again, because I think you have gotten the wrong impression. It helps me, especially when there is a disagreement, if we can both agree on at least what the other is saying. We may not convince each other, but at least we can understand one another more. You use quote marks several times in your comment, but I guess you are not quoting me. You also suggest that I research the topic more. Here is what I said in my blog entry: “Do not get me wrong, I will not join that religion, I read one of the main books analyzing Scientology (Inside Scientology, by professional journalist Janet Reitman, 464 pages), and it’s not my cup of tea.” By the way, 464 pages is a lot, but the main value of Ms. Reitman, is that she is a journalist, so even if people might disagree with a lot of her point of view, she at least tried to provide interviews and source material.

    My two replies: 1. You recommend “the whole web” for your source, but I would caution people that the Internet often has rumors, but I thought everyone knew that already. 2. You seem to imply we psychiatric survivors might be a bit gullible, but actually I find a lot of diversity among us, and some of us are quite good at standing up to power (without using words that I find abusive such as “stupid”).

    My main point is to praise the work of Marcia who I do not think “fell” for anything in quite a long time!

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  • Dear Rev. Epperson and other friends,

    Thank you very much for your work in connecting the Unitarian Church of Vancouver with liberation in the mental health industry! I have heard of your superb work already from my friend Marcia who speaks highly of your efforts! One little thing you may have already done, but I welcome anyone interested in this topic to join: Please search within Facebook for our new group, join it, and post to it. The name of this group is UU Mental Health Justice. Yes, I know that many people avoid Facebook, but this new group is a quick way to connect the many UU folks who care about this topic, and people do not need to be a UU member to join. That group, which you may already have joined Rev. Epperson, is totally independent of any church. Again, I really appreciate your work and leadership! Lead on! And to you and the many others who help our movement, much love!
    David W. Oaks

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