Friday, January 21, 2022

Getting across a message of human rights?

Home Forums Rethinking Psychiatry Getting across a message of human rights?

Viewing 12 posts - 46 through 57 (of 57 total)
  • Author
  • #19189

    Dear Duane,

    I took it as a compliment that you could want a sincere commitment from me, instead of thinking that maybe as a formal mental patient I am inherently unstable or something.  So really no apologies needed!  Thank you for the big welcome as you are a big player here.  I do feel a sense of community at MiA.  And I do want contribute to the cause in my own way.

    Happy to be here,




    You sound centered and focused.

    Keep doing whatever you set your mind on doing!

    Glad you’re here!



    Just joining this conversation at the cow’s tale (late) and finding it interesting.

    In Scotland where I live there is the Scottish Human Right Commission: which is independent and says that it “promotes and protects the human rights of everyone in Scotland”.  However it won’t deal with individual cases as I contacted them about this.

    There are individuals here who speak out on behalf of others, in psychiatric/mental health terms.  Independent Advocacy is  a legal right under our Mental Health Act.  And there is a national user led mental health organisation.  However I think there is room for more challenge and agitation, in terms of human rights issues in psychiatric care.  Especially with the tendering of advocacy services and the potential threats to user led voice groups.  So I’m doing my bit to raise awareness of these in my locality.  Trying to do this through the usual channels and by writing about it.  Using a variety of means to tell the story and highlight the problems.  It’s not easy.

    It’s probably a lot to do with tactics, as mentioned by a fellow Facebooker recently.  Developing various strategies to engage and challenge the powers that be.  Like a chess game or a story like Alice through the Looking Glass.  Makes life interesting which is good as nothing worse than being bored, to my mind.




    The Human Rights Commission in Australia at a federal level and at each state level, also covers mental health, BUT they endorse and actively promote forced treatment, claiming that “any sane person would consent to any and all treatments, not just medications, but also ECT and even psychosurgery, which is still practiced here!!

    Each state has different mental health laws and they all vary. ALL allow people to be denied legal representation at tribunal hearings if the psychiatrist determines they are too unwell to speak to a lawyer. They are allowed acess to selected advocates, all of which are hand picked and tell you how lucky you are to have laws that protect you from yourself and ensure you get the treatment you need!!

    We have many consumer (I so hate that word) organisations, but they all promote and endorse forced treatment. We need to be protected from ourselves. They ALL fully endorse and promote the medical model. Mention that you do not believe in the medical model to any of them and will call the compulsory mental health team to have you forcibly treated. In my state the average length of time on Community Treatment Orders is 25 years. They do not come off them, they die while on them!! There is NO hearing until one has been forcibly treated for at least 2 months. The only thing you can question is whether or not you are mentally ill. You cannot question ANY form of treatment decisions and this includes ECT, psychosurgery, off label prescribing and the like. The only protections given to those under the age of 18 are that they cannot be given psychosurgery. Psychosurgery does require a tribunal order. Tribunals are simply panels of psychiatrists. On average the hearings are about 5 minutes in length. You are lucky if they last for 10 minutes.

    There are some mental health specialist legal services, but they simply promote the rights of those who are diagnosed to commit crimes. They claim that no one at all with any form of mental illness should eve be able to be charged with any form of criminal offence and that they should not have any different treatments to anyone else, in the community labelled as mentallly ill. Quite simple, commit a murder, say you were feeling sad and they will go and defend you to the end of the earth. And yes there are cases just like this. In the mean time we have people locked up who have nothing wrong with them, children being given forced ECT against parental consent and wishes, and they will do nothing at all. They actively promote the medical model and give us information sheets about how our medications correct the chemical imbalance in our brains, which is what causes our problems. They believe 100% that ALL diagnoses are 110% correct and that these medications are more effective than insulin for diabetes. The worst example of how pathetic they are: one state government suggested allowing those labelled as mentally ill to be sterialised. The mental health legal centre, rather than questioning this, said they were going to need some more information about how this would assist with our recovery, to help us to understand why we needed the treatment!!!  Needless to say, most people do not find them of any use in trying to assist them to get off orders, to get off some treatments or the like!!


    As far as getting across a message of human rights, I think the beginning of that is personal consciousness-raising.  Before there is a mainstream message to give others, there has to be a group of like-minded people to firmly establish an identity of a psychiatric survivor minority–to give solid examples of what it means to be harmed by psychiatric concepts and that care.

    I’m taking a Psychology class this semester and I just learned a theory about African American racial identity called Nigrescence.  It was developed in 1991 by William Cross, and may be useful as a framework to build an identity for any marginalized and/or oppressed minority base.

    The process of forming an identity has 5 stages:

    Pre-encounter: An unexamined belief that the status quo is the superior and/or correct viewpoint and consequently, a lack of awareness of even being a minority.  There might be some level of self-hate as a possible consequence.  At this stage people focus on other aspects of their identity as more significant.
    Encounter: Usually triggered by an encounter with overt, covert, or institutional oppression, a person becomes attuned to a different status or standard because of being Black.
    Immersion/Emersion: Cross sees this as a transition–an in-between state that may cause people to be anxious about “becoming the ‘right kind’ of Black person”.  In response, they dig deep into their racial heritage to connect to it and get a greater sense of their racial identity.
    Internalization: At this stage a person becomes connected to and secure in their sense of racial identity.  They are now confident in their own standards of  Blackness.
    Internalization-Commitment: This stage is a close and natural extension of the fourth stage.  It is not only a continued interest in but a commitment to Black affairs.


    So, Ted, if you read this, know that I gave the whole idea of activism a thought, in theory!  I see this movement as primarily in the Pre-encounter stage as most people living with mistreatment from psychiatry would be correct in thinking, “Movement, what movement?”.  The good news is we can only up from here, right?  It could be pretty exciting to be at the nexus of an emergent human rights cause.  Mad visionaries needed.

    Faith Rhyne

    Emily – your recent words and ideas here have been really inspiring and clarifying!

    Thank you.






    Hi Faith!

    You are such a beautiful writer with overflowing textures, contours, and layers of interpreting meaning.  It’s very inspiring.  I just wish I could think like that let alone harness thoughts that ephemeral/poetic into writing.

    Recalling your previous writing in this human rights thread,  “However, I’m super-pissed about all the people who don’t realize they are trying to survive, and I’m super-pissed about the people who have died, and all the beautiful, brave, BRILLIANT people that got wrecked by bad ideas and abuse. ” of psychiatry…

    I cannot agree more!  We need to show current and/or prospective patients of psychiatry that former patients of psychiatry 1. have been legitimately, systematically  harmed by its standard of care (not just freak outlying experiences) and 2. are “beautiful, brave, BRILLIANT people” (people with inherent integrity and human dignity) who did not ask for life-threatening injury to their health and sense of self nor deserve the mistreatment meted out to them in the name of science.

    I don’t know how to do that, but I do think about it.

    Thank you for letting your inner brilliance shine here,





    Ted Chabasinski, JD

    Yup, Emily, I just saw your post.  This concept of “nigrescence” is a new one for me, and I’m thinking I should know more about it.  I certainly agree that almost all people with our experience are at the first stage, where they aren’t aware of their position in society, not really.

    I must say though that to be at that stage requires some work, that is, there is so much bigotry toward us going on right now that it’s hard for me to see how a person with our experience can be unaware of it.

    Another big problem is that so far we haven’t really developed a culture that our folks can relate to.  Black people in this country, whose movement I most related to before our movement came along, had four hundred years to develop a black culture that their people could relate to.  The Icarus Project has tried to develop such a culture, though it isn’t that easy.  But one thing I think we can do, and that is to create a welcoming and caring movement, where we all take responsibility for one another and ourselves, and develop a place where we can get the support and love (yes, love) that the rest of society often denies us.

    I think if we had this in place and had something to offer like that, we could attract a lot of our people who have little motivation now to join us.



    Are you in Australia? I just moved back to Sydney from NY a few months ago, and have been disheartened by the dogmatic mantra of the ‘party line’ in Australia. There seems to be very little alternative views.

    Faith Rhyne

    The issue of human rights in mental health is a unique one, because it ultimately affects everybody with a brain/heart/mind/story and that is basically everyone. So, it has the potential to really connect a lot of people in some sense of shared humanity, which is something that people – particularly those disenfranchised from the dominant culture – seem to crave.  That would be a beautiful side-effect of dismantling medical model psychiatry, the opportunity for many different groups to consider themselves a part of a much larger concerned community.

    I have been thinking recently about how easy it would be for people in particular locations to set up very simple local blogs about the local mental health systems, and post some flyers around town  (grocery stores, libraries, etc.) to the effect of…what? “Do you have concerns about the local mental health system?” Nah, too bland. “Did you have your human rights violated at (insert name of local disgusting hospital)? Please share your story and ideas!” = and just have a place for people to share their experiences and their ideas about what might be done differently. Simultaneously, build coalitions (as you all did in Berkeley, Ted) by talking to people that are known advocates. In the place I live, we are exploring building a cross-disability coalition to multilaterally and professionally push for alternative services. It’s going to be a challenge to actually bring the thing to fruition, because everybody involved in the discussions is already working their ass off in about a hundred different ways.  However, it seems like with a clear purpose and accessible/accommodating/satisfying structure of collaboration, coalitions can be really effective.

    The more we learn about organizing, and appreciate/learn from the work of people who have non-hierarchical grassroots organizing experience and that are involved in endeavors that reinforce or complement the movement (whatever it is called, psychiatric survivors, human rights in mental health, etc.) and those who have consulting experience, etc. – well, I think the better off we’d be.

    So, in reference to building a conscientious collective movement, I think learning from the movements of the past is a good idea. There are a wealth of insights about what works and what doesn’t, and why. It is also a good idea to learn from the movements of the present. We know, for example, that protests are not very effective anymore. This was proven to us by Occupy. In fact, protests are often used in the media to reinforce what it is that one is protesting. This is a classic abuse dynamic, punishment for standing up for oneself.  Yet, we are still having a protest. I am not sure why we aren’t trying to spend that time set up with information tables and  commentary-storytelling style speakers in front of the APA conference, talking with people, engaging them on a personal level, or wisely-flyering about the Child Mind Institute or going out into the boroughs with handbills of resources and relevant mesaaging to engage people. For example, “Have you been told that your child cannot attend school unless they take medication?” – and then some simple advocacy measures, a couple facts about accessible alternatives. It’s tough because of the digital divide. I mean, I can post links about WRAP all darn day and it’s not gonna mean a thing to a person who doesn’t have a computer.

    Anyway, that veered off topic. In spite of the fact that I am writing this here, I think the digital divide issue is really important.

    I guess the reason we are having a protest is because nobody has really talked about it. Movements have protests? Let’s have a protest! Convergences can be great for solidarity between members of the group, but can actually alienate the group from the collective culture and make movements seem inaccessible. What if  someone is shy? Or doesn’t like men yelling? I mean, it’s sort of weird to have a protest that seeks to engage people who have had traumatic experiences with people sounding angry, or who have been held down by cops. In fact, it’s sort of insensitive?

    (I’m just now realizing all of this, forgive me for going on and on…)

    I hope you all have a great night.

    By the way, Emily, I really appreciate the clarity of your voice and the way you structure your ideas. The other day, I read one of your posts here and had that moment of, “I wish I could write as clearly as this person. I just go on and on and all over the place.”

    Such is life…   🙂






    Anomine, I am in Australia, and you are right, there is nothing but the dogma of the medical model. There are very brief exceptions, but nothing of any value and no one organising anything to be of any value. Those supposedly working to change the system are simply asking for them to talk to us nicely, have toilets in seclusion rooms, etc. One would think getting rid of seclusion rooms would be a better idea, but no they see them as an essentail “treatment” modaility!!   The media here does not question here and when the whole country rests its whole policy on the basis of someone, who believes that he can predict who will develop a fictional brain disease called schizophrenia, then what hope is there!! In order to predict who is going to get a disease, you actually have to have a disease for them to get!


    Hi Belinda,

    Ah, finally someone on MIA who’s on the same side of the world to me – good to know I’m not the ONLY person in Australia who thinks the status quo is rubbish.


Viewing 12 posts - 46 through 57 (of 57 total)
  • The forum ‘Rethinking Psychiatry’ is closed to new topics and replies.