An open letter to liberals and feminists

As someone with liberal political views who also identifies as a feminist I am repeatedly frustrated, disappointed and angered by the left’s neglect of the human rights of those who have been psychiatrized. On this blog I tend not to emphasize my politics outside the political issues surrounding mental health because regardless of our political views outside of this issue, many of us come together here on this particular issue of human rights abuse and it would only divide us to concentrate on other political issues. That being said, I cannot remain silent today about what seems like a major form of unconscious hypocrisy on the part of liberals and feminists who in general claim to be concerned about the human rights of all individuals but have a massive blind spot when it comes to recognizing the psychiatrized as being victims of torture and blatant disregard by society of their human and civil rights.

Why today, might you ask? We’re all aware that this goes on—that is those of us who identify liberal and feminist and as mental health advocates—many of you are my readers, though I embrace all of you regardless of where you stand on that political spectrum. Human rights belong to all of us. The right to be treated like a human being is our birthright and it does not matter if we call ourselves liberal, conservative, Democrat or Rebublican. We should all have the right to say “no!” to coercive and forced “treatments” of all kinds. We also have the right to be told the truth by the media and other information outlets, including our doctors,  and that is that recovery rates among those left unmedicated and supported in other ways are HIGHER than for people who are given drugs, especially neuroleptics (antipsychotics.) The truth also is that these drugs are horrible neuro-toxins that cause serious, sometimes life-threatening, metabolic issues, cardiac arrest, stroke, homicidal and suicidal ideation and action, massive weight gain, sexual dysfunction and the killing of our spirits among many other things. They also often cause additional psychiatric symptoms that then get blamed on the “underlying” psychiatric disorder rather than the drug.

To be reminded or introduced of some of the facts surrounding these issues listen to Robert Whitaker on Madness Radio whose next book looks at this reality—people given psych meds on the whole deteriorate over time–they do not improve AND those who are given support in other ways without long-term use of psychotropics do most often, make complete recoveries.

For a quick primer listen here to Robert Whitaker:

Also read his first book on the topic if you want a history of the dehumanization that is psychiatry: Mad In America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill.

(update — Whitaker’s new book is now available which documents exactly how psychiatric drugs harm: Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America)

May I also remind you of Dr. Loren Mosher’s work at Soteria, where we can bare witness to the astronomically high rates of recovery among the “seriously mentally ill,” when they are treated as the traumatized human beings that they are rather than as a biological brain disorder that relegates them to being sub-human.

For more of an in depth study of Soteria, read the book.

So I asked a bit ago, “why today?” am I making this statement.

I may be wrong in the conclusion I’ve come to, but I sent out my piece on fat and psychotropic drugs that I wrote 5 days ago to 5 liberal, feminist bloggers—including a couple in the “fatosphere.” The fatosphere being a place where feminists in general fight for the rights of fat women. I am a reader of all the blogs I sent this email to. I leave comments on their blogs and I’ve corresponded with all but one of these women regarding feminist issues or in some instances issues around blogging in the past, though I’ve never said anything explicitly about the topic of my blog and my political efforts as an activist opposed to the status quo in psychiatry. My signature in my email includes links to my blog so it’s possible some of them know what my activism is about, but not necessarily.

I have always heard back from these women within 24 hours. NOT A SINGLE ONE of these women responded to my piece on fat and weight loss as a result of taking and then withdrawing from psychotropic drugs. I basically fancied that what I was writing was in large part a feminist and fat acceptance piece. I know I do not have the nuanced views of a seasoned feminist, nor do I have the specific sophistication that a body/fat acceptance activist has. I did not expect links to my piece—I simply wanted to share my piece with women I admired whom I thought might find my personal journey interesting as other women concerned about women. I was disappointed to hear absolutely nothing back from any of them.

Did they think I wanted a link from their blogs when I did not expect one? Maybe that is why they didn’t answer me? Maybe it’s some other benign reason. Maybe they’ve been really busy as it’s a holiday weekend. I don’t really know. I’m in no position to make an accusation. I’m well aware of that—email correspondence is fraught with misunderstanding all the time. But being that I’m part of a population that is routinely ignored I cannot help but imagine some of the more ominous reasons I might be facing their silence.

I do know that in general liberals are still scared witless about us crazy folk and don’t think we deserve the same human and civil rights that everyone else shares and so that is where my mind has gone. These women I respect so much, whose writings I read almost daily have dismissed me as one of those crazies out there talked about in the media. A crazy woman off her meds.

These women, perhaps, like so many liberals, have swallowed the media’s fear-mongering about how dangerous we all are, how irretrievably beyond hope we are and how we must be medicated for our own good and, for god’s sake, for the good of society, since we pose a real menace. My god, don’t you know, crazy women are known to kill their own children!!

They perhaps do not know that in point of fact those with psychiatric labels are more often victims of crime rather than perpetrators. But it doesn’t take a fine analysis of how inaccurate the media often is to question this, does it? I mean if you’re a well educated woman who has studied the systematic abuse of women and how we are consistently misrepresented in the media in numerous ways—how the media keeps negative stereotypes of women alive all the time. It’s not that big of a stretch to consider that slanderous lies are being routinely told about those of us with psychiatric labels is it?

Here is a mainstream but politically correct view of the issues around violence and the “mentally ill.” The studies that those organizations like TAC that would have everyone in the country believing everyone with a psychiatric diagnosis should be on meds lest we go on a shooting spree is challenged here by John Grohol who is hardly a radical when it comes to human rights issues for those of us labeled with DSM fallacies. But he at least sees through the crap when it comes to painting us all as dangerous, murderous lunatics.

Do these women know that other women who are unlucky enough to fall into the hands of psychiatry are routinely subjected to forced ECT, yes electroconvulsive “therapy” much more often than men are. Women comprise 70% of forced ECT victims. Do they know that ECT is a form of torture? Here is the feminist Bonnie Burstow, therapist and advocate against ECT, describing what ECT does to our brains. I encourage everyone listen to it. This is a feminist issue!! One that feminists in general seem to be afraid to take on.

Writhe Safely quite a while back took on the issue of the feminist blogosphere not wanting to deal with Simone D’s story and psychiatric politics as they apply to women in general. Just some context to take a look at if you’re interested. It’s not the first time this issue has come up. And Writhe Safely looks at it with a different twist than I am here, because frankly it’s a complicated issue and the author at Writhe Safely takes on some of the difficulties I’m not entering into here.

So in the last couple of paragraphs I talk about ECT, but the fact is neuroleptics and other drugs, too, also cause brain damage and spiritual destruction. You know when Thorazine was first invented it was proudly and with no hesitation called a chemical lobotomy! And today the atypical antipsychotics, the new generations of drugs like Thorazine, are absolutely no different in that regard—they still chemically lobotomize but it’s no longer cool to be honest about it so psychiatrist lie instead. In fact we see here studies indicate New Antipsychotic Drugs No Better Than Old Ones. In other words they are just as bad!!

These drugs are often forced upon us, sometimes literally and other times through manipulative, coercive means.

Okay. I’ve gone on for over 1,600 words now. Enough. Unfortunately a book could and probably should be written on these issues. This may hopefully serve as a primer. It’s not hard to research any of the stuff I’m talking about if one is motivated.

I’m going to send this piece to the bloggers I sent the first piece to. Forgive me if I’ve jumped to conclusions. We are an oppressed group who are hardly ever heard or listened to. Most people don’t even realize we are being systematically abused and violated. And for those of us who otherwise identify as feminist and liberal the blatant disregard for us from both groups is painful.

I’m including a comment made by Will Hall in the body of the post now too:

It would be interesting to understand exactly why the left and progressives are so often at odds with our issues. I think that basic fears and stereotypes are part of the problem, but I think there is something deeper and more complicated at work here.

First, there is a tremendous urgency to defend public social services and health care spending. Progressives therefore play tug of war with conservatives on “more is better” versus “less is better.” In this context it is hard to get across a “yes we want more spending, but also different spending” message. Clinicians and service providers are faced with lack of services, shelters, and the prison system as the main issues with direct impact. Many people have zero access to any psychiatric care at all, and you are going to have a hard time convincing anyone this is best. People can’t get medications at all, or get their medications interrupted, because of the way health care is set up. When I go into service agencies or talk with homeless activists or case managers in criminal justice, I’m faced with problems with the whole person, not just force, meds, and labels. I only get anywhere discussing force, meds, and labels when I also talk about housing, insurance coverage, and funding for services.

Second, there is the difficulty of conveying a “pro-choice” message regarding medications while at the same time conveying a “tell the truth”message. The interpersonal level of the discussion — respecting choice — and the policy level of the discussion — be honest about drug dangers and take these drugs off the market if they are killing people — work at odds with each other.

Third, the “no forced treatment”point of view is largely dominated by a civil liberties logic. I largely agree with the logic, but it leaves out a central point:that people need help. Often they need lots of help. Providing help without force isn’t something that is easily conveyed; ‘no force’ tends to sound like ‘no help.’ Many service providers feel that anti-force points of view are part of the problem, because they have no other ways to intervene in people’s lives.

Fourth, there is a difficulty in creating a pressure constituency for our issues. For every anti-meds, anti-force survivor there is a pro-meds, pro-force consumer. The cooptation of the survivor movement and the rise of the consumer movement is at work here, but even that is not simple: consumer groups achieved tremendous victories and pressure for all kinds of values that we all share. When patients and ex-patients are interviewed, jobs and housing are the key issues they raise, not medications (partly because of the immediate impact and also the lack of accurate info on meds). The reality is that there is no “psych patient” experience unified in the degree that gay experience or Black experience is (though there are huge differences in those communities, they are not as fundamental as in the psych patient world). We are also a “disappearing identity”– people get better and bury their pasts, rather than get better and get more into who they are.

Finally I want to point to something I think is the problem of the survivor movement. We identify primarily as people harmed by drugs, diagnosis, and force. As a result we do not have a politics around homelessness, criminal justice issues, health care coverage, and employment. We contributed to our own isolation when we narrowed our agenda. The original survivor activists were part of broad popular movements for social justice. We’ve lost those alliances. One of the most wrongheaded directions I’ve seen recently is how the right wing family values movement has gone against screening as invading privacy, and the survivor movement has felt comfortable allying with them. That’s been a mistake. Our allies should be broader progressive disability movement, the prison reform / abolition movement, the homeless movement, and healthcare reform movements.

For more on the force, oppression and the routine human rights violations perpetrated by psychiatry see:

Comments

  1. Great piece!!! And it seems to me, that you’re right: they’re scared as fuck of us crazy folk. As “revolutionary” and aware as they are in regard to all other aspects of our culture, just as stuck in conventional thinking they are when it comes to “mental illness”.

  2. …and that in spite of writings like The Madwoman In the Attic

  3. This is right on target – great primer. I think we need to remember NOW’s unfortunate response to the Andrea Yates tragedy where they recommended more psych treatment for women and are pushing a medical model agenda for PPD. Many of us tried to engage NOW back then and met with a wall of silence.

    I think one way over this wall would be to sidestep the medical model debate and focus on the human rights of women with disabilities. The CRPD has an article specifically on gender based violence. What liberal and/or feminist organization could argue with the human rights paradigm?

  4. BTW: I somehow see the same happening in regard to an organization like AI. I mean, aren’t we political prisoners, too? When it comes down to it, isn’t the mh system one big political institution? AI seems to recognize this only when it comes to the mh system in countries with an openly totalitarian government. Irks me, time and again.

  5. Someone I knew was on psych drugs and he would tell me the problems he had with them. This was when I lived in Charlotte back a few years ago. From what I remember, he didn’t want to take them anymore b/c he suffered. It seemed like it was a no win situation for him. All people should be treated with dignity and respect. I think that is an absolute right. It’s one thing I don’t like about our culture – different standards for different people.

  6. How true. What’s even worse is those ‘leftists’ who themselves staff these places and are directly involved in mistreating people – or who witness abuses but remain silent

  7. How about choosing an influential progressive organization or media outlet and focusing a campaign to get them to embrace our values? Someone image-conscious, with good credentials on the left, but that is failing us?

    NOW might be such a target, or Democracy Now! or Public Citizen…

  8. I hesitate to write this, because I know you disagree, Gianna, and the discussion so far is distressing to me. But here goes.

    The way to reach feminists and environmentalists, IMHO, is NOT to keep perpretrating the Us versus Them. We are not crazy people, and they are NOT not crazy people. Gianna, with all of your wonderful work on the Mother’s Act, let me use that as an example. Once we get mothers and their children addicted to psych meds, who is left to be untouched by potential stigma?

    If “mental illness,” has a strong intertwining root with physiology, as Gianna so brilliantly explicates every day, there is no need for stigmas and divisions, and I hate to see those flames fanned. I’m sorry, this is unpopular, but a lot of activism that persists on demarcating the division appears to me a waste of time. But I hear you: you’re hurt that you didn’t get a response. Understandable.

    Women are assumed crazy as a sex anyway by patriarchy, so who wouldn’t want to distance from that, short sighted as it is? Women are not the only people who fear the “mentally ill.” This construct, craziness, is the container for all that is Bad. When we (compatriots here) stop looking at “Them” as The Other–which seems to me buying into some warped view that they are better and sane…but rather view them (many of those women secretly on antidepressants too) as part of Us, we will be heard. Especially when we make the connection to what we’ve done to the Earth as well.

    In other words, you can’t whine about stigma and buy into it, enforcing it really, at the same time, can you? You can’t get people to stop buying into “mental” illness if you remain proudly and possessively wearing the badge.

    Best,
    Sue, a feminist from the Second Wave trenches

  9. It would be interesting to understand exactly why the left and progressives are so often at odds with our issues. I think that basic fears and stereotypes are part of the problem, but I think there is something deeper and more complicated at work here.

    First, there is a tremendous urgency to defend public social services and health care spending. Progressives therefore play tug of war with conservatives on “more is better” versus “less is better.” In this context it is hard to get across a “yes we want more spending, but also different spending” message. Clinicians and service providers are faced with lack of services, shelters, and the prison system as the main issues with direct impact. Many people have zero access to any psychiatric care at all, and you are going to have a hard time convincing anyone this is best. People can’t get medications at all, or get their medications interrupted, because of the way health care is set up. When I go into service agencies or talk with homeless activists or case managers in criminal justice, I’m faced with problems with the whole person, not just force, meds, and labels. I only get anywhere discussing force, meds, and labels when I also talk about housing, insurance coverage, and funding for services.

    Second, there is the difficulty of conveying a “pro-choice” message regarding medications while at the same time conveying a “tell the truth”message. The interpersonal level of the discussion — respecting choice — and the policy level of the discussion — be honest about drug dangers and take these drugs off the market if they are killing people — work at odds with each other.

    Third, the “no forced treatment”point of view is largely dominated by a civil liberties logic. I largely agree with the logic, but it leaves out a central point:that people need help. Often they need lots of help. Providing help without force isn’t something that is easily conveyed; ‘no force’ tends to sound like ‘no help.’ Many service providers feel that anti-force points of view are part of the problem, because they have no other ways to intervene in people’s lives.

    Fourth, there is a difficulty in creating a pressure constituency for our issues. For every anti-meds, anti-force survivor there is a pro-meds, pro-force consumer. The cooptation of the survivor movement and the rise of the consumer movement is at work here, but even that is not simple: consumer groups achieved tremendous victories and pressure for all kinds of values that we all share. When patients and ex-patients are interviewed, jobs and housing are the key issues they raise, not medications (partly because of the immediate impact and also the lack of accurate info on meds). The reality is that there is no “psych patient” experience unified in the degree that gay experience or Black experience is (though there are huge differences in those communities, they are not as fundamental as in the psych patient world). We are also a “disappearing identity”– people get better and bury their pasts, rather than get better and get more into who they are.

    Finally I want to point to something I think is the problem of the survivor movement. We identify primarily as people harmed by drugs, diagnosis, and force. As a result we do not have a politics around homelessness, criminal justice issues, health care coverage, and employment. We contributed to our own isolation when we narrowed our agenda. The original survivor activists were part of broad popular movements for social justice. We’ve lost those alliances. One of the most wrongheaded directions I’ve seen recently is how the right wing family values movement has gone against screening as invading privacy, and the survivor movement has felt comfortable allying with them. That’s been a mistake. Our allies should be broader progressive disability movement, the prison reform / abolition movement, the homeless movement, and healthcare reform movements.

  10. Sue,
    you miss my point all together…I don’t believe in mental illness. I don’t believe I’m mentally ill….

    I use rhetoric to make a point.

    There is nothing wrong with me or any my labeled friends…do you see I say psychiatrically labeled all over the place…and when I call people mentally ill I’m using the language of the dualism that WE DO NOW live in…we can pretend it doesn’t exist and wish for a better future but the fact is we are labeled...it’s in my medical file permanently and I run the risk of being forced drugged because of it…

    political reality is there…yes we can also exist and transcend it some of the time…but ignoring it is at our peril

    why read so literally…???

    why argue with your ally?

  11. Thanks Will,
    we cross posted…those are all brilliant points…and add a lot to the discussion. That is why I like to concentrate on the issue of human rights in general and this psychiatric cause being part of that greater cause…I agree with you completely!

    Also, yeah, it’s impossible to cover everything about the subject here…people ARE in desperate need of help…the thing is it IS possible to envision an infrastructure of care that would humanely treat everyone. that is why I bring up Soteria…it’s not an impossible Utopic vision to conceive of people getting loving, appropriate care…it simply doesn’t exist now and most people have no idea how to even begin to conceive of it.

  12. Oh, heck. Focusing on “psychiatrically labeled” vs. “mentally ill.”–yes, I see your point and I agree with you, but let me tell you why I don’t find busting ass over the right term very important. Lately on an autism biomed list someone kept hammering home that we should say “a child with autism,” and not, “autistic child.” Most of us, said, it’s not that big of a deal, there is SO much more to deal with here!

    Meaning, we can get on our disability-rights high horse, or we can get down to curing autism!

    I knew we would disagree, but I realize that many read here. I do consider you an ally; I was trying to acknowledge your work. It feels like you focused on a technicality, and missed my point too. I only hope others will see it. Shouldn’t we let them choose?

    With admiration, Sue

  13. I agree there should be no term…but that’s my point…that is the reality we live in…one with labels that divide…

    if we pretend it’s not we miss out on communicating with the majority of humanity.

    what was your point? frankly I’m not sure I understand?

    I’m all about getting rid of us and them too…but first we have to face the fact that our world is set up in dualisms…

    I appreciate you too Sue…I hope you know that.

  14. Comments to your blog get as much viewing as the posts themselves, and after reading everyone else’s smart responses, I always shy away from writing my own. But I just wanted you to know that I *do* read your blog. And I’m really glad you’re writing this stuff.

  15. thank you Jessica!!
    and it means a lot to me to just hear that from you!! I didn’t actually know you read my blog!

    I know you could write kick ass comments if you wanted to. You are an awesome writer and thinker!!

  16. I read this and Will’s comment and one thing he said stands out for me:

    The reality is that there is no “psych patient” experience unified in the degree that gay experience or Black experience is (though there are huge differences in those communities, they are not as fundamental as in the psych patient world).

    This is an important point and I’m not sure that psych patient or psych survivor solidarity is something that either can or should be durable. The difference (at least as it appears to me) between this identification as opposed to being gay or black is that in the latter two instances there’s a clear distinction to be made between the experience of being victimized as distinct from an intrinsically positive identification as being gay or black. In other words, if you totally “recover” or are liberated from the negative dimensions of being gay, then you’re still gay and can feel good about it. If on the other hand you can fully recover from the experience of suffering from psychiatric abuse, then you have an opportunity to move on with your life and, if you choose, completely leave behind the traumatic phase of your life. You have a choice.

    The point is that trauma is a temporary bond and it can bring people together on the basis of their shared experience of the trauma and the causes of the trauma, but beyond that, there isn’t necessarily any obvious positive basis of solidarity. I think this is something you encounter with some frequency because you realize that you’re in a community that does not have a shared set of values outside the issues you’re dealing with.

    Again, as Will says: “We contributed to our own isolation when we narrowed our agenda.” The search for common ground and its cultivation once found, seems to be key.

  17. Gianna, thanks for raising this issue. I was active in progressive politics long before I became an activist on human rights issues for people with psychiatric histories, and have been disappointed over the years by the left’s seeming inability to understand our issues as part of a broader human rights agenda. One very pleasant surprise for me was being chosen as a 2005 Fellow by the Petra Foundation, which honors social justice activists. See my acceptance speech at http://www.community-consortium.org/pdfs/Darby%20Petra%20speech%2012%20Nov%2005.pdf
    in which I attempted to explain our movement to the Petra network. It has been a real honor for me to be accepted as an equal by this amazing group of activists. See their website at http://www.petrafoundation.org/

  18. It’s not just psychiatric issues that feminism ignores or actually makes worse. They’ve been doing damage to people with ALL types of disabilities for a long time, through their silence, and through their distancing of themselves from “the poor disabled people” – so patronizing. I have thought about these issues a lot as I’ve been physically disabled my whole life, and have read feminist writings that have absolutely floored me in their ignorance.

  19. Gianna,

    I don’t see rights for those who have been labeled as “mentally ill” as a Republican/Democrat, or Liberal/Conservative issue per say…

    The challenges as I see them are these:

    1) Recognition that a psychiatric label is merely a subjective one – It has no scientific basis, or proof behind it – None.

    2) An increased understanding of some of the root causes of these “illnesses”. If a person has a faulty thyroid, adrenal problems, hormonal imbalance….Or, if the person has suffered trauma and/or abuse….If these “illnesses” were seen in this light – There would be an understanding of the ability to “recover”, and the latitude given to each individual on how they choose to recover. The way things are now – people with “mental illness” are in need of care, and both conservatives and liberals are addressing it as “need”, rather than “choice.”

    3) In the area of civil rights. This is in my opinion, among the worst civil rights violations in the history of this country. It amounts to the loss of freedom – no protection from cruel and unusual punishment, incarceration without due process of law, forced treatment with drugs and ECT – brain damaging medication and equipment….

    4) Politics – It doesn’t surprise me that this particular issue is not embraced by either party, or either political ideology….Because “mental illness” has yet to be seen for what it is…An oppressive act against a vulernable group. Both parties are blind to this fact….Largely due to a trust by those who receive medical degrees – specializing in the human brain….It’s hard for a politician to go after a group with this level of education/training

    5) This is stereotyping to some extent, I suppose, but it’s my best guess. This is a tough nut to crack, due to: Conservatives see this as too much government interference in the doctor/patient relationship, and Liberals see it as the need to want to expand services for those who are in a vulnerable situation. The first group has no idea that this treatment is barbaric. The second group, no idea that broadening services will only make the problem worse – no idea that the “treatment” is the problem.

    6) Republican versus Democrat: Both parties are receving money – Pharma has bought them both out…..It doesn’t surprise me that Grassley is Republican….As I’ve mention in previous emails – I’m not loyal to either party, but Republicans have done some good in this world – President Obama cites Lincoln on a regular basis, Theodore Roosevelt busted up monopolies like nobody’s business….The Civil Rights Movement would not have taken place without Republicans – They were able to come together and actually persuade some Democrats in the south to come along….Democrats have done some good too – The Civil Rights Movement itself was LBJ’s legislation, started by John Kennedy…..Democrats were involved in making sure people were protected and treated fairly in workplaces, given the opportunity to join unions, Democrats were responsible for much of the good that’s taken place in this country….without question… I wish we could move beyond the party lines, and see the best in both parties, and not be “surprised” that Grassley is a Republican…..

    7) Needed desparately:

    a) Education: for liberals, conservatives, Democrats, and Republicans
    b) A new model to replace one that is shattered – no more drugs for kids, informed consent for adults, no more locking people up against their will without lawyers to represent them, no more drugging or giving ECT to people against their will
    c) Hospitals (or homes) without locked doors
    d) Treatment centers that are peer-run
    e) Treatment centers that offer more than drugs – alt medicine – things that work

    All of the things mentioned above point to ignorance, and not apathy….giving the benefit of the doubt to those who are truly “blind” to the situation……There are those who are not, and nothing will change until this happens:

    1) Trials for the top management with Pharma who have known about the injury and death of these drugs, and did not make the information known to the public, or the FDA…
    2) Trials for the top management in Pharma, Research, and with “advocacy” groups for the same….
    3) Jail time for all parties convicted – ie, “negligent homicide”, “involunary (or voluntary) manslaugher”……lots and lots of jail time!!! A few of these clowns go to jail….Things will change quickly!!!!
    4) Civil law suits for damages – ie, “wrongful death”, and money ear-marked for the above-mentioned services – detox and treatment centers
    5) Settlement that involves the drug companies paying for these services…..until the cows come home….

    We can come together, and take care of what needs to be done – all of us – Republicans and Democrats, and Liberals and Conservatives…..

    Call me a dreamer….Been called worse.

    As far as “feminist” stuff – I guess….being a man, I figure the way a guy treats his mother, his wife, and/or his daughter kinda says it all for me….

    I like to take people at face value – by the way they live their lives.

    Duane

  20. Gianna,

    The reason I treaded lightly on politicians in the first part of the last comment was that I do think many of them are unaware….

    When John Breeding and I were in Austin to testify to the legislature…A committee chair asked us: “Now tell me again…what’s the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?”….

    This may seem like an obvious answer to those of us who are involved in this stuff….but, we were in a public hearing room….and, in a few hours, the committee heard testimony for other bills (unrelated) – a bakery group concerned about too much state oversight in their products, a group of undertakers who wanted to see a third college go up in Texas to teach this skill….These legislators are working on public educatioin, roads, bridges, trade, finance….all kinds of things….and, they hear regularly from the NAMI-side, and rarely from us…..And, oftentimes when they do hear from us, we are unable to make our case strongly, and powerfully, and in a way that makes them see things for what they really are…..I had a wake-up call in Austin….We have a long way to go.

    But, we’ll get there.

    Duane

  21. There’s much more that relates the mad movement and feminism–have you read Phyliss Chesler’s _women and madness_? The norm of “mental health” has been constructed as male. Normal behavior women are socialized into are often seen as symptoms, yet if a woman acts more “male” emotionally she’s pathologized b/c of gender deviance. Well, that’s the … Read Morebasic thesis of the book.
    Add that to the history throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century of women being imprisoned in asylums by male relatives who wanted their land, or thought they weren’t good mothers/wives/daughters b/c they dared speak up for themselves or otherwise refused to be submissive, docile women. Add the way personality disorders are disproportionately diagnosed among women (esp. Borderline Personality Disorder, which is really the way many women are socialized to react to PTSD.) Add that to the continuing pathologization of women’s sexuality.

  22. Duane,
    I don’t actually identify with either party either…though I do identify as “progressive or liberal” whatever….

    in any case your comments are appreciated, thanks.

    Caty,
    your contribution are very important points that really need more delving into. Women and BPD in particular and how it’s just a way to keep us agitating bitches under control when we don’t like what psychiatry is doing to us.

  23. My knee jerk response is to defend feminism to the death but alas, I no longer can. This I can opine, that today established feminism has fallen into the problem that happened with the First Wave, when the likes of Susan B. Anthony supported MANY widely drawn reform topics, but by the time we got to the high-class Carrie Chapman Catt, it was all just about suffrage and we didn’t want to acknowledge or look at poverty, women in it or not. Sigh.

    Funny, though, I’ve just come to realize the Third Wave (younger feminists now) is mad at the Second Wave for being off the mark, but not in this way. Apparently we oldsters aren’t approaching the topic of sexuality right, and I don’t mean gay rights ’cause excuse me, I was there, we wrote the book on that. Anyway, I was looking at some of the Third Wave literature, and hope to find out more, because it looked like what they were doing was defending pornography :-(

    Sue

  24. feminism is a broadly defined term that means different things to different people…women are people just like anyone else. We don’t agree on everything all the time.

    Feminism has always had factions within it—much like just about every discipline in academics.


  25. there’s a clear distinction to be made between the experience of being victimized as distinct from an intrinsically positive identification as being gay or black. In other words, if you totally “recover” or are liberated from the negative dimensions of being gay, then you’re still gay and can feel good about it.

    good point paul; complicating this though is the idea i describe as “mental diversity” or “diverse ability.” Some of us do either long term or temporarily have personality aspects that include altered states of consciousness, unusual moods, hearing voices — non-ordinary, minority mental states. These some of us may never either ‘recover’ from or want to recover from; for me these parts of my mind are intrinsically tied to my creativity, sensitivity, and spirituality.

    Voices are a good example:for some they are tied to stress and trauma, and when stress and trauma are relieved, no more voices. for others they are an ongoing reality.

    I for example sometimes have very extreme depressions — including suicidal voices, planning, and impulses, not eating, complete withdrawal from people. While i can fight this and work to overcome it, there is also a way which I accept this because these ‘depressions’ seem to me to be tied to creative impulses that follow. It’s as if there is is a creative birthing process where I get energetically depleted, depressed, inward, and have my suicidal state — right before a huge burst of creativity. I have seen this happen again and again. I don’t think of it as a disorder, pathology, or anything i want to cure. Sure i take b vitamins and fish oil and meditate and do acupuncture — I hate these states — but on another level I accept them because they seem to be part of a creative process. It’s as if forming a hard shell was seen as “bad” but the butterfly that emerges seen as “good”when in fact both are one overarching process. Our mechanistic and productivity-oriented culture separates two things that are one.

    (Many artists understand this completely. Inspiration sometimes comes only when absolute stuckness is embraced and accepted; I’m not the only writer for example who can spend months doing ‘nothing’ and then suddenly have a huge creative explosion.)

    Many of us do move on from our psych patient identities, but some of us also move deeper into mental diversity by embracing these ‘mad’ parts of ourselves as either acceptable or positive. This is where the ‘mad pride’ piece does make sense. I tried to write about this a little here:

    http://theicarusproject.net/collaborating-with-madness-isps-newsletter

  26. yeah we are all POLITICAL PRISONERS….just face the fact

  27. “Many of us do move on from our psych patient identities, but some of us also move deeper into mental diversity by embracing these ‘mad’ parts of ourselves as either acceptable or positive. This is where the ‘mad pride’ piece does make sense.”

    This is exactly where I usually disagree with people – at least most of the labelled people in this country (Denmark). I myself do not identify as “ill”, “defective”, “inferior”, or any of those impeding, limiting, victimizing adjectives. What I find impeding, limiting and victimizing is a society, that labels certain parts of the human experience as “ill”, “defective”, and/or “inferior”. Not these parts of the human experience themselves.

    Although there’s no doubt, that I do “function” differently from what society’s norms expect a “normal” person to “function”, I do not – and in fact I never did, not even during the most painful periods of crisis – identify as an individual something is wrong with. While most of the people I’ve talked to about this, often even get angry with me when I, by not accepting an identity as disabled myself, implicitly question their identity as victims of their own (biological) defectiveness and inferiority.

    To me, it seems to be the same as identifying as gay, black, or a woman, without accepting that being gay, black or a woman would be identical to being defective and thus inferior. While it is here, that I see one of psychiatry’s greatest “achievements”, in that it has succeeded to convince people, that extreme though also perfectly natural experiences would not only be abnormal (which they often are in the context of our culture’s norms), but unnatural (which they are not), and therefor illnesses that need treatment, and furthermore defects, that render the identified defective individual inferior to “normal” human beings. – This, btw, is why I think there’s made such a big thing of “insight”. The whole idea of “insight”, or lack of the same being a certain sign of defectiveness, was simply brilliant.

    But it needed another ingredient in order to reach the point of general acceptance, it has reached today, where people crowd round diagnoses like moths around a flame: alienation, lack of meaningfulness, of meaningful identifications. Gay people, women, black people have a culture they can identify with. The question is, if we have or can establish something just as strong beyond the “culture” of defectiveness society via psychiatry pushes on us. Mad Pride is certainly an option here.

    BTW: Some people may have noticed, that I, in certain contexts, refer to myself as “recovered”, “highly functioning”, and the like, which may, at first sight, seem to conflict with what I say above about “functioning” differently. Well, it doesn’t.

  28. The activist in me saw quite a few really good points. The humanist in me says, “Hey, they may not have responded, but neither did they slam you. It could have been worse.” And the editor in me saw some typos and needed punctuation, and always worries that MY OWN work may get underrated or overlooked after the reader sees a few errors.

    I fail to see how Robert Whitaker’s work is still largely ignored, more than seven years after its publication. I hope his follow-up, which is long overdue, is as hard-hitting and factual as Mad In America was.

    Hugs,
    Moss

  29. Duane,

    I would point out that there is ONE national politician who largely agrees with psychiatric activists (and nutritional supplement activists), and that he is himself a doctor. He may not be anywhere near the center on many issues… but that person is Dr. Ron Paul, R-TX (actually a Libertarian, but he got elected to Congress as a Republican). I do not intend to expect us all to vote for him to be the next President or anything, just recognize the work he is doing.

  30. moss,
    my blog is riddled with typos. I have no editor and my cognition sucks…I can do without the reminder that my mental functioning is poor.

    besides that fact I think it’s clear I still have some intelligence and if people can’t see past typos, fuck them.

  31. final note on this topic:

    NONE of the bloggers mentioned in this piece responded. This time I was not surprised, but still disappointed.

    I continue to read their blogs because I share so many of their values, but frankly it’s kind of painful to be so invisible to women who I otherwise admire but who can’t or won’t see the validity in the arguments I make above.

  32. Hi,
    Just wanted you to know that I just read this today.

    I think progressive Paul Wellstone wanted mental health parity…which I am not really sure if that would be good or bad.

    http://www.wellstone.org/news/honoring-senator-paul-wellstone-congress-passes-mental-health-and-addiction-parity-legislation

    Also, there is absolutely no correlation of intelligence and the ability to spell or punctuate. My work is riddled with errors. I just had a run-in with a gatekeeper with a holier-than-thou attitude that if your work wasn’t perfect…he didn’t have time for you…

    I agree with Gianna:

    …besides that fact I think it’s clear I still have some intelligence and if people can’t see past typos, fuck them.

  33. dear NG!! thank you!! you are so sweet! I’m very touched you even dared to use the f-bomb…

    Now I know you must love me!

    oh…and yeah, parity has nothing to do with what I’m talking about. Parity means people can get full re-imbursement for horrible and barbaric treatments.

    I wouldn’t mind parity if they covered alternatives…but since I don’t use standard mental health care anymore it helps most of us who share these views not at all!!

  34. naturalgal says:

    Hi Gianna,

    Yeah, I tend to lean left…but I can be conservative on some things. But most of current friends have know idea of what I went through. They sure buy the medication are the answer line.

    Yeah, I after I clicked send I wondered about the F word…but I am sick of people thinking that you have to express yourself perfectly before your opinion is valid. Ever read Lewis and Clark’s journal of their trek west? I ‘ve read parts. They were no dummies, but they sure couldn’t spell.

  35. I’ve scanned through, rather than read, in its entirety, your post. I agree with it all. I have a diagnosis, I’ve been coerced into taking meds and I’m dismayed at the fact that big drug companies make so much money by getting doctors to get us to take meds that damage our organs and dull our senses. I’m equally dismayed that there isn’t money to reward the people that truly care about us, and work terribly hard to help, listen and understand….

  36. hi gianna, my rosie cat says hi, what is your kitty’s name again? btw do you use bach flower remedies? i think they connect somehow with reiki and music and chakra things. i need to get some aspen flower remedy. it is very good for fear issues. love, nancy

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