NEW SCIENTIST on Protest of Psychiatric Labels

NEW SCIENTIST – 17 May 2012

‘Label jars, not people’:Lobbying against the shrinks

by James Davies

“LABEL jars, not people” and “stop medicalising the normal symptoms of life” read placards, as hundreds of protesters — including former patients, academics and doctors — gathered to lobby the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) annual meeting.

The demonstration aimed to highlight the harm the protesters believe psychiatry is perpetrating in the name of healing. One concern is that while psychiatric medications are more widely prescribed than almost any drugs in history, they often don’t work well and have debilitating side effects. Psychiatry also professes to respect human rights, while regularly treating people against their will. Finally, psychiatry keeps expanding its list of disorders without solid scientific justification.

At the heart of the issue is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) — psychiatry’s diagnostic “bible” (see main story). Allen Frances, who headed the last major rewrite of the manual — DSM-IV — fears that the revised version will undermine the profession’s credibility. “What concerns me most,” he says, “is that its publication will dramatically expand the realm of psychiatry and narrow the realm of normality.”

Among the revisions he believes will be most damaging are those to generalised anxiety disorder, which threatens to turn the pains and disappointments of everyday life into mental illness, while “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder” will see children’s temper tantrums become symptoms of a disorder.

Drug alternatives

One protester, Harvard graduate and writer Laura Delano, started taking psychiatric medication at age 14, after a bipolar diagnosis. She felt this worsened her state until, in 2004, she attempted suicide. It was only once she had rejected her treatment and her identity as a psychiatric patient that things began to get better.

Many of the protesters want reform in the shape of alternatives to drug treatment. As protest organiser Susan Rogers explained: “People here are for choice, for the right to decline as well as choose treatment. We want [mental health consumer and psychiatric survivors] to know there are alternatives to hospitals and medication — they can go into peer support run by people like themselves.”

“The best success rate for a diagnosis of schizophrenia is in rural Finland, where there is a slogan that problems aren’t in our heads, but between our heads,” says fellow organiser David Oaks. “They emphasise the importance of peer support in recovery.”

Talking to psychiatrists as they filed past the protest, there was quite a lot of sympathy. “These voices have to be heard. We are seeing a manifestation of some legitimate concerns,” said one.

Another was nearly as militant as the protesters: “Psychiatrists usually take 15 minutes to give a diagnosis, so we shouldn’t be surprised if we are getting it wrong. These 15-minute sessions are a form of malpractice.”

The APA’s response was to say: “Many of the proposed changes help to better characterise people currently seeking treatment but who are not well defined by DSM-IV. It is unfortunate there are instances in which people do not feel they have benefited, but these circumstances cannot discredit the clinical practice of psychiatry, or those helped by mental healthcare.”

It is significant that the protests exposed once again the lines of division not just between protesters and the establishment, but within the establishment too. Meanwhile, patients are still caught in the middle, sometimes to their detriment.


Profile: James Davies is a senior lecturer in social anthropology and psychotherapy at the University of Roehampton, London

– end New Scientist article –

BELOW is text. At BOTTOM are links to updated list of news about protest, including how to hear BBC global coverage of protest debate, see Youtubes of march, speakers, protest and more….


OTHER NEWS on Peaceful Protest of Five-Five
American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

BBC GAVE GLOBAL COVERAGE of protest that day:
Starting at “Minute 14” to “Minute 20” hear David Oaks speak
about the protest and the DSM, followed by psychiatrist
Allen Frances who “half agrees” but defends APA here:

Philadelphia Inquirer covered protest twice:

NewsWorks KHYY has slide show of protest plus news article here:




See Youtube of historic Occupy APA MARCH here:

See protest directly in front of American Psychiatric Association here:

Lauren Tenney images of protest here:

Lauren’s fun TRAILER for historic “Five Five”:



LAURA DELANO speaks before protest here:

TED CHABASINSKI speaks before protest:

JIM GOTTSTEIN speaks before protest here:

Psychotherapist ADINA LAMBERT of ISEPP speaks before protest here:

DAN HAZEN speaks before protest here:

DAVID OAKS speaks before protest here:

FRANK BLANKENSHIP speaks before protest here:

LAUREN TENNEY speaks before protest here:


Psychiatrist CLANCY MCKENZIE speaks before protest here:

AKI IMAI speaks before protest here:

SUSAN ROGERS speaks before protest here:

JOSEPH ROGERS speaks before protest here:

DIANA GONZALEZ psychiatric survivor from ISEPP:

FAITH RHYNE gets folks ready for ‘label rip’:

News Release: Occupy American Psychiatric Association

New release about protest co-sponsored by MindFreedom International of American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting.

To download PDF of release, click here.
Press Release – For immediate release

Protesters, Rejecting Mental Illness Labels, Vow to “Occupy” the American Psychiatric Association Convention

PHILADELPHIA (3/6/12) – On Saturday, May 5, 2012, as thousands of psychiatrists congregate in Philadelphia for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting, individuals with psychiatric labels and other supporters will converge in a global campaign to oppose the APA’s proposed new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), scheduled for publication in May 2013.

Occupy the APA will include distinguished speakers from 10 a.m. to noon at Friends Center (1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia). A march at 1 p.m. from Friends Center will lead to the Pennsylvania Convention Center (12th and Arch Streets), where the group will protest beginning at 1:30 while the APA meets inside.

“This peaceful protest exposes the fact that the DSM-5 pushes the mental health industry to medicalize problems that aren’t medical, inevitably leading to over-prescription of psychiatric drugs – including for people experiencing natural human emotions, such as grief and shyness,” said David Oaks, founder and director of MindFreedom International (MFI), which has worked for 26 years as an independent voice of survivors of psychiatric human rights violations. “We call for better ways to help individuals in extreme emotional distress.”

Other speakers criticizing the revised manual, considered the psychiatric industry’s bible, include Brent Robbins, Ph.D., Secretary of the Society for Humanistic Psychology, which has gathered more than 8,000 signatures from mental health professionals calling for “developing an alternative approach” to the DSM.

Jim Gottstein, Esq.,founder and president of the Alaska-based Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights), will cross the country to speak. “The public mental health system is creating a huge class of chronic mental patients through forcing them to take ineffective yet extremely harmful drugs. As the APA gets ready to do even more harm with its proposed expansion of what constitutes mental illness, I want to be there in person to participate in the protest.”

Occupy the APA will begin at 10 a.m. at Friends Center (1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia), where the speakers will also include:

Dr. Paula Caplan, a psychologist, playwright and activist from California;
Dr. Al Galves, director of the International Society for Ethical Psychology & Psychiatry (ISEPP);
Joseph Rogers, chief advocacy officer of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP); and
Dr. Stefan P. Kruszewski, a whistleblower who was fired by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare after he reported the abuse and deaths of Pennsylvania children as a result of systemic physical and psychiatric malfeasance. His subsequent federal lawsuit was successfully settled in 2007.
“We will promote humane alternatives to the traditional mental health system, such as peer support, which evidence proves is effective in helping individuals recover from severe emotional distress,” Oaks said. “Our protest is about choice, and everyone is welcome.”

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