Does the Psychiatric Diagnosis Process Qualify as a Degradation Ceremony?

By Michael Cornwall, PhD
Sociologist Harold Garfinkel, in his landmark article “Conditions For a Successful Degradation Ceremony” wrote that “Degradation ceremonies are those concerned with the alteration of total identities.”

I first read this liberating article in the 1970’s as I was trying to piece together my life after a lengthy experience of madness. It validated my gut-level belief that my avoidance of psychiatric treatment, no matter how much I was suffering, was necessary to avoid having my identity stripped from me and a new identity of life-long mental patient embedded in my psyche.

Garfinkel was greatly influenced by Erving Goffman, the father of Labeling Theory. Goffmans’s book “Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates” looked at how society deals with deviance by codifying and enforcing social roles and identities

But Garfinkel’s work on what he called “Status Degradation Ceremonies,” is very appropriately geared to help uncover more understanding about the impact of the process of psychiatric diagnosis.

Because I believe that undergoing a psychiatric diagnosis process has an uncanny and sinister-feeling quality to it that comes from a deeper aversion than just forming a rational objection to being labeled and subjected to a DSM-5 category.

I think our deep aversion to being diagnosed comes from a fundamental reality; that psychiatry has been invested with the same power to perform identity degradation that has always resided in designated specialists. “It will be treated here as axiomatic that there is no society whose social structure does not provide in its routine features, the conditions of identity degradation.”- says Garfinkel.

When we are diagnosed, we feel the weight of an ancient social sanction of identity degradation, one that has taken many forms from our tribal beginnings, but is still life-transforming in its power – even when carried out now with the best intentions, and for our perceived benefit by mental health professionals.

Garfinkel points to this almost archetypal human experience when he writes “Just as the structural conditions of shame are universal to all societies, by the very fact of their being organized, so the structural conditions of status degradation are universal to all societies.”

The crushing loss of faith in a happy future is profoundly damaging because of the loss of our personal sovereign identity, a rupture occurs in the personal continuity of who we were before we were diagnosed, with who we are said to now be.

Garfinkel asks “What program of communicative tactics will get the work of status degradation done?” A ceremony is required that will secure the “product of successful degradation work to be a changed total identity.

A professionally rendered DSM-5 Axis 1 diagnosis always rests on the belief that a bio-genetic disease process has been established to exist. The diagnosed person is informed that their illness should be of primary concern indefinitely, if not for the rest of their lives. From that fateful day of diagnosis forward, the person shall now be officially identified as someone with a major mental illness.

For Garfinkel, the person undergoing a status degradation process also “Must be placed outside, must be made strange” – and must become – “Literally a new and different person… the former identity stands as accidental; the new identity is the ‘basic reality.’” What the person is now is what they were “all along.”

But I learned there is a way out of this trap, there is good news. As so many readers of Madinamerica.com can testify, we can “render” all degradation ceremonies “useless.”

When I read the last line of Garfinkel’s article almost 40 years ago it felt like a jail-break to me, because it said I could – with a very simple move – render useless any attempt to pigeon-hole me and take away my identity via a psychiatric diagnosis.

I could simply choose to not acknowledge or honor the socially-sanctioned power of psychiatry to perform a degradation ceremony on me.

Because unless we volunteer to give that power to another person or our society, they can’t wield it.

Oh yes, they can diagnose us, lock us up and do all the human rights abuses they do that they call treatment, but if we refuse to give away our identity, no one can take it from us.

If the social institution of psychiatry is tasked by our society to regulate deviance via the identity degradation ceremony of diagnosis and oppressive “treatments” that are often human rights abuses, then how can such a dysfunctional, dystopian society find its way out of such a spiritually and morally bankrupt cultural dead end?

Can Garfinkel’s baleful pronouncement that all societies inherently are set up to have identity degradation ceremonies take place be flipped, and we claim that our society can and must also be a constant source of an opposite kind of ceremony that we pursue doing status elevation ceremonies, identity valuation ceremonies?

As individuals, we can refuse to give psychiatry the credence or moral authority to perform a successful identity degradation ceremony on us.

But how can our individual defiance reverse the ubiquitous practice of diagnosis/identity degradation?

Briefly, I will just say, as I approach 70 years in our Orwellian dreamscape, that I don’t look to social institutions like the law, religion, academia, political ideologies, or the media to save us from the societal dead end cul-de-sac we inhabit.

The collective horsepower to take back our culture from its blind masters resides right here on Madinamerica and on every psych ward and in every prison yard.

That transformative social power was present in the anti-war and social protest movement of the 1960’s, and the recent Occupy movement, the civil and women’s rights and LBGT movements, and our mad pride/consumer/survivor/ peer/recovery/human rights movement.

Our ceremonies of self-love and love for each other as comrades, and the ceremonies of open defiance we practice together, don’t mean the tragic fruits of rampant anarchy will replace the identity degradation ceremonies and human rights abuses that are masked by medical legitimacy.

Revolution is the word and the answer and it always has been. It is the sure path to personal and societal freedom and transformation. If we listen to our hearts and not so much to our heads, the right direction will keep being shown to us of how to proceed.

Imagine a society where one day psychiatric diagnosis and identity degradation ceremonies don’t happen any more. Like John Lennon sang – It’s easy if you try.

With the Public Defrauded, the Illegitimacy of Forced Psychiatry Crystallizes

Robert Whitaker and Lisa Cosgrove (2015) hold a conversation (2015:156-159) concerning how the public has been duped into believing in psychiatry, and how the social understanding of psychiatry is based on fraud; “without genuine informed consent” (2015:158). If society is making decisions in “an environment riddled with misinformation (the chemical imbalance story), or a lack of information (the failure to disclose poor long-term results, for instance)” (2015:158), then as a society, we must reconsider those decisions about the reach of psychiatry, with the elimination of corrupting forces in the environment.

If we accept Whitaker and Cosgrove’s assessment that informed consent for a person to participate in psychiatry is not informed consent because of the fraud that Americans are subjected to by organized psychiatry, then the consensus for laws that support forced psychiatry have also not been garnered with informed consent. If the average person is offering support to psychiatry via their legislators, because they are operating under the fraud organized psychiatry has perpetrated on the people, then that support is illegitimate. Whitaker and Cosgrove (2015) address competing issues of the guild and the industry as mechanisms of institutional corruption.

This institutional corruption is what allows for forced psychiatry. If the public supports psychiatry acting with state-power in limiting the freedoms of individuals psychiatry identifies as requiring such actions, then the decision of the public to support forced state-sponsored organized psychiatry must be retaken as it has been made under the guise of fraud. A decision about stripping basic human, constitutional, and civil rights in such a way ought only be made once a mass educational campaign about how the people of the world have been defrauded by the biomedical industry of organized psychiatry, aimed at the voters and lawmakers, has been successfully made.

The economic privilege of the psychiatric guild and industries has made technology wildly accessible to those in power. The digital world has sped the process of supposed ‘educational’ campaigns promoted by (p)harmaceutical industries and their supposed non-profit fronts, who act with state power given by he legislators, who in turn are funded via the lobbies, and if the lawmakers abide, kept in power by the industries. The digital world also, however, via social networking platforms and other technology-based communications, has never been more accessible to the average person, who can reach civil society in a way that was simply not possible a decade ago.

One of the ways in which I now see the situation of people who identify as psychiatric survivors uses a framework of legal definitions. I am paraphrasing here, but legally defined, deadly force is any action that causes death or serious bodily injury (i.e. a psychiatric takedown; an injection). A deadly weapon is any substance, (i.e. drug) or device (i.e. mechanical restraint, electroshock device, etc.) that is known to cause death or serious bodily injury. By way of example, since we know that substances such as drugs, or devices such as mechanical restraints and electroshock machines, are known to cause death and serious bodily injury, they can be seen as deadly weapons. Therefore, those who have survived restraints, drugs, electroshock, etc., or people who identify as psychiatric survivors are also people who are survivors of deadly force, with deadly weapons.

Historically, over the centuries, the (d)evolution of the public psychiatric service delivery system has been put in the spotlight for its various forms of institutional corruption (poor/almshouse; asylum; hospital; psychiatric center; mental health center; behavioral health center). In short, each incarnation of this system has momentarily been stopped in its tracks, in part, by those incarcerated by it, who were successful in breaking free from its clutches, and calling the public’s attention to its abuses and torture. Despite the efforts of those subjected to the abuses of this monstrous system that simply changes its name when the public is made aware of what it has been doing over time, unfortunately, with each new iteration, the system comes back stronger. The system becomes more pervasive in society. The individual more greatly suffers, while misinformation fuels the support of the institution.

The propaganda campaign Congressman Tim Murphy has launched against people who have psychiatric histories has support, largely, because people believe that psychiatry has something valuable to offer and therefore discount the mandatory losses of freedom that come along with his ideas as real violations. However, the bill is full of mechanisms that will translate into human rights violations and limitations of personal freedoms.

Among other things to be addressed at length in future posts, Murphy’s proposed law strips privacy rights away from adult Americans at their parent’s say-so and makes legal ways for parents to take over the ‘mental health care’ of their adult children, and have adults forced into complying with psychiatry under threat of (re)institutionalization. Murphy’s bill increases good will toward institutions while also increasing discrimination against those who have been psychiatrically assigned by further instituting involuntary outpatient commitment programming (forced drugging, housing, living arrangements; therapy group attendance, etc.).

Under the heading “Racial Disparities in AOT: Are They Real?” Swartz, et al. (2009) explain:

An April 2005 report on statewide demographic data from the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest found that African Americans were over represented in the AOT Program. Whether this over-representation is discriminatory rests, in part, on whether AOT is generally seen as beneficial or detrimental to recipients and whether AOT is viewed as a positive mechanism to reduce involuntary hospitalization and improve access to community treatment for an under-served population, or as a program that merely subjects an already-disadvantaged group to a further loss of civil liberties. (p. vii; 53)

As long as the State supports forced psychiatry, society will discriminate against those who are psychiatrically assigned, in all realms of experience, if not individually, institutionally. This is where the greatest result of the fraud is seen. The researchers (Swartz, et. al, 2009: vii; 53) who were brought in to rule out institutional racism in the involuntary outpatient commitment law say that whether one sees involuntary outpatient commitment as discriminatory or beneficial is determined by the way one views psychiatry. The clear case Whitaker and Cosgrove (2015) lay out for institutional corruption in psychiatry and its resulting social injury must require us as a society to rethink these types of laws that cramp if not eliminate autonomy of individuals at the discretion of psychiatry.

These are all issues near and dear to the Mental Patients Liberation Movement, and because of the imbalance of power, in the past, with whom has had access to society via economics and privilege, there was a monolingual fraudulent message given to the public, that psychiatry is ‘good’. Due to increasing availability to technologies, the previously muted messages of survivors, our allies, and those who are willing to report the truth are gaining louder voices.

A public defrauded by psychiatry created public support of forced psychiatry. Those who advocate for Congressman Tim Murphy’s bill, ‘Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act’, can illustrate such support. Perhaps, for at least some, this support has been given under false pretenses. If an educational campaign was made, to firmly have the public understand the ways in which people have been deceived by organized psychiatry, would the population still support the notion of state-sponsored forced psychiatry and willingly pay for it with tax dollars?

I will continue in my next blog further considering the implications of Psychiatry Under the Influence: Institutional Corruption, Social Injury, and Prescriptions for Reform (Whitaker and Cosgrove, 2015) and a defrauded public’s consensus to support forced psychiatry.

For now, I will leave off by imploring readers to acknowledge that both a human rights framework and the perspective of survivors of psychiatry must be incorporated into this larger conversation.

RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AS A MATTER OF COURSE

INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT AND FORCED PSYCHIATRIC DRUGGING IN THE TRIAL COURTS: RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AS A MATTER OF COURSE
JAMES B. (JIM) GOTTSTEIN*

http://psychrights.org/Research/Legal/25AkLRev51Gottstein2008.pdf

A commonly-held belief is that locking up and forcibly drugging people
diagnosed with mental illness is in their best interests as well as society’s as a
whole. The truth is far different. Rather than protecting the public from harm,
public safety is decreased. Rather than helping psychiatric respondents, many
are greatly harmed. The evidence on this is clear. Constitutional, statutory, and
judge-made law, if followed, would protect psychiatric respondents from being
erroneously deprived of their freedom and right to decline psychiatric drugs.
However, lawyers representing psychiatric respondents, and judges hearing
these cases uncritically reflect society’s beliefs and do not engage in legitimate
legal processes when conducting involuntarily commitment and forced
drugging proceedings. By abandoning their core principle of zealous advocacy,
lawyers representing psychiatric respondents interpose little, if any, defense and
are not discovering and presenting to judges the evidence of the harm to their
clients. By abandoning their core principle of being faithful to the law, judges
have become instruments of oppression, rather than protectors of the rights of
the downtrodden. While this Article focuses on Alaska, similar processes may be
found in other United States’ jurisdictions, with only the details differing.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………………………….. 53
II. MYERS AND WETHERHORN………………………………………………………….. 55

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:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00r49fy#synopsis

Philadelphia Inquirer covered protest twice:
http://bit.ly/philly-inquirer-dsm
http://bit.ly/philadelphia-inquirer-occupyapa

NewsWorks KHYY has slide show of protest plus news article here:
http://bit.ly/khyy-occupyapa

~~~~~~~~~~~

YOUTUBE COVERAGE

GENERAL NEWS COVERAGE:

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”:

~~~~~~~~~~~

YOUTUBE OF SOME PROTEST SPEAKERS

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:

HARRY LICHTENSTEIN of MF NYC speaks 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’:

The Liar’s Lair

THE LIAR’S LIAR

BIGGEST LIAR IN AMERICA? WHO IS DR. ALLEN FRANCES?

FEBRUARY 27, 2012. The medical cartel, one of a handful of evolving super-cartels that strive for more power every day, is rife with so much fraud it’s astounding. In the psychiatric arena, for example, an open secret has been bleeding out into public consciousness for the past ten years. I should know. I’m one of the people who has been exposing the secret:

THERE ARE NO DEFINITIVE PHYSICAL TESTS FOR ANY SO-CALLED MENTAL DISORDER.

And along with that:

ALL SO-CALLED MENTAL DISORDERS ARE ARBITRARILY INVENTED, NAMED, LABELED, DESCRIBED, AND CATEGORIZED
by a committee of psychiatrists, from menus of human behaviors.

Their findings are published in periodically updated editions of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), printed by the American Psychiatric Association.

For years, even psychiatrists have been blowing the whistle on this hazy crazy process of “research.”

Of course, pharmaceutical companies, who manufacture highly toxic drugs to treat every one of these fictional disorders, are leading the charge to invent more and more mental-health categories, so they can sell more drugs and make more money.

But we have a mind-boggling twist. One of the great psychiatric honchos, who has been out in front inventing mental disorders, has gone public. He’s blown the whistle on himself and his colleagues.

His name is Dr. Allen Frances, and he made VERY interesting statements to Gary Greenberg, author of a Wired article: “Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness.” (Dec.27, 2010).

I know. That’s a year and a half ago. But guess what? Major media never picked up on it in any serious way. It never became a scandal. It managed to fly below the radar.

Editors and reporters at major media outlets have an uncommon nose for avoiding the sort of trouble Greenberg’s piece would have created, were it to be unleashed on the population—and although they like to call themselves journalists, that’s a myth even they don’t really believe anymore. They’re mutts on short leashes.

Dr. Allen Frances is the man who, in 1994, headed up the project to write the latest edition of the psychiatric bible, the DSM-IV. This tome defines and labels and describes every official mental disorder in the known universe. The DSM-IV eventually listed 297 of them.

In an April 19, 1994, New York Times piece, “Scientist At Work,” Daniel Goleman called Frances “Perhaps the most powerful psychiatrist in America at the moment…”

Well, sure. If you’re sculpting the entire canon of diagnosable mental disorders for your colleagues, for insurers, for the government, for pharma (who will sell the drugs matched up to the 297 DSM-IV diagnoses), you’re right up there in the pantheon.

Long after the DSM-IV had been put into print, Dr. Frances talked to Wired’s Greenberg and said the following:

“There is no definition of a mental disorder. It’s bullshit. I mean, you just can’t define it.”
BANG.
More Here: http://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/the-liars-liar/

Pharmageddon – how the pharmaceutical industry has co-opted medicine


Dr. David Healy has spent decades delving into the dark corners of the pharmaceutical industry, where, for instance, drug companies have tried to hide the worrisome connection between antidepressant drugs and suicide. In the psychiatrist’s best-known previous books, The Antidepressant Era and Let Them Eat Prozac, Healy explored the often vexing history of the mental health field and its troubled relationship with Big Pharma. In his latest book, Pharmageddon, he presents an even bleaker picture of the way industry has co-opted medicine in general — not just mental health. Healthland spoke with Healy about his findings.

What do you mean by ‘pharmageddon’?

At the moment, treatment-induced death is the fourth leading cause of death [overall], and within the mental health field, it’s probably the leading cause of death.

It’s a little bit like climate change. It may feel great to have a car, the convenience you get is a thing we appreciate each time we hop in the car and drive down to the market. But the use of cars is contributing to the bigger picture of climate change. In the same way, quite a few medications we take produce good outcomes. But we’ve [had a] climate change in medicine, which runs the risk of completely destroying medicine as we’ve known it.

And the key tool in all of this is how companies use the scientific evidence. They construct trials to get the outcomes they want; they only publish positive trials. The study often shows the opposite of what the data actually shows.

In the book, you look at how drug companies sell us on reducing risks — like say, high cholesterol — that may not actually do much to keep us healthy because high cholesterol itself is just a marker for cardiovascular disease risk, not an illness itself.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/28/mind-reading-psychiatrist-dr-david-healy-defines-pharmageddon/#ixzz1qWE8Npoh

Teen tied and shocked for hours; mom calls it “torture”

Video of a disabled teen tied down and given painful electric shocks for seven hours should be made public, the youth’s mother said, so everyone can see what she describes as the “torture” her son went through at the controversial school, the only one in Massachusetts that uses pain to treat its clients.

“This is worse than a nightmare,” Cheryl McCollins said about her disabled son, Andre. “It is horrific. And poor Andre, who had to suffer through this, and not know why.”

The ordeal began after Andre hit a staff member. Inside a classroom, as a camera was recording, he was tied to a restraint board, face down, a helmet over his head.

He stayed like that for seven hours without a break, no food, no water, or trips to the bathroom. Each time he screamed or tensed up, he was shocked, 31 times in all. His mother called the next day to check on him.

“I said, ‘Andre.’ I said, ‘Hello.’ And so he said, ‘Help me,'” McCollins said.

After spending three days in a comatose state, not eating or drinking, Andre was taken to Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with “acute stress response” caused by the shocks.

“The doctors took all the shackles and all those things off of him. Andre’s not talking to me. I’m just holding him and telling him how much I love him, and asking him please to talk to me, just tell me what happened,” McCollins said.

What happened that morning in October 2002 became clear after the Rotenberg Center showed her the video of Andre’s ordeal, recorded by the classroom camera.

“When I viewed the tape, I saw Andre walking into a room, someone asking him to take off his coat. Andre said no, they shocked him, he went underneath the table trying to get away from them. They pulled him out, tied him up and they continued to shock him,” McCollins said.

“When you look at that videotape, what was the purpose of all those shocks?” asked FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.

“I have no idea,” McCollins replied.

“Did you get an apology?” Beaudet asked.

“No, they felt what they did was therapy,” McCollins replied.

“Does that look like therapy to you?” Beaudet asked.

“No, it was torture,” McCollins said.

For now, the public can’t see for themselves what Andre’s treatment looks like because the Rotenberg Center asked a Norfolk Superior Court judge to seal the video tape, saying it would be unsettling for viewers who didn’t understand the context. The judge agreed, and the video remains under a protective order.

“This is video they fought vehemently not to release, fought vehemently to keep quiet and I think now are very concerned that this tape is out there,” said attorney Andrew Meyer, who represents Andre McCollins in a lawsuit against the Rotenberg Center.

“The Judge Rotenberg Center has consistently gotten away with being able to soft sell their treatment, to whitewash what they’ve done about it being therapeutic: ‘It’s not so bad, it helps these children.’ But the eyewitness accounts that we now have about what actually goes on at this center puts to lie everything they’ve been saying,” Meyer said.

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.”