Public Statements

Statement on Newtown Shootings by the Campaign to Repeal Mental Health Laws                                                                                           December 22, 2012

As a group made up predominantly of people labeled with psychiatric diagnoses – people who may identify as Mad, as psychiatric survivors, as people with psychiatric disabilities or as clients of mental health services – we respond both to the horror of the shooting of 20 children and 7 adults in Newtown, Connecticut, and to the danger faced by our community should the national debate continue in a direction of scapegoating and repression.

Many of us have been victimized by violence, and we know the desire to have an explanation, to bring the perpetrator to justice, and to make sure that it never happens again.  Many of us have experienced the violent side of psychiatry in particular: being handcuffed and taken away by police when we have done nothing violent, being tied to a stretcher in an emergency room, being drugged against our will with haloperidol and other neuroleptics, which are named as a form of torture by the United Nations,[1] being deprived of our memory by electroshock “treatment,” being guinea pigs in a vast uncontrolled experiment with psychiatric medications that shorten our lives and often cause us to feel horrible in new ways rather than giving relief, being disbelieved when we complain about physical health problems or unwanted effects of the drugs, and so much more.  Many of us started our journey in the mental health system as children.  We know that more of the same medical-model, coercive mental health system is not the answer to any social problem or to any human need.

Inspired by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which prohibits forced psychiatry and requires equality before and under the law for all people with disabilities, we have organized the Campaign to Repeal Mental Health Laws.  We call for abolition of civil commitment and forced treatment laws, as well as the insanity defense and incapacity laws.[2]  We follow the CRPD in calling for support to be made available that respects the person’s autonomy, will and preferences, rather than removing a person’s right to exercise autonomy and decision-making.[3]

We emphasize that any laws that discriminate based on disability do not protect any community from violence, and have an opposite effect by intensifying a climate of fear and suspicion of those who are perceived as “different.”  The national debate needs to focus on actions that reduce the climate of fear and violence as a whole, including a ban on categories of weapons that are used for mass killings and have no legitimate role in hunting or self-defense.

[1] UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1986/15, paragraphs 118, 119; UN Doc. A/63/175, paragraphs 40, 47, 62-63.

[2] See Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Thematic study on enhancing awareness and understanding of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UN Doc. A/HRC/10/48, paragraphs 47-49.

[3] Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (authoritative monitoring body for the Convention), Concluding Observations on China, UN Doc. CRPD/C/CHN/CO/1, paragraph 22.  See also Special Rapporteur on Torture, UN Doc. A/63/175, paragraph 50.

7 thoughts on “Public Statements

  1. Our mental health services have become a way of subverting people. Basically, just destroying personal human dignity. It has become an abusive denergating dehumanizing institution.

  2. I would most urgently add.Ban mercury or mercury compounds or fomulations from being used as dental fillings .Ban all vaccinations. Use Homeopathic Doctors and Traditional Naturapaths and their recomendations instead.They should be our primary health care providers.Marginalize the AMA except for physical trauma treatment.Mandate that the ADA dentists must learn Hal Huggins protocols. Shut down Monsanto company and ban GMO’s in our food. Support Organic food for the people. And watch health bloom from “sea to shinny sea”. Sincerely ,fred abbe

  3. Or I am a disabled, but licensed RN with a critical care and psychiatric background in Nursing. Became disabled in 2001, and despite having private health insurance and willing to be a voluntary commitment, landed as a IVC in a state psych facility I happened to have been employed at some 15 years before admit. Was forcibly medicated, restrained and assaulted at facility. Many rights violated. Witnessed numerous accounts of patient abuse and rights violated.Repealing of Mental Health laws is a must for the survival of adequate mental health treatment. I could go on endlessly but the petition sums things up.

  4. There is an ever increasing awareness of the impact of trauma, nutritional neglect, systemic oppression, as well as the loss of social and spiritual freedoms on the well being of the human mind. It is a growing global concern as more longitudinal studies are being conducted on long term outcomes of populations with extended suffrage due to war, famine, and severe systemic human rights violations, especially in facilities of forced detainment.
    If this is true for the general populations on the planet, how more so relevant might this be for individuals who live with special needs, have artistic brains, experience heightened sensing abilities and/or experience the world a little differently than the “norm”? Having worked with severely at risk populations for decades, it appears that what is warranted and desperately needed is a gentler kinder world, and health care systems that could do far better to return to compassionate care, driven by an oath to Do No Harm vs. being ever driven by “financial Investor Interests”. Globally the latter is doomed to result in a bankrupt global outcome.

    There are those who will insist that “tougher laws” and an increase in “forced Treatment” is the way to go… PLEASE, know that such practices for the past 50+ years has done the American way of life significantly more damage than create an improved quality of life for our precious U.S. communities.

    Find ways to learn just how corrupt and convoluted the psychiatric system (to include it’s correlation to the “justice” system) has become as a result of lobbying efforts from huge corporations. That in itself is alarming and it is coming at the expense of most of the “Normal” American citizens, one way or another.

    This challenge is complex. There is not a simple solution and there is not any one “magic quick fix pill” (at least not for 98% of Americans). What is needed is an ever increasing intolerance for bullying, as well a cultural shift to stop the continued accepted practice of culturally sweeping wrongs under the rug as has happened for far too long in the US alone. The Boy Scouts of America sex abuse scandal is but one horrible example.
    In this article, “Sorry”, is so insufficient and is a gross failing in understanding the long term psychological damage done.

    Please begin the task of asking yourself and others this important question: “What do those who promote tougher laws that result in “Forced Treatment” have to gain? Look to see who is busiest at promoting such a trend, and then look closer and deeper. Then, ask this question; “Who is making long term healing therapy resources available to victims of violence, who more than deserve no less and for many, have not sought out such due to the shame of a crime they (the survivors) did not ask for.

    One of the greatest needs is a shift to Transparency at all levels of policy making! And leave the matters of “Healing” to the privacy of a client and those he/she chooses to assist them in their efforts to heal and discover/re-discover what it can be like to truly “Thrive” as a Whole and Healthy Human.

    When one’s perception of the world around them lacks trust, unconditional love and a reliable sense of justice and safety, what is there to live for?
    Let us all look to better ways of living that embrace such commodities* as love, strong and healthy safety nets and cultural diversity. If the use of the word “commodities” in this context feels a bit awkward, feel free to substitute it with “assets“** instead, if you like.

    Both listed “treasure” as a synonym  I treasure love, health, safety and a sense of pride in living peacefully in a culturally diverse world. But then, that is just me.


  5. I so greatly appreciate the words written on this document!! In New Mexico there are so few consumer advocates who follow this but many who are co-opted and are involved in putting together legislation that is coercive—much of the problem is the utilization of the language ‘behavioral health’ that is prominent: individuals with issues around substance use have become the ‘leadership’ of the consumer movement in this state–are using their place and without the knowledge of being institutionalized within the mental health system–forced medications, electroshocked, marginalized etc. the concepts that are foremost for persons with substance use issues are now the issues being discussed– We, persons with mental illness are no longer the spokespeople for Recovery—it is all about Recovery using the AA/NA models….
    The only model being utilized in this state for persons with mental illness is the old Medical Model: medication, medication and more medication—very little or non existent therapy—group homes that are unlicensed and unregulated throughout the state—and when a complaint is made it is ‘pushed under the rug’!!!

  6. Thanks so much to all of you who commented. I’d like to invite you to join the campaign if you have time and energy to contribute. You can contact us through the form on the contact page.

    Happy New Year and keep struggling.

  7. I heartily support your mission and your efforts. My contribution from years of research is this: It’s the Money, Stupid.

    If taxpayers knew how much of their hard-earned dollars were being used to abuse their fellow citizens, disable countless sane people yearly by slapping them with unscientific, useless psychiatric labels, and use psych emergency wards as a means to sweep up the homeless, label them and then bill Medicaid or Medicare, they would fast be on our sides.

    Another hint: the False Claim Act–these hospitals are filing claims for psychiatric services they are not providing. That’s a big, megamillion dollar deal if enough evidence can be gathered or a whistleblower found.

    These days, waste of public money=legislative change

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