Board of Advisors
Board of Directors
Stanley Aronowitz, Ph.D.
Kate Millett, Ph.D.
Network Against Coercive Psychiatry
is an organization comprised of psychotherapists (including psychiatrists), survivors of psychiatric incarceration (commonly known as "mental patients") scholars and other concerned citizens.
OUR POSITION IS UNCOMPROMISING. WE BELIEVE THE "MENTAL HEALTH" ESTABLISHMENT HAS CONNED THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
The idea of "mental illness" is a misleading and degrading metaphor. "Psychiatric treatments" in mental hospitals are for the most part forms of physical and emotional abuse. Psychiatric "diagnoses" are demeaning labels without any scientific validity. The psychiatric Establishment is pushing dangerous drugs which they euphemistically call "medication." Treatments in this century have ranged from revolving chairs to lobotomies to electrical assaults on the human brain to neurologically damaging drugs. There has been no revolution in the treatment of individuals who are psychiatrically labeled: it is an unbroken history of barbaric practices, justified by professionals as medical procedures designed to control patients' ostensible mental diseases.
THE STRUCTURE OF DEMOCRACY IS BEING UNDERMINED BY THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM
The Network is emerging at an historical juncture that constitutes a time of potential danger as well as opportunity. The danger lies in the continued expansion of psychiatric power and of the merger of the "mental health" system with the American government. This forbodes a social control apparatus as totalitarian as that forseen by George Orwell in 1984. In this case conformity to social norms would be enforced by mental health professionals playing the role of Big Brother. The opportunity lies in the possible development of a social movement against the mental health system.
FOR WELL OVER THIRTY YEARS THEORISTS AND THERAPISTS HAVE BEEN WRITING DEVASTATING CRITIQUES OF THE MEDICAL MODEL OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR
Thomas Szasz M.D. was the first to argue that to describe individuals who are having "problems in life" as mentally ill is to use a metaphor that is misleading and demeaning. It obscures the individuals real problems and it serves to justify psychiatric coercion and the gratuitous deprivation of individual liberty. R.D. Laing, the British psychiatrist, argued that "psychiatric treatment" of "schizophrenia" typically aborts what is essentially a natural process tending toward the reconstitution of the self on a more mature level.
Theodore Sarbin and James Mancuso conclude in their exhaustive study that despite 80 years of popularity, the "disease model" has failed to establish its value as either an explanatory theory or a practical tool. Family therapists like Jay Haley, Salvador Minuchin and the Mental Research Institute have demonstrated the extraordinary success of an approach that is not based on the metaphor of mental illness. These theorists/practitioners have had virtually no effect on public policy.
IF THE CRISIS IN THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM IS TO BE RESOLVED THE "DISEASE MODEL" MUST BE REPLACED
Viable models must be based on a developmental perspective. In the context of this perspective, psychological and spiritual crises, despair, anxiety, unusual behavior, and emotional ups and downs are not symptoms of chronic mental illnesses but natural manifestations of processes of individual and social growth and maturation. If this change in orientation is effected, the helping profession will be able to help people: it will help individuals overcome their addiction to psychiatric drugs that impair their ability to think and create, it will help reintegrate individuals into society by making available to them education and job training, housing and jobs-- it will give them the vision of a future worth struggling for.
In the absence of this fundamental philosophical change, mental health workers will continue to impede individuals' reintegration into society by branding them "mentally ill" and by withholding from them opportunities for social and spiritual advancement. The disastrous and unseemly results of the stunting of individual growth by the mental health system will continue to be blamed on "the tragedy of mental illness."
A MONSTROUS ABUSE OF POWER IS OCCURRING RIGHT NOW
The American public is aware through exposure to a variety of documentary materials- including such realistic works of the imagination as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey- that "mental health" professionals in the public sector in another era abused the authority vested in them. The public has not confronted the fact- and the media has not exposed the fact- that the same kind of monstrous abuse of power is occurring right now. If the radical humanitarian changes advocated by the critics of the mental health system are to be implemented, it will be because the American people will begin to realize that they have been abused and mystified by the mental health professions and because they will seize the opportunity to assert their rights and to demand accountability from those who claim to serve them.
PEOPLE ARE BEING TORTURED, OPPRESSED AND DENIED OWNERSHIP OF THEIR LIVES
Psychiatric survivors have been organizing for human rights and against psychiatric oppression since the mid-1970's. George Ebert, a psychiatric survivor, recently described the reason for his twelve year involvement in the movement against psychiatric oppression. "As long as the psychiatric state remains, as long as people are being tortured, oppressed, dehumanized, and denied ownership of their lives, we who have survived are obligated to struggle to break the silence." The Network Against Coercive Psychiatry calls upon all socially conscious persons to join the movement.
YOU CAN HELP!
For more information please write or call:
Dr. Seth Farber
Network Against Coercive Psychiatry
172 West 79th Street #2E
New York, NY 10024
The problem with psychiatric diagnoses is... that they are swung as semantic blackjacks: cracking the subject's dignity and respectibility destroys him just as effectively as cracking his skull. The difference is that the man who wields a blackjack is recognized by everyone as a thug, but one who wields a psychiatric diagnosis is not."
Thomas Szasz M.D. 1991
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