Tuesday, October 01, 2013


Can we build a movement of persons of lived experiences of mental and emotional distress?  I am not sure we can.  We can't even agree on what to call ourselves, but more important we can't agree on what is happening to us.  It is really not so strange that we can't agree on what is happening to us since we all are having different experiences. Everyone with the same label certainly does not experience it the same way.
The DSM-5 (Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders) have neat boxes for human experiences to fit into and then a label for those experiences and behaviors.  However, we know that the lived experience has little true relationship to those neat little boxes.
If you watched 60 Minutes on CBS last Sunday night (September 29, 2013), you might have come away thinking that a psychiatrist can look at a brain scan and make a diagnosis and that if they could only be allowed to treat the people they wanted to there would be no gun violence in this country.  Of course both are dead wrong, but it made for good fictional television even though 60 Minutes is suppose to be a news show.
So people who care deeply about the issue of gun violence, the people who care deeply about the civil and human rights of people label with a psychiatric disorder, and the folks like myself who care about both were done a gross injustice by CBS, E. Fuller Torrey and the entire piece broadcast that night.
The question is what can we do about it?  It will not be done in any grand movement in my humble opinion.  A heart and a mind at a time must be changed.  As long as we as a country do not believe in the human and civil rights of those of us with a psychiatric label nothing will change.  If we as persons with those labels cannot find some common ground to come together on then we will never gain any ground.
I suggest thinking about two points to see if we can get agreement.
1) The state (any government body) does not own our minds or our bodies and therefore unless we commit a crime we can't be locked up.  Suicide would not be a crime since they don't own our bodies.  No forced treatment since they don't own our bodies. 
2)  Crimes should not simply be blamed on some DSM-5 label when there is so much disagreement about their efficacy.  
Anyone having other suggestions or wanting to make comments please email me.

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