Thursday, April 24, 2014


There have been discussions going on all over this country (U.S.) by persons with lived experience about how best to respond to what is commonly referred to as Murphy’s bill.  The proper name is “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” put forward by Representative Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican who’s Congress’s only psychologist.

Some of our nation’s most well known advocates from the movement of persons with lived experience are those in the forefront of these discussions, but all are not in agreement on how to proceed.   I dare say that most people with a psychiatric label in this country are not aware of this bill and the efforts taking place to get it through and the counter efforts to stop it.

I am not sure I understand what the biggest issues are.  I know the bill is supposed to refocus the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) and to overhaul The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS).

Herein is the problem with a republic.  First let me give you a definition for the type of government in this country.  We are a republic which is “A form of government in which power is explicitly vested in the people, who in turn exercise their power through elected representatives. Today, the terms republic and democracy are virtually interchangeable, but historically the two differed. Democracy implied direct rule by the people, all of whom were equal, whereas republic implied a system of government in which the will of the people was mediated by representatives, who might be wiser and better educated than the average person. In the early American republic, for example, the requirement that voters own property and the establishment of institutions such as the Electoral College were intended to cushion the government from the direct expression of the popular will.” The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved April 24, 2014, from website

What is the problem?  Republic and democracy are not synonyms.  Rep. Tim Murphy did not go through his district in Pennsylvania and ask the opinion of the majority of persons with a psychiatric label what they thought should be in the law and then write the law based on a participatory process where the main input came from the people most impacted by the law.  He did not use anything that remotely looks like participatory democracy to come up with a law.  The only thing he did right was to give it a wonderful sounding name.
The deception of representation runs so deep in our country that most of us still say we have a democracy.  If democracy means the more money you have the greater voice you have, then keep telling yourself you live in a democracy.  I know I don’t.  I have been locked away against my will without having committed a crime which should never happen to a person living in a democracy.  This bill probably will not make it, but they already have enough laws on the books.  People with a psychiatric label already have lost many of their human rights in the United States.  Rep. Murphy just wants to take more.  He can try because we don’t live in a democracy.   We are being deceived by representative government controlled by how much money a person can contribute to a campaign.  Too harsh?  Then try being locked up for a few months in the nearest state hospital and then give your opinion.

© Ed Cooper, 4/24/14, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved

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