Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Have you lived on the streets when your mind was betraying you?  If the answer to that question is no, then stop trying to make policy or decisions for those of us who have.  You do not have enough knowledge to even be at the table.  

There is almost nothing that makes me madder than to see people like D J Jaffe or Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) trying to speak for folks they don’t know and who are living through experiences they have never been through and who are living on the streets which neither one have done.  It takes lots of arrogance, paternalism and impertinence to believe as they must that you have ownership of another human being.  

You may think this is not a human rights issue, but if you had spent as much time on the streets as I have you would know that it is a human and civil rights issue.  Who gave Jaffe, Murphy or anyone else the right to take me off the street and lock me up in a mental illness facility?  It is not a crime to be free.  The streets belong to the people and I am a person.  We, (veterans, families and others) are harassed and treated like we are not human simply because we do not have a home or we have chosen not to live in traditional housing.

These two and lots of other people need to read The Seduction of Madness by Edward M. Podvoll, M.D. and be introduced to the concept that there is not any such thing as perpetual psychosis.  Dr. Podvoll talks about “islands of clarity.”  He means that no matter how psychotic I get I will have periods of clear thinking.  Jaffe’s argument that we need to be locked away until we think straight is not straight thinking.  It is a phony and flawed argument not based in reality and the facts of real life of those of us who are now living on the streets or have lived on the streets.

Court ordered treatment does not work very well whether it is from a drug court, mental health court or some other court if the person does not decide to go along.  I was involved in the first mental health court in Broward County, FL (claimed to be the first in the country), but I soon bailed because the judge did not listen to the person at all.  My point is you don’t need a court order.  You need to get the person to agree to what you want to do to be helpful to them.  The help needs to be something they want not something you perceive they need. The fix-it syndrome has no place in helping folks. They might if it is truly person-centered (Carl Rogers definition) and if you can show you see them as fully human.

On Our Own By Judi Chamberlin (1944 - 2010) is a book important to persons with lived experience.  The premise is very simple although her story is not.  Leave us alone and let us do it ON OUR OWN.  We do not need you Jaffe. We do not need you Rep. Murphy.  You do not own us.

© Ed Cooper, 1/27/2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
All rights reserved

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