101 about 'mad movement'

101 about 'mad movement'

Postby davidwoaks » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:04 am

We in Oregon are so aware of so many social change movements! One reason I've lived here for 28 years.

But I wonder how many people in Oregon... or in the Occupy movement... know that the very first radical 'psychiatric survivor' liberation group began 42 years ago, right in Portland, Oregon?

There are some radical activists who are aware of the 'mad movement.' For instance, the fascinating magazine AD BUSTERS is generally acknowledged for actually launching the very idea of Occupy Wall Street, even though they are based up north in Vancouver, Canada. But how many people know that AD BUSTERS is also a big supporter of the mad movement? They even did a special issue on MAD PRIDE some time ago, because they are interested in challenging what is generally (and falsely) considered 'normal'!

That issue of Adbusters called MindFreedom International, right here in Eugene, the "epicenter of the madmovement."

So please take a few seconds to review a bit of 101 about the Mad Movement, and MindFreedom... and the intersection with Occupy.

Let's see... how to sum up a movement...


Along with the upsurge in movement activism in the 1960's in a lot of movements, a bunch of psychiatric survivors -- that is people who had been abused in the mental health system -- organized grassroots groups in the USA, Europe, Australia, etc. The Portland, Oregon group had one of those 1960's names, too: Insane Liberation Front!

Over these past four decades, a diverse international grassroots movement has developed 'under the radar' of the mainstream media, and even of a lot of progressive alternative media.

Back in the 1970's, I was referred by my university -- where I had experienced mental health issues myself -- to intern for one of the early radical groups: Mental Patients Liberation Front.

So since that time in 1976 -- now 35 years -- I've worked with literally thousands of people and hundreds of groups working for deep change and challenging the mental health industry, and I'm really grateful.


Lane County is a very special place in support of the freedom of mind, so it's no coincidence that this became the home of MindFreedom International, a nonprofit project launched 25 years ago, that has an office right here in Growers Market, 454 Willamette, Eugene. Our office door faces the new Occupy Eugene office, so I look forward to cross-fertilization.

MindFreedom International has sought to keep alive the original goals of our movement... to connect with ALL movements for global nonviolent revolution. Nonviolent revolution is actually in our MFI mission statement!

Because this field is generally of very poor people, as is the whole 'disability' movement,' then most activities tend to be funded by the government -- such as community centers, conferences, etc.

But MFI is one of the groups that has striven to keep the independent activist spirit going. An example of the kind of support we get is in the Community Village in Oregon Country Fair. We've been there 'forever' in the Doors of Expression booth (next to Wild Edibles), and we have a MAD PRIDE celebration in the village each year.


You can click around the web to find out more information about this movement....

Of course, you can start at our web site:


Some other groups you can google about and connect with, and check out their links are:

ICARUS PROJECT -- lots of young adults, celebrating mental labels as 'dangerous gifts'
BAZELON CENTER - law group and sponsor of MFI
NATIONAL COALITION FOR MENTAL HEALTH RECOVERY - main mental health consumer alliance
WORLD NETWORK OF USERS AND SURVIVORS OF PSYCHIATRY - working on enacting Convention for Rights of Persons with Disabilities

and many more....

Wikipedia has some articles about PSYCHIATRIC SURVIVOR movement. '


Like many people, you're probably busy.

If you want to get blipped alerts now and again about LOCAL activity related to MindFreedom Lane County click just sign up here free:
http://lists.mindfreedom.org/lists/list ... ounty-news

Incredibly for a small county like ours, more than 800 people are on that Lane County news list.

For national news alerts, etc. sign up on the MFI public list, which has about 10,000 folks on it here:
http://lists.mindfreedom.org/lists/list ... ounty-news

But a great thing about living together in a county is we can actually talk face to face...

An easy place is the FIRST WEDNESDAY MINDFREEDOM ROUNDTABLE. Every First Wednesday for 104 such First Wednesdays (!), MindFreedom Lane County has had an open free discussion group with snacks. It's at 5:30 pm. The next one will be Wednesday, 4 January, and the topic is on what I've discussed above -- a "101" intro about the basics of the 'mad movement.' What is it? What are some core principles? What are some of the groups?

As we move into 2012, we have a special intersection with the Occupy movement... We are calling for the nonviolent peaceful occupation of the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting. We've actually done about 10 peaceful protests over the years of APA. But this time we have months to prepare, and learning from Occupy, we are encouraging simultaneous actions. You can find out more by going to our BOYCOT NORMAL web site, which redirects to info including the APA protest, here:

THANK YOU everyone who supports Occupy... and has taken the time to read so far...

Know that we are supportive a global nonviolent revolution....

Our people have some lessons.... Like the value of combining mutual support with activism... the value of empowerment and self-determination... and the Big Secret of our movement which is that extreme mental and emotional distress -- 'out of touch with reality' kind of crisis -- is actually a universal state, from womb to tomb, 24/7... BUT there's hope. With enough support, democracy, wisdom, we can all work together to make our 'best guess,' though none of us has an absolute grip on reality, ever.

And if you doubt that Big Insight of our movement.... then consider that what is generally called 'normal' behavior is impoverishing billions and wrecking the fabric of our planet. Individuals with the most significant psychiatric label, on their worst day, aren't destroying a planet.

Finally... We are not alone on this.... Martin Luther King for over 10 years called for creating -- he really did -- an INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF CREATIVE MALADJUSTMENT. Google that incredible phrase! King over and over said he was proud to be psychologically maladjusted! He twice jumped out of a window as a pre-teen by the way. Yes, finding out that MLK called for an IAACM over and over is a mind blower for many-an-activist. But he did.

One of MLK's biggest dream - his IAACM never quite happened -- but now it can, because of Occupy and billions of people in the world waking up....

Looking forward to next steps....

In mad support,


David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International
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Re: 101 about 'mad movement'

Postby kokomojo » Fri Dec 23, 2011 6:59 pm

Thanks for this post David and for opening up the dialogue in the forums about the mad movement. No matter the shape the occupy movement takes in Eugene or elsewhere, I look forward to learning more, hearing more, highlighting more information about the mad movement and breaking down barriers within all our social and economic justice movements!
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Re: 101 about 'mad movement'

Postby davidwoaks » Mon Dec 26, 2011 1:15 pm

Thanks so much for affirming the importance of open dialogue, discussion and learning about topics involved with mental and emotional well being!

As you may know, you are one of the very few the past two months to really reach out and say that these topics ought to be discussed, you suggested a forum for that. I've proposed this for the GA on Thursday, 29 Dec.

I'd especially like to welcome people here to explore these topics who are absolutely brand new to this issue, who may have no direct connection to the topic, who feel they don't know a lot. YOU are the folks who especially need to take this issue back from the 'experts'!

So pardon if this post is a little long... but....

EVERYONE is impacted by the way our society looks at and deals with extreme and overwhelming mental and emotional challenges.

In fact, what I am saying is really that 100 percent of everyone who exists is dealing with extreme and overwhelming mental and emotional challenges, every moment.

One thing I feel I've learned in 35 years of activism in this field is about the peculiar "mute button" one experiences on the topic of mental health and psychiatry.

For one thing, there's a tendency for people to stay in the closet about having been given a psychiatric label, for example. And who can blame folks? A common 'serious' label today is schizophrenic or bipolar. This is becoming more and more widespread, including among young people. And guess what, that means one can end up under the umbrella of "psychotic." Can you imagine a worse closet in our society to come out of? Even progressive people might pause for a moment upon hearing that their new neighbor, or the man dating their sister, is a "diagnosed psychotic."

A way around this is to get more DISCUSSIONS going about mental health, even if one is not sure about these topics. Ask questions. Discuss them. Break the silence.

One thing that I think helps in 2011, is that in the past 10 years we now have evidence that so-called 'normal behavior' is not just cause problems on our planet... but, through things like the climate crisis, threatens to shred the planetary eco-fabric itself! The 'silver lining' in this data about climate crisis, is that it puts 100 percent of humanity -- all of us -- in the same boat. This isn't about that 'crazy' person wrecking tents and screaming in the middle of the night. We all have a LOT more in common with that individual than we have differences! This is a challenging insight to witness, and sit with, and contemplate. The implications are immense. But I hope our social change movement led by psychiatric survivors can reassure people when they make this discovery -- as more are -- that there is HOPE.

Even with extreme, overwhelming mental and emotional problems, with enough wise support, peer communities, creative maladjustment... one can be a contributing and even joyful member of our community.

As economic and ecological disaster holds a mirror up to humanity, more and more of our society are making the Big Discovery... that to be human is to be involved in what might be generally labeled "psychosis," the word origin of which is simply Soul Sickness. Remember Martin Luther King, who would repeatedly counsel us that our society's major challenge is in fact dealing with SOUL SICKNESS. This is the soul sickness of violence... of poverty... of war... We are all in the same effort together, toward mutual healing and recovery. Every one of us.

If we get over the segregation that puts a certain group into "those people" over there... we can realize all of us are in the same boat.

This is one reason i was saying if we do another camp... Then we need to be empowered enough to say 'no' to anyone who violates the rules. Yes, even if someone violates fair rules because they have mental health issues. In fact, ESPECIALLY if someone violates a rule because of mental health problems, he or she needs to be held accountable -- not demonized, but held accountable. One of the worst things we can do to an individual is to not hold them accountable because we claim they have absolutely no hope of having insight into their behavior! Even if they negative behavior is from head injury, the only way neurplasticity has a chance to emerge to explore their potential for recovery, is to have some accountability.

So everyone... Jump in... ask questions... discuss mental and emotional challenges. Don't wait until a loved one, or you, or a precious OE campsite is confronted with these issues, and we become desperate to find out more information. Thanks and happy holidays!


David Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International
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Re: 101 about 'mad movement'

Postby Majeska » Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:04 pm

David, thanks for all that information and INSPIRATION. I think it's a great proposal and plan to be at GA to support it. I'll also be hoping the upcoming city task force on unhoused is open to new ideas and approaches related to this. It may be up to MFI/OE-supportive folks, at the table and in the audience and on the email lists, to bring it up and organize for it.
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