My very good friend Marcia Meyers of Portland, Oregon is one of the most powerful leaders I have seen in my nearly 40 years of activism in the little-known movement for deep change in the mental health industry. She joined my amazing wife Debra, some friends and me for a backyard party at our Eugene home this summer and brought to my attention an issue that deserves a larger audience. Marcia’s story riveted me because it involves activism, madness, psychiatric torture of her beloved daughter, Unitarianism, secret poisoned-pen letters, Scientology and global warming!
So while I have been blogging for a few years, please understand that this post is the longest one yet. The major web site Mad in America, which is now like the Huffington Post of over-throwing psychiatry and inspired by the books of journalist Bob Whitaker, is picking up my blog for re-distribution. My primary concern here is with honoring the incredible work of Marcia and her group Rethinking Psychiatry. Marcia can teach our whole social change movement an important lesson about unity that can help all people as we struggle against environmental catastrophe, which I call “Normalgeddon.”
I include my top 11 ways that our Mad Movement can reunite, none of which involved any religion.
Thank you Marcia Meyers!
Marcia is a 68-year-old, effusive retired teacher, who in her own words, “Identifies, in this order, as a grandmother, a teacher and an activist.” She dedicated 33 years to teaching in the public school system, during which she was active in the teacher’s union, both locally and nationally. Marcia describes this work as foundational to the activism that would follow. As she puts it, “From my many years of teaching and my years of union work I honed my skills as an organizer and activist.”
Marcia retired in 1999 and attended the World Trade Organization protest, the huge Battle in Seattle, later that year. This event was particularly transformative. She told me, “The new and privileged freedom of retirement along with this historic event catapulted me into local and national economic justice activist work.” It was in the wake of the Battle in Seattle that Marcia began her work with the Economic Justice Action Group of the First Unitarian Church of Portland. This branch of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) church is one of the largest congregations ever, and for five years, has provided a safe, supportive home and platform for Marcia to fight corporate personhood.
The trajectory of Marcia’s work was changed once more about four years ago, when her youngest daughter was suddenly and inexplicably brutalized by the police and criminal justice system, and incarcerated in an Oregon state mental institution. Marcia refers to the trauma that her daughter was subjected to as “needle-rape.” Her daughter, a 28-year old vegan who believes in natural medicine and does not drink, smoke or voluntarily use drugs, was held down and forcibly injected by psychiatric workers. The Oregon psychiatric system locked up and involuntarily medicated this precious family member for an entire year. From April 2010 to April 2011, Marcia’s daughter continuously resisted as Zyprexa, Haldol, Abilify, Risperdal and Ambien were forced into her body. Without warning, she was suddenly released. Of her daughter, Marcia says, “She remains very sensitive, caring and creative as well as more challenged than ever by the contradictions of this reality and in trusting others.”