Disability Movement Tips About Supporting Each Other During Crisis (Like a Trump Presidency)  

 

A Gold Lining: People Are Finally Using the Word, “Revolution”!

Now! Today General Strike!

 

More Than Ever, Let Us Support MindFreedom International

 

By David W. Oaks

dw-oaks-standingchair-2016

I tried out a “standing chair” during my rehab.

Stand up now & fight back!

“Now” in Lithuanian, my heritage, is “Dabar”!

Dabar, General Strike!

Last month we watched my nation’s presidential inauguration. The reality of the USA’s catastrophic election started to sink in. Today is a General Strike, and you will find me downtown in Eugene, Oregon today at noon at the Park Blocks with dozens of others, 8th and Oak. (Change of plans for me: getting to Park Blocks later.)

Today is also a very important day for me, February 17, which is the commemoration for Giordano Bruno, the last person to be burnt at the stake in the Inquisition, back in 1600. As readers of my blog know, Bruno is very important to my family, starting with my grandfather. But more on that later.

Today I will attend a protest march. However, even if you voted for Donald Trump, my intuition is that your disappointment has already started, dabar.

But I notice a number of gold linings, recently:

A lot more people are starting to use the word “revolution.”

For another, as I have often hoped, the word “normality” is no longer being used much.

We must look, and keep looking, for gold linings. I draw here upon the wisdom of the disability movement, which I have been an activist in for more than four decades. I have especially been a community organizer for deep change in the mental health system.

I am a psychiatric survivor. That is, about 40 years ago, as a working class kid going to Harvard, I ended up in psychiatric institutions five times, where I experienced forced drug injections and solitary confinement. I graduated anyway, in 1977.

I helped start one of the key independent groups in the psychiatric survivor movement, MindFreedom International, and I was the Executive Director for about 25 years. The MindFreedom community, and their hard-working board, have won many campaigns for human rights in mental health care over the years. Four years ago, I fell and broke my neck, and because of complications, I had to retire from working for this superb group.

The past four years I have been doing about two dozen rehab activities, so I have been a bit isolated. But now is a good time to say “I am still alive,” and share what I have learned. My main goal in this note is to encourage everyone to give urgent support to MindFreedom International, which as we will see is going through a crisis of its own.

A Whole Lot of Falling Sure is Happening Now

Yes, Uncle Sam certainly fell down at the voting booth in November. The very same week as the election, the global climate crisis talks in Morocco fell apart. It feels as if the world is paralysed over the climate crisis.

As the author Hunter S. Thompson once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” With the world slowly coming to the realisation that we are all, 100%, collectively “disabled,” both physically and mentally, let’s turn to the social change movement led by people with disabilities for some tips about how to get through these trying times, and even to thrive.

Here is something you can tangibly do: Support the crucial nonprofit MindFreedom International, which has worked independently for decades to radically change the mental health system.

We wonder why the world seems to be stuck right now, well one of the reasons is that centuries of psychiatric oppression of new thinking has taken a toll. The population gets these messages: Avoid any reality that is uncomfortable, and thinking outside of the box is often punished.

Because people in the mental health system tend to be so poor, the vast majority of activities in the mental health consumer field have been government-funded: The conferences, the offices, the research.

MindFreedom has maintained its independence, and it is one of the few groups in the mental health advocacy field that receives its funding from everyday people and a few foundations who care about human rights.

While I am proud that MindFreedom International has avoided mental health system funding, I have always tried to maintain a supportive relationship with my many colleagues who work for groups that are funded by the government. But now, especially now, we need groups that are free from mental health system strings. We need groups to be activist.  

MindFreedom is a positive way to challenge this oppression. And now we must all come through for MindFreedom.

We Can All Learn From The Disability Movement

The disability movement is one of the biggest in the world, though we usually think of “disability” as being only about part of the population. Perhaps now we can realize that the disability movement encompasses every single person and their whole life, all the time. Let me explain.

It has been about four years since I fell off a ladder and broke my neck, becoming a quad in a powerchair with some additional challenges: An impaired voice. My fingers that used to type more than a hundred words a minute, and played improvisational piano music for 50 years, now cannot move independently.

For the past few years, I have been doing physical therapy, vocal exercises, and even had a surgical implant in my vocal fold. And now I am coming out of my rehab closet to encourage you to free your minds, and support MindFreedom International with your time and money.

A few days ago, I talked with my friend, the brilliant retired psychologist, Al Galves, of New Mexico. Al is MindFreedom Treasurer, and he reports: “From 2004 when I joined the Board to 2012 when David got hurt, MindFreedom received at least $65,000 a year in membership dues, donations and grants. Since David’s accident we have been limping along on less than $10,000 a year.” I guess that is a kind of compliment for me, but the bottom line is that my accident took quite a toll on MindFreedom.

“This is understandable,” said Al. He went on to say this about the difference between when I worked for MindFreedom and when I retired: “David was spending a lot of his time on membership relations and fundraising. Without a full-time, paid Executive Director we were unable to sustain that kind of income.”

I asked the MindFreedom board how we can all be supportive. Al said: “We are hoping that this appeal to our long-time members, friends and supporters will gain us enough money to rebuild our membership relations and fundraising capacity and return to our previous level of activity.”

Each one of us is called to support MindFreedom with both donations and also your time. Please help MindFreedom immediately. If you need more motivation, here are my top seven reasons why it is time to volunteer and/or donate to MFI now:

  1. Resist Forced Outpatient Psych Drugs! At about the same time as the election, less noticed was this tragedy: The US Congress fell down, too, when it voted overwhelmingly in favor of the multi-billion dollar 21st Century Cures Act. This was a huge bill, but deep down inside it included millions of federal dollars in support of outpatient coercive psychiatric drugging, from what was once called “the Murphy bill.” That’s right, the federal government will now support, with taxpayer dollars, getting a court order and forcing many Americans to take powerful psychiatric drugs against their will, while living at home out in the community. Note that this awful idea came from a “small government” politician, Tim Murphy (R-PA). We need independent, activist groups such as MindFreedom to challenge what amounts to chemical warfare. Studies show that this outpatient forced psychiatric drugging is disproportionately done to people of color. #BlackLivesMatter!
  2. Yes, USA Psychiatrists Still Do Involuntary Electroshock! By far my favorite campaigns at MindFreedom were stopping occasional instances of forced electroshock, which is electricity to the brain. Here in the USA, electroshock is usually signed for by the patient, but there is still the use of involuntary electroshock, now and again. Incredibly, sometimes forced shock is done even with a court order on an outpatient basis. For example, direct your search engine to: Ray Sandford. Every Wednesday morning, a van picked him in his group home in Minnesota for another court-ordered involuntary electroshock at a nearby hospital. Ray phoned us for help and we activated thousands and of course won. Want to unite good Republicans, Democrats, Greens and Libertarians? Fight forced shock, and all good Americans of all political persuasions are outraged. All you have to do is prove that forced shock is a reality, such as producing court papers. MindFreedom is the main group to expose and fight this atrocity, which is actually pretty common in poorer countries.
  3. Let’s Support People Who Are Resisting and Escaping Their Forced Outpatient Psych Drugs. Here is a “creative maladjustment” to the absurdity of the USA Congress approving millions for involuntary outpatient psychiatric care: Almost all USA States have these outpatient commitment laws. MindFreedom has over the years supported about a half-dozen American citizens who have pursued their own underground railroad to evade forced outpatient drugging. A weak spot in forced outpatient treatment, is that people can simply leave their region or State to escape. You may read about one of these successful escapes by directing your search engine to this phrase: gabriel hadd mindfreedom. One proponent of forced outpatient drugging knows about this vulnerability, and has even discussed his need for a federal extradition law. But at this time, there is no such law. Yet. Today, there is no known underground railroad for psychiatric survivors. The MindFreedom family supports human rights and can applaud people who create such an underground railroad for themselves, so if anyone could support such a sanctuary movement, it would be MindFreedom. There is even a great name for such a campaign: C/S/X Railroad. Let’s make this support real, by proposing this idea! (Note that I am not on the MFI board, and this is a proposal.)
  4. During a Crisis, Let’s Use Alternative Supports. MindFreedom has pointed the way to common sense, humane options other than corporate mental health. Create your small group for mutual support. At any moment we all can use creative thinking right now, the mind is free! Al Galves said this: “In 2014, 2015 and 2016 MindFreedom held ‘Creative Revolution in Mental Health’ conferences in which we advocated, promoted and supported alternatives to the medical model in mental health. These were well-attended, full of energy and inspiring to those great people who have created these alternatives.”
  5. MindFreedom is for Revolution! For many years, the MindFreedom mission statement has included a call for a “nonviolent revolution.” In fact, the Wikipedia page about “nonviolent revolution” has long included MindFreedom International as a model of a group with that goal. For example, Martin Luther King would say that the salvation of the world may lay in the hands of the “creatively maladjusted.” He repeatedly brought up this theme for more than a decade. MLK said the world was in dire need of an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. This IAACM was a dream of MLK that never became realized. But MindFreedom has made the IAACM real, and the physician psychiatric survivor Patch Adams is the honorary chair. The IAACM will soon launch a new project, for a preview see: http://www.LoveEarthRevolution.org Celia Brown, an African American psychiatric survivor activist, leads the hard-working board of MindFreedom. She said: “We need independent, activist and civil rights groups to challenge mass incarceration, oppressive psychiatric laws and racism that threaten the wellbeing of our people. MindFreedom encourages your voice to liberate mind, body and spirit, create non-violent alternatives and human rights for all. I’m proud to be creatively maladjusted.”
  6. This Grassroots Group Uses Every Donation Effectively! MindFreedom has a very specific and effective goal that can be reached with your donation: A new website. However, MindFreedom has many great ways to use every dollar that is donated to them. Janet Foner, long-time board member and co-founder of MFI, said “Donate to MFI to help us run our campaigns, to help us do another MFI Creative Revolution Conference, and to help us spread the word to new affiliates, etc.” Please help them today. You can support MFI by donating and/or volunteering, especially with the Shield and support calls.
  7. MindFreedom is a Powerful Way to Unite! Even after retiring from MFI’s staff, and now as “just” a member, I find being in touch with MFI is a way to be a part of a great community. One of the biggest challenges for me as an organizer during my time at MindFreedom, is that many of us psychiatric survivors prefer to pursue our own individual paths, like lone wolves. But even lone wolves might benefit now and again by travelling in a pack! I have met so many people who are grateful for MindFreedom putting them in touch with our social change movement. Sue Barnhart, a social worker with more than 30 years experience said, “MindFreedom may be the first organization that people find that offers alternatives to medication, such as education and support.”

To get involved with MindFreedom, see MFI’s website at: http://www.mindfreedom.org

To go directly to the DONATE button on the right side of the home page, click here: http://www.mindfreedom.org/join-donate

To see MFI’s Facebook page, search for MindFreedom International, or go directly here: https://www.facebook.com/MindFreedom-International-33579368821/?fref=ts

Those interested may stay in touch with me: davidwoaks@gmail.com. My blog is at www.davidwoaks.com

Please forward this appeal to support MindFreedom to others who understand the value of free, united minds!

For more info about the General Strike, go here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1190364557743669/

National link:

http://www.strike4democracy.com/

Info about today, February 17, remember Giordano Bruno, who died on the stake, burnt by the Inquisition, his statue in Rome, facing the Vatican:

Here on this blog:

February 17th is a great day for free minds and to remember Giordano Bruno!

On the web:

http://freethoughtalmanac.com/?p=1390

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno

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Winona, Water Protectors, Kogi & Gold Thread: My Newest Letter in Eugene Weekly

Here is my brief letter to the editor this week in Eugene’s main alternative newspaper. So far, I am in dialogue with the editor of the University of Oregon Emerald, and he does not see any reason to publish it.

We Younger Brothers must hear the warning from Elder Brother about Earth, now, now!

We Younger Brothers must hear the warning from Elder Brother about Earth, now, now!

LISTEN TO ELDER BROTHER

Winona LaDuke, Native American environmental leader and executive director of Honor the Earth, spoke to many hundreds of us in Eugene in November.

Before the program, attendees might have noticed a spool of golden thread was unraveled person-to-person, starting near the front and reaching individuals in the back. We are all connected, hanging by a thread.

This independent activity was inspired by the Kogi people, an indigenous civilization in Colombia. They call themselves “Elder Brothers” and have been warning “Younger Brothers” about the risk environmental catastrophe poses to life.

Scientists know that the lag between extra carbon in our atmosphere and negative effects is about 40 years. Harm from this year’s pollution will not be experienced for a long time. If enough positive feedback loops are triggered, we face chaos and unknown hazards.

In the Kogi people’s documentary film Aluna, which is free on the internet, we can learn from the way golden thread is used by the Kogi. Each of us has the powerful influence of the butterfly effect and can lead a peaceful, global revolution.

Let us not wait a moment longer. We Younger Brothers must hear the Kogi and leaders such as Winona LaDuke. Now.

David W. Oaks, Eugene

Following this blog entry is my letter to the Eugene Weekly editor that was published last month about the both the local and US Chamber of Commerce remaining silent about the climate crisis. Meanwhile, the big news is that we are moving forward on the pre-launch for LoveEarthRevolution, you may see the splash page on the preliminary website.

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Letter to Editor of Eugene Weekly: Dakota Access Pipeline & Chamber of Commerce

Oregon Community Credit Union leader will become chair of Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce in January 2017.

Oregon Community Credit Union leader will become chair of Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce in January 2017.

The local alternative paper, Eugene Weekly, published my letter to the editor today, 12/15/16. At the end, please see a way you can email a peaceful, strong note to Mandy Jones.

Climate Crisis

The Native American Water Protectors’ victory over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) may seem remote, but there is a way this climate crisis issue is directly in front of me, and all Americans.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, based in Washington, D.C., is one of the main groups championing DAPL and the petrochemical-industry rape of Earth. The climate defender group 350 asked for five years that local chambers assert their independence and say “the U.S. Chamber doesn’t speak for me.” Unfortunately, only 56 out of 3,000 of these local chambers have spoken up.

Rather than viewing this as a failure, I look at it as a challenge.

Several activists and I have petitioned the local Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, but despite many years of emails, peaceful protests and outreach, the leadership has maintained silence about the climate crisis and the U.S. Chamber.

In 2017, the chair of the local chamber will be Mandy Jones, the chief executive officer for Oregon Consumer Credit Union. I’ve been a proud member of OCCU since 1988. I am encouraging OCCU, as a member-owned entity, to ask the local chamber to speak up about the climate crisis.

David Oaks, Eugene

Action: Please send a message to Ms. Mandy Jones about how you encourage OCCU to speak out about the climate crisis and the US Chamber. Use the website here, and put your comment on the left side form: https://www.myoccu.org/contact-us

For more info about 350 campaign started in 2001 about the US Chamber, see:  http://chamber.350.org/

For news about Eugene-area activity about the chamber, see:  http://www.davidwoaks.com/normalgeddon

 

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Our “Tour” to the Office of Our Congressperson, Rep. Peter DeFazio, Opposing Forced Psych Drugs

 Thanks, this was from our gathering on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, at Kesey Square. We visited the office Rep. Peter DeFazio to object to his sponsorship of a bill that would increase coerced psychiatry on an outpatient basis. Left to right on top: Ian, Dale, Sarah, Howard. And that is me sitting down!

This was from our gathering on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, at Kesey Square. We visited the office Rep. Peter DeFazio to object to his sponsorship of a bill that would increase coerced psychiatry on an outpatient basis. Left to right on top: Ian, Dale, Sarah, Howard, and that is me sitting down! (Photo by Dale Kegley.)

We are hearing a lot about how the Democratic and Republican parties are so separate. But when it comes to psychiatric survivors, both parties have been willing to throw our folks under a bus. The US Congress simply does not represent us.

Our local alternative newspaper, Eugene Weekly, described our event this way:

International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment says it hosts a “little peaceful Speak Out Against Psychiatric Dosing” event in Kesey Square 1:30 pm Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. Organizer David Oaks says, “After speakers and an open mic, we will march together to the office of Rep. Pete DeFazio, to object to his co-sponsorship of a bill that would increase outpatient coercion in mental health.” Free.

About a dozen of us held this “Tour” here in Eugene, Oregon to educate the public and our congressperson about human rights and mental health. Unfortunately, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who has for decades been a progressive champion of the underdog, has been terribly misinformed, and is a co-sponsor of the worst mental health legislation I have ever seen.

Known as the Murphy Law, thankfully H.R. 2646 has been held up by the US Senate, so far. The worst part of this proposal is that it would give millions of federal taxpayer dollars to support forced outpatient commitment. That is, courts could order Americans living peacefully at home to take psychiatric drugs against their will.

Sarah Smith, MindFreedom, holds the mic for me, David Oaks, at our "tour."

Sarah Smith, MindFreedom, holds the mic for me, David Oaks, at our “tour.” (Photo by David Zupan.)

Incredibly, during a public debate in the “Letters to the Editor” of our Eugene Weekly, Rep. DeFazio not only defended his support, but for the first time in my decades of fighting Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), he tried to deny that this was mainly about forcing drugs. You may read the three-part published debate between me and Rep. DeFazio here.

What is this bill about, forced hugs? Forced hot chocolate? No, this is about forced drugs of people in their own homes. Frankly, forced hugs and forced hot chocolate are wrong, too. However, I guarantee, along with all the incredible mental health advocacy groups in the USA, that IOC is about the drugs. We have fought these bills on the state level for decades. However, now this is on the federal level, and somehow Rep. DeFazio has been tricked by proponents to believe this has little to do with forced drugs.

Our Tour from Kesey Square to the Federal Building

We started with an ice-breaking introduction at Kesey Square, next to a statue of Ken Kesey, my late friend who authored “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Among the participants were my friends Dale Kegley and David Zupan. Sarah Smith from MindFreedom was there. One of the main activist labeled autistic, Howard, was there. Psychiatric survivor Gail Roberts was present. Ian McTeague, a young local community organizer, pulled our wagon.

Or "tour" met with a staff person from Rep. Peter DeFazio's office, who came outside to meet with us. All the security in the Federal Building meant that our group could not get inside.

Our “tour” met with a staff person from Rep. Peter DeFazio’s office, who came outside to meet with us. All the security in the Federal Building meant that our group could not get inside. (Photo by David Zupan.)

Several other great activists were there, thanks! Like the cuckoo, we then flew East, on Broadway for a few blocks, to the huge, newish Federal Building. Since security refused to allow us all in, a staff person from Rep. DeFazio’s office came out to meet with us.

For more information about fighting the Murphy bill, and how you need to keep up pressure going into 2017, see my earlier blog entry here.
During our tour on Friday, we chose to deliver our message with humor and positivity. We gave them three awards, assuming “the real” Rep. DeFazio will appear some day and oppose the Murphy Bill. Here is the wording of the three awards:

Award # 1: For Your Future Accomplishment

Award # 1: For Your Future Accomplishment

Award # 1: For Your Future Accomplishment
Presented to THE REAL Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR).
We know the real you: A champion for the powerless. Soon you will see through the Murphy Law, and realize that forced pharma is a key part. Ken Kesey said “Dosing is always wrong!” No forced drugs!

November 4, 2016, International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment

 

Award # 2: For Saying “No” to Murphy

Award # 2: For Saying “No” to Murphy

Award # 2: For Saying “No” to Murphy
Presented to THE REAL Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR).
Please say to Murphy Law supporters: “If you support forced psychiatry, then you first!” Challenge them to get a mental health check-up first! Tell them that forced psych drugging is the Bill Cosby School of Mental Health.

November 4, 2016, International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment

Award # 3: The Golden Pill Bottle Award

Award # 3: The Golden Pill Bottle Award

Award # 3: The Golden Pill Bottle Award. (We affixed a bunch of golden-color pill bottles to the plaque for this one!)

Presented to THE REAL Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). Because you are a skeptic of big corporate power, you can spot the lies of Big Pharma. More than one half of the budget of NAMI comes from drug companies. The Murphy Law is by Big Pharma and would force their drugs! 

November 4, 2016, International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment

If You Live in the Eugene Area? 

Please contact the office of Rep. Peter DeFazio by email, now! This just takes a moment. Simply click on this link, and oppose H.R.2646: https://defazio.house.gov/contact/email-me

eugene-federal-building-defazio-office

The Big Pharma Connection

We are glad we discussed NAMI, which is one of the largest mental health advocacy groups. The individual from DeFazio’s office talked about NAMI, but did not know that a Senate investigation revealed that NAMI privately received a majority of its funds from pharmaceutical corporations. For more info about NAMI’s secret source of money, click here for a New York Times article from 2009 that sums up this issue.

The fact that the staff person brought up NAMI is so important, that I have copied the text from this New York Times article:

WASHINGTON — A majority of the donations made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the nation’s most influential disease advocacy groups, have come from drug makers in recent years, according to Congressional investigators.

The alliance, known as NAMI, has long been criticized for coordinating some of its lobbying efforts with drug makers and for pushing legislation that also benefits industry.

Last spring, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, sent letters to the alliance and about a dozen other influential disease and patient advocacy organizations asking about their ties to drug and device makers. The request was part of his investigation into the drug industry’s influence on the practice of medicine.

The mental health alliance, which is hugely influential in many state capitols, has refused for years to disclose specifics of its fund-raising, saying the details were private.

But according to investigators in Mr. Grassley’s office and documents obtained by The New York Times, drug makers from 2006 to 2008 contributed nearly $23 million to the alliance, about three-quarters of its donations.

Even the group’s executive director, Michael Fitzpatrick, said in an interview that the drug companies’ donations were excessive and that things would change.

“For at least the years of ’07, ’08 and ’09, the percentage of money from pharma has been higher than we have wanted it to be,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

He promised that the industry’s share of the organization’s fund-raising would drop “significantly” next year.

“I understand that NAMI gets painted as being in the pockets of pharmaceutical companies, and somehow that all we care about is pharmaceuticals,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. “It’s simply not true.”

Mr. Fitzpatrick said Mr. Grassley’s scrutiny, which he described as understandable given the attention paid to potential conflicts of interest in medicine, had led his organization to begin posting on its Web site the names of companies that donate $5,000 or more. And he predicted that other patient and disease advocacy groups would be prodded by Mr. Grassley’s investigation to do the same.

“Everyone I talk to wants to have more balanced fund-raising,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

In a statement, Mr. Grassley praised the alliance for its disclosures. “It’d be good for the system for other patient groups to do what NAMI has done,” he said.

Mr. Grassley’s scrutiny has been unnerving for patient and disease advocacy groups, which are often filled with sincere people who are either afflicted with serious illnesses themselves or have family members who have been affected. Many join the groups in the hope of making sense of their misfortune by helping to find a cure or raising awareness of a disease’s risks and frequency.

Drug makers are natural allies in these pursuits since cures may come out of corporate laboratories and the industry’s money can help finance public service campaigns and fund-raising dinners. But industry critics have long derided some patient organizations as little more than front groups devoted to lobbying on issues that affect industry profits, and few have come under more scrutiny for industry ties than the mental health alliance.

For years, the alliance has fought states’ legislative efforts to limit doctors’ freedom to prescribe drugs, no matter how expensive, to treat mental illness in patients who rely on government health care programs like Medicaid. Some of these medicines routinely top the list of the most expensive drugs that states buy for their poorest patients.

Mr. Fitzpatrick defended these lobbying efforts, saying they were just one of many the organization routinely undertook.

The close ties between the alliance and drug makers were on stark display last week, when the organization held its annual gala at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on Constitution Avenue in Washington. Tickets were $300 each. Before a dinner of roasted red bell pepper soup, beef tenderloin and tilapia, Dr. Stephen H. Feinstein, president of the alliance’s board, thanked Bristol-Myers Squibb, the pharmaceutical company.

“For the past five years, Bristol-Myers has sponsored this dinner at the highest level,” Dr. Feinstein said.

He then introduced Dr. Fred Grossman, chief of neuroscience research at Bristol-Myers, who told the audience that “now, more than ever, our enduring relationship with NAMI must remain strong.”

Documents obtained by The New York Times show that drug makers have over the years given the mental health alliance — along with millions of dollars in donations — direct advice about how to advocate forcefully for issues that affect industry profits. The documents show, for example, that the alliance’s leaders, including Mr. Fitzpatrick, met with AstraZeneca sales executives on Dec. 16, 2003.

Slides from a presentation delivered by the salesmen show that the company urged the alliance to resist state efforts to limit access to mental health drugs.

“Solutions: Play Hard Ball,” one slide was titled. “Hold policy makers accountable for their decisions in media and in election,” it continued.

The alliance’s own slides concluded by saying, “We appreciate AstraZeneca’s strong support of NAMI.”

Mr. Fitzpatrick said that the alliance frequently had such meetings and that the organization would fight for better access to mental health drugs “even if we had no relationship with pharmaceutical companies.”

Tony Jewell, an AstraZeneca spokesman, said that the company was “committed to improving health through partnerships with nonprofit organizations” and that “includes striving to ensure people can access our medicines through formularies managed by state Medicaid agencies.”

 

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My Debate With My Congressperson In the Letters to Editor

Here is my most recent letter, published by the Eugene Weekly, November 3, 2016. Below that is Rep. Peter DeFazio’s note about my concerns, published by the Eugene Weekly on October 20. Below that is my original letter published by EW October 6.

As part of a tour, “Keep Eugene Weirdest,” I will visit the office of Rep. Peter DeFazio tomorrow, Friday, November 4, 2016. For more info, and to join us, click here.

MENTAL HEALTH BILL

Rep. Pete DeFazio looks a bit grumpy.

Rep. Pete DeFazio, a progressive who has represented us in Eugene, Oregon since 1987. I have supported him, even when he has been grumpy. Now I am a write-in candidate to replace him.

In Eugene Weekly, Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR) and I have been debating a bill he is co-sponsoring, H.R. 2646. This complex proposal, more than 100 pages, is misnamed “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016.” It should be called “The Mental Health Consumer Dis-empowerment Act.”

The worst part: It gives federal money to support Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC). The euphemism for IOC is Assisted Outpatient Commitment (AOC). The heart of IOC, which I’ve fought in many states for decades, is mainly to require Americans living at home in the community to take powerful psychiatric drugs against their will.

Incredibly, Rep. DeFazio falsely reassures us that his bill would not emphasize forced drugs. He points out that state IOC law does not “include forced medication.” Of course not. Judges pride themselves in saying, “I’m not a doctor; I don’t prescribe.” Judges provide the coercion. Doctors prescribe.

The drug-based approach has undue influence in mental health. We don’t have space here to explore the pros and cons of psychiatric drugs. It can be common sense to choose a non-drug alternative, but Rep. DeFazio’s bill would make this decision more difficult, or impossible, for many Americans living at home.

David Oaks, Eugene

Rep. Peter DeFazio’s letter to the Eugene Weekly, published October 20:

MENTAL HEALTH PROGRESS

In the Oct. 6 edition of EW, local activist David Oaks claimed that legislation that I co-sponsored, along with 207 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, would force “Americans living peacefully in their own homes” to take psychiatric drugs under court order. This is simply not factually accurate. The bill, H.R. 2646, includes language that supports assisted outpatient therapy (AOT) programs for those within the community who are found to be mentally unstable and unwilling to seek voluntarily treatment, posing a serious threat to themselves and others. AOT is usually in the form of case management and personal therapy programs and does not necessarily require medical intervention. As I hope Mr. Oaks is aware, Oregon law already authorized AOT and Oregon’s statute is clear: AOT does not include forced medication. H.R. 2646 passed the House with a bi-partisan vote of 422-2. This common sense legislation was a huge step forward in improving our mental health system, and I’m proud to be a co-sponsor.

Peter DeFazio, 4th Congressional District Candidate, Eugene

My original letter in the Eugene Weekly, published October 6:

MENTAL HEALTH LAWS 

Rep. Pete DeFazio sadly co-sponsored the worst piece of mental health legislation I have seen in 42 years of human rights activism. HR 2646 is more than 100 pages long, so mainly lobbyists seem to know the details. The worst part is that this bill extends federal financial support for involuntary outpatient psychiatric treatment.

In other words, Americans living peacefully in their own homes could be court-ordered to take psychiatric drugs against their will. I call this approach the “Bill Cosby School of Mental Health.”

I have supported Pete for decades and interacted with Pete personally several times. He’s always been kind of grouchy. That is OK; everyone has a different style. But if Pete legislates for involuntary psychiatry despite many constituents trying to explain why this is horrifying, then we have the right to ask, “Has Pete ever had a mental health check-up himself?” If not, will he?

Those of us with psychiatric labels appear to be one of the last groups that get thrown under the bus, by both Democrats and Republicans. I hope the Senate stops the bill.

Following the revolutionary Micah White’s strategy, I have decided to place my name as a write-in candidate for Congress.

David Oaks, Eugene

Resource links:

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I, David Oaks, PsychoQuad, 1st “Stand-Up Comedy” July 30, 2016, “Bleepin’ Funny” Sam Bond’s Garage, Eugene, Oregon (10 min version)

Below, you can watch the ten-minute video of me, David W. Oaks, getting laughs and a standing ovation during this version, with captions, of my stand-up comedy, Summer 2016.

Before I broke my neck in 2012, I was director of MindFreedom International with more than 40 years as a community organizer. I am a human rights psychiatric survivor activist and I have spoken in a dozen countries. This is my first paid public speaking gig after my fall. Thanks to my friend David Zupan for his great video work of my comedy, where I praise the great disability support I receive, “Keep Eugene Weirdest!”

 

This full version of the comedy, with the popular line “Hey you’re all going to die!” can be appreciated by anyone, but includes a few local references:

  • Oregon Country Fair is a huge gathering each July near Eugene in the woods, with thousands of volunteer-participants. I am an Elder there.
  • George Braddock at OCF, helps organize the huge Ritz sauna there, and is an expert on disability, especially bathrooms.
  • Making a news announcement here, I say I am running against Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR) as a write-in this election, because of Pete’s co-sponsorship of a bill that would increase forced outpatient psychiatric treatment. I call this the “Bill Cosby School of Mental Health,” and I wonder if Pete needs psychiatric help, first.
  • This public gig was at the monthly stand-up comedy event at a community gathering place, Sam Bond’s Garage. “Bleepin’ Funny” happens every month led by comedian Leigh Anne Jasheway, who can be seen sitting near the front of the crowd.
  • Also, on the stage you can see one of my several employees, Ian.
  • I often have creative events at Kesey Square, in downtown Eugene, named for my friend, the late Ken Kesey, local author of the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
  • My next event there will be Friday, November 4, 2016, at 1:30 pm. You can read more about this free tour on my blog at: http://www.davidwoaks.com/keep-eugene-weirdest

Below you will find a transcript of my comedy:

“Bleepin’ Funny Comedy Night” 9.25 min. version at Sam Bonds; Eugene, Oregon on July 30th, 2016

DAVID OAKS

[applause] Ian’s great. Thank you, Ian. Let’s hear it for Ian. [applause, cheering]

These guys are amazing. I have about eight employees, and they’re great. Thank you.

So, everybody, I am David Oaks, PsychoQuad. [applause, cheering]

So, ah, so really will we find something funny here?

A funny thing happened on the way up a ladder to get our cat, Bongo.

Now this was in December, 2012,

which you call the end of the Mayan calendar.

Right? I did not believe in that BS.

So my, uh, shoes were wet and in going for Bongo… and, well, I fell.

So Lee Anne Jashaway [hostess for this comedy night] suggested I talk about the worst case scenario.

Hey, you’re all gonna die. [applause, cheering] Thanks.

No, really, the moment I fell I got more labels.

But I had an advantage.

In ancient days, 40 years ago, I was a working class kid going to Harvard and it flipped me out.

So I ended up in a psychiatric institution five times and it flipped me out.

Alright. So a dozen shrinks diagnosed me as psychotic. It’s true.

That means “psychotic,” that means… [pause]

Hey, bar guy!

Hey, bar guy. If you make a noise, I’ll get your address and be in your life! [applause, cheering]

Is that clear? Alright.  

Anyway, so there I was now with a psychiatric label.

I’ve had a lot of time to think. 4,000 hours of NPR. [laughter]

Alright. My main label is not what you think.

My main label is, I see some of you, “White Older Guy.”

“White Older Guy” or a WOG. [loud laughter] That’s my label.

Now, we’ve had a good run. 10,000 years.

Ok, we’re about to leave. We’re shuffling off. Alright.

Alright. Please, please, learn from our mistakes. [loud laughter]

Please. It’s your planet but uh….

So the number one group to help me

over the last 42 months is surprising:

It is Oregon Country Fair. [cheering] They win.

I don’t know if they were aware they were competing,

but wow I mean, you have got Debra, my wife, who is way ahead

ah, accessibility workers, you name it.

My bathroom is by George Braddock at the Ritz.

I mean wowie zowie.

So, I do not recommend that you break your neck anywhere. [laughter]

It is a tough way to be surrounded by great people like Ian and Emily.

But if you have to break your neck, do it here, Eugene, Oregon.

And my goal now, I want to be the weirdest in the world.

Weirdest in the world!

You heard about Mohammed Ali? “Greatest.”

I want to be weirdest.

And I say we all in Eugene… Screw Portland. [laughter]

What do you mean, “Keep Portland Weird”?

Keep us weirdest.

Alright. So tomorrow I’ll be at Kesey Square.

So if you want some weird fun.

But wrapping up my eight minutes: Let me tell ya that, during the “Sunday Streets” especially at 3 PM.

I have a news announcement. All right.

I’ve known [Rep.] Pete DeFazio [D-OR] for three decades.

Pete is great. But the pressure has gotten too big.

Pete DeFazio. You are all invited to tell him you heard it here.

I am running against Pete as a write-in candidate.

David Oaks. O A K S. No E.  Now you can tell Pete.

My reason is: “Pete, you’ve become the Bill Cosby of mental health.”

Repeat this joke. It’s a funny joke. [laughter]

“Pete, David Oaks says you have become the Bill Cosby of mental health.” Come on everybody. Try it out. Come on. Try it. Be revolutionary. [laughter] Try 1, 2, 3.

“Pete, you have become the Bill Cosby of mental health.

“According to David Oaks

“According to David Oaks… who is running against you.”

So, Pete, get some psychiatric help.

That’s from your psycho quad friend. By the way,

Lee Anne, you lead me. Thank you. [cheering]

[inaudible] Thanks much. You’re all so funny. I’ve enjoyed it.

We have enjoyed you for months. Thanks much.

[cheering, standing ovation]

[revised 10/31/16]

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Keep Eugene Weirdest! “We’re the Crazy Ones?”

This Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 — Free Walking Tour

Mark Roberts is Old Slug Queen and Disability Activist.

Mark Roberts is Old Slug Queen and Disability Activist.

Keep Eugene Weirdest!

“We’re the crazy ones?”

Your tour guides: Slug Queen Mark Roberts (wearing Donald Trump mask), David Oaks, Michael Hejazi, Ian McTeague, R. Drake Ewbank and David Zupan.

 

 

  • 1:30 pm: Intro & icebreaker start at Kesey Square.
  • 2 pm: Tour walks east on Broadway to office of Rep. Peter DeFazio. Deliver humorous awards objecting to his co-sponsorship of bill that supports more outpatient involuntary psychiatry.
  • 3 pm: Walk back to Kesey Square for open mic.

Modeled after the First Friday Art Walk, this totally independent amplified peaceful tour is for fun, but there is a serious side. Rep. Peter DeFazio has supported H.R. 2646, a huge mental health bill. The worst part is federal support for involuntary outpatient psychiatric care. Rep. DeFazio claims this will not emphasize forced drugging. But the tour guides know otherwise.  In fact, David Oaks is running for Peter’s seat as a write in.

Free. Sponsored by International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.

David W. Oaks drawing by artist Isaac Paris c 2016

David W. Oaks portrait by Isaac Paris c 2016

Organizer David Oaks (pictured on left) is a psychiatric survivor activist www.davidwoaks.com davidwoaks@gmail.com Michael Hejazi is a mental health counselor in Eugene www.michaelhejazi.ca Ian McTeague is a local socialist organizer and IWW member. David Zupan is a community organizer media activist, a leader for the new Homegrown Community Radio, www.kepw.org. Mark Roberts is a long-time disability human rights activist and Old Slug Queen.

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