Disability Activist Asks You to Find Experts to “Amplify His Voice”

News Release – 26 September 2015

David Oaks Psychiatric Survivor Quad Plans to be a Public Speaker, Again

Oaks Hopes “Project Amplify Us” Will Help Others Facing Similar Disabilities
David Oaks in powerchair with his big brother Tony Oaks, friend Rev. Phil Schulman, wife Debra Nunez.

David Oaks in powerchair with his big brother Tony Oaks, friend Rev. Phil Schulman, wife Debra Nunez.

After nearly four decades of activism, mainly for human rights in mental health, David Oaks experienced a big fall and broken neck 33 months ago that put him in a powerchair with a label of “quad” and a number of new challenges, such as an impairment to one of his vocal folds.

Now, with the help of his brother Tony and others, he has launched a campaign to find the best experts to overcome his complex communications barriers. His goal is to once more become a professional public speaker.

Below, you can view the Project Amplify Us online 19-slide show with links to short videos, followed by Frequently Asked Questions:

View The Project Amplify Us Slide Show Here:


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Project Amplify Us

How Can I Help?

Forward this news release about Project Amplify Us to any individual or group who you think might help. This Project is looking for the best resource people! Help surface them.

Are You a Potential Resource Person?

If you might be one of the experts who can address these challenges, let the Project know now: davidwoaks@gmail.com Say a little about yourself. There is no obligation.

What If I Have Ideas and Encouragement Now?

While this Project is not trying to solve everything at once, it would be nice to share your ideas and maybe help others too! You may post about Project Amplify here:

  • On this blog you may leave a public comment.
  • Search in Facebook for a new public group: ProjectAmplifyUs
  • Watch for a Reddit sub group in the near future: ProjectAmplifyUs
  • Of course, this Project is using this hashtag on twitter: #ProjectAmplifyUs

What If I Have Trouble Viewing the Slide Show?

The Project can email you the show. Contact the Project at: davidwoaks@gmail.com

Is There Any Financial Obligation?

This Project is totally for free, with no costs for anyone to participate. If you would like to donate to the David W. Oaks Irrevocable Trust, please go here.

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Hello World! 5 Reasons We Must Say ‘No’ to Normality & Psychiatry

Updated 21 September 2015:

If you live on Earth and breathe, then you must overthrow what is mistakenly called “normal” and the mental health industry. Why?

Jillian sticks out her tongue and holds a cat.

Homecare worker Jillian sticks out her tongue while hugging the cat, Bongo. Emergency Rooms look for this sign of distress and name it the Qsign (the tongue looks like the tail of the letter Q)!

Today, our planet is faced with an unprecedented emergency, according to the vast majority of scientists, wise people and just about everybody else. Smart folks tell us that we have the technology, smarts, and economy to address these urgent crises, but do we have the will? It seems that the general public is paralyzed, and as our leaders continue to procrastinate, we are collectively entering into the beginning of chaos.

As my friend “the real” Patch Adams, MD has explained to me for 23 years, one of the most effective ways to reach people is their sense of humor. Yes, the feature movie in 1998 about Patch is a bit syrupy-sweet, but you have to admit the power of wearing a red nose! Seriously, laughter is of course powerful. And we may need a touch of comedy to even look at the absurd reality around us now. That is why some folks are sticking out their tongues (see the photo here of Jillian for example); jokingly, maybe our leaders are waiting for us all to show some signs of distress such as the Qsign!

Obviously, you can glance at the daily news headlines and pick from one of the signs of our undeniable global pending catastrophes: massive droughts, enormous wild fires, bizarre storms, record high temperatures for still another decade, etc. Yet one glance out of our car windows will reveal thousands of our neighbors driving literally like “there is no tomorrow,” and business as usual continues unabated. Must we wait until it really is too late and we have gone over some awful tipping point, before we act like there is an actual disaster?

Psychiatric Issues in a Bigger Way! 

The average person probably thinks of the mental health system as impacting about 15% of the general public, or maybe 20%. But for nearly four decades I have worked in the obscure field of independent activism for psychiatric survivors, and as I never tire of telling people, my main lesson is that the actual number of folks impacted by mental health issues is 100%. Every person alive, from womb to tomb, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is affected by this topic.

In order to survive, we must get a little crazy, we need to address mental wellness issues in a far bigger way, in a planetary way in fact.

Fear can be, as an insightful speaker explained, either a force for paralysis or a powerful motivator for action, the choice is ours. While this essay is not a personal post, I must mention briefly that 33 months ago, at the end of 2012, I broke my neck and I am now labeled a quad in a power chair with a few other disabilities such as a paralyzed vocal chord. Without dwelling on my life, I will say that there are a number of disability leaders who have studied the topic of being empowered after experiencing paralysis.

The time seems right for the general public to turn to one of the biggest social change mobilizations in history, the disability movement, for tips about getting up off the ground and being resilient!

  1. Your Local Businesses in the USA:  Those of us in the USA have an easy, dramatic way to address the climate crisis in our towns and cities. Many of the small restaurants, retail stores, mom & pop companies, news weeklies, etc. belong to small chambers of commerce. These thousands of local chambers tend to actually be fairly independent from the major, head US Chamber of Commerce based in Washington, DC. They well-respected climate crisis group, 350, has had a campaign for several years to ask small, local chambers to issue statements that the awful US Chamber does not speak for them when it comes to global warming. So, you can check to see if your favorite local business is a member of your local chamber (the one in Eugene here has a convenient web site to do just that), and then you can ask this business owner to bring up climate crisis with the chamber. For more information, see my section about the worst case scenario for global warming, what I call normalgeddon. To do the Qsign face and post your selfie to Facebook, Twitter, or both, click here.
  2. My Friends in Norway: Yes, your country is the location of the fun Netflix series, Lilyhammer (2014), in which a fictional mob leader resettles in one of your cities. However, your country is the real setting for a major study by one of our academic scholars, Kari Norgaard. This University of Oregon associate professor and author has researched why the public is not taking enough action about the climate crisis, the biggest challenge in human history. She chose the progressive, educated, informed country of her heritage, Norway, to address the riddle of global warming denial by the population. I had the honor of introducing Kari earlier this summer when she spoke in her first off-campus speaking engagement in our local city. Kari mentions how radio personality Rush Limbaugh attacked her verbally, based on a lie of course, helping her career. You may read about my intro of Kari here.
  3. web-junkie-documentaryVideo Game Players in China: There is a wonderful documentary (Web Junkie, 2013, 1 hr. 15 min.) which you may watch on Netflix about how thousands of teens and young adults in China are being psychiatrized because of their interest in video gaming. That is right, incredibly the tyrannical government in China views the phenomenon of mainly young men gathering in computer salons for hours of gaming as a major threat! With the poignant complicity of their worried parents, Chinese psychiatrists are locking up countless youth in dozens of special mental health institutions, where abuses such as solitary confinement, strange group therapy, and of course massive forced psychiatric drugging, are routine. China is now the top emitter of greenhouse gases, but rather than treat this as a priority, apparently mobilizing for contests via the Internet is viewed by those unelected leaders as a monstrosity. Be sure to see how normality is enforced in a distant land, and you can gain an insight into how normality is artificially created right here, every day.
  4. The Personal is the Political:  Many social change movements need to address a central challenge of class, that is, there is a tendency for privilege to help certain groups have a dominant voice. For example, our great friends in academia, the law, and various professions will often have more credibility with the media, elected leaders, and the general public, than us psychiatric survivors, who have gained our knowledge from personal experience. (Because of brevity, my deep apology that I am only addressing this tangentially; hey, better than nothing!) Think about the power of peer support. The power of being a peer comes from our personal lives. When I started being an activist in the Mad Movement back in the 1970’s we often used the motto, “The personal is the political.” Feminists were one of the first groups to discover that when every day women gathered together they often discovered that their personal lives taught a collective lesson that oppression, not their minds or genes, held back their liberation.
  5. Connect the Dots: Martin Luther King, Jr. ran into some of the fiercest opposition from other progressive folks when he took on opposing the war in Vietnam. In no way to compare ourselves with MLK, but I have noticed that when my blog connects mental health activism and global warming, sprinkled among the many comments on my blog’s re-broadcast on Mad in America website, we often find respectful folks who feel that the climate crisis is irrelevant to changing psychiatry. But we must connect the various issues because in a way we are in one big movement, and we always have been in what MLK called “the beloved community.” I end this blog entry not by talking about my personal five lock-ups in psychiatric facilities where I was called psychotic and given dangerous drugs; instead I will end this by re-printing a recent letter to the editor from me that was published by the Eugene Weekly (30 July 2015). You see, there is another APA besides the American Psychiatric Association. Professionals who lead in the mental health industry who are not medical doctors are often psychologists and they have the American Psychological Association. Recently it was revealed that this other APA was very involved in torture by the Bush administration. Here is my letter:

While it is great that groups representing psychologists are speaking out against collusion with torture, this can potentially expose a whole iceberg of human rights violations.

For about four decades I have worked as an activist for a peaceful revolution in the mental health industry. This U.S. government scandal reveals that we have collectively been far too soft on psychologists while focusing instead on psychiatrists.

For instance, my friend and author Bob Whitaker has just co-written a book about corruption in psychiatry. Yes, Bob and his blog “Mad In America” are today’s leaders in this reform field. But psychologists need to speak out about way more, including rampant abuse throughout mental health care and even the way trauma caused by oppression holds us back from addressing crises in our world such as global warming.

David W. Oaks, Eugene






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Psychiatric Survivor Disability Activist Launches Fun Contest: “Help Me Go Viral!”

Updated 21 September 2015:

Please feel free to post a selfie of you sticking out your tongue (known as a Qsign face) to Facebook, Twitter, or both. Please add the hashtag #qsigncrisis to whatever you post wherever. If you post to Facebook, please add your selfie to my Timeline! (If you are not yet a friend, please email me with your Facebook name at: davidwoaks@gmail.com.)

You are invited to take a selfie doing a “Qsign,” which I will explain in a moment. But first I need to beg for your help, especially if you are one of these young whippersnappers. You see, this week, September 16th, I will turn 60 years old, and I have never been able to start something online that goes viral.

We, David Oaks and Debra Nunez, took this selfie after six hours waiting in the ER at Riverbend, Springfield, Oregon on Thursday, 27 August 2015. Later, a retired ER nurse told us that such tongue-sticking behavior actually can get an ER customer triaged to be seen sooner, it is called Q-sign! The tongue forms the tail on that Q!

We, David Oaks and Debra Nunez, took this selfie after six hours waiting in the ER at Riverbend, Springfield, Oregon on Thursday, 27 August 2015. Later, a retired ER nurse told us that such tongue-sticking behavior actually can get an ER customer triaged sooner, it is called Q sign! The tongue forms the tail on that Q!

A few weeks ago, I developed pneumonia. My wife and I had to wait in the emergency room for six hours to get an x-ray. To pass the time and show our frustration in a fun way, we stuck out our tongues to the side and took this photo. Later, a person who worked for many years as an ER nurse told us that we showed an actual face that they watch for in the ER as a sign of distress. The face is called the “Qsign” because the tongue sticks out at an angle, which kind of looks like a Q.

So I would like to ask you to take a selfie of you and maybe your loved ones, doing a Qsign. Why?

  1. The planet is one big emergency room, but our leaders are ignoring things like the climate crisis. The least we can do is all show our Qsigns, and maybe that will get our leaders’ attention?
  2. Hey, I am about to enter my 60’s, and I have spent decades working for human rights in disability, specifically mental health. Come on, show your appreciation, dammit!
  3. You can post your photo on Twitter like we did using the new hashtag #qsigncrisis
  4. I actually went viral by having pneumonia which I have recovered from. Now I am simply asking you to metaphorically go viral, which sounds a lot healthier. If you want to read about my pneumonia, go here.
  5. Showing your Qsign just is not normal! Since what is mistakenly called normal has some of the worst behavior ever to visit Earth, then your Qsign is a blessing!
  6. A group of us had a little contest to see who could make the best Qsign and my friend Dale won. Maybe this contest will go global and be the start of a game that will save the world. I have a name for this: Ultimate Wacko!
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New Short Documentary Airs About Me: Diagnosed-Psychotic Quad Activist Global Revolutionary! You Can Watch Now, Free

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

David Oaks and Debra Nunez

David and Debra on our back deck, “home and in love.”

Today a documentary about 10 ½ minutes long, by my good friend David Zupan, airs on statewide TV and you can see it online for free, details below.

You can see:

  • Me tear up my psychiatric label “psychotic”
  • Martin Luther King call for us all to be “creatively maladjusted”
  • A re-creation of my big fall that broke my neck
  • What screwing up your vocal chords can sound like  
  • Support from my amazing wife and community
  • Us protest for global revolution because of climate crisis

Yes, making revolution visible now all over Earth is a great way to be creatively maladjusted to global warming, and this documentary shows that if I can do it, then so can you!

Here is an actual movie-trailer about one minute long for this documentary:

Producer David Zupan said, “Creatively Maladjusted shows how human rights activist David Oaks and his wife, Debra Nunez, creatively respond to tough realities with the help of courage, community and humor.” The piece will be shown on the Oregon Lens series. (Please see the next page of this blog entry for the links to the 10 and a half minute documentary.)

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#1 Wacko Memo: Disability & Mental Health Revolution to Stop Global Warming!

Make Your Climate Crisis Revolution Visible!

A Free, Easy Poster You Can Download & Post in Your Home, Today

Debra and David welcome you there home, called Mad Swan.

Debra and David welcome you to our home, “Mad Swan.”

A radio personality distorted and verbally attacked the work of Associate Professor Kari Norgaard, a world-acclaimed expert on global warming denial, then kept a transcript of this falsehood-filled show on his website for the past three years, where it still lingers to this day.

His show called Kari a “Wacko.” Rather than dwell on his incivility, here’s something fun, free, and positive we did and you can do, too!

You may print out a simple poster so that your family’s support for a “Revolution,” as Pope Francis has encouraged, is undeniable. Sound crazy? Perhaps, but that is no coincidence! Prof. Norgaard points out that denial of climate crisis is a collective act by us all. One antidote is to make our resistance visible. Talk about this in your daily conversations!

You can also just click and print out this one-page, black-and-white, 8.5 x 11 inch poster:

home-love-revolution-poster (Use the link on the left for the black-and-white PDF.)

Our Love Earth Revolution poster. If a person is visually-impaired, use another way to communicate that the revolution has started!

Here is what your simple black-and-white version of the poster will look like. You or a child may color it if you like! But please post it where it will be seen!

You or a child may color it if you choose. Post this by your door or some other place people will see it. While a poster may not win a revolution, at least a reasonable person would agree your home is in a revolution, now!

Why Break the Silence?

I often hear some of these metaphors used about humanity today:

  • Our combined ability to think and act are paralyzed.
  • We the public seem suicidal.
  • We are addicted to oil and consumerism.
  • We are blind to alternatives.
  • We are deaf to the cries of the poor and planet.
  • We hallucinate, such as believing that money and technology are more important than our values.

Paralyzed suicidal addicted blind deaf hallucinating. Sure sounds like a disability to me. So maybe the social change movement led by people considered disabled have something to offer now? We, one of largest movements on Earth, are not all about curb cuts! (Please read the rest of this post on the next page.)

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