Speak Out to Break the Silence: President Trump Appoints Mental Health Leader Who Campaigned for Involuntary Outpatient Drugging

By David W. Oaks

Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz, appointed by President Trump to a important mental health position.

I am a survivor of human rights violations in the mental health system. And even though this was a long time ago, back when I was a college student in the 1970’s, the issues are more relevant than ever. My friend, Patch Adams, MD, has connected the dots for me: Our society needs to be very agile right now, but has to overcome centuries of mental health oppression. But with compassion, we can have a global nonviolent revolution! 

Recent events show that mental health human rights violations are important for everyone. MindFreedom International was my employer for 25 years before my accident in 2012. They are an independent, activist group, and we need that energy as never before. 

The White House announced this past Friday, 21 April 2017, in the evening, that President Donald Trump has, for a pivotal mental health position, appointed a psychiatrist who openly speaks out for involuntary psychiatric drugging of people living outside of institutions, even in their own homes. This appointee criticizes our social change movement, especially our dedication to empowering peer support and our concerns about psychiatric drugs and labeling. It is important for everyone who supports human rights, especially in the social change movements for disability rights and those critical of mass incarceration, to speak up and oppose this approach.

Please phone your U.S. Senators to block this confirmation. This is a chance to raise these issues, now!

This “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (as supporters call it) or “Involuntary Outpatient Commitment” (as it is known by many) has been quietly growing on the State level for decades, but is now being funded on the federal level, such as through the enormous 21st Century Cures Act that was passed by Congress at the end of last year. Whatever it is called — AOT or IOC — under these laws judges may order folks to have mental health care, which could be a range of approaches. In my experience, staffing a human rights phone and getting hundreds of contacts for decades, “mental healthcare” for the “seriously mentally ill” almost always includes psychiatric drugging, often with neuroleptics, or “antipsychotic medications” as prescribers often call this family of pharmaceuticals.

Neuroleptic drugs began in the 1950’s with such brands as Thorazine, Stelazine, Haldol, Mellaril, etc., all of which I have had. I personally experienced involuntary neuroleptic injections more than 40 years ago as a college student at Harvard. About five times I was placed in a psychiatric institution for emotional difficulties, and twice I experienced the sharp end of a needle, when in solitary confinement I was held down on the bare mattress and got forced drugging in my butt. I graduated anyway, in 1977, and our class is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Now neuroleptics have dozens of more brands, but many of the hazards and risks are the same. For instance, in the long run there is the danger that many people can experience involuntary twitching that can apparently often be permanent. There is also the long term risk of brain damage and even death. Some folks choose these medications, but others do not. I choose to not take them, and I have not for these past four decades.

Takes One to Know One

President Trump has appointed Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz for a high-level position created by the 21st Century Cures Act. Dr. McCance-Katz would become the first Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse (SAMHSA) inside the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

In an essay published last year by the Psychiatric Times, Dr. McCance-Katz was highly critical of SAMHSA, especially its sub-agency Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), headed by Paolo Delvecchio, who has long-identified himself as an individual who has used psychiatric treatment. Many mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors know Paolo because of his work in this field for decades.

In her essay in Psychiatric Times, Dr. McCance-Katz:

  • Endorses federal funding of AOT (or IOC).
  • Criticizes SAMHSA for allegedly being critical of psychiatric drugs.
  • Challenges the support for “recovery” in mental health, a term used by many consumer/survivors as a rallying point for hope and empowerment.
  •  Calls for mental health care, which appears to be led by psychiatric drugs, for more than three million Americans.

Are You One of the Many Targeted? 

Dr. McCance-Katz wrote in the essay: “It is estimated that 10 million Americans (4.2%) are living with serious mental illness. However, only 68.5% of the most severely mentally ill will receive any type of mental health services.”

I wonder how many of these three million Americans would refuse psychiatric drugs? Of those who would refuse, I wonder how many this psychiatrist would like to see drugged against their will?

This professor challenges the great interest in using peer support as a humane, empowering alternative priority. She writes, “Workforce issues focus in large part on the development of a ‘peer workforce.’ This ideology purports that one can become a mental health professional by virtue of having a mental illness. Peer support can be an important resource for some, but it is not the answer to the treatment needs of the seriously mentally ill.”

There are only a few, small groups that focus on involuntary psychiatric drugging, such as the Treatment Advocacy Center. The topic actually divides a lot of folks, since the average American in my experience does not like the idea of the government forcing citizens to have involuntary psychiatric drugs, once the value of empowering alternatives are explained. IOC can even for a small group include involuntary outpatient court-ordered electroshock, or electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). For example, search the web for the names Ray Sandford and Elizabeth Ellis, with the word electroshock. These two Minnesotans who received such horrible involuntary procedures, but MindFreedom put out human rights alerts that stopped the series of electroshocks.

In my decades of work in the field of human rights and mental health, I have been impressed with the way concern about this issue crosses political lines. Yes, support for this field has often been among those who would be seen as on the left. However, some of the most effective organizing about psychiatric over-drugging of children has been done by activists that would be seen as on the right.

I have seen both the Libertarian Party and the Green Party both pass planks in their platform, years ago, expressing support for some of our goals. Today we are often seeing critics question the sanity of the President of the United States because of his support of untrue beliefs, such as his denial of climate crisis and his many years of championing the odd belief that President Obama was born in Africa.

Well, it takes one to know one, and I am also a White Aging Crazy Citizen (WACC). Actually, what I have found in my work is that 100% of all people struggle about their mental wellness, it is a universal challenge. The distinction is between negative, bigoted craziness and positive, constructive, creative craziness. In fact, I would argue that the new PC is Positively Crazy.

Perhaps at this time, we need a Positively Crazy dedication to the First Amendment, which not only includes free speech, but according to the US Supreme Court, the right to think unusual thoughts, even irrationally. There are more compassionate, effective, sustainable ways to help troubled people. Let us all break the silence about human rights violations in mental healthcare, including IOC. Centuries of abuse in this industry have helped silence the population on many outrages, including the threat of climate chaos.

We need a nonviolent revolution throughout our society, in mental healthcare, in energy, in so many ways. There is no guarantee of results, but at least we can speak up about freedom!

My friend Patch Adams, MD has spoken out many time about the need for fun, creativity and  peaceful rebellion. You may read a recent blog I wrote after chatting with him recently, which you may read here


Below, for the very interested, you will find an essay I have just submitted to be published in the Harvard Alumni Association publication that comes out every five years. In my essay, I appreciate that a Harvard volunteer group first placed me as an intern working for human rights in mental health. Unfortunately, the nonviolent revolution we have long called for in mental health has not quite happened yet. However, perhaps now this topic may get more attention. 

My Essay to Harvard Alumni Association for My 40th Reunion

Mental health. Activism. Community organizing. Human rights. Disability. Nonviolent revolution! Thank you, Phillips Brooks House Association, for placing me as an intern in my senior year as a community organizer of people in the mental health system, because the above passions became my career. The incredible riches I have gained from working with some of the most powerless in our society are invaluable. After 25 years as Executive Director of the human rights nonprofit MindFreedom International, I had an extreme accident and broke my neck, and I now use a power chair. While it would be impossible to be totally prepared for this, my work in the disability movement managed to teach me a few principles. For example, I apply lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.: What is my creative maladjustment?

Reflecting back on Harvard, the most memorable and influential class for me was about comparative religion. It would be fun to be in touch with any of you reading this. You can find me easily by directing your search engine to this phrase: david w oaks blog. When I summarized my passions above, I included “nonviolent revolution.” Yes, for decades I have raised this as a real choice. Now, with the climate chaos looming, I feel nonviolent revolution is an option we might want to choose. Scientists have estimated that the lag for carbon-induced impact is about 40 years. In other words, the pollution during our years at Harvard is only now changing the climate. I am very concerned that during the next lag, many more feedback effects can be triggered. For the current moment and for seven generations in the future, we truly need a nonviolent revolution. I estimate seven generations would extend to about the year 2192. May there be a healthy graduating class that year! The Butterfly Effect gives us a good chance, uncertain, but a good chance. Perhaps it is up to you?

It is important to create a dialogue to address the values we need today for excellent care. Therefore, I am copying the commentary that I very much disagree with. You may read the essay by the Trump appointee from Psychiatric Times below:

The Federal Government Ignores the Treatment Needs of Americans With Serious Mental Illness

By Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz

There she was again—a middle-aged woman, disheveled, crouching in the doorway of a closed store, grasping a notebook and pencil and scribbling. Intermittently, her eyes darted around and she would mumble, then go back to her notebook. Her eyes never met mine, but I wondered why she was not getting help with what was clearly a severe mental illness. I would see her in that same doorway several times a week for a couple of years before I left Berkeley, California, to become the first Chief Medical Officer of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In doing so, I hoped to help people living in the grips of cruel disorders that affect one’s thinking, one’s reasoning, one’s ability to relate, and one’s ability to even understand that one suffers from a disorder that can be treated.

It is estimated that 10 million Americans (4.2%) are living with serious mental illness. However, only 68.5% of the most severely mentally ill will receive any type of mental health services. Whether those services are necessary and appropriate is not known. People with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and other severe mental illnesses often complicated by substance misuse need effective, safe, evidence-based treatments as well as community resources where their clinical service needs can be met. The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is composed of numerous agencies that address the health care needs of Americans, but only one agency within HHS is charged with addressing the needs of those with serious mental illness and that is SAMHSA.

SAMHSA is a small federal agency with a budget of roughly $3.7 billion per year; much of that is in the form of block grants to states that are the arbiters of how the funds will be spent in support of the treatment of substance use and mental disorders. SAMHSA does, however, have the ability to focus on areas and issues that would improve the lot of individuals affected by severe mental illness. Unfortunately, SAMHSA does not address the treatment needs of the most vulnerable in our society. Rather, the unit within SAMHSA charged with addressing these disorders, the Center for Mental Health Services, chooses to focus on its own definition of “recovery,” which generally ignores the treatment of mental disorders, and, as a major initiative under “recovery” services, focuses on the development of a “peer workforce.”

There is a perceptible hostility toward psychiatric medicine: a resistance to addressing the treatment needs of those with serious mental illness and a questioning by some at SAMHSA as to whether mental disorders even exist—for example, is psychosis just a “different way of thinking for some experiencing stress?”

SAMHSA’s approach includes a focus on activities that don’t directly assist those who have serious mental illness. These include programs such as Mental Health First Aid, which seeks to teach people about the warning signs of mental illness in an attempt to provide support to those who are experiencing symptoms. Significant dollars are spent on hot lines for callers who may be experiencing suicidal thinking or who know someone who may be—yet suicide rates continue to climb in the US. SAMHSA supports integrated care programs that would bring some aspects of primary care to mental health services programs—worthy programs, but which do not address the treatment of serious mental illness. Programs that undertake the “re-education” of mental health practitioners who are assumed to be abusers of “consumer” rights and who dictate treatment to patients have been funded in the Recovery to Practice initiative.

Workforce issues focus in large part on the development of a “peer workforce.” This ideology purports that one can become a mental health professional by virtue of having a mental illness. Peer support can be an important resource for some, but it is not the answer to the treatment needs of the seriously mentally ill.

Lost in all of this are the real and pressing treatment needs of some of the most vulnerable in our society—those living with serious mental illness. Nowhere in SAMHSA’s stra­tegic initiatives is psychiatric treatment of mental illness a priority. The occasional vague reference to treatment is no substitute for the urgent need for programs that address these issues.

What’s needed?

What is needed is an agency soul-searching and a re-prioritization that places the treatment of serious mental disorders at the very top of the list of agency goals. SAMHSA needs leadership that acknowledges the importance of addressing serious mental illness. Initiatives that provide funding for new approaches to engaging the seriously mentally ill; for assisted outpatient treatment with enriched psychosocial services; and for additional psychiatric hospital beds, particularly for longer-term care given the severe shortage of such resources in the US, should be at the top of SAMHSA’s agenda.

Clinical education programs that address current, evidence-based treatment for serious mental illness, and new funding for the training of mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, advanced practice psychiatric nurses, and psychologists, should be a major focus. SAMHSA should develop closer ties with the National Institute of Mental Health, which is helping us to better understand the neurobiological underpinnings of mental illness every day. The real hope, change and ability to recover from these disorders, lies in their effective treatment. To ignore this is to leave a large segment of some of the most seriously ill in our society abandoned—indeed, discriminated against by the very agency charged with serving them.

What can be done to change the current course? Stakeholder groups that seek to ensure psychiatric treatment for all who need it should band together and exert pressure on SAMHSA, on political administrations, and on congressional representatives to address the needs of the seriously mentally ill. Skilled behavioral health providers with patient care experience—psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors—should consider committing a period of service to SAMHSA and to other federal agencies to inform policy decisions related to substance use and mental disorders. This is especially important because too many in the government have education in behavioral health fields but have never worked with patients, or if they have, it was many years in the past. Being inside the Beltway also imbues an artificial perspective that may be informed by lobbyists if at all. This does not serve the American people.

Time for change

I left SAMHSA after 2 years. It became increasingly uncomfortable to be associated with an agency that, for the most part, refused to support evidence-based psychiatric treatment of mental disorders. It was also quite clear that the psychiatric perspective I brought—inclusive of assessment, diagnosis of mental disorders, utilization of evidence-based treatments, including psychotropic medication and psychosocial interventions as integral components of recovery—was a poor fit for the agency. SAMHSA needs a complete review and overhaul of its current mission, leadership, and funded programs. Congress should quickly address this through legislative mandate.

For too long the treatment needs of the seriously mentally ill have been ignored by SAMHSA, and this needs to change. In doing so, perhaps people like the woman in the doorway will be able to move out of the shadows to live full and productive lives in our communities.

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Mad Memo #1: Dear Supreme Commander (You!) of Global Nonviolent Revolution!

Mad Memo #1: Dear Supreme Commander (You!) of Global Nonviolent Revolution!

Mad Memo #1

Dear Supreme Commander (You!):

Did you know you are a key leader of a global peaceful revolution? Surprise! My guess is that many of you reading this may not yet know that you are one of the “Supreme Commanders” of  world revolution.

In fact, if you wish, and you reflect the values of Martin Luther King, you may say you are leading the organization that he first envisioned, International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment (IAACM.)

Let me explain.

Yes, during World War II, Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander during D-Day, which was one of the biggest operations in human history. This time, we need to do something far bigger than D-Day, encompassing the whole world. You and everyone are Supreme Commanders.

So I have a question for you:

“What does it look like if humanity even begins to attempt a global revolution?”

However you stand on the USA presidential campaign, you might admire the way Bernie Sanders has talked openly and frequently about “revolution.”

I have been calling for revolution for many decades. As a young adult back in the 1970’s, I experienced forced psychiatric drugging, and so I have spent my whole life

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Update: My Open Letter to Linda Vigen Phillips, Author of the New Young Adult Novel “Crazy”

Update: The author has replied, and you can read this November 14, 2014 update at the bottom of this,

Here in Eugene, Oregon, I heard a radio interview with the author of a young adult novel called “Crazy,” and I hoped that the author would challenge some mental health oppression during her book tour here in Oregon. After all, her semi-autobiographical fiction novel is about growing up in Klamath Falls, Oregon with a mom who has severe mental and emotional problems. Unfortunately, the radio interview seemed to turn into a promotion of the conventional mental health system.

Below is my open public letter to this author to ask that she questions the mental health industry more in her book tour:

Cover of the book "Crazy"

The Young Adult Novel “Crazy” is by author Linda Vigen Phillips.

Dear Linda Vigen Phillips,

At first, when I heard the interview with you on my local radio station KLCC-FM today, I was enthused about the possibilities for your book tour. I had high expectations that you can challenge mental health oppression.

For the past 40 years I have been working to change the mental health system as a person who survived abuse by the psychiatric system as a teenager. So I’m optimistic that your book tour could give many teens struggling with these issues a great amount of hope.

However, during your interview, I felt very disheartened because the message seemed to support the current mental health industry, which I feel needs to be overthrown completely. You seem to be such a caring and smart author with the intent of supporting psychiatric survivors and our families. So below I ask some questions that I would love to hear a reply to, and most importantly, I urge you to open dialogue with your audiences about these issues throughout your book tour.

I have not yet read your young adult novel, “Crazy,” but I know you are reaching many of us who have psychiatric diagnoses and family members, such as during your book tour visit to one of my favorite bookstores, Tsunami Books. Several times over the past few years, Tsunami Books has hosted some great psychiatric survivor authors, poets, musicians and other creative folks. So please take my questions in the friendly manner they are offered to you:

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TOP 5 Benefits of Breaking Your Neck

Please scroll down for David’s latest blog!
But first…David needs your help now! There are 2 ways to make a contribution to help David and his wife Debra meet the extraordinary expenses of renovating their home to accommodate David’s special needs when he returns home:

DONATE online:



Send a check! Please make your check payable to: David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust

Please send your check directly to:
David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust
c/o Chase Bank
1100 Willamette St.
Eugene OR 97401

The bank tells us it would help them if you referenced account number 3008433244 in the memo line of your check. Be sure to put your return address on your envelope. Every week, Debra picks up the deposits from the bank along with the envelopes and David’s mom tries to write a personal thank you note to each and every contributor.

Note: your contribution to the David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust, while a gift, is not tax deductible and, of course, it is not refundable.


David’s blog for March 24, 2013

David W. Oaks here, with a top five list of things I learned after breaking my neck completely on December 2, 2012, in Eugene, Oregon.

1. Crisis preparation.

We all will probably experience disaster, and hopefully, have a nice day. I used 40 years of mad movement wisdom and empowerment for my catastrophe: A small fall from a ladder to get my cat with wet shoes – I
was the one in the wet shoes.

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Cracking the nut of normality…

(scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the Feb. 17th video)
Read the latest updates about David in his current location: Craig Hospital in Englewood Colorado. Cards and letters are welcome! Send them to: David W. Oaks, c/o Craig Hospital / 3425 S. Clarkson St., Englewood, CO / 80113


A new message created by David W. Oaks from his hospital bed in Springfield, Oregon…
David W. Oaks Personal Message to the World; “Cracking the nut of normality” Christmas Day 2012 (davidwoaks.com)

Dear Friends, family, colleagues, and supporters,

After 4 decades as a psychiatric survivor human rights activist and 3 decades with spinal arthritis (ankylosing spondylitis), that fused my spine into peanut brittle, I knew I needed a break. The break that I got about 3 weeks ago was not the one I expected. I slipped off a wet ladder in my writer’s studio, and it resulted in a complete break of my neck.

The silver lining in this event has been witnessing the love between us all. I’m overwhelmed by the cards and offers of support for me, for my wife, my fabulous darling Debra, for my family, for MindFreedom, for USICD, OCSC, Opal network and for our movement for nonviolent global revolution.

I love you all so much from the core of my heart. I hope that every single one of you can feel that heat!

With my whole heart and soul, I give thanks for Earth’s free bounty shared w/ all my relations. The word origin for “thanks,” is simply “to think,” and a Native American sign language for thinking is to point to one’s own chest. Truly my heart is thinking of you all. Thank you!

I’m laying here in a special rotating hospital bed with my good friend, Rev. Phil Schulman, using a special trache tube to talk for a few minutes. To finish this letter we are using a word board based on cryptography designed for me by my computer genius brother Tony. Here at Sacred Heart Hospital River Bend I’ve been cared for by an amazing medical team of skilled and compassionate healers. They seem like they are from NASA and as friendly as a next door neighbor.

A few days after hearing that crack of my neck, I laid in a hospital bed here, and I knew that I must find a creative maladjustment. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. many times called for an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. I’m requesting your leadership in launching the first annual Creative Maladjustment Week, July 7-14, 2013 with Patch Adams MD. It may be a way to recover from a broken planetary ecosystem, as well as neck, heart and anything else. Let us finally hear the crack of the nut of normality.

During long nights in this hospital, I have been emboldened by the spirit of Justin Dart Jr., considered to be the father of the Americans with Disabilities Act. His heart radiates into mine. I hear the words he so often echoed: “I love you, Lead On!” He knew that absolutely each one of us who join in this movement for human rights and dignity is a leader.

I cherish being connected to him, and to all of you. It has been my great fortune to have 38 beautiful years in this movement so far without direct funding from the government or mental health industry. Many of us speak out freely and organize for human rights in mental health. Some of us work to change the system from within. Together inside and outside, we are an emergent force of nature, a creative maladjustment to oppression. We are leading humanity into a sustainable way to live on this planet that includes caring and listening to marginalized people.

Many of you have expressed concern for Debra and me, that we will continue to have the financial resources for quality of life and access to full medical care. Below you will find a short note from my brother Tony providing a means for contributions. Thank you, all of you for personal support as well as participation in this movement.

Gratefully in support,
David W. Oaks


Information from David’s brother Tony Oaks about how you can help David:

Through Debra’s job at the Eugene Public Library, Dave has access to health insurance. Given the catastrophic nature of his injury, we expect that eventually his coverage will be maxed out and Dave will switch to medicaid. In order to ensure Dave gets access to the things which may be necessary and yet not covered by insurance or medicaid, my mom, Violet, worked with a local attorney (Mark Williams) to establish a Irrevocable Special Needs Trust for David.

If you would like to contribute to that fund please make your checks payable to:
“David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust” and mail your checks to this address:

David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust
c/o Chase
1100 Williamette St.
Eugene OR 97401 USA

Note: your contribution to this fund, while a gift, is not tax deductible and, of course, it is not refundable.

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Well wishes come in for David’s FAST recovery!

On December 1st, 2012, David Oaks fell off a loft ladder while trying to retrieve Bongo (his cat) from a loft in his home office. An MRI as well as other imaging testing later showed he had broken the C7 bone in his neck. However, he could still move his arms and thumbs, and he soon underwent emergency surgery. The surgeon’s report from that first surgery was positive, although David still needs a second stabilization surgery which he hopes to undergo soon.

Read the most current information on his condition as I am fed it from family/friends who visit the hospital on a regular basis.

Thought I’d create this log of well wishes coming in from all corners. If you have signed up to add to this post, please make sure to indicate the date and your name on top of each different entry. Please help me keep the most current posts on top of the page.

Thanks! ~John

Jan. 27, 2013

David, you’ve always been a fighter in the best of ways, so now keep fighting for yourself! I’m out of the country, but you will be in my thoughts. If even a little of what you have given comes back to you now, you will have tremendous support.
~ Marion Malcolm

I just learned of your injuries and hospitalization, and I pray you have rapid healing, rehabilitation, and recovery. You are such a model and inspiration for those of us who do human rights work, and you have been the strongest of allies for the many marginalized people whose voices you have helped amplify and speak truth to power. I know your extraordinary good work all these years will come back around, support you, and progressively give you the strength that you need to be well once again. We are rooting for you, David!

~ Ken Neubeck

Jan. 25, 2013

Congratulations!! Wow!! What a great milestone with the breathing. Cheering for each little success and your will to keep going, step by step. Someone I know closely had to recover functions like talking; its not 100 percent but so close it doesn’t matter. With time, with patience, with self-care, you’ll be singing and dancing a whole new tune. If I recall, video games were an essential part of his recovery… Thinking good thoughts for you and your family. Appreciate the updates very much. Good time to exercise those facial muscles for all sorts of fun. Times like these, I make a nose wrinkle. Take care!
~ Laura Rose Misaras


Jan. 7, 2012


It’s so unfortunate that you suffered such a mishap. Our hearts and spirit are with you at this time in your life and asking for God’s healing powers to extend to you whilst on the hospital bed. We have faith and belief that God will bring you back on your feet stronger than ever! Speedy recovery in the name of God!

We extend our warmest greetings to Debra and David’s family…we very much cherish your memorable visit to Ghana in April 2011 and the training you gave us!

Dan Taylor, MindFreedom-Ghana


I am really sorry to hear about your accident, David.
Thank you so much to Celia for sharing this news with me. I pray that you recover soon. My prayers for you everyday.

Regards and love,
Bhargavi Davar


Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012

Dear David,
I was so shocked and saddened to hear about the accident. I send my best wishes for a speedy recovery from Melbourne, Australia. May yourself and Debra and your families have a peaceful Christmas.
All my best,
Piers Gooding


Friday, Dec. 21, 2012

David’s brother, Tony, asked me to pass along this message to all who read this: Happy Winter Solstice! 🙂



Your entire life has shone like a beacon of light for all of us who have been diagnosed and/or are living with a mental illness. Now I hope you are receiving all the hope and light you need from all of us to help you on your journey back to full health. Thank you for everything. When something like this happens to someone, it makes me realize how tenuous our grasp on health is, how anything could happen to any one of us at any time, and how important it is for everyone in this country and around the world to have guaranteed health care. It should definitely be a right, and not yet another for-profit business. I want to help in any way I can from West Chicago, and if that is only financially, I will eke out something each month to send your way. You do not know me personally, nor I you, but I feel like I know you because I know of your good works, and they are of vital importance to so many people. I will keep you in my thoughts, and my hopes are for your wellness holistically, body, mind, spirit, etc., etc. Thank you again for everything you have done, and for all you will do in the future.

Irene O’Neill


Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012

David seems to be making great progress! Before coming down here from Seattle on Monday, I was feeling pretty scared because of the number of days surgery had been delayed, time in ICU and most of all by his pneumonia given limits to his breathing. I wasn’t fully reassured by the note which said “fortunately we caught it in time.” However, I spoke with his respiratory therapist today and he seemed thrilled with David’s progress.

Apparently David’s body has responded to the antibiotics, and Tuesday a special bed which moves him back and forth arrived. This delivered results quickly in David being able to begin clearing out his lungs.

David has also showed other signs of getting stronger. His breathing capacity has gotten stronger. He is able to speak with the assistance of a trache tube (ventilator assisted) for longer and longer periods of time. His volume has gotten much better. He has also been off the ventilator completely for short periods and can speak very softly.

Expect word from David himself soon. When he has been able to speak, his first thoughts have gone to express gratitude for the support he has received, and to make requests,.. not for himself.. but for MindFreedom and our movement.

I am once again impressed and inspired by David’s indomitable spirit. I know it’s been a hard journey lately and there is much challenge ahead of him. David has the will, the drive and the spirit to do it! And I have no doubt that the wave of love, and support for him and MindFreedom makes a world of difference to him!

Phil Schulman

Please do what I request ONLY if you can do so with joy. Please do not do as I request out of duty or obligation, fear or punishment, guilt, shame, or fear of hurting me, nor to buy love or in hopes that I will like you more.

Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012

Published in a blog:  “Thoughts About David Oaks” by Robert Whitaker (December 17, 2012)



I heard from Cathy Webb at the Library that you took a big fall…Joe and I are so sorry. I hope that you and Debra are hanging in there. Joe and I thought of you two a lot when we were visiting Ephesus in Turkey. What an amazing place.  We are thinking of you and Debra and hope to visit sometime when you are ready to enjoy visits.

Lots of love from Cathy and Joe



First of all, please get well and know that I am one of many people thinking of you! And I wanted you to know, that inspired by you and Sophie, I persuaded Dr. Stafford (my research collaborator) at Stanford Medical School to work with me on seeking funding to do a program addressing the issue of overuse of antipsychotics in children.

Thanks, Lydia


We are with you in spirit, David! We hope your terrible ordeal will not be too long and that you will be back with us soon again stronger than ever! We are so sorry you have to suffer this way. We love you and send you 100,000 blessings from Ireland.

Our love and support,
Mary/Jim and Mindfreedom Ireland


Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012

I guess I am in shock knowing that you were injured since I believe that you are always a tower of strength: your presence in all sorts of situations has always been there–in spite of how many adversaries were present–I know that no matter how much pain you are in your quirky smile will overcome the pain.
Shela Silverman


Best wishes from Speak Out Against Psychiatry here in London UK. Hope you make a speedy recovery. Thanks for all your hard work helping others and may you receive some of that kindness back in this your hour of need.
All the best, Cheryl Prax.

Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012

I just want you to know that I’m very concerned about you. You have made such a great contribution to our movement and the world, and I hope to see you continue with that. I’m not a religious person, but I am praying for you anyway.
Your friend, Ted Chabasinski


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hi David,

I was so sorry to hear of your fall. I know how things can change in a split second…. I have always admired your tenacity and persistence in liberating us from the psychiatric industry. These qualities will get you through this challenge. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I know you’ll get through this and continue to lead our movement. I’ve been thinking of Justin Dart lately as I see all of the political challenges the disability community faces. I’ve been thinking “What would Justin do?” I’m sure he’s rooting for you from on high right this moment! Hang in there…

Diane Engster


Dear David,

We are all thinking of you and wishing you our deepest hopes for each day being full of love are care from your friends and family around the world. It was wonderful being with you at Esalen! May the gorgeous healing sound of those Pacific waves stay in your heart and soul and help you heal.

Dorothy Dundas


You’ve been an inspiration to me since the nineties and you laid the foundation so that I could recover completely.

Peace and Best Wishes, Jeanne Smith


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dear David! Our best wishes for fast recovery. In Mindpower in Iceland our thoughts are with you and we are sending to you the viking spirit and strength from Iceland! Eiríkur sends his best wishes and he will send the film about Hallgrímur soon to you.

My warmest regards,
Auður Axelsdóttir


You are in my thoughts and prayers. This is so difficult for all of us who care so much about you. We feel assured that your ever vibrant spirit will carry you through. Know that Ed and I are with you and will do whatever we can to hasten your recovery–and carry on the work.

You will be excited to know that there is a team of people organizing to develop the comprehensive activist and advocacy training curriculum that you and I talked about last summer. We have a call next week and some initial writing has been done. I think this is a really great thing. We need to get more and more people working as advocates and activists and this is the way to do it. And as soon as I get on top of things, I can begin to pull others in to work on the circles of support initiative.

Some news. The Copeland Center board met last night and decided unanimously to sponsor two scholarships for Mindfreedom, members of the board or MFI members, to the WRAP Around the World Conference in Oakland next month in your name –people who would be chosen by you, your board and staff. I will let Latonya know about that. Rest easy dear friend.
Much love, Mary Ellen Copeland


My hopes and prayers are that you continue on the road to recovery….Good luck on your continued recovery David. Hang in there Bro!!!
– Ken Collins


Hi David,
I was so shocked to hear about your accident – I really hope you are as comfortable as possible. I know how strong your spirit is and that you will make a strong and speedy recovery! Please let me know if there’s anything I can do here in Toronto to be of assistance. I am thinking of you and sending you healing energy!

All the very best and I hope this message makes its way to you.
Emma Heath-Engel


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You are one of the strongest people I know. While the rest of us were trying to best each other in the commercial world, you took on a cause that you were passionate about. You made it real and important for so many people. You are selfless and so very generous with your fine mind and loving spirit.

I have to believe that all of the strength and concern you have shared with others will come back to you a thousandfold. It’s your turn to let the many people that love you take care of you now.
You’re in my heart and my prayers,
Diana Stonis


You have served as an awesome heroic champion of human rights, informed decisionmaking, and healthy dialog. As you have been an advocate and supporter, building networks, peers are at hand to advocate for and support you and your family in this personal journey of growth and recovery, one day, one moment at a time. When we’re going so quickly and life throws us a curve ball forcing us to slow down, my experience has taught me that there is something important to see and experience at life’s temporarily-adjusted pace, including but not limited to beautiful and simple miracles that otherwise might go unnoticed. You are a miracle. You are loved as you are, a human be-ing who is. Be. And from that miracle, marvelous opportunities, illuminated perspectives and demonstrations of determination have sprung forth, creating ripples across our globe for generations to come. Thank you for the gift of friendship, letting so many into your heart. May the days ahead bring smiles and discoveries, healing, health and hope.
~ Laura Rose Misaras


Monday, December 10, 2012

Cousin David!
Max and I are thinking about you and sending you good vibes. We hear your’re about to become a Mind Freedom Robocop! More metal!
You got this, cuz. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, we’ll have to rendezvous in Eugene soon.
XO, Lots, MacKenzie and Max Stonis
We’re pulling for you here at the Whitson household!
~ Natalie Whitson


Hi David,
I just found out about your accident. What a bummer to be laid up for so long.
I’m thinking about you and focusing on your rapid recovery. It sounds like you have a great team of docs to make you well again. I’m looking forward to making some food for you and Debra when you can eat solid again. I’ve been cooking a lot lately for my new housemate and I. Really enjoying it. How about some Mexican or Greek!

I’m eager to visit you when you get out of the ICU. I’ll send some sufi angels to be with you in the mean time. You’re in my constant thoughts and prayers.
Tom Berg


Sunday, December 9, 2012

I know that you have the emotional strength and persistence to do the absolute best for yourself in this difficult situation. And hey, you have some friends, too! We’re all pulling for you.

Love, Madronna
P. S. I am looking for that perfect humorous card for you. Since I haven’t found it, I may just have to bring in the jug of apple cider. And along the way, I did find two funny books I will be passing along soon.


Dear David,
Kim and I are in Wisconsin packing up as much as we think we can carry back to Oregon. Eyes bigger than trailer. We hope to begin the drive back on December 19th. It is snowing right now, a Canadian blizzard coming at us. We’ve just sent a card to you and Debra at your home but wanted to send some love and support more quickly than snail mail. Your community is far flung as well as close by. You’ve given so much to so many. I hope you can find some peace, comfort and joy in those who rally to support you at this bugger of a time. It is good to read that you are still your witty and entertaining self. This has got to be even more scary than sitting on the tracks in front of the White Train. Good thing you are a David who knows how to handle Goliaths.

We’ll join Team David as soon as we can plow our way to the west coast. Meanwhile, my Mom is giving your Mom a hug and we are sending healing thoughts and wishes your way. Hang in there Bro.
Love, Leslie & Kim too!


David dearest …… I finally got to try out this most excellent website. Thanks John.

So I want you to know I am just one of a sea of concerned humans beings who are spending much of their time during the day thinking of you and sending thoughtful, healing wave lengths your way. I was watching Wayne Dyer on OPB last night and he was talking about his and other miraculous healings through the mindful process of positive visualization. I know you’re already good at that.

Know how much you’re loved and that you have your own Angel, Debra in your realm. Count me among the many people who are surrounding you with our thoughts, moment to moment.

Heartfully, Martha Snyder


Hang in there, David. The troups are gathering and we all love you! ~ Karen Sequeira


Posted by John – Saturday, Dec. 8th, 2012

It is shocking how one’s life can change from one moment to the next, how we can be transported to a totally new circumstance in a split second. Yet, often, we are still the same.
I am so sorry this happened to you David. I know you were happy with your life as it was. I was thrilled with you as you were. You are a leader, a fighter and a friend and you have so much dedication, compasson and wisdom. I have learned a great deal from you and I am not finished learning from you.

I know that you will bring all your determination, wisdom and skill to get to as good a place as possible. I have every hope and believe that this will be a good place.
Hang in there David and Debra. I will do whatever I can to help.
With love, Chuck Areford


We just got the word out here in Ohio. David, we are thinking of you and sending healing thoughts to you. We lift up Debra in our hearts. We know you can pull through this! We know the community will come together for you, just as it did when Upali had his brain tumor removed in 2004. We are comforted by the thought that many of your friends and family are near you now and able to support you.

Upali and Diane Nahallage



David, Sending positive thoughts your way for a quick recovery, continued strength and determination as you heal. My heart and thoughts are with you all the way. We don’t know each other personally but you have been a major influence in my life and work. You can count on me to carry on the work and for personal support. I will monitor my email from MFI to see how things progress and what I can do.
Wendy Mishkin



Posted by John – Friday, Dec. 7th, 2012


I’m sending love, prayers, and best wishes for a fast and full recovery from Lancaster, PA. I’d still be lost in the psychiatric labyrinth if it wasn’t for you and MFI. Your vision of a nonviolent revolution in mental health has meant so much to my husband and me.
In support, Sonia Weaver


Posted by John – Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012

From Cathy and Dan:

I love the pic of you and Dale; must have given the medical staff a chuckle! Try not to worry and we are all watching out for Debra too. Dan and I send our love and healing thoughts for your recovery. Looking forward to seeing you when we can and a pillow fight one day.
Cathy and Dan

From Janet Foner, long time friend and fellow activist of David’s:

David, I was glad to read on this website that you are “still yourself”, which is what I expected and am glad to hear, because “yourself” is a pretty great guy! I sent a card to your house, but will reiterate here that Celia, LaTonya and I have everything under control w. MFI, so you can just leave all that to us until some time in future when you can pass on info to us about what needs done, and until you are able to do stuff again. In the meantime, NO WORRYING. I have got a handle on that! Remember my stuffed toy, “Mr. Worry”? He has it all under control & is worrying a mile a minute, for everybody, especially you.

I am thinking about you every day & wishing you well. Celia and I are in frequent touch also to think about you and also MFI. There is a LOT of love and good wishes being sent to you here. In a couple of months, hopefully, we will be laughing about it all & you’ll be laughing and yawning your way to complete recovery. I am mad that this had to happen to you, about the last thing you needed, and a heck of a way to go to finally get that long needed rest…not much of a vacation though–what we need is a beach in your hospital room….maybe you can picture it. Anyway, wishing you lots of support and friendship, which I know you get plenty of in Eugene, but here’s some from PA.

Much love, Janet


From Dec. 5, 2012

We miss you, David! Glad to hear that this hasn’t dampened your ability to be a character. 🙂 Your unstoppable energy will no doubt help with your recovery, and remember to take it easy too. You’ve got a strong team here at the office that is continuing on, so don’t worry about that, though of course we’ll be happy to have you back when/as that is possible.

Love, John Abbe


Keep your chin up David. You are a man of considerable courage and conviction; you can do this. Your friends and your family stand ready to help you and Debra in this new and very hard challenge. Your strength and that of those who care for you will carry you through this most horrible time.  / Debra: I love you and am thinking of you. Due to my own experience with hospitalization and the word I received that you had enough community support, I have not come to the hospital. But, please know you and David are in my heart and I stand ready to help you both in this most challenging journey that awaits you.

Love, Susan Connolly


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