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 (

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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Follow Your Fish: The Logic Behind “Creative Maladjustment”

Follow Your Fish: The Logic Behind “Creative Maladjustment”

There we were on 14 July 2012, walking down the winding path of the Oregon Country Fair, where tens of thousands every July have filled crowded paths through a woods full of music, crafts and food booths, lovingly stewarding the spirit of the 60’s since 1969. I was ushering Patch with a bullhorn, calling out, “Here comes Patch Adams, to accept an award for lunacy promotion!”

Dr. Adams was in his clown regalia for the walk: Pants pulled up to his armpits, strange grimace on his face, holding a big fake fish in front of his face to help motivate himself for his slow strange walk.

For those too young to know, Patch is a psychiatric survivor, physician and clown, who was the subject of an Academy Award winning film named after him and inspired by his life, starring comedian Robin Williams. Patch is the most famous leader in our MindFreedom International community, and has a network of thousands who seek truly deep change throughout our health care system.

Here’s the award MindFreedom gave to Patch Adams on 14 July 2012 for ‘lunacy promotion,’ including lost marbles, loose screws and nuts. The award is by psychiatric survivor artist Tim Boyden, using recycled and found materials.

Patch and I were headed down the Oregon Country Fair path to a gathering to give Patch an award (see photo on left) for his leadership of a vision created by Martin Luther King, Jr. that few people seem to have heard about:

MLK, in many speeches and essays, said the world may be in dire need of a new organization that MLK called, “The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment” or IAACM. It was an laugh-line, but like many good jokes had logic and truth behind it. MLK said we all ought to be maladjusted to oppression, the question is can we be creative in our maladjustment, rather than self-destructive? Repeatedly, MLK said in a variety of ways, “the salvation of the world lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”

Well, in Patch’s hands that day was a fish.

Accompanying us on our walk through the Oregon Country Fair was Patch’s main leader for changing the mental health system, Carl Hammerschlag, a psychiatrist/author from Arizona. Carl called out occasionally on the path, “How many six-foot-six psychiatrists do you see in a pink ballerina outfit?” Because that is what Carl was wearing from head to foot, tutu included.

Does this kind of positive celebration of mental and emotional differences necessarily mean opposing rationality? As a leader for 36 years in what is often called the “mad movement,” I know some seem to assume that we are largely celebrating illogic and irrationality. I do not agree.

As a psychiatric survivor who has been through five institutionalizations, and quite a number of diagnoses, I can tell you that one of the tools for my own recovery was the use of logic, evidence, and rationality.

Today, here is a very simple and undeniable logic to consider: What is generally called “normal” by just about any common definition, is in fact causing a climate crisis, and countless other environmental disasters. I’m not saying all that is called “normal,” is bad, just that one of the worst spiritual illnesses to ever visit our planet Earth has that name: Normal.

Throughout human history, respected thought leaders such as Socrates have said the pursuit of wisdom begins by recognizing that none of us has a grip on reality, that we all know nothing with certainty. And now, the scientific jury is back, the evidence has been rationally considered, and the logic is irrefutable: Socrates was right. What is called “normal” may be guilty of Gaia-cide, the shredding of our precious planet’s web of life.

That’s why I have been saying that the slogan of the mad movement ought to be, “We are the 100 percent.”

So yes, when Patch and Carl and I navigate a crowded path of the Oregon Country Fair, bullhorn in hand, with Patch following his fish, and Carl prancing around in his pink tutu… Yes, it may look a tiny bit irrational. But logic is one of the strands motivating us, the logic that MLK brought to us all many times when he called for the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. (IAACM).

Please take the next logical step, and ask yourself: “How can I best exercise my own leadership in the IAACM?

David W. Oaks
Eugene, OR

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