Inside Story of My Keynote at Peerpocalypse 2020

A screenshot of people viewing David Oaks keynote at Peerpocalypse
Some of the hundreds of viewers for the David Oaks keynote at Peerpocalypse 2020.

This Summer 2020, I was one of the four keynoters for the major gathering of hundreds of US mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors, Peerpocalypse. Of course, this time it was on Zoom, and at the bottom you can watch my keynote.

On Mad In America, I am doing a blog about my keynote, which they published Thursday, 8 October: https://www.madinamerica.com/2020/10/world-mad-pride-disability-revolution/

Peerpocalypse has a webpage with links to other keynotes, workshops, videos, slides, etc. from the Summer 2020 event. You can view all these for free here: https://www.mhaoforegon.org/2020-conference-slides

Very Few Mad Pride Movement Archives

During the keynote I reference three archives I know about. Here is more information and how to get in touch with them:

  1. U. Mass: My late friend, Judi Chamberlin, is widely acknowledged as one of the main leaders of the start of the Mad Movement. The University of Massachusetts in Amherst received her enormous files of Movement material. These have been catalogued, and you can read more about it here: http://scua.library.umass.edu/umarmot/chamberlin-judi-1944-2010/
  2. OHSU: After I fell in 2012, I helped MindFreedom International donate 23 linear feet of archives to Oregon Health & Science University. OHSU has been busy cataloguing this, and you can read about the archives here: http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv71517/
  3. PSAT: Psychiatric Survivor Archives of Toronto gathered a lot of material, and decided to be independent of the university system. I had not heard much about PSAT for a while, so I tracked down board members and exchanged emails. Apparently, they no longer have their web address they used to have. Board member Lucy Costa emailed me in July 2020 that, “Yes, the archives are absolutely safe and secure.” Because of low resources, COVID-19 and questions about issues such as researching Canada’s Archives Act, there has been a lull. Lucy said all is well. You may email them at psychsurvivorarchives@gmail.com.

Incredibly, despite our social change movement doing so much work internationally for so long, these are the only three archives I am aware of. Do you know of any others? My friend, Lauren Tenney, has networked about some artifacts via Facebook. I have not yet seen that, thanks Lauren.

Mad Movement Fallen Giants Presente!

I bring up professor Bonnie Burstow of Toronto, who died 4 January, 2020. Activist and friend, Don Weitz, created a beautiful tribute for Bonnie on Mad In America here: https://www.madinamerica.com/2020/01/remembering-bonnie-burstow/

Cookie Gant
Cookie Gant: Fallen but presente!

Last year, 2019, we lost a giant in our movement, one of my best friends, Janet Foner. Janet was mainly involved in Re-evaluation Counseling, but strictly separate from that, Janet was also active in co-founding and leading MindFreedom International. Her friend, Lauren Spiro, is in both worlds, RC and what they call the “wide world.” Lauren has edited together a tribute, mainly by RCers (and even though I have never joined RC, they have included my tribute as the only one from the “wide world”). You can read and download here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hmVpZ0dfm7jkLUIFb20aA-zA41pOmTNftD9ngCdMzMg/edit?usp=sharing

One of my tributes to fallen leaders is David Heine, a filmmaker and Eugene friend who died fairly recently, 17 July 2020. David created hundreds of documentaries, mainly about art. But he also made some documentaries highly critical of the mental health system. For instance, his younger brother was caught up by involuntary psychiatric drugging for decades, and died early as a result. David made this wonderful documentary about their relationship: “Little Brother Big Pharma.” David also made a movie about alternatives called “Care Farms of the Netherlands.”

Shall We Radicals Network Like We Used To?

During the 1970s & 1980s, for about a decade, radical psychiatric survivors used to gather each Summer, usually on a college campus. These events became known as “International Conference for Human Rights and Against Psychiatric Oppression” (ICHRAPO). I attended several of these but missed the last one in Vermont in 1985. A celebrity visited: Yes, the mayor of Burlington at that time was Bernie Sanders and I understand that he visited and spoke briefly at the International Conference! At about that time, the federal government began funding a big annual conference, so unfortunately Vermont included a lot of acrimony because participants split about how to react to the federal conference. That ended the International Conference.

I have called for restarting the International Conference. Now that people are more familiar with Zoom, we could easily hold a virtual gathering. If you are interested, let me know. Plus, we have started a private group on Facebook and I can get you an invite. Email me at revolution@aciu.info for more information.

Mad Movement Challenges White Supremacy

Yvonne Smith

Several psychiatric survivor activists, including leading African American women such as Celia Brown and Yvonne Smith, have built a network, Surviving Race: The Intersection of Injustice, Disability, and Human Rights, to challenge systemic racism, including connecting with our Mad Movement. Find the Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/364074427086419

To provide the background about the disability movement, I highly recommended two new documentaries: Crip Camp is on Netflix. Piss On Pity can be seen by renting it on Vimeo.

Federal Support of Coerced Outpatient Mental Health

In my keynote, I referenced how the big federal mental health agency, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) used to fund a popular annual conference of psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers, called Alternatives. SAMHSA has stopped funding such evens, claiming lack of money.

However, SAMHSA found millions of dollars to help promote outpatient coerced mental health treatment. In 2017, I exchanged emails with SAMHSA staff about this, and I included a link to the 17 (since one was dropped, 16) cities: http://davidwoaks.com/samhsa-involuntary-mental-health

UN Leader Calls for “Revolution” in Mental Health

During my keynote, I quoted Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, at the UN Human Rights Council, Lithuanian Psychiatrist Dainius Pūras, who in 2017 called for a “revolution” because of systemic problems in the mental health system. You can read more here: https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21689&LangID=E

Fun On Facebook: Tough Ha! The Last Laugh

Yes, of course we in the USA will be focusing over the next few weeks on de-selecting the incredibly negative current occupant in the White House. In fact, I have created a Facebook group to promote positive dialogue between Trump opponents and those who may have mistakenly voted for him in the past. We need to talk.

I have given this group a slogan, “Tough Ha!” This is the last laugh for by us. I love acronyms, and my acronym for this is TUFFFFHA, which is Trump Unites Family & Friends For Firing His Arrogance (or Ass). I shortened this acronym to TU4FHA. Please do not join this group if you might ever vote for Trump in the future. But everyone else that can hold a civil dialogue, you are welcome to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/751355419041364

More About My Consulting Business, Aciu! Institute

During my keynote, I mention Aciu! Institute and some of our videos. I have just blogged about on our Aciu! Institute site. You can go to this link to connect to a whole bunch of videos: https://aciu.info/2020/09/23/david-oaks-peer-keynote-videos/

Peerpocalypse 2020 Workshops & Keynotes

If you missed the Peerpocalypse event, or wish to view any of the workshops or keynotes, they are now all available online, totally free.

Four of us gave keynotes and here is a YouTube playlist of all four.

Below is an embedded video of my keynote if you would like to watch it right here, about half an hour:

Please click CC above in the lower right of the video then “English” for
Closed Captioning to understand my disabled voice more clearly.
(If you’ve already started viewing, hover your cursor over the video.)

I already provided a link for the YouTube playlist of the four keynotes for Peerpocalypse 2020. These plus all the dozens of workshops are available free on the Peerpocalypse website, here: https://www.mhaoforegon.org/2020-conference-slides

Aciu to Everyone Who Supported Me For This Keynote!

My wonderful and amazing wife, Debra, helped provide a bit of a laugh track and support during my keynote. Stupendous home care worker, Ian, repeated me and gave wise advice. The staff at Peerpocalypse in Portland were amazing, always responsive to my concerns, taking extra steps for closed captioning, and more. I highly recommend this event, both for viewing the dozens of workshops and other keynotes, and joining with them next year. For more info, click here: https://www.mhaoforegon.org/peerpocalypse-main-page

During my keynote and workshop, we had free ASL interpreting by Patrick Galasso, aciu!

Many other folks have helped me prepare and process the keynote. I would especially like to appreciate the editor for Mad In America, Peter Simons. Just knowing this skilled editor was there was helpful in my work on this blog. And of course, Peter and I exchanged a bunch of communication to finish the MIA blog. Aciu, Peter!

Your Feedback Is Very Much Encouraged & Welcome

On my Mad In America blog, I ended with several ways folks can support the “virality” of my keynote.

In addition, of course, people can comment below on my personal blog. Mad In America gets far more comments on their blog entries and their Facebook. I will also try to watch there and respond.

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My Keynote at Peerpocalypse Tomorrow Tuesday 7/21/2020

Updated: 20 July, 2:26 pm PST

I will be one of the five keynoters in the main international conference this year, PEERPOCALYPSE, for mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors. Spoiler alert: I will call for REVOLUTION. Below is how anyone can listen to my keynote live and free on Zoom tomorrow, Tuesday, 7/21. (If you miss it, it will be recorded and streamed free.)

The conference is entirely on Zoom, and it is now all free (unless you want continuing education credits.) There are so many dozens of wonderful workshops and keynotes, along with a virtual display. There are participants from all over the world.

Because of my communication challenges, my keynote will be a little longer than others, 30 minutes. Here’s how to listen live directly:

We are the 100%: Mad Pride, Disability & Revolution

Tomorrow, Tuesday, 21 July 2020
1:45 pm – 2:15 pm CST (11:45 am – 12:15 pm PST)
We will have live ASL by Patrick Galasso
Join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85606595030

Here is the description of the whole event, which ends this Thursday 7/23, from organizers:

PEERPOCALYPSE is a conference of leaders, emerging leaders, innovators, and peers who want to become more involved in the peer community. Adopting the philosophy that peers bring with them a great deal of knowledge and expertise, the event is about bringing the community together to share information, skills, and experience.

PEERPOCALYPSE Link: https://www.mhaoforegon.org/peerpocalypse

By the way, earlier today, Monday, 7/20, I gave a workshop with the wonderful Christina Peirsol about combining peer support and activism, entitled Winning Human Rights in Mental Health: Campaign Action Team Support!

If you missed any of the workshop or keynotes, most of this should be recorded and available. Check it out!

Thanks to all the folks who worked so hard to support the empowerment of our people’s voice for all these years with this important annual event, organized out of an office in Portland, Oregon. Aciu!

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Peerpocalypse Started Monday, 7/20/2020 until Thursday, 7/23/2020

Updated: 20 July 2:22 pm PST

The main international conference this year for mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors will be entirely on Zoom, and it is now all free (unless you want continuing education credits.)

There are so many dozens of wonderful workshops and keynotes, along with a virtual display. There will be participants from all over the world.

Unfortunately, unless you paid and registered (which is now closed), the only way to get links for the workshops is through the workshop presenter themself. Again, now everything is free on Zoom.

I gave this with Christina Peirsol:

Winning Human Rights in Mental Health: Campaign Action Team Support!

Today, Monday, 20 July 2020
2:30 pm – 4 pm CST (12:30 – 2 pm PST)
Register for free first to get the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0ud-mhpzstGNP5imG6nQLR_2T7cy-bNtiT

I am also one of the five keynoters. Because of my communication challenges, my keynote will be a little longer than others, 30 minutes.

Here’s how to listen live directly:

We are the 100%: Mad Pride, Disability & Revolution

Tomorrow, Tuesday, 21 July 2020
1:45 pm – 2:15 pm CST (11:45 am – 12:15 pm PST)
We are currently arranging ASL by Patrick Galasso
Join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85606595030

Here is the description of the whole event from organizers:

PEERPOCALYPSE is a conference of leaders, emerging leaders, innovators, and peers who want to become more involved in the peer community. Adopting the philosophy that peers bring with them a great deal of knowledge and expertise, the event is about bringing the community together to share information, skills, and experience.

Peerpocalypse Link: https://www.mhaoforegon.org/peerpocalypse

If you missed any of the workshop or keynotes, most of this should be recorded and available. Check it out!

Thanks to all the folks who worked so hard to support the empowerment of our people’s voice for all these years with this important annual event, organized out of an office in Portland, Oregon. Aciu!

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Eco-Crisis Means Disability Movement Must Help Lead Global Revolution, Now!

This year, 2019, is my 43rd year working for human rights in disability. Based on sheer numbers, we are one of the largest social change movements in Earth’s history.

Let us act like it now, and help lead a world-wide revolution.

Sound crazy? Well, the odds are indeed against us. However, this is not a question of what can be done, this is a question of what must be done.

Here are three reasons I feel we must pour our souls into this endeavor, now:

1. Creative Disorder

We in the disability movement are extremely diverse. Some of us reject our diagnoses. Some of us embrace our labels. But all of us have been diagnosed as “disordered.”

When society by any definition seems paralyzed, who you gonna call?

The disability movement! The current individual who occupies the White House identifies himself as a “very stable genius.”

But we need instability right now. And not any kind of instability.

We need creative instability.

Creative Disorder! This is a modernization of a phrase that Martin Luther King used over and over for over a decade. MLK repeatedly said he was proud to be “maladjusted.”

In fact, MLK said the world was in dire need of a new organization, the “International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment” (IAACM).

2. Never Again!

Over and over and over again many of us have vowed, “Never Again!” We will never have another Holocaust.

But now scientific experts overwhelmingly warn us that the ecological crisis may wipe out a heartbreaking amount of life and civilization. Humanity keeps heading toward trigger points for positive feedback loops. Dozens of them.

Most recently, scientific studies show that the warming of the oceans may be 40% worse than originally thought. As methane is released from the floor of the ocean, for example, this can lead to more warming, which means more methane, which means more warming, etc.

We are headed toward a wall of cascading chaos. We cannot predict the future exactly, but let us glance at a worst case scenario.

I have made a very rough, unscientific estimate of just the number of human lives at stake.

The life of a species is about one million years. We humans are only through part of that cycle. Basing my estimates on the “carrying capacity” that many have estimated, along with the number of generations yet to come, etc.

Adding this all up, just focusing on human life, I get an incredibly large number.

By coincidence, this number is six million squared. In other words, for each person lost in this six million estimate, there is another six million.

This is the Holocaust Squared. That is the human cost that I estimate is at risk. Not even addressing all the animal and plant life at risk.

3. Extinction Rebellion

My hats off to you for being a leader in the coming global revolution.

For example, I have been active with the group 350.org. I am gratified to see Our Children’s Trust continues to fight for the future. There are many other groups.

There are a couple of organizations that I have only recently found out about, are very promising for a global revolution. Everything that I have seen so far is positive.

First, there is a group that started recently in London with non-violent civil disobedience that shut down several bridges, and is going international, Extinction Rebellion.

Second, today, 15 January 2019, is a kickoff date for a national Earth Strike. There are several more dates over the next few months, leading up to 27 September 2019, Earth Strike! Check it out.

Disability Leadership Needed Now!

In the comments below, I would love to hear your reactions and suggestions. I know revolution is difficult. The first question I often hear is “what kind of revolution?” But even talking about the topic is helpful.

And I feel, that no matter what the odds are, hearing that folks are positive Revolutionaries may help us maladjust to our collective trauma, creatively.

And we are all, 100%, traumatized today. All of us, 100%, are now the Creative Disabled!

Let’s roll!

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Double Deck Memorization by David W. Oaks, Perfectly! But Why? Go Extinction Rebellion!

Update 12 April 2019: Here is a brief video by my good buddy David Zupan from Summer of 2018 showing me, David Oaks, perfectly memorizing the order of two shuffled decks of cards (108 cards counting the jokers). As of April 2019, I have done this nine times perfectly, faster and faster. But why?

For one thing, even those of us with extreme disabilities have something to offer. I love this new group Extinction Rebellion, which uses peaceful direct action to resist the climate crisis. They call for global rebellion this Monday, 15 April 2019. Here is XR’s international website.

A few years ago, a blind friend asked me, “Don’t those of us with major disabilities just hurt the environment?” We are part of one of the biggest movements on Earth. Let us help wake up humanity about the value of supportive community, especially when facing overwhelm. Especially now!

Below this video is a blog entry after one my earliest memorizations about why I do this:

 

5 September 2018

by David W. Oaks

Memorizing Two Decks of Cards: Why?

Excellent home care worker, Ian, poses by our grape arbor with two decks of cards and double-deck memorizer, me, David W. Oaks.

Excellent home care worker, Ian, poses by our grape arbor with two decks of cards and double-deck memorizer, me, David W. Oaks. So, counting the four Jokers in the deck, here are a total of six Jokers!

This morning, one of my main home care workers, Ian, shuffled two decks of cards together a few times and then cut them. Each deck has the usual 52 cards, plus Jokers in both black-and-white and color. So the total number of cards is 108.

Ian laid out 18 at a time, and I memorized their order. He did this six times.

Without looking at the cards again, I then recited all 108 cards, the entire two decks, in the same order, from memory. Ian carefully validated this and my accuracy.

Perfect!

Why?

Extreme Disability and the Mind

As my blog readers know, back in 2012 I experienced a severe accident which not only led to me being a quad (tetraplegic) in a power chair, but because of complications I have an impaired voice and no use of my fingers.

Because my mom taught to type when I was about 12, my typing speed was faster than 110 words per minute. Before my accident, I professionally spoke in a dozen nations about human rights and mental health. In my “big picture” planning, which I enjoyed, I loved to sketch big notes on huge pieces of paper.

Now, I realize I need to use my mind, rather than notes, typing, speeches, etc. So I learned to memorize a deck of cards. My understanding is that all of us deck-memorizers use the same ancient memory technique known as the memory palace. I memorized a single deck perfectly about 15 times.

But I wanted to do more. After a few attempts with errors, today I memorized two decks combined.

But We Humans Know So Little!

Sure, I can memorize two decks of cards, but I am reminded of something: The best of current science — whether it is complexity theory, quantum, string theory, dark matter, dark energy — tells us over and over that we humans hardly have any grip on reality, at all.

We are all crazy and mentally disabled, by any definition. Our choice is to be positively crazy or destructively demented.

I hope we all make the best choice. And today, with my amazing wife Debra, we celebrate.

Hey, I just memorized two decks of cards, perfectly!

Because We Know So Little, Let’s Support Each Other!

Yes, I have several physical challenges but my cognitive abilities appear to be fairly intact, I think.

But even if you have major cognitive disabilities, or your loved one is even in a coma, everyone and everything deserve dignity and respect! This week, with the help of Vocational Rehabilitation, I worked with a great business expert, Scott Weaver, to create a business plan, consulting, Aciu Institute.

May I use any cognitive skills, and my awareness of our extreme humility, to help this for-profit benefit our community. May we all launch a revolution to challenge the “normality” of climate crisis!

Please leave your comments on this blog, of any kind, so I know you are out there.

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There is Now Mainly Only ONE (1) Mental Health Issue: Climate

For more than four decades I have worked as an independent activist for human rights in the mental health system. This independence is rather rare. Many of my good friends and colleagues in the mental health advocacy field work for nonprofits that are funded mainly by the government, local state or federal. My friends often do great work, but several of us have warned about dependence on money from the very system we are trying to change.

As many readers know, I worked as executive director of MindFreedom International for more than 25 years, before my disabling extreme accident in 2012. MFI is mainly funded by non-governmental grassroots sources. MFI is not afraid to protest the system. In fact, psychiatric survivor members demand such protests.

Almost all groups that are largely composed of psychiatric survivors, are government funded. To repeat, many provide wonderful services. Maybe this dependence on government funding is why our social-change movement is too-often silent about the climate crisis.

Break the Silence about the “Normality” of Global Warming

I have had a major media service in our mental health advocacy field tell me that my mention of climate crisis in my blogs have led to their rejection. This has happened more than once.

Another example:

A prominent activist in our movement scolded people who pointed out that our President has severe mental and emotional problems. Supposedly, stating the obvious that Trump is nuts somehow harms all the “little people” that we are here to serve.

Hey, everybody in the world is always crazy, if that word means anything. Are we creatively crazy or destructively daffy? That is our choice. Enforcers of Politically Correct-ness say that we can never call Donald “Daffy.”

But here is why calling Trump cuckoo is totally okay. If FDR had been anti-disability, it would make total sense to point out that he needed a wheelchair to get around. Being paralyzed did not disqualify FDR from the presidency. But if FDR dared to knock the disabled, noticing that he himself is disabled is totally okay.

Here is a direct connection between mental health and climate crisis:

Of course heat waves are more common. Many people in the public are unaware that most USA states now have “Involuntary Outpatient Commitment” laws that allow judges to court order mental health consumers to obey doctor orders. Typically this means involuntary psychiatric drugging in one’s own home out in the community. The most common drugs for this are so-called anti-psychotics, more correctly called neuroleptics.

This family of drugs can impair the brain’s temperature regulation. Those under IOC tend to be poor, without air conditioning. That means that climate crisis plus IOC can equal killing people. Many people.

You will tend not to hear about these deaths in the mainstream media, because I have heard there are concerns that we will “quit our meds.”

The climate crisis used to be one of many traumas. But now, because of decades of delay and denial, it is overwhelmingly the main mental health issue, both generally and specifically.

Today’s Single Mental Health Issue: Climate

If you have any empathy or sense, if you are truly an alive human being, then you are feeling, like me, overwhelmed by the indescribable tragedy unfolding on Earth’s ecosystem. If you have had the benefit of education, and you had paid attention, then you know that positive feedback loops can become unpredictable and massive. Suddenly. Think of avalanches.

In other words, any real human is now in crisis because of the countless traumas inherent in this environmental disaster. In other words, most of us are overwhelmed and paralyzed. It is past time to ask survivors of overwhelm and paralysis what can help.

There unfortunately is another group of humans in bizarre, strange, unscientific, non-rational denial of this climate crisis.

A friend of mine who has even written a book about climate crisis denial, was publicly and falsely maligned and defamed by one of these deniers. I asked her why she did not fight back publicly. Oddly, she laughed and said the political attack actually helped her career in academia. At first I laughed too, but years later I realized this situation is not funny.

Speak out about the climate crisis and actively resist Mother-Earth rapists.

Some are pointing out that the mainstream media is largely complicit in this silence. We need a revolution, check out the below new, brief article last week about how the corporate media is trying to pretend that the non-normal is normal:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/07/climate-change-wildfires-heatwave-media-old-news-end-of-the-world.html

Normal is dead.

At the start of the article, is an image by artist Isaac Paris. Even the wing of a moth can influence when and where a hurricane arrives. This image inspired my logo for my new consulting business, Aciu Institute.

Please comment here or on my Facebook page, so we all know we are not alone.

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