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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Launching Business: Disability, Memorization, Revolution! Ačiū!

Bongo the Cat (recovering from an injury, probably from a fight), myself, and Ian pose with 112 playing cards that I just memorized!

I’ve just gotten some very good news:

After a year-and-a-half of preparation, I am finally about to officially launch my consulting business, Aciu Institute. More about that soon.

Memorizing 112 Cards

Readers of my blog know that I have been working on my memory, in order to prepare for launching my consulting business. Rather than just memorize the order of a deck of playing cards, I have been using a double deck. My home care worker shuffles these decks, and I memorize the order.

When you open a typical Bicycle deck of playing cards, there are of course two jokers (black-and-white & color). There are also a couple of promotional cards. Now I include all of these cards. So yesterday, I memorized a total of 112 cards, and repeated the order back blindfolded & perfectly. This is the 15th time I have memorized a double deck, but the first time I have memorized so many.

I have already blogged about the card memorization and why I have used this approach to help my self-determination despite several profound disabilities.

Rebellion or Revolution?

Like me, perhaps you have been very interested in the new group started in London called Extinction Rebellion. They have used nonviolent civil disobedience to help activate the globe about the climate emergency.

Recently, this past Friday, 24 May 2019, we held a People’s Assembly for Extinction Rebellion here in Eugene, Oregon’s Kesey Square. In my small group, I focused on a theme from Extinction Rebellion: Regenerative Culture.

We in the disability and mental health activism movements have long ago promoted peer mutual support for our wellbeing despite trauma. Now, I would argue that 100% of the public are in the big tent of our movement, because of the climate crisis. Everyone is physically disabled by this emergency. Everyone is traumatized with grief, perhaps so deeply they might not even know it. Yet.

July: Mad Pride Month

One of the clients Aciu Institute is supporting is the local affiliate of MindFreedom International: MindFreedom Oregon. Our regular monthly grassroots meeting will be a week from this Friday, the first Friday of June, 7 June 2019.

MindFreedom Oregon grassroots meeting welcomes you. (TC is upper left, David Oaks is in middle left, Chrissy is in front.) This June 2019 meeting we will try to have it livestreamed online.

Local psychiatric survivor activists TC Dumas & Christina Peirsol will join me in calling for a number of activities during July 2019: Creative Maladjustment Week, speaking with Patch Adams, MD at the 50th Anniversary at the Oregon Country Fair, and finally a free public gathering for the Opal Network.

I believe I will call for us to declare every July from now on to be Mad Pride Month. Sound good? Your feedback and comments are welcome.

If you are interested in attending our MindFreedom Oregon meeting and helping to plan these fun activities, email us at mf-oregon@aciu.info.

Thanks! Ačiū!

The name of my consulting business is Aciu Institute. “Ačiū” is an ancient word in Lithuanian meaning “Thanks.” Thank you, everyone, for supporting me, my rehab, and the launch of this business. Let us have the nonviolent global revolution we need, now! If not now, then when the heck?

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Patch Adams: Love, Earth & Revolution Now!

My Chat with Patch Adams on Nonviolent Revolution

David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at 2015 Oregon Country Fair.

David Oaks and Patch Adams discuss global revolution and nose picking at a recent Oregon Country Fair.

Last week I talked with my friend Patch Adams, MD, the hero in the movie by that name. Patch is a peaceful revolutionary in many ways, especially on the topic of medicine. Our chat turned into an interview.

Your comments here on this blog are invited. Do you support revolution? What kind?

Every time I talk with Patch I learn a bit more about nonviolent revolution, from the very first time I worked with him in 1992 when he spoke at a MindFreedom International (MFI) event.

Over the years, especially at the huge unique gathering each July, Oregon Country Fair, I have heard many stories from Patch.

For example: When Patch was a teen he would hear some people around him use the n-word in a racist way.

Patch developed this creative response: “I would scream because I was bothered by it. I was 16, 17, 18. The bullies would beat me up after school. If I screamed every time they said the word, they would eventually stop. They didn’t always stop on the first go.”

Patch reports that his creative disorder worked fairly well, and the use of the n-word around him abated a great deal. I wondered a few years ago if this same approach would work for another n-word: Normal? I tried this with my employees: We howl whenever we hear the word “normal,” and this funny method has worked.

As a tribute, we are launching this call and response as a game that I call “Howl4.” This game is very simple. When anyone says the word “normal,” you respond by howling! To paraphrase and build on a poem by Allen Ginsberg, “I have seen some of the best minds of my generation destroyed by normality.”

Last week I asked Patch about applying his innovation to the word “normal.” Our game, Howl4, might catch on. The other day I made a video about this call and response. What did Patch think of this game? Patch replied, “I would of course know nothing about ‘normal.’

Patch said that he first came up with the idea about fighting racism by making a noise because he needed a peaceful,  creative way to respond to bigotry. He told me, “It’s just an encouragement to not be silent. I chose never to take violence as one of my options, so all I have is performance. ”

Patch on What he Would do to Help Save the Planet: Revolution!

“I want women in charge of everything.” I certainly would agree with Patch. I learn from my brilliant wife and about half-a-dozen wonderful female employees, as well as many female friends and relatives almost every day! (I also learn from my three male employees, who are also superb.)

Does Patch want a revolution? Of course. He said:

“How do I feel about it? I live it! Nonviolent revolution!” Patch said that nonviolence is very important to him.

“Most revolutions in history were nonviolent. I made a commitment as a teenager to never do physical violence, not even to defend my family. I just know my father died from war as a soldier and I just am not going to do it.” Yes, this is a complex topic, and I, like most people, am not a pacifist, but I find this philosophy fascinating. Plus I certainly want to try nonviolent revolution!

Patch told me, “Everyone has to make their own decision. I’m not going to hurt somebody.”

I asked Patch about some hypothetical situations that are challenging for folks who choose nonviolence, for example, instances that would lead many of us to call 911, or the military.

Patch answered, “I would use creativity and find nonviolent solutions. There is very little creativity in that world, so I think there are a huge number of things: For one, you’re asking what to do in a large nationwide solution.”

Patch on President Donald Trump:

“If the president was a ‘Love President,’ there are lots of thing a Love President could do. We’d have to have access to a lot of people and a lot of media so we could have creativity to deal with horrible situations.” Patch very much opposes the bigotry we are seeing from President Trump.

“He’s an embarrassment in just about every way, and dangerous, and thoughtless, and lying. Everyone should be worried and get more proactive.”

I have many relatives that voted against President Donald Trump. I voted for another candidate. But I have a few dear relatives who told us that they did indeed vote for President Trump. This has created a few awkward moments, and I am sure many other Americans have also had such moments. Patch told us that these are extremely challenging time:

“With whatever discomfort or anger one might have for the current election process, it is not the time to face it with anger and discontent. There never has been a time when a life in radiance and love has been more important. So let your wildest and craziest love and fun infect every environment.”

Are You On the Revolution Bus?

My friend, the late and beloved Ken Kesey, liked to say:

“Are you on the bus? Or off the bus?”

Let us be on the bus, now! I am talking about the bus of revolution, global revolution.

Most people, when I ask them, support revolution.

A few others first ask, “What kind of revolution?” Good question.

I tend to say, “A quality revolution!” I do not know exactly what to name what is required, you may call it whatever you wish. Some may want a nonviolent revolution. That is OK with me. In fact, if you look up the phrase “nonviolent revolution” in Wikipedia, you will see that MindFreedom International has long been one of the groups to officially have revolution in its mission.

I blogged a few months ago about why folks should support MFI now, and you can read this here.

Let Us Have Free Minds 

And yes, I helped start MindFreedom International. Please be truthful about this, many, many folks helped start MindFreedom International. We all co-started MindFreedom. This will be a brief entry to say “Thank you, thank you, thank you! MindFreedom International community!”

For example, there is a Board of Directors of MFI. I have never been on the Board of MFI. After my neck broke about four years ago, I retired after about 25 years of having the incredible pleasure and honor of being the Executive Director. But because of severe challenges I could not continue after my accident in December 2012.

On her way to the airport for one of her many trips to her beloved Ghana, Africa a few days ago, the spectacular Celia Brown, President of the MFI Board, called me with the wonderful news that the board has decided that our Aciu Institute will be official consultants for MindFreedom International.

For those who do not know, Aciu Institute is a fairly new for-profit. “Aciu” means thank you in Lithuanian, which is my heritage. Yes, I am working with a for-profit, my first in 40 years of nonprofit work. Keep an eye on this blog and the website www.LoveEarthRevolution.com for developments.

There are millions, perhaps billions, who support nonviolent revolution, today. Let us make this “R” word more visible. There is no guarantee of success, but I know that I would feel better!

Many people, such as Patch, are thinking outside of the box, people mainstream psychiatry as tended to squash. Patch evaded a lifetime of mainstream psychiatry after his psychiatric institutionalization as a young person. Patch is a psychiatric survivor who believes that we can have good humor even when facing the difficult parts of life. The name of our for-profit was partly inspired by the name of the group Patch works with: “Gesundheit Institute.”

One can end up in an infinite loop by saying “Aciu” to someone with Patch’s group. They might respond “Gesundheit” and you might respond “Aciu.” Let me end with some humor that a super employee has given a good grade to, Grade B actually:

From Pun of the Day:

“Sir Cumference built King Arthur’s round table, and Sir Ramic Tile did the flooring.”

As I said, your feedback about this blog are welcome in the comments section below. Do you howl for revolution? How do we make this more visible?

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