Oaks Vlog #1: Mental Health, Disability & Revolution

David W. Oaks Vlog text:

Mental Health, Disability & Revolution

7 December 2020

Joe Biden’s Federal Mental Health Agencies

I love you. I am David W. Oaks. And I love you if you’re quadriplegic/tetraplegic like me. If you are a psychiatric survivor like me. Or if you’re not any of those.

My friend, the late Justin Dart, Jr. was a leader in disability. He connected mental health and physical disability. He said over and over and over:

“No forced treatment ever!”

And now I think he would say:

“Black Lives Matter!”

I love you whether you’re a relative who’s a Democrat. And I love my relatives who are Republicans. Justin worked with both.

And as Joe Biden becomes President, I encourage his administration to look at federal mental health agencies. Look at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Why don’t they look more at alternatives? Like Peer Support?

And I especially would encourage Joe Biden’s administration, and everyone in the US and the world,to look at the SAMHSA. That stands for the “Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.”

I’ve done this work for 44 years, and for decades SAMHSA was an ally. They supported empowerment, recovery, alternatives.

But under the wonderful Obama, who I support, they began funding cities for involuntary outpatient commitment. This is court-ordered outpatient mental health.

Now this has been going on quietly all over the US, for decades for thousands of Americans. Your home becomes an institution. You’re court-ordered to usually take drugs, powerful drugs.

Sadly, SAMHSA began funding several dozen sites, with millions of dollars. I’ve tried to get information from them.

They refuse.

Please help. Because SAMHSA is refusing to disclose. One year ago, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request, and they still have not told me anything about these programs, in terms of evaluating. One fact is that black people tend to be in these programs more than white people.

Right now, I chair a subcommittee, for a work group in the Oregon legislature, for the Voice & Inclusion of Oregonians with Lived Experience of the Mental Health System. We are concerned about the way alternatives to police violence, like CAHOOTS here in Eugene, Oregon, need to include the peer perspective, or else they can be a gateway to outpatient commitment.

Last week, we met with a representative of CAHOOTS, and they are interested in the peer perspective. Cities all over the US and Canada are looking at CAHOOTS as a model. Our local Affiliate of MindFreedom, MindFreedom Oregon, is looking at these issues.

Wherever you are in the world, you can create an Affiliate of MindFreedom, like MindFreedom Ghana or MindFreedom Ireland, who are doing great work. Or you can use your group’s name and simply be a Sponsor of MindFreedom by endorsing the principles.

I congratulate the National Council on Independent Living. Their Mental Health Subcommittee has adopted MindFreedom’s Shield campaign. And NCIL plans to reach hundreds of Independent Living Centers about this Shield program.

Today, the climate crisis threatens vulnerable people. COVID is related to climate crisis and the way we treat our environment. For us to live seven generations in the future, we absolutely need a revolution, the sooner the better.

But we will have one.

Please look at SAMHSA.

And Lead On!

Thank you.

I love you all.


David W. Oaks is a Revolutionary Consultant with Aciu! Institute (aciu.info). 

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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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PsychoQuad Goes to the Movies: The Power of Sex, Bettie Page and Art Overthrow Psychiatry

Over the decades, I have had the good fortune to be immersed in what many of us call Mad Culture. In various cities, at a number of events, there would be a confluence of writers, researchers, artists, and otherwise creative people who all wanted to peacefully overthrow the psychiatric industry and find a new way of helping people in crisis. I am glad to hear that one of your chances for Mad Culture will be from October 9-12, 2014 in Massachusetts, because the Mad In America International Film Festival will bring many film titles and speakers together. In fact, I have been invited to speak for a few minutes via Skype near the end of this great event.

I wish I could be there physically, but in honor of this Mad film event, here are some movies that I have watched lately, along with my brief review.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/87/Betty-Page-Reveals-All-poster.jpgBettie Page Reveals All (2012, Documentary, 101 min., via Netflix streaming)

That’s right, one of the main pin-up personalities from the 20th century was a psychiatric survivor. Bettie Page was famous as a charismatic and sexual model whose images are still admired long after her death. This documentary reveals that from 1979 to 1992, after the height of her fame, Bettie Page was in psychiatric institutions in California.

This film is mainly a lot of fun, showing her history and how she became one of the leading underground characters in Americana. In fact, she may be more popular today than in the 20th century. There is a very sad part of this story though, because Bettie Page was a trauma survivor, her childhood was awful, she experienced abuse as an adult, and the men in her life were mainly negative. When Bettie retires down in Florida, her past seems to catch up with her and she ends up having a major mental crisis.

You can watch this documentary on Netflix and I highly recommend it. Bettie Page is a fascinating person, and you can get some insight into how our society misinterprets trauma as “mental illness.”

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Your Local Chamber of Commerce and Global Warming: Can You Help?

Your Local Chamber of Commerce and Global Warming: Can You Help?

Update 4/6/2015: Craig Wanichek from Summit Bank is the newly – elected chair of the Board for Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce.

 

On Sunday, September 21, 2014, here in Eugene Oregon, I participated, with my wonderful wife Debra, in a local rally to support the major march in New York City for climate justice.

Everyone and every group working for mental health justice ought to make fighting global warming a priority right now. Of course, the whole disability movement, and in fact all sentient beings should be concerned about climate crisis, but those of us working for human rights and more choices for mental wellness have special reasons to make this planetary catastrophe a unifying theme for all of us.

Martin Luther King frequently talked about the importance of creative maladjustment as an answer to oppression, and many environmentalists are wondering where humanity’s creativity and maladjustment are right about now. The Mad Movement knows that the psychiatric industry has ground down the human spirit for centuries, but we never ever give up! MLK resisted the war in Vietnam toward the end of his life, and some civil rights activists were mystified that he seemed to be off topic. However, MLK knew that we are all in one big movement for the “beloved community,” as he put it.

But if you need something very specific to connect the Mad Movement to global warming, here it is: Those of us called psychotic are often coerced to take neuroleptic drugs (sometimes called antipsychotics), and these drugs are well known to suppress the temperature-regulatory part of the brain. During a heat wave, prison reformers have been talking about how horrible it is that those in non-air-conditioned prisons where people are forced to take these drugs often die. Well, most USA states have laws allowing citizens to be forcibly court-ordered to take these drugs while living at home out in the community.

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Psychiatric Survivor Activist Blogs as PsychoQuad for a Revolution in Mental Health, Major Website Picks Up for Global Re-Distribution

EUGENE, OR — FALL 2014 — News Release

A photo of David W. Oaks

David W. Oaks, aka PsychoQuad

A recent blog entry by long-time activist David Oaks is receiving quite a lot of attention among fellow activists working for major change of the mental health industry. In the blog, David tells his friend Marcia’s story of mental health rights abuse and activism. He writes, “Marcia’s story riveted me because it involves activism, madness, psychiatric torture of her beloved daughter, Unitarianism, secret poisoned-pen letters, Scientology and global warming!”  The story is certainly intriguing, and has quickly gathered more than 30 lively comments.

It has been 40 years since David W. Oaks was locked up for the first of five times by the psychiatric system. For 25 years he served as director of MindFreedom International, one of the main independent human rights groups in mental health. Then he broke his neck, and for the last 18 months he has been in a powerchair with a new label of “quad.” He prefers PsychoQuad, and people can find his new website name www.psychoquad.com. David W. Oaks continues to speak out, and he is making waves.

Today, Oaks devotes himself to the intersection of the mental health system, disability and the environmental destruction of planet Earth resulting in global warming. Oaks calls this dangerous combination Normalgeddon.

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