For example, he says “Mental health policies should address the ‘power imbalance’ rather than ‘chemical imbalance’.” He calls for the “elimination” of coercive mental health procedures.
Here is a way to unify through diversity. Last year I actually heard about the call for “revolution” by this UN Rapporteur through activist Rev. Phil Schulman. But it took me more than a year to finally read the report.
You can get a good summary by looking at a Mad in America blog by Justin Karter from 9 June 2017. If you need to, search online for the phrase: mad in america un revolution in mental health justin karter.
Today, 10 October 2018, is considered World Mental Health Day by the mental health industry, and so this is good timing to get out the word about this UN report from 2017. My friend and psychiatric survivor Mary Maddock endorses a campaign by Mad in the UK. We are to use the hashtag #WMHD2018 to get out the word about the need for activism in mental health. You can read more about the campaign here:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
I do some consulting for the independent nonprofit, MindFreedom International, which is one of the main coalitions focusing on human rights in mental health.
Here are four positive news items about MFI:
1. MindFreedom will be doing another free webinar later this Summer 2018, on choice in mental health.
On August 19, 2018, MindFreedom will be holding a new free online webinar about empowering options for people needing mental and emotional support. The title of the webinar: “Voices for Choices: Organizing for Alternatives to Forced Psychiatric Treatment.”
Thanks to support from the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, three leaders in the field of providing alternatives to mainstream mental health, will be offering this opportunity. For more information and to register, go here. Act soon, attendance is limited and based on previous webinars, this will be popular.
2. MindFreedom is stronger than ever.
It has been more than five years since I experienced a major accident and severe ongoing disabilities, requiring my retirement after 25 years as MFI’s executive director. As well as the above grant from the Foundation, MFI received an anonymous major donation, and many members have continued to support this important effort.
I am glad to report that MindFreedom International is doing very well. However, there has not been a replacement executive director. Until now. MFI is now announcing a search for a new executive director. This will no doubt lead to better member services, campaigns, and online information, which many people supportive of human rights in mental health have hoped for. Congratulations!
Please note that MindFreedom website currently lists the deadline for the job application as July 31, 2018. So unless this is extended, it is too late to apply.
For more info, see the MindFreedom website here. (Please note that I am not in any way personally involved with the search.)
I have very much enjoyed providing some consulting with MFI through my new business, Aciu Institute. We have helped do several surveys, for example. We look forward to future support for MFI.
3. You can now view MindFreedom’s last webinar, on human rights in mental health, free.
At the beginning of this Summer, 2018, two other psychiatric survivors and I presented a free MFI online gathering about winning campaigns for choice in mental health. You can now view a video recording for free on the web, here.
Above right is a photo of work I did years ago in Oslo, Norway with one of the oldest groups in our movement: We Shall Overcome. We constructed a huge prop hypodermic needle and reaches hundreds in Oslo about choice in mental health. No forced psychiatric drugging!
4. For a limited time, interested activists can apply to benefit from mentorship.
As a follow-up to their webinar MindFreedom International gave about human rights in mental health, about 20 folks can apply to become mentorees. Each will work with a mentor to develop written plans for a human rights in mental health campaign. Because space is limited, those interested should contact MFI soon. Email to: email@example.com
Go MindFreedom International, go! Let us help lead this revolution!
I am glad to see that MindFreedom International, despite many struggles related to the incredible oppression in the mental health system, and also my accident, is doing so well. Listening to a lot of folks, I know there is hope for a better online presence, member services, etc. But generally these hopes are very constructively and lovingly offered.
Let us all work together for MindFreedom International and the revolution we need in mental health. With the climate crisis, the lock so-called “normality” has on our culture has become a central emergency, globally!
We just finished another Creative Maladjustment Week.
In case you are new to that phrase, for more than a decade, Martin Luther King talked about “creative maladjustment.”
MLK would say that he was proud to be creatively maladjusted to problems like militarism, poverty and racism.
A number of years ago, MindFreedom International began a Creative Maladjustment Week to celebrate this idea, and to challenge what is falsely called “normal.”
Of course, there are 8 days in Creative Maladjustment Week. I suggest we add a ninth day, because today, July 15, is the birthday of an amazing, late, psychiatric survivor author and leader: Leonard Roy Frank (photo on right).
You can read about Creative Maladjustment Week on a special MindFreedom website here: http://cmweek.org/
Getting Ready For Creative Maladjustment Week 2019
The MindFreedom website for CM Week needs a few improvements. For example, there is a downloadable PDF manual about how you can have a CM event. Unfortunately, each day is connected to a day of the week, which of course would change each year.
Below are the theme days for 2019, including a special ninth day for the birthday of Leonard Roy Frank. I suggest the theme be Revolution. Many people called Leonard the Gandhi of the Mad Movement, and hopefully he would appreciate this.
OK, here are the days and themes for next year:
July 7, 2019, Sunday, Day 1: Day of Creativity
July 8, 2019, Monday, Day 2: Day of Action & Movement
July 9, 2019, Tuesday Day 3: Day of Laughter & Joyful Noise
July 10, 2019, Wednesday, Day 4: Day of Kindness
July 11, 2019, Thursday, Day 5: Day of Self Care
July 12, 2019, Friday, Day 6: Day of Community Care
July 13, 2019, Saturday, Day 7: Legacy of Lunacy
July 14, 2019, Sunday, Day 8: Day of PRIDE
July 15, 2019, Monday, Day 9: Day of Revolution
Please note that July 2019 will also have the 50th Anniversary of the Oregon Country Fair. While I could not find the exact dates for OCF 2019, I will guess that it will be from Friday, July 12, to Sunday, July 14.
Are you inspired by Creative Maladjustment Week? I feel that an update of the idea might help. Perhaps Creative Disorder, since today the mental health system uses the phrase “disorder” more than anything else.
I encourage Positively Crazy activities, which I call the new PC. Too often we hear about negative activities attached to mental problems. The fact is that many creative and peaceful actions are Positively Crazy.
Do you agree? Do you have any ideas? Please post your comment here. Get ready for CM Week 2019. I hope to help update the MindFreedom website and PDF for Creative Maladjustment Week.
Those of us who have experienced human rights challenges because of the mental health system, have often been marginalized and silenced. Our viewpoints are diverse, and need to be part of the national conversation.
Here in the USA, the debate over gun safety often involves mental health, yet we in the public seldom hear from psychiatric survivors.
Personally, what is very horrifying to me is the USA federal government currently has programs in 17 cities to support court-ordered involuntary outpatient mental health. That is right, USA taxpayers are spending more than $50 million to coerce hundreds of their fellow citizens to take psychiatric drugs that they do not want.
Of course, this outpatient coerced mental healthcare has gone on for decades on the state-level, impacting thousands. But there is something about the USA federal government paying directly for these coerced outpatient procedures that really bothers me.
For decades, I have been a public activist as a psychiatric survivor. Each of us defines “psychiatric survivor” in our own ways. For me, I experienced coerced mental healthcare inside a psychiatric institution about five times.
I am helping MindFreedom International, one of the main independent human rights action groups in mental health, to learn from psychiatric survivors about what can help get out our stories. I am facilitating a national focus group on Sunday, June 10, 2018. Ideally, you would have access to a webcam that works. We will take care of all the technical needs for a video teleconference.
We only have limited room, so if you are interested, please contact me soon. Even if you cannot join us on that day, I would like to hear from you. For instance, I am working on a survey of USA psychiatric survivors.
If you are a USA psychiatric survivor who would like to be in touch, please email to me via my consulting business, Aciu Institute, LLC: firstname.lastname@example.org
MindFreedom is Recruiting Ten Psychiatric Survivors for a Focus Group
MindFreedom International is hosting a web-based focus group on June 10 for psychiatric survivors. Participants will be paid a small stipend for their time. See details below.
David W. Oaks, psychiatric survivor activist and past Executive Director of MindFreedom International, is reaching out to other psychiatric survivors in the USA. Do you identify as a psychiatric survivor in the USA? Please consider emailing to David, via his consulting business: email@example.com.
David is holding a two hour, web-based focus group for psychiatric survivors on June 10. Participants will receive a modest stipend for their time. Participants must have access to a computer that is connected to the internet in order to participate in the focus group. Please email soon. Paid stipends are limited to ten participants.
Here in southwest Eugene, on a quarter-acre of wild garden, in our little creative home, I have a great team of five fantastic folks. They provide about 85 hours per week to help me get out of bed, do hygiene, eat, get back to bed and various activities of independent living that allow me to live in our community with my amazing wife, Debra.
My workers all say they love this job. But one is leaving for a full time position: Leaving 3 evening shifts Mon., Wed., and Fri. As well as a Sun. am shift. There is some flexibility.
As a quadriplegic+, I use a powerchair, and have a few other challenges such as a disabled voice. After more than 40 years as an activist, I am passionate about social & environmental change.
A priority is a homecare worker with an active Senior & Disabled Services (S&DS) provider number. S&DS pays my workers’ wages, health insurance and vacation through the State of Oregon.
Because of time, we are now looking for someone with an active provider number. Experience with paralysis care, such as a hoyer lift, is important. We aim to make this the best employment on Earth!
Let us thank young people for their leadership, vision, creativity and for just putting up with the bullshit that is piling up all around us!
Yes, we should give everyone an award, just for existing! But where do we start? I agree with the philosophy shared by many and credited to the Iroquois Confederacy: think ahead seven generations. How about we start with folks under 30, the ones we in the counterculture are supposed to trust.
I figure that seven generations from now would be a few years after the turn of the century, 2200. That might seem like a very long time, but there are some kids today, who when they are old, will share the planet with some little kids who will, we hope, reach the year 2200.
We owe the future a big, huge apology. We also can thank the future for their leadership!
Patch Adams, MD (shown on the left picking his nose with me), suggested that we award a few young leaders, and he has an idea about where we can start:
At Oregon Country Fair, an enormous celebration in the woods near Veneta each July that is wonderful and indescribable, I often have the chance to catch up with my friend “The Real” Patch Adams, MD, who goes each year to connect with his grand-kids. I have often blogged about my most-famous friend, because he often shares wonderful humor, strangeness and creativity.
Back at OCF 2012, a number of us gave an award, artistically created from recycled materials by psychiatric survivor art gallery owner Tim Boyden from OutOnALimb (see award image below). Since then we have given many awards, using PDF’s inserted with names and achievements.
Below are a few, usually given to thank great folks, or in the case of our Congress person Rep. Peter Defazio, to remind him to be an authentic fighter for the underdog, such as folks in the mental health system. Below is also a humorous award we gave to the local Chamber of Commerce to encourage them to speak up about the climate crisis.
We want your suggestions now: How can we all nominate young people, say under the age of 30, to appreciate their work and leadership into the future? Perhaps using online surveys? A panel of judges including young people? Do you have ideas to make these awards creative? Do you want to help on any of this? You can comment here, or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who do you think should be thanked? Wouldn’t it be fun to hand deliver a few at OCF 2018? The timing, July 13, 14, 15, happens to be the last three days of Creative Maladjustment Week, which many readers knows we celebrate, in the spirit of Martin Luther King who envisioned an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.
Here are a few awards:
Because of their silence about the climate crisis, here is the Award we gave to the Eugene Chamber with our tongues in our cheeks. Psychiatric survivor artist Tim Boyden created this award.