Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Genetics, Information Technology and Politics

I recently came across the below comment on a post at Bodil Zalesky's blog, "Genetik och informationsteknik" (Genetics and Information Technology). The original post is about the article "Levande gener, döda metaforer" published in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, October 13th 2005, by Håkan Lindgren (co-editor of a small but significant Swedish cultural magazine, Agamemnon), that is about the interaction between genes and environment in regard to human behaviour.

I found the comment on the matter extraordinarily important, concerning the controversy about Gaderummet as well as the authorities' and society's ongoing discrimination and oppression of certain groups in general, and very well put. I want to thank Marita, the author, for her permission to translate her comment, and post it on my blog. Thanks also to Bodil Zalesky for bringing about the contact.


Comment on "Genetik och informationsteknik"
Originally posted by Marita, October 15th 2005

I see, that which I am going to say, is a very personal view. Just as a warning.

Throughout the history of mankind, some minor groups always have regarded themselves as being of "the right kind", and the rest of mankind as a pitiful, ignorant and bad mob. Socrates told his adepts, "to think righteously is great, to think independently is greater" and instantly, "the right kind" decided, that they didn't want an independently thinking mob, and Socrates was forced to empty a cup of poison. The Romans separated themselves into Patricians ("the right kind") and Plebeians.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, the men of the church regarded themselves as being of "the right kind", while the wealthy, privileged, who were hardly affected by the church's oppression, of course always have considered themselves being of "the right kind". The church's oppression and feodalism kept the mob in its place ( just as one or the other outbreak of the plague, of course) - in some countries, learning to read was forbidden on penalty of death. (This also applied to black slaves in America.)

Renaissance came with a big sigh of relief, though only for "the right kind". Very little changed for the mob. Flogging, death penalty, witch trials, the Inquisition, poverty, famine, active service... All this yields control.

The Age of Enlightenment starts to emerge, and now scientists are beginning to be part of "the right kind". Everything is to be explained in scientific terms, there is no longer a God, only nature, plants are classified into their own gendersystem, the church is attacked, the law of gravity is put forward, etc. Mercantilism starts to organize and control the mob. Scientists and the wealthy believe, they have the right to perform experiments and sacrifice the mob - unlettered and considered less worthy, hardly of fully human worth as it is. The idea about the unspoiled human, "the noble savage", emerges. The stress, though, is not on "noble" but on "savage". Why "the right kind" wipe out the indigenous population in the conquered countries in America, Africa and South America. "Savages" aren't considered of having any human worth.

Romanticism, remarkably enough coinciding with the arrival of industrialism, creates a new "right kind" - the artist, who can interpret God's voice and will in his art, preferably in a state of opium-intoxication. While the smoke of opium lies heavily among the artists, a new society is established for the mob, where people are packed, dense, dense, in row houses and forced into the industry. Tuberculosis, lice, annoyance, famine, the loss of dignity - all this thrives in the worker quarters. In order to keep the infuriated masses under control, "the right kind" establishes - local pubs and other places with serving rights. Drinking skyrockets - and so do industrial accidents.

Realism then describes this misery, and it is the first time that the mob actually appears in its own right in the world of books. The workers' miserable conditions, work houses (sort of almshouses) and children's homes, angel-makers and diseases are written about. Of course, it aren't the workers themselves writing, but "the right kind", i.e. those with a sufficiently high education and the right background to see the whole society as a system. With the best of intentions, research is started to see if there possibly exists a superior race, if criminality, mental illness, drinking etc. may be diagnosed in the mob before they break out. Skulls are measured and Darwin is listened to. For the good of the race, mentally ill people, people with Downs Syndrome and gypsies, who are regarded as being especially threatening to a functioning society, are sterilized. Phrenology arrives at the conclusion, that the bigger a person's head, the bigger is the brain and thus the intelligence. Europeans' heads are quite big - especially the male ones that are measured. Authors write in furious despair, that it maybe are the miserable social conditions which cause criminality.

Yah, we now move toward our own age. During the 30ies and 40ies, workers and states themselves write about their situation - from the inside. We have a period of escape from a reality marked by war and other misery, and fantasy and sci-fi is written. We send up rockets with men, who, later on, set foot on the moon. Towards the end of the 20th century science makes remarkable process, in every field. "The right kind" have created a society for the mob, that is inhumanely hard, joyless and controlled. Criminality, suicide, mental problems, stress-related diseases, overuse injuries caused by monotonous work - all this increases. "The right kind" get busy explaining, and to their help there's gene technology. We don't measure skulls anymore, don't ask ourselves about environmental influences - we want an explanation, and preferably an excuse. Components in the genes of man (the mob) desperately are searched for which can explain, that this "worse kind" isn't to be blamed for being criminal, mentally ill, stressed to pieces etc., since their second-rate behaviour is programmed in advance in their genes. Programmed is a good term, because it sounds this modern in the age of computerization. Just as a computer, a video and a DVD are programmed, man, too, has been programmed in his genes. If genes for cancer, diabetes or other disabling diseases which may break out in the future - or not - can be found, insurance companies can become informed, and the mob with deficient genes will have to pay higher premiums - if at all they can get insurance. That society is inhumane, is of no concern, even politicians now think that absence due to illness is too high and lasts too long, so, the deficient individuals are stressed to pieces even more, by threats about their benefit being removed. This is of no importance, since the deficient ones belong to "the worse kind", and "the right kind" will manage, no matter what. They have money, a good income, a lot of power, good positions in society, ancestors, connections, a good education etc., and their genes are absolutely not defective. "The right kind" tells "the worse kind" not to regard themselves as a group with the same dreams, rights and goals, but as individuals. Machiavelli already had figured out, that to achieve total control one has to divide and rule.

Something like this: "The right kind" invent whatever they can to control and keep down "the worse kind". For now it is gene technology. Which it will be in 20 years, remains to be seen, still, the system is resiliant.

(translated from Swedish)


In a follow-up comment, Marita states, that "science has never been able and will never be able to predict an individual's future, just as little as it can say anything about what being human means. It is of no importance, if we do research into the composition of genes, count bumps on people's head, or measure their skulls. Overall, we become everything we can through interaction with others, no matter what the rules of genetics tell.

(...) I have a very bright and positive view of what single individuals can achieve, but a pitch-black, negative view of whereto humanity as a whole is on its way. Man as a container of predestinated genes to me is an absurd thought, maybe even a little weird."

I agree.

Monday, 17 March 2008

About Mayor Warming's position toward facts

Below Kalle Birck Madsen's own answer to Mikkel Warming's allegations, that the only impediment to Gaderummet to continue functioning as before, is that Kalle refuses to accept his dismissal as manager of the place.

About Mayor Warming's position toward facts

A case story

By Kalle Birck Madsen, cand.psych.(psychologist, psychotherapist)

Acting though by the local authorities suspended manager

Continuously, the Mayor of Social Affairs at Copenhagen, Mikkel Warming, states, that the problem with Gaderummet is the writer of this article, the manager of the place. Just as continuously, the Mayor fails to mention, that the complete group of users at Gaderummet totally disagrees with this. Anyway, the Mayor claims, that if I leave, i.e. accept my unlawful dismissal, which is what the Mayor wants, Gaderummet can continue to function as "an open and alternative place for young people with social problems".

That this is not true, is shown by the local authorities' questionable answer to Gaderummet, "Nødrummet" (The Emergency Room), which I will return to later.

A different management at a completely different institution

It is not true, as the Mayor alleges, that I am the problem. At least not alone. I am nothing but a pawn in the game at Gaderummet, even if I've been involved right from the start, at first as the initiator of the psychological counselling in 1985, later as the founder of Gaderummet in 1996.

The management that, according to the Mayor, is meant to take over Gaderummet, is a management of a completely different institution. It clearly emerges from the new management's work description, that it is expected to accept conformity and subordination in relation to the mental health system. Thus, young people who ask for help for psychological and social problems will automatically be referred to medical psychiatric treatment.

Young people with difficulties in subjecting to the orders, the new management according to the authorities will have to enforce, will be treated the same way. These orders, in their emphasis on the mental health system, fundamentally break with Gaderummet's original basis of approval. Their imposition will turn Gaderummet into an institution like all the others, which the young people left, either because they were unhappy there, or because they were thrown out - or what is worse.

The Mayor's slogan is simple: if the young people won't conform to "the good relationship with the mental health system", more subordination will be asked for, and which will be told of later from practice at the local authorities' "Nødrum": individual coercion by staff of young people in need asking for help, followed by forced medication, and, subsequently, chucking out on the street.

It is this Gaderummet has objected to. As an unanimous group of users, residents, staff and board. I can't stand by while a well-functioning professional place is to be destroyed, in favour of something else that will ruin the young people's possibility for a decent life in the future. Just as I can't stand by while a professional example is to be destroyed, that could serve as a practical model in similar environments, where exposed young people are thrown out on the street.

The local authorities' trial: "Nødrummet"

Since the local authorities, after they held back Gaderummet's money more than 10 months ago, weren't able to take over the building nor the management, nor remove the basic user influence at Gaderummet - the totally open door under user control -, they have established a provisional, municipal "Nødrum" (Emergency Room), not far from Gaderummet. It seems, the local authorities imagine, that they can force Gaderummet out of its localities by making use of their economic power, and, following, move their own "Nødrum" into the localities. For the time being, we at Gaderummet have stood up to the enormous, economical pressure by begging in the streets with our wishing well, and we also try to raise funds.

The new municipal "Nødrum" already works today as Gaderummet is supposed to in the long run.

At the local authorities' "Nødrum" a heavy group of staff around the clock manages a small window of Perspex/Plexiglas in a locked door, that is meant to keep some young people out, and others away. At the same time, "Nødrummet" is by and large empty of users. Numerous users aren't allowed at the place, since they've brought about conflicts earlier, others choose to do without the place because of bad experiences. In spite of the heavy staff, the police is called in as soon as there's any conflict with the young people, and the staff members persistently communicate, that it would be a good thing if the young person could be "motivated" to take psychiatric drugs because "then it is so much easier for us to help you", as it is put.

Even though "Nødrummet" only can house 10 homeless people - compared to Gaderummet's 150 - 200 daily users of whom approximately 30 - 40 are homeless - the expenses for staff are at least twice those of Gaderummet. Control is expensive! Though, if all resources thus are used for control and administration of almost nothing, and there neither is nor is meant to be any competence for treatment among the staff, things continuously will go wrong, whenever a young person asks for help.

A covered-up, actual case story from 2008

This story is about a 19-year-old young man from Sønderjylland (Southern Jutland, a Danish province). He was early thrown out by his parents, who didn't seem to care much for him. He'd never got on well with his parents. Together with his girlfriend, he found a room, and continued his Higher Preparatory Course. After some time, his girlfriend moved, and he couldn't stay since he couldn't afford the rent. So he moved in with his sister at Copenhagen, where he continued his studies. Anyway, he didn't get on well with his sister. She had contact to the parents, while they didn't want to see him. He couldn't get to know why they rejected him, and the horrible thought crossed his mind, what if they weren't his biological parents?? The problem tortured him that much, it caused more and more severe conflicts with his sister, who finally threw him out on the street.

Several times he tried to get in touch with his parents. But they either rejected or ignored him.

After some time at all kind of stations and benches at night, he found Gaderummet. To start with, he stayed at one of the big sofas in a corner at the common room. He didn't want any contact. He didn't have much to say, at least he didn't talk much. However, as the days went by, he said more and more, sometimes joining the others. in their activities.

The area, he stayed at, is called the "black area", and is actually "the extension of the street into the house". It is here, the common meeting table stands, with access to the kitchen and other necessary facilities. The black area is TV-room, PC-café, fitness room, workroom, and a lot more.

He slept a lot at the common room, disregarded the noise at all times of the day. Often he slept through the community meetings. Then he got a bed at one of the dormitories, so he could have a place of his own. He started to have an everyday life together with others at Gaderummet. He'd dropped out of his Higher Preparatory Course, but started soon to dream of going back to school.

After some time at Gaderummet, the conflicts started. Simple moving in conflicts like everyone has, moving in at a new place, or starting at a new job. But if you're hard-pressed as it is, it isn't always easy to express yourself and to stand the situation. The staff tried to keep up with him, but he cut them off, wanted to deal with it on his own. It is rather normal for things to start and get turned upside-down, for since to fall into place in a new and different way, after the first 2 - 4 months.

However, this didn't happen. Everything fell apart. Just at the most vulnerable time, the Mayor for Social Affairs came along and informed of his and the Social Committee's decision to shut down Gaderummet in its original form. The young man first reacted with anger to the Mayor's announcement, later on he withdrew, because the staff, he'd become attached to, didn't have the same resources for him as before. For a long time, he'd considered asking for counselling. Now he passed it off. They were too busy, and others needed them more than him. Which he couldn't pass off were the daily conflicts, he felt he had to deal with all on his own, against the rest of Gaderummet. Winter had come, and the heat and warm water were gone a long time ago, so it was almost just as cold at Gaderummet, as out in the street. His health suffered, and one day, after a bigger conflict, he decided to leave Gaderummet.

He found the local authorities' "Nødrum", and moved in. There weren't more users than that he could have one of the dormitories all to himself.

"One evening, after some time, I brought myself to ask if it were possible for me to talk to a psychologist. Earlier that day, I'd smoked some pot at "Nødrummet". When asked about that, I said yes. Shortly after I sat in a cab with two staff members of "Nødrummet", and was on my way to the emergency at Rigshospitalet (a large hospital at Copenhagen). The visit at the emergency was a short one: 'You're psychotic', they told me. An ambulance took me to the psychiatric unit at Bispebjerg (another hospital at Copenhagen), where I spent the next month, committed and forcibly medicated, both against my express wish and will."

He then came to Gaderummet, asking for help. He was about to be discharged, and didn't want to go back to "Nødrummet", where he felt both dumped and fixed. All at the same time, it was difficult for him to be at Gaderummet, where it was perishing, and he felt, that the others didn't like him because of the previous conflicts.

Eventually, he was discharged from the locked ward, where he'd been for 5 weeks, and, reluctantly, returned to "Nødrummet". Opposite Gaderummet, there were only a few other young people around at "Nødrummet", and thus fewer who knew him and his background.

After only a few days at "Nødrummet", he was banned for 5 days for smoking pot at the common room. Things like smoking pot are only allowed at the dormitories, and where else it can be hidden, at "Nødrummet".

He returned from the street to Gaderummet. This time to stay and deal with conflicts and challenges.

Expropriation of voluntary work for young people, of young homeless people's means and cultural co-operation by the authorities

The local authorities lay claim to a work and developed means of work of both professional and technical kind, that can everything on a small scale, and that have been established during more than 20 years of voluntary and free of charge work for young people in crisis and need. It has been created by personal efforts and developed professional concepts, and in 2005 we were awarded running funds for all of our work. The funding was awarded by the Ministry of Social Affairs, while the Mayor of Social Affairs is accountable for the funding to be applied in accordance to Gaderummet's basis of allowance.

It is this basis of allowance in relation to the Ministry of Social Affairs, that the Mayor is dissatisfied with, why he, through his demand for another manager, lies away the authorities' demand for the manager to conform to the introduction of "involuntary outpatient treatment", and to completely ignore Gaderummet's established, psycho-social practice. While the building was renovated and adapted according to Gaderummet's concept and financed by its own means in 2005. The house is set up "soft", co-operative and open, according to the users' own terms, and with its wafer thin walls and open passages everywhere - all functioning areas woven into each other - it can impossibly be used for involuntary paternalism of troublesome young people.

This is why I'm still here. I can't tear myself down, neither.


When the Mayor of Social Affairs speaks and writes as he does, it is in spite of his knowledge to the contrary. He knows very well, that it is not a question about replacing the management, but about replacing psychological and social help, support, therapy and guidance for young people with medical treatment and pedagogic supervision. Here, literally, Gaderummet's basic user-controlled management disappears. As well as the open door, the purely psycho-social work, and the good long-term outcomes for the young people.

It is easy for a new management to abolish the user-controlled management, and to establish an arrangement over the young people's heads, that the young people don't have and aren't supposed to have any influence on, since this is the commonly accepted way to control maladjusted and rebellious young people. It is how the municipal places work, that the young people left, and where the street out of need becomes a better choice.

At these places a nice surface and tidy common rooms are maintained, that can be shown. While drugs and stolen goods dominate the other rooms, never-ending fights go on at the corridors, and the young people are medicinally pacified or thrown out on the street, "for their own good", by social workers and called-in guards.

Vandalism and use of force are on the agenda at municipal institutions. And the result: 80% stay outcast, continue to live their lives with criminality, drug abuse and a career as psychiatric revolving-door patients, thus on their way to disability at an early age, expensive for society, and for the young person a real tragedy.

At Gaderummet it is the other way round. Common action for each individual, individual support if needed, and based on which kind of support is wanted, psychological, physical or social.

About 80% of Gaderummet's users get a normal and active life, through their own efforts, a self-reliant, on their own efforts based work. Therefor, the Mayor's plan won't work. But as Mayor, and even as a member of a socialist party, he can prevent the young people from getting along. Just as he can prevent the continuation of a new, professional paradigm. Is it this, that the Mayor wants?

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Playing dirty - how and why to destroy an alternative like Gaderummet

More factual information about the situation concerning Gaderummet, and some thoughts about the political background:

Gaderummet works as a foundation with a board of directors, and funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs. Mikkel Warming's role (and that of the Social Committee of Copenhagen) is to see to, that the original regulations/by-laws, on which the funding was awarded, are followed. In case they are not, and only then, he may hold back the funding.

In November '06 Gaderummet receives an inspection report, in the wake of psychiatrist Henrik Rindom's accusations against the place. The report contains several factual misjudgements (among them, that people with "mental illness" allegedly don't get treatment), and Gaderummet asks for them to get corrected, respectively for another inspection to be undertaken.

By the end of February '07, the president of the board, Ole Henriksen, and another board-member are excluded at a general meeting, because of intern difficulties (Henriksen had been involved in some drinking at Gaderummet, while exaggerated drinking isn't popular at the place).

The Social Committee of Copenhagen and Mayor Warming now see their chance to get at Gadeummet: they turn to Henriksen, and ask him, threatening him with consequences for his private economy, to ask manager Kalle Birck Madsen to dismiss himself and the rest of the staff, declaring the exclusion of Henriksen from the board not lawful, and Henriksen as well as the other excluded person, Laue Traberg Smidt, as officially responsible for Gaderummet. Staff at Gaderummet is employed/dismissed by the board. Which means, that Mayor Warming can't dismiss Kalle, and employ another manager, unless the board of Gaderummet agrees to this. The board does not agree, and Kalle rejects to dismiss anyone, and is, in consequence, suspended - by a board-director, who isn't a board-director anymore at the time.

In June '07 the users and staff at Gaderummet occupy the place.

The situation by now is that neither a closer investigation concerning the inspection report, which Gaderummet contested the validity of, nor the dismissal of Kalle are in any way near settled.

Nevertheless, yesterday Gaderummet's residents and staff received a court order to clear the place.

In context with the inspection report, Gaderummet received six orders from the Social Committee of Copenhagen/Mayor Warming:

- No one under 18 is allowed to stay at Gaderummet. (The open door would be shut)

- Gaderummet has to make sure, that young people with severe mental illness receive psychiatric treatment, responsibility for these young people has to be shared with the local hospitals. (This is where coercion, involuntary treatment, enters the picture)

- No one is allowed to sleep at places, that are not furnished for the purpose, and the young people who stay in the kitchens, are offered other places to stay. (People are allowed to stay and sleep, where they want)

- Gaderummet has to take initiative to improve the co-operation with the mental health system, and Gaderummet is not allowed to recommend to the young people to stop taking medication, unless this is discussed with a psychiatrist beforehand (I wonder, what the psychiatrist would recommend...). It has to be made sure, that young people who are in need of it, receive psychiatric treatment. (Coercion, involuntary treatment, again)

- Gaderummet has to make itself acquainted with and work according to the National Health Service's guidelines concerning the administration of medicine.

- The abuse of marihuana at Gaderummet has to stop, and staff has to intervene, when they see young people smoking (marihuana). A plan about how to achieve this at Gaderummet has to be worked out together with the young people. (Smoke when and where nobody watches... Gaderummet's policy is to tolerate smoking pot, while any other substance abuse is forbidden. Many of the young people do have a drug or alcohol problem when they arrive at Gaderummet. Gaderummet doesn't consider it suitable to ban all substance abuse, since practice has shown, that the young people under such circumstances tend to abuse all kind of substances secretly, while the risk for this to happen decreases noticeably when the young people are allowed to smoke pot.)

Gaderummet is not a facility under the mental health system. To force residents into psychiatric "treatment" thus becomes involuntary outpatient treatment, which is against the Danish law.

How this is handled at a new, local facility near Gaderummet, established by the authorities, the following example shows:

"It happened one evening at the new place, the local authorities have established, Nødrummet (Emergency room). He'd been smoking pot, earlier that evening. When the staff asked him, he said yes. Shortly after, he sat in a cab with two staff members from Nødrummet, and on his way to the emergency at Rigshospitalet (a large hospital at Copenhagen). The visit at the emergency was a short one: "You're psychotic", they told him. An ambulance took him to the psychiatric unit at Bispebjerg (another hospital at Copenhagen), where he spent the next month, committed and forcibly medicated." - Written by Kalle and the 19-year-old young man in question.


Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the world. -Archimedes

All in all, and most fundamentally, the whole fuss about Gaderummet isn't about smoking marihuana, sleeping on a sofa at the common room, or on a mattress at a kitchen. It isn't about young people under 18 being allowed to stay at the place, or others wanting to stop take "medication" and being supported in this.

It is about destroying a project, that could serve as an example and a model for other similar services. Destroying, yes.

Gaderummet has a successrate of about 80%, i.e. about 80% of it's residents and users move on to live independent, constructive lives. Without drug abuse and/or criminality. Without becoming disabled and/or revolving door patients in the mental health system.

Gaderummet practices, and thereby teaches, social accountability - all for one, one for all. In a country (in a world, actually), where right-wing neo-liberalism is in power, a facility like Gaderummet, that produces aware, critically and independently thinking individuals, and gives them a voice, a place to stand, and a space to be themselves, is a threat to the authorities, to those in power.

Some thoughts about the welfare state, from a mail I wrote some time ago:

"The other day, I watched the city repair-video, David sent a link to, and it struck me somehow, that the Danish version of the welfare state pretty much fits "The Grid": everything is predetermined and predictable, from kindergarten to residential home. No chances, no surprises. And not much responsibility/accountability left to the individual. The state and its institutions run your life for you. By standardized, square patterns. Some time ago, Danish TV asked some foreign journalists to do a profile of Denmark. The Egypt journalist Yousef Alsharif (Al Jazeera) said, he was surprised to see such a great absence of diversity and options, while it didn't surprise him at all to learn, that an increasing number of Danes suffered from "depression", as they must be incredibly bored by a life this predictable, designed and controlled by the authorities. 

Basically, I think it's ok to offer help to people who, for whatever reason, have difficulty running their lives themselves. Nevertheless, it becomes rather tricky, dangerous actually, when this help is inextricably linked to certain terms, as it mostly is the case in this country. Example: a homeless person who likes to smoke marihuana, is offered a place to live and social benefit under the condition that he undergoes drug-treatment, which he refuses since he's perfectly fine with smoking pot and doesn't want to stop. He's still living on the street. Another, maybe even more grotesque, example: a family with a disabled child asks for a special kind of help, which, as it turns out, they can't get without also accepting another kind of help they don't need, and don't want. And of course, as for the mental health area: no chance to get therapy if you don't take drugs as well, just as you risk to lose your social benefit/disability, if you don't take psych drugs when a mental health "expert" decided you ought to. Many examples like these, where the welfare state becomes more like a control state, Big Brother, taking away a great deal of people's personal freedom, trying to force them to fit the grid by leaving no other options than "all or nothing". Blackmail. Totalitarian rather than democratic.


Well, all in all, the welfare state implies the danger of becoming a total institution, where its citizens, subjects, are there for the sake of the system (as it sadly is the case in Denmark), not the other way round."

While the combination of neo-liberalism and welfare at first glance may seem paradoxical, it actually provides almost unsurpassed possibilities of control to those in power.

Social services thus are designed to keep people, who get into one or the other kind of trouble (if it is criminality, drug abuse, "mental illness", or any other kind of "maladjustment"), because they can't nor won't adjust to the increasing alienation in society, unaware about the causes of their trouble, dependent on the authorities' services, isolated, silent, and, all in all, under control. They are not designed to really help those in trouble get out of it. While Gaderummet, as it functions today, does the opposite of what it actually is expected to do.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Gaderummet - some more detailed information

As I see, that Mikkel Warming, influenced by the system, and thus in blind confidence in any opinion the self-appointed "experts" express, as he is, is busy spreading misinformation about Gaderummet and it's manager, psychologist Kalle Birch Madsen, I feel a need to put some things right.

Frank Blankenship sent the following mail to Mayor Warming:

"Dear Mayor Mikkel Warming,
Young people need choice, and to take this
choice away from them is to diminish their
lives. Conventional mental health care, as
some people can tell you from first hand
experience, often produces very negative
results. Alternatives to conventional mental
health care are desperately needed wherever
they arise. Have some consideration for the
young people in your city, and keep
Gaderummet operating!
Thank you for your time and patience
Frank Blankenship"

Mikkel Warming replied:

"Dear Frank Blankenship,
Thank you for you email expressing your concern about the future of”Gaderummet”.
Let me assure you that The Social Services Committee wants Gaderummet to continue as an open and alternative place for young people with social problems.
In order to ensure this, The Social Services Committee has requested that Gaderummet works together with the other public services, such as doctors and nurses in the medical and psychiatric branch. Unfortunately the former leader of Gaderummet was not willing to do this, which finally led to The Board of the Gaderummet sacking him in May 2007.
The former leader has not been willing to accept his firing, and is not willing to leave Gaderummet. This is most regrettable, since it’s stopping The Social Services Committee from continuing Gaderummet and the work that is being done there.
As a consequence of this unfortunate situation The Social Services Committee has raised the issue to the court in order to impose the former leader to leave the premises.
As soon as he leaves, we will be able to continue Gaderummet as an open and alternative place for young people offering them relevant services and treatment according to their own needs and wishes.
If you really care about the young people who need the services of Gaderummet, you should write to the former leader and ask him to leave the premises in order for the important work done by Gaderummet to be continued.
Mikkel Warming"

As Frank states in a mail to me, "open and alternative" can mean a lot of different things, depending on, where in the system you are. To Mikkel Warming (and the "experts", his opinion is influenced by) it means open for the mental health system to visitate young, homeless people for "treatment", voluntary or involuntary, and alternative for the young people to being put away in institutions like "Stevnsfortet", a secured institution for "maladjusted" young people.

Kalle Birch Madsen, the manager of Gaderummet, was sacked, yes, in favour of someone willing to turn Gaderummet into a part of the conventional mental health and educational system. He refused to leave, because the young people at Gaderummet didn't want him to leave. They know the alternative, from experience. 18-year-old Patrick, for instance, had been in and out of 21, twenty one!, different institutions, before he, two and a half years ago, found his way to Gaderummet, where he's been living since. "Everyone has a life, if only they bother to seize it", he says, Kalle taught him - instead of teaching (dictating) him how to live his life. Everyone has a life, yes, at least until the authorities come along and take it away from you.

In a video at Gaderummet's site that shows a meeting with representatives from the local authorities last fall, who came in order to take over the place, but left again without any success, since Gaderummet's residents showed no willingness for co-operation, one of these young people puts it to the point: there's a huge difference between "user-influenced" (this is which the authorities offer) and "user-run" (which is, what Gaderummet always has been, and still is today).

As for the accusation, that Kalle didn't co-operate with mental health professionals at all, this is simply not true. Residents who chose help from the mental health system, were never denied it. Though, in contrast to the mental health system, Gaderummet/Kalle does provide true information about "mental illness", psych drugs etc., and does accept if someone wants to get off their medication.  

Gaderummet had an arrangement with psychiatrist Henrik Rindom, a specialist in the field of drug abuse. Henrik Rindom is a very busy man when it comes to media appearance. Too busy to handle his arrangement with Gaderummet: he didn't show up as appointed, and more often than not, he broke promises (about things like prescriptions, and arrangements for people who wanted to come off street drugs), he'd made. He also broke the last promise he made, which was to find another psychiatrist who could replace him at Gaderummet, since he agreed, that he was just too busy to handle the task himself. Instead he turned to the local authorities, blaming Gaderummet/Kalle of not wanting to co-operate.

Gaderummet has never been especially popular to the authorities (just because it practices free choice), and Henrik Rindom's statement was exactly what they'd been waiting for, in order to have an excuse to step in and wind up this project.

By the way, I find it rather meaning, that I haven't got any reply from Mayor Warming yet. I suppose, he is pretty much aware of, that I would hardly settle for a reply like the one quoted above, since I have direct access to unbiased information.