Sunday, 26 September 2010

Alternatives 2010 censors Will Hall

Yup, first they try to keep Bob Whitaker from talking, and now they've decided that Will Hall may not include coming off drugs at his workshop. A workshop about choice in regard to drugs, where you may not talk about coming off?? Sounds sort of meaningless, I'd say. "Alternatives" my ass!

Here's the press release:


Coming Off Medications Workshop Censored at 'Alternatives 2010' Mental Health Conference

Alternatives, the mental health consumer/survivor conference with more than 1,000 participants annually, has withdrawn its previous approval for a workshop on coming off psychiatric medications.

The workshop, based in a pro-treatment choice, harm-reduction philosophy, was to share information about continuing, reducing, or coming off medications. After approving the workshop in June, the National Empowerment Center, which organizes the conference to be held in Anaheim California, made a last-minute decision to change the title and description to remove any reference to coming off medications. Will Hall, an internationally-recognized schizophrenia survivor and radio host who was set to lead the workshop, decided that he could not go along with the decision and will not be attending the conference. "Coming off medications is a topic vital to wellness and recovery, and should not be censored," he said.

The controversial move by the National Empowerment Center comes in the wake of a recent similar decision to bar Robert Whitaker, a Pulitzer finalist investigative journalist whose work spotlights medication dangers and growing evidence that non-drug alternatives work better for some patients. Whitaker was restored as a conference keynote speaker only after mental health advocates mobilized quickly on the internet to challenge the decision.

The annual Alternatives conference is organized by consumer/survivor groups and federally funded. With workshops ranging from wellness, youth, housing, employment, advocacy and diversity issues, Alternatives is the country's most prominent gathering for mental health consumers, who attend from all US states and as far away as Guam. Medication issues, however, have consistently been excluded from the program.

Hall, who works as a therapist, says he is not anti-medication and does not give medical advice, but instead educates individuals, families, and health care providers to make more informed choices. "People are caught between pro-drug marketing by pharmaceutical companies and the anti-drug message of some activists. We need honest and unbiased information about psychiatric medications, including assessing drug risks and discussing how to come off drugs safely when they aren't right for you. Many people find medications helpful, but there are huge dangers involved, and sometimes it's better to reduce medication or slowly go off."

After several hospitalizations and a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder schizophrenia, Hall has been medication-free for more than 17 years. He says a combination of holistic health, support groups, and spiritual practice nurtured his recovery from mental illness, but believes that "each person's path to recovery is different. My work fills a great need for information, and it's a shame this topic is censored at a national conference that claims to be dedicated to
wellness and calls itself 'Alternatives.'"

Hall is the author of the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Medications, published by mental health peer groups The Icarus Project and Freedom Center. The guide, available freely on the internet, has been distributed to more than 15,000 people and is available in Spanish and German translations.



Duane Sherry said...


What a joke!
Will Hall is respectful to anyone, no matter where they're at.

It seems to me that if the purpose of discussing alternatives is to help people recover (thrive), and getting off psychiatric drugs (for many) is a key part of that recovery, then disussing a safe way to do that should be a key part of the conference.

If a person didn't know better, they might begin to think that there's politics involved here - with the National Empowerment Center, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration... maybe some key players in Congress who are connected to some big drug money.

No, couldn't be any politics involved.

No, there's no money in drugs.

What am I thinking?... Probably a decision that was made in the best interest of the "mentally ill."

After all, the federal government (HHS, SAMSHA, NIH, etc) have long-considered the "mentally ill" unable to make their own decisions.

This must just be their way of taking care of people who can't take care of themselves....

In their words, those who "lack insight."


Marian said...

"If a person didn't know better, they might begin to think that there's politics involved here -..."

HAHAHA! Yeah. And I think it's both the money and the power to practise social control, to keep 'em crazies neatly doped up, dumb, and docile. But I don't know about the NEC. After all, that's Dan Fisher, and Judi Chamberlin (R.I.P.). SAMHSA, on the other hand -- I have no doubt about their agenda in general, and their role in this decision in particular...

We just had a campaign here, in several Danish cities, to draw attention to the many deaths from psych drug use, where people from LAP (user organization) demonstrated carrying huge white crosses that said "psychiatry". A lot of commenters on facebook called it a "scare campaign" that might have people go off their "necessary meds". Same shit like censoring Will. Nothing more scary than a loony who's off "meds", it seems. To paraphrase General Sheridan: the only good loony is a dead (or completely zombified) loony.

Marian said...

P.S.: Having just read Dan Fisher's comments on this at his facebook page, I hereby withdraw what I said about the NEC in my previous comment. They're obviously in it together with SAMHSA. Unbelievable.

Duane said...


Pharma was behind closed doors last summer - with the adminstration, with Congress....

I feared things were gonna get worse, before they got better... With HHS, SAMSHA, NIMH...

The first indication was the full-court press by SAMSHA for early-detection and intervention... Enough to terrorize any parent who's been paying attention.

Now this.

First, Robert Whitaker, an award-winning scientific journalist who simply presents a differnt view - based on sience!

Now, Will Hall, who simply presents information on reducing the harm of drugs! Heaven forbid!!!

Both are hardly anti-psychiatry, anti-drug, and yet an attempt was made to censor the first, and now the second.


Actually, when it comes to Pharma, and its ties to this federal government, nothing is too surprising.

On a less serious note,


What is this, Jeopardy?
"I'll take Civil War Generals for 1000, Alex. (an old American game show)


Duane said...


The Danish protest with the white crosses... the photos looked moving, and although I couldn't read the Danish, I suppose it would be safe to say that the damage from psychiatry is universal, and so I understand.

I don't know if you had the chance to read the Huffington Post this weekend, an article by D.J. Jaffe - What a piece of work that guy is! Calls himself and "advocate," yet hasn't a clue! Not a clue!!!

Anyway, many of the readers had more than a few words to say to him, as he danced around each of the issues in his responses... There were some great comments by readers.

I'll work on getting a photo of Sam for the blog... I hope you have a good week.


Marian said...

Duane: yes I read Jaffe's post. It's beyond me how so much ignorance is possible. I was speechless. Good that others weren't! BTW, Bruce Levine has a post up today, a comment on Jaffe's piece:

Looking forward to see pictures of Sam. :)

Duane Sherry said...


What a great article by Bruce Levine. I enjoyed reading your comment as well (always do).

This entire thing really came back to backfire on some people - the political machine - SAMHSA, HHS, and the feds... when social networking insisted Robert Whitaker and Will Hall be allowed to speak!

And if that victory wasn't enough, the "advocacy" crowd took a hit too - from comments left on the Huffington Post, and today by this great article by Bruce Levine....

The TAC, and clowns like D.J. Jaffe heard a message they needed to hear... and the message is that many of us will not be ignored!

I see all of this as a huge victory for freedom to choose when it comes to mental health!

Thanks for being out there, Marian!


Duane Sherry said...


MindFreedom had some more information on Jaffe...

From an archived piece (NAMI/NYC), D.J. Jaffe informs his readers that the police respond to a call on a "mentally ill" family member with more urgency if the person is violent....

In other words, sometimes is helps to "turn over the furniture" -

Now I'm speechless.