Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Ray Alert #9

MindFreedom International - please forward
Human Rights in Mental Health - Ray Alert #8


   Christmas Eve 2008

   What Would Jesus Do About Forced Electroshock?

   An Open Letter to the Lutheran Church [ELCA] from MindFreedom
International [MFI]

   by David W. Oaks, Executive Director, MFI

As we send you this, we understand Ray Sandford of Minnesota is
receiving another involuntary electroshock this Christmas Eve
morning, 24 December 2008.

As you know, your agency Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota
(LSSMN) is charged with being General Guardian for Ray. This is a
reply to your recent misleading public statement about the
MindFreedom Campaign to End Ray Sandford's Forced Electroshock
(copied at bottom).

Regularly for months -- presently every other week -- attendants wake
Ray up early in his group home, Victory House. He is escorted the few
miles to a hospital. Under court order and against his repeated and
clear objections, Ray is put under anesthesia, electricity is run
through brain head, and he is given another electroshock, also known
as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT.

Ray has received about 35 so far.

Ray calls our office most days, and it's always good to hear from
him. He told me yesterday, "It's a painful, awful experience. Every
time. It takes away memory viciously. It is scary as hell every time
I go."

Ray says he always objects. "I say, 'I don't want to do this. I don't
want to do this,' which I've known since the first time. Everyone
figures I'm totally nuts."

One day Ray asked his local library about groups working on human
rights in mental health, and Ray contacted MindFreedom International.
Ray asked us to start a public campaign to support his right to say
"no" to electroshock.

I had hoped your church would be an ally in Ray's campaign. Instead,
I have found you to stand by silently with arms folded, or even worse
your spokespeople appear to at times oppose Ray's campaign.

In my 32 years of human rights activism, Ray is one of the most
focused individuals I've ever encountered in his persistent and
reasonable requests to end his forced electroshock. The fact that his
forced shock is outpatient and ongoing is especially outrageous.

Ray's heroism has moved me and many others. Countless people have
responded to support the Ray Campaign, and Ray reached millions of
people on National Public Radio.

On 16 December 2008, the "Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America" [ELCA] issued a reply to a number of people who have
expressed concern about Ray as a result of MindFreedom's human rights
alerts. (See below.)

It is significant for ELCA to issue a public statement about a
MindFreedom International campaign. With more more than four million
baptized members, ELCA is the largest Lutheran denomination and one
of the largest Christian denominations in the USA. We at MindFreedom
are eager for dialogue with ELCA.

Unfortunately, Miriam L. Woolbert of ELCA's Communication Services
replied to those contacting ELCA that groups like MindFreedom are
"misdirecting you and many other people."

Ms. Woolbert did not provide any example or quote of such
"misdirecting." Her main points appear to be that ELCA is not a
"participant" in any involuntary electroshock, and that ELCA cannot
speak about Ray because of confidentiality.

MindFreedom's alerts never claimed that ELCA is in charge of the
involuntary electroshock of Ray. MindFreedom International encourages
people to contact ELCA to ask you "to stand with Ray."

Even if ELCA representatives feel you cannot speak specifically about
Ray, we ask ELCA to stand shoulder to shoulder with all their agency
clients, like Ray, who are receiving involuntary electroshock. ELCA
could at least begin by expressing concern or joining in dialogue.

We continue to encourage all people who care to contact ELCA, and
ELCA's local congregations, with strong but civil messages.

Because of ELCA's misleading statement about the Ray Campaign this
action is especially urgent, including for those who have already
contacted you.

Most importantly, Ray is asking us all to take this action.



People may e-mail ELCA headquarters at Or use their web
form by clicking on "e-mail" on this web page:

We also encourage all concerned people in the USA to contact local
ELCA congregations, which they can find by entering their postal code


MindFreedom Suggested Message to ELCA and Local Congregations [your
own words from the heart are best]:

I am not being misdirected by MindFreedom International or anyone else.

I am not saying you are in charge of anyone's forced electroshock.

I am not asking you to break confidentiality of any client.

I am simply asking:

Will you stand now with Ray Sandford, and all those who are oppressed
by extreme psychiatric abuse?

What is ELCA's position on the forced, outpatient, maintenance
electroshock of clients you and your agencies are charged to guard?

Why isn't ELCA expressing concern about these human rights
violations, which amount to torture?

How can ELCA use this opportunity to seek dialogue on human right and
alternatives in the mental health system?

[your name & contact]

[Please copy your e-mail to; selected e-mails
will be published on the web and/or mailed to Ray.]


For more info the Ray Campaign see:

The MindFreedom Board of Directors includes several individuals who
have personally experienced the unimaginable horror of an involuntary

The board endorses this public statement to ELCA, and asked me to
quote from the famous letter written by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
in the Birmingham Jail on 16 April 1963.

Forty-five years ago, Rev. King was responding to church leaders who
discouraged his own activist campaign:

"...I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the
white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our
strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents,
refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its
leaders; and too many others have been more cautious than courageous
and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-
glass windows...

"So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with
an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo.
Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power
structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent
and often even vocal sanction of things as they are."

[More excerpts below.]


For those who would like more detail about this exchange between
MindFreedom and ELCA about the Ray Campaign:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about Lutheran Church [ELCA] and Forced
Electroshock of Ray Sandford

*** How does Ray Sandford's feel about Lutheran Social Services of
Minnesota (LSSMN)?

Ray has approved this alert, and asks everyone to contact the
Lutheran Church [ELCA]. Ray knows that their agency LSSMN is not
directly in charge of his forced shock. Ray said, "In some ways
Lutheran Social Services is compassionate and helpful. They've
visited me and are a support system. They manage my finances my
fairly. But Lutheran Social Services does not listen to me. They
don't see you. They asked me to not do this campaign. They should
support the person who doesn't want electroshock. Tell them I don't
want shock!"

*** Does ELCA oversee Ray's forced electroshock?

To repeat, ELCA is not directly in charge of Ray's forced
electroshock. We can understand ELCA being sensitive to this
question. Media are starting to pay attention, and National Public
Radio covered Ray's story.

The legal jargon can get complicated. On 16 December, television
station WCCO-TV in Minnesota mis-reported that Ray's "guardian ad
litem" Terri Bradley, who is the court-appointed person specifically
and narrowly in charge of overseeing Ray's forced electroshock, and
who testified in court for Ray's forced shock, works for LSSMN. WCCO-
TV has since issued a public retraction.

Legally speaking, LSSMN is "general guardian" for Ray, but not
"guardian ad litem" specifically on the electroshock.

*** What has ELCA said about forced electroshock?

Representatives of Luthern Social Services of Minnesota (LSSMN), an
agency that is sponsored by ELCA, have refused to speak out about the
abuse of their clients like Ray by repeated, "maintenance" forced
oupatient electroshock.

On the contrary, LSSMN representatives, including their employee
Tonya Wilhelm, have sought to discourage Ray and advocates such as
myself from speaking out publicly about Ray's abuse. My first contact
with Ms. Wilhelm ended with her laughing loudly, saying this would be
between our lawyers, and hanging up.

Helpful MindFreedom voluteers in Minnesota are now prohibited from
even visiting Ray. Ray is kept from a follow-up visit to the
Minnesota Center for Independent Living. Ray is not being offered
humane alternatives to electroshock. Mail sent to Ray is re-directed
to LSSMN for screening. LSSMN attorney George Borer wrote MFI on 1
December "emphasizing" that they do not consent to MFI disseminating
info that Ray provided for the campaign that they consider "private."

In a newspaper report on 18 November, Eric Jonstaard, director of
LSSMN, did speak out about Ray to a reporter. Unfortunately, Mr.
Jonstaard took the opportunity to chastise MindFreedom for using
Ray's full name in the Ray Campaign, as Ray has specifically and
repeatedly authorized MindFreedom and NPR to do.

For more info on the Ray Campaign see:

*** What is ELCA's link to LSSMN?

Through his bravery, Ray has offered us all an opportunity to create
dialogue. Instead, Mr. Jonstaard seeks to distance ELCA from the
situation by saying that ELCA is "not related to the situation"
except for a "loose" sponsorship of LSSMN.

Not related?


ELCA's sponsorship of LSSMN is official, financial, legal, direct,
public and documented.

LSSMN's web site states that LSSMN is "owned" by six Minnesota synods
of ELCA, and credits ELCA as one of its "primary" funding sources for
their 2009 budget of $90 million.

Owned? A primary funding source?

How is that "loose"? Perhaps a lack of close oversight is part of the

This dialogue should not be about technical quibbling. ELCA has a
deep moral obligation to address oppression of any of their clients,
or any human being for that matter. ELCA's agencies receive millions
of dollars in scarce taxpayer funding to guard these clients.

In Minnesota alone, Mr. Jonstaard says that LSSMN is responsible for
800 "vulnerable adults." How many have experienced involuntary
psychiatric drugging and electroshock? LSSMN's Tonya Wilhelm told
MindFreedom's David Oaks that involuntary electroshock of LSSMN
clients like Ray in Minnesota is "not uncommon."

The moral failure of involuntary electroshock over the expressed
wishes of the individual is not only committed by the individual
flipping the switch, but by all those aware of the torture but who
remain silent.

*** What about Ray's confidentiality?

First and foremost, Ray has repeatedly, consistently, and
passionately spoken out, as he puts it so clearly, for "No more shock
for Ray." He has signed a release of information form. He approved
MFI and National Public Radio using his full name in a broadcast that
reached an estimated two million people. LSSMN's attorney admits the
First Amendment protects the rights of this campaign.

The ELCA statement claims that "confidentiality" keeps them from
addressing Ray specifically. In MindFreedom's opinion, agencies such
as LSSMN have the legal discretion and moral obligation to speak out
about abuse of their clients to legislators, media, and the public if
they choose. Ray has asked for LSSMN to do this.

At what point does confidentiality become cover-up?

However anyone interprets privacy laws, everyone admits it is
completely legal for ELCA and LSSMN to speak out in general to the
media and legislators about the policy of involuntary electroshock
itself, which can impact a number of their agency's clients.

ELCA has addressed other tough issues over the years. For instance,
one of ELCA's predecessor churches ordained female pastors as early
as 1970. ELCA publicly wrestles with other controversial topics
including abortion and homosexual pastors.

So what about joining a discussion about issues impacting people
diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities? Isn't it time? Isn't it past

*** Isn't ELCA right that this is a matter entirely up to the courts?

According to eye witnesses, and Ray himself, his most recent court
hearing on 16 December, held in a hospital basement, was a mockery of
justice. Ray was not able to secure a better attorney. His court-
appointed attorney, Jon Duckstad, who Ray says has barely
communicated with him, did not call one independent expert witness to
defend Ray, and has refused offers of free help from other attorneys.

Social justice requires not just courts, but a sense of individual
and group moral responsibility.

Washing ones hands as Ray is escorted to a forced shock on Christmas
Eve is not acceptable.

*** Where else can people raise concerns with the ELCA community?

You may choose to bring this matter up with your own faith community,
and ask them to begin to address these topics themselves and contact
local ELCA congregations.

Also, by coincidence, the next ELCA Churchwide Assembly will take
place 17 to 23 August 2009 in Minneapolis, the very region where Ray
is receiving his regular, outpatient, forced electroshock.

It is time for all religious organizations to dialogue about the
human rights and dignity of some of society's most oppressed
citizens, people who experience psychiatric atrocities.

One would expect many of ELCA's participants would want to lead the
faith community on the neglected social justice issue of human rights
in mental health, rather than silence public discussion.

To quote ELCA's web site about their church:

"It's a story of a powerful and patient God who has boundless love
for all people of the world, who brings justice for the oppressed."

*** Why do you quote a civil rights leader such as Martin Luther
King, Jr. about psychiatric oppression?

The civil rights movement was the inspiration for many social change
movements, including the movement led by survivors of psychiatric
abuse that began in the USA in 1970.

Other relevant quotes by MLK from his letter from a Birminham Jail
include the following:


"I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and
states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about
what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly,
affects all indirectly....

"An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and
natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law
that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statues
are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the

"You may well ask, 'Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches, and so
forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?' You are quite right in
calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct
action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and
foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused
to negotiate is forced to confront the issue...

"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's
great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White
Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate,
who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a
negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace
which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with
you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of
direct action'; who paternalistically believes he can set the
timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept
of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a 'more
convenient season.' Shallow understanding from people of good will is
more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill
will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright


Here is the reply ELCA has been sending to many people who have
expressed concern about Ray:

Statement from Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA] About
Campaign Against Forced Electroshock of Ray Sandford



Date: December 16, 2008 7:36:03 AM PST

Thank you for writing concerning a story you have heard or seen in
the public media. The ELCA is not related to the situation, except as
a sponsor of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, one of 280 such
organizations in the Lutheran Services in America network.
Sponsorship is a fairly loose term from a churchwide perspective, and
usually means that people in the area of the affiliated agency
represent the church on the agency's board, and individuals and
congregations may also contribute some funding to the agency.

Here is a response from Lutheran Services in America which explains
the situation about which you are concerned:

To respond to your inquiry and comments regarding a recent story
about the medical situation of a vulnerable adult under a civil
commitment proceeding, who also has a court appointed guardian:

As a guardian, Lutheran Social Service has both a legal and ethical
duty to keep the specific details of clients' care and treatment
confidential. While we can't discuss the client specifically, we can
speak in general about how we carry out our work.

Lutheran Social Service is appointed by the court to serve as a
guardian or conservator to over 800 vulnerable adults in Minnesota.
We are court-appointed to take on this role when individuals lack the
capacity to make decisions about their affairs and there are no
family members who are either able or willing to take on that

A civil commitment is a separate proceeding in the State of
Minnesota. When a person is civilly committed, a decision to impose
electroconvulsive therapy ("ECT") is a decision made by a commitment
court and not the court appointed Guardian. In the commitment process
someone, normally a health care professional, brings a petition for
ECT treatment for the individual. The individual is assigned an
attorney and a guardian ad litem (not Lutheran Social Service) who
act as advocates either to oppose or to consent to the petition. The
commitment court hears evidence from medical professionals and then
makes a decision on whether to impose the ECT treatment. The court
decision is then appealable by the client and the client's attorney.
Under Minnesota Statute §524.5-313, a general guardian such as
Lutheran Social Service has no authority to impose ECT treatment
against the known conscientious, religious or moral beliefs of the
individual. The general guardian is not a participant in the civil
commitment process regarding the forced imposition of ECT treatment.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota has a long tradition of serving
vulnerable children and adults, and careful systems are in place to
ensure that decisions are made with the person's best interest in mind.

Eric Jonsgaard, Senior Director
LSS Guardianship Options

I hope this helps you understand the situation, and that you will
tell whoever suggested that writing to the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America might help make a difference that they are
misdirecting you and many other people.

Miriam L. Woolbert
ELCA Communication Services


The above was sent by ELCA to a number of people in response to Ray
Alert #7 about National Public Radio coverage of Ray's campaign,
which you can hear or read here:

For more information on the Ray Campaign see:




For information about joining MindFreedom today, click here:

Business as usual

Back in the 1980ies I was a member of A.I.D.A. (Association Internationale de Défense des Artistes), an Amnesty affiliate, whose purpose it was to support artists who were kept political prisoners. People like Orhan Taylan, Karl Gaspar and Wei Jingsheng.

In 1986 I translated several texts about and by Wei Jingsheng (from English into German) for the production of Ariane Mnouchkine's The Trial against Wei Jingsheng at Munich. With a short repreive in 1993, Wei spent almost 19 years in prison, from March 1979 to November 1997, five of them in solitary confinement, isolation.

Solitary confinement was his situation in 1986 when I did the translations. I read about a small cell with a window, high above, that allowed Wei to see a square of the sky. There was serious concern, that he would "go mad" under these circumstances.

If anything is "abnormal" about me, it is my ability to identify. With the victims of injustice, assault, betrayal, abuse... you name it. And, by the way, it doesn't make a difference if the victim in question is a human being, an animal, a plant, a thing, whatever. I identify. I become the victim. I suffer. Why? Because I have been the victim myself. I didn't know then. It took many years and several crises to figure out. Crises: fights for freedom, for independence, for justice. Revolutions. Political, yes. Crisis is also always political. What is the difference between a dissident and a mad person? The dissident is conscious about what s/he is opposing.

I walked about, locked up in a small cell, with only a square of the sky to see. I was about to "go mad". I "went mad ", to a certain extent. To the rest of the extent, I was able to channel my revolution into activism.

One thought kept on milling around in my mind: I would have to go to China and free Wei. Now! Free Wei. Free me.

A similar thought crossed my mind tonight, when I got the news about Ray. Sometimes it's not so easy to turn identification into acceptance and compassion.

I wonder, when it will dawn on people in general, that what is called "help" for "the mentally ill" is nothing but additional, and often the ultimate, oppression of people who have been victimized and deprived of a constructive language of their own.

What I've heard about Ray's hearing, reminds me horrifyingly of Wei's trial: A complete farce. The outcome decided in advance. But while the self-appointed "democracies" in this world loudly protest human rights violations in countries like China, they are blind to the human rights violations that take place right in the middle of them, among their own people. Business as usual.

This is for all the dissidents who have been denied a voice of their own, and who are kept political prisoners under the guise of "help":

Peter Gabriel Biko Live 1986

"You can blow out a candle
But you can't blow out a fire"

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Blog awards - and Happy Holidays!

I hadn't really given it a serious thought before, had just noticed somewhat mixed emotions in passing. The thought that it might happen one day had crossed my mind a couple of times, but I'd passed it off just as quickly as it had popped up. So, I was badly prepared. My fault. I should have thought this through, and made an announcement in advance.

Well, as some of my readers probably have noticed, it happened the other day: Mark at psych survivor 2.0 gave me an award.

I'm happy, I'm grateful, really! But I also have these mixed emotions, that make it impossible for me, to accept the award. My mixed emotions have nothing, absolutely nothing to do with anyone out there in the blogosphere personally.

Partly, they have to do with the concept of receiving an award for doing something, that actually might be called rather egoistic. - The question is: Why do I blog and for whose sake? The answer is: Because I need to understand - the world and myself - so, consequently, I do blog for my own sake. Primarily.

If my understanding of the world and myself can be of any value to others, that's great. But the truth is, the more of a dialogue - here or anywhere else - the more I understand. I would have to give an award to virtually everyone I do communicate with, have communicated with in the past, and will communicate with at some point in the future, disregarded whether there's agreement or not. And, frankly, do we need to award each other for something as basic to humanity as communication? Other than by respecting the other and being compassionate?

The other part of my mixed emotions is of a more "profane" nature: There's just too much "chain-", sometimes even "pyramid-", about many blog awards. "Chain-" and especially "pyramid-" stuff ranks under "noise" in my universe. I don't like noise.

Now you can call me a spoilsport, a fusspot, holier-than-thou, ungrateful, whatever. But know, that I don't judge anyone who accepts these awards. It's totally fine with me, if you accept them. I would have loved to give you one. It just doesn't feel right to me to accept one myself. My pain-in-the-behind-intuition, yeah.

Thanks to you Mark, again, for considering my blog!

And now to something far more cheerful (although not half as hilarious as this):

Non-Denominational Holiday Record

Friday, 19 December 2008

My favourite pizza base

...that isn't really a pizza but a pie base, although I use it for "pizza".


500g flour (Italian wheat flour, "tipo 00" is best)
1 sachet of dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar (cane sugar)
100g butter
2 eggs
180ml lukewarm water
1 teaspoon salt (Himalaya or sea salt)

Sieve the flour into a bowl and mix it with the dried yeast and sugar. Add butter, eggs, salt and water, start bringing in the flour-yeast-sugar-mix with a fork, finish working the rest of the flour-mix in with your hands and knead until you have a smooth dough.

Cover the bowl with a damp cloth, and leave to rise in a warm place for at least 15 minutes. Knead again, then spread the dough on a baking sheet covered with baking paper, or divide the dough up into three to four portions if you want to use a pie tin (about 9.5 inches ∅). Place the toppings of your choice on the dough, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes at 220∘C/ 430∘F.

Topping suggestions:

1. Tomatoes, red pepper, corn, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, tuna, olives, garlic, and cheese

2. Tomatoes, red pepper, spinach, salmon, lemon or garlic pepper, and cheese

As far as they are available, I use organic ingredients. It's healthier for you and the environment, and it tastes better!

A slice of the spinach-salmon-variant, cooked in a pie tin.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

National Public Radio on Forced Electroshock of Ray Sandford

15 December 2008

Today, National Public Radio's show "Day to Day" aired a segment
about the involuntary electroshock of Ray Sandford.

You may listen to the nearly nine-minute segment online for free here:

or use this web link:

The NPR show interviews Ray Sandford along with David W. Oaks,
director of MindFreedom and many others, including Ray's mom, about
the ethical debate over forced electroshock.

Ray Sandford is a Minnesota resident who is court ordered to have
electroshock over his expressed wishes on an outpatient basis. Ray
contacted MindFreedom International to launch a campaign that has
reached millions of people about Ray's right to say "no" to his

Every other Wednesday Ray is escorted from his group home residence
to receive another electroshock against his wishes. Ray's most recent
electroshock was on 10 December 2008, which was also United Nations
International Human Rights day.


Because of MindFreedom's campaign, Ray has at least been given a new
court hearing, scheduled for *tomorrow*, Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at
8:30 am. If you live in St. Paul/Minneapolis area, please try to
attend. Ray said the hearing is at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. For
address and directions click here:

If Ray loses, his next forced electroshock is scheduled for Christmas
Eve, 24 December 2008. It would be approximately his 36th electroshock.

For more information on MindFreedom's campaign to stop the forced
electroshock of Ray Sandford, including a photo of Ray, frequently
asked questions and how to help out, click here:

     ** ACTION ** ACTION ** ACTION **

If you politely insist when you call the office of the Governor of
Minnesota, you are finally able to talk to a staff person about the
topic of involuntary electroshock.

If you just get diverted to voice mail, call back later and ask to
speak to a staff person.

Unfortunately, the staff person is simply saying that Governor
Pawlenty believes he can do nothing.

Please help Governor Pawlenty realize that he has self-determination
and empowerment! The Governor could at least help Ray get better
legal representation.

Call the Governor's office from anywhere in the world phone (651)

 From inside Minnesota phone toll free (800) 657-3717.



Please spread the word! Circulate this news about the NPR show to all
those who may be interested.

LET THE MEDIA KNOW about the NPR coverage of the Ray Sandford campaign!

Many mainstream media did not believe forced electroshock of an
individual living out in the community could be happening in the USA.
Tell media to listen to the NPR show here:

or use this web link:

Note that after registering on that NPR web site you may also leave a
*comment* about the show about Ray. Estimated number of listeners of
Day to Day is two million on 200 radio stations. Because of cutbacks,
NPR recently announced the show would be cancelled in March 2009.


Encourage Everyone to Join MindFreedom International During the Fall
2008 Support Drive

Build the people power it will take to stop the kind of torture that
Ray is experiencing!

For information about how you can join MindFreedom today, click here:

Friday, 5 December 2008

Ray Alert 5: Next Forced Shock International Human Rights Day 10 Dec!

MindFreedom International - Ray Alert #5
Win Human Rights in Mental Health - Please Forward!


   Ray's Next Scheduled Involuntary Outpatient Electroshock is:
   10 December -- International Human Rights Day!

by David W. Oaks, Executive Director, MindFreedom International

This Wednesday, 10 December 2008, human rights activists all over the
world will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the signing of the
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

10 December is the UN's official International Human Rights Day.

10 December is also the day that Ray Sandford is scheduled to receive
his 35th involuntary outpatient electroshock.

NEW ON WEB: Learn Ray's story -- Frequently Asked Questions About Ray
Sandford Campaign, click here:


   Latest News on Ray Campaign

Unless action is taken swiftly, then this Wednesday morning, as he
has been for most mornings in the last few months, Ray will be
awakened early by staff in his room at the group residence Victory
House near Minneapolis.

Once more an escort will bring him against his will the 15 miles to
Mercy Hospital, where once more -- under court order -- doctors will
place electrodes on his head for another electroconvulsive therapy
(ECT), or electroshock, that can and has wiped out precious memories
and cognitive abilities from Ray.


   The Good News About Ray Campaign:

Because of MindFreedom's campaign to support Ray Sandford:

* The Minnesota Governor's office reports receiving "hundreds" of
complaints. Thank you everyone!

* Three agencies are now working to replace Ray's non-responsive
court-appointed attorney with a new attorney.

* National media has finally interviewed Ray for an upcoming broadcast.

   The Bad News: It is Not Enough! Speak Out Now!


    ** ACTION ** ACTION ** ACTION **

It is time to take the Ray Campaign up a notch, peacefully but strongly!

Let this become a top issue in the Governor's office.

Telephone Governor Pawlenty's office *NOW*:

Call any day, but especially call *before* Ray's scheduled
electroshock next Wednesday, 10 December 2008.

Call from anywhere in the world phone (651) 296-3391.

 From inside Minnesota phone toll free (800) 657-3717.

You have the best chance of reaching staff from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
Central Time weekdays.



Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has completely stone-walled!

* His office refuses to issue any statement on the policy of forced

* He claims he can do nothing, that the courts are in charge, when he
could at least make sure Ray gets better legal representation for a
stay or appeal.

* His office operators have been instructed to immediately redirect
calls about Ray into a voice mail. No one we know of has ever heard
back. Some operators have hung up on callers.

* Meanwhile, the Governor is sponsoring a $200-a-head luxury hotel
conference about International Human Rights Day!

   It is time to get creative!

* Ray will not give up!

* We will not give up!

* Don't you give up!

   Please be peaceful, but be CREATIVELY MALADJUSTED in your next
phone calls to Governor Pawlenty's office.

First, get the name of the operator and write it down. Then start by
asking polite but firm questions about advocacy...

* about citizen input...

* about who to talk to about mental health policy...

* about the names and phone numbers of the Ombudsman office

* about mental health policy and the mental health division...

* about how poor people can have adequate legal representation...

And only then ask about why the Governor is refusing to speak out
about Involuntary Outpatient Electroshock (IOE)?

Insist on speaking to a live real person about this issue.

If you do not get a real person with a real reply, CALL BACK.

If an operator hangs up on you, call back and ask to speak to a
manager and complain.



Telephone Governor Pawlenty's office *NOW*:

Call any day, but especially call *before* Ray's scheduled
electroshock next Wednesday, 10 December 2008.

Call from anywhere in the world phone (651) 296-3391.

 From inside Minnesota phone toll free (800) 657-3717.

You have the best chance of reaching staff from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
Central Time weekdays.

If you do receive any helpful information or leads, e-mail it to news-


   Learn more about Ray on the all-new "Frequently Asked Questions"
page about the Ray Campaign.

Learn about:

* The back story about Ray.

* How MindFreedom filed an official torture complaint about the State
of Minnesota to the United Nations.

* And what else you can do to help.

Click on the Frequently Asked Questions page here:


A clickable version of above Ray Alert 5 is on web here:


   Get Around the Media Blackout! Forward this human rights alert to
all people who care about human rights, on and off the Internet!


Encourage Everyone to Join MindFreedom International During the Fall
2008 Support Drive

Build the people power it will take to stop the kind of torture that
Ray is experiencing!

For information about how you can join MindFreedom today, click here:

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

"The Doctor Who Hears Voices" - An alternative approach to crisis

The documentary "The Doctor Who Hears Voices" can now be watched at YouTube - or below in this post - as a playlist. For months I've waited to get a chance to watch this film, that shows the British therapist Rufus May's approach to helping people in crisis, documenting his work with "Ruth", a young doctor who hears voices, over a period of twelve months.

His approach of trying to help people figure out the meaning behind their "symptoms" makes Rufus May, who has experienced crisis and has been labelled "schizophrenic" himself at the age of 18, a controversial figure in a system, that regards things like hearing voices a meaningless "symptom" of a brain disease.

Some takes in this film were a bit tough to watch for me, almost "too close for comfort". And I guess, others will experience the same. Nevertheless, this is an important film, that not only can contribute to a better understanding of what crisis really is about, but also takes on the discriminating dimension inherent in a concept that views crisis, "mental illness" as a chronic brain disease, meaningless and incurable, requiring life-long medication, and being a valid excuse for not giving the "mentally ill" person any chance to seek a higher education and/or be employed in a responsible position. Without doubt, it was a wise decision to let the true Ruth remain anonymous. I have seen comments on this film, that say, Rufus May is irresponsible as a therapist, and that Ruth should be reported to the NHS, being a danger to her patients, the "mentally ill" person she is.

In my opinion, we need a lot more Rufus Mays. And, apart from those who are directly affected by crisis themselves, and whom it may help to come to a better understanding of their experience, everyone who works in the mental health system should watch this film. Here it is:


See also:

Update to this post

My review at IMDb

Indlæg om filmen på dansk/Review in Danish

Monday, 17 November 2008

Ray Sandford - Alert #3

MindFreedom International - 16 November 2008
Ray Human Rights Alert #3: Please Forward

Now see a photo of Ray here:

   Media ought to ask, "What is Minnesota Governor Pawlenty's
position on Involuntary Outpatient Electroshock (IOE)?"

   Ray gets a one week reprieve.

First the good news.

Within days of MindFreedom launching its campaign on 7 November 2008
to stop the weekly involuntary outpatient electroshock of Ray
Sandford, his doctor has decided to "skip a Wednesday."

Ray says that this coming Wednesday, 19 November 2008, for the first
time in months, Ray will not be escorted against his will, under
court order, from his Minnesota home out in the community to his 34th
involuntary outpatient electroshock.

So there's a reprieve for Ray.

For one week.

The bad news is that Ray's doctor said Ray's forced outpatient
electroshocks will resume on Wednesday, 26 November 2008, the day
before the USA holiday of Thanksgiving.

Ray said his involuntary shock will then continue every other week.

We don't know if the one-week reprieve is because of the MindFreedom
campaign, but we know MindFreedom News readers are having an impact.

Since the MindFreedom first alert went out nine days ago, on 7
November 2008:

    *** Many people from all over the world have e-mailed and phoned
the offices of the Governor of Minnesota, along with social service
agencies, media, and the hospital where Ray receives his electroshock
against his expressed wishes.

    *** For the first time, thousands of people are now aware of the
existence of IOE -- Involuntary Outpatient Electroshock.

    *** A few national and local media are now actively investigating.

    *** Several advocacy agencies and human rights organizations are
expressing concern and getting involved.

    *** Several volunteer attorneys are now in touch to provide

    *** Volunteers are visiting Ray and sending him their support,
and Ray tells us he is grateful. One volunteer took the photo of Ray
shown on the web version of this alert:

    *** MindFreedom's "Zapback" e-mail list is coordinating the

    *** A disability professor and her class of students have called
up Ray and are taking on his campaign as a project.

    *** And more.

Thank you, everyone.

Keep up the pressure and the support!


First, keep phoning and e-mailing, especially if you have not so far.
Show there is national and international concern!

Here are the links to the original two MindFreedom alerts, which have
information about how to e-mail and phone the Governor of Minnesota,
and how to write or visit Ray:

7 Nov: Alert #1:

12 Nov: Alert #2 - Governor Phone-In Campaign:

16 Nov: Alert #3 - Link to this alert with photo of Ray:


Second, help MindFreedom answer the main mystery.

Despite all this public interest the question remains, "What is
Governor Pawlenty's position on Minnesota laws allowing involuntary
outpatient electroshock?"

Is this Governor, who campaigns for "limited government," for such
laws or against them?

Unfortunately, the Governor's office has not responded to any of the
many e-mails or phone calls requesting his policy position. The
Governor's office is immediately forwarding citizen inquiries to a
voice mail, and then not replying to the voice mail.

We need media to ask the Governor for us. Please forward this alert
to all media, small and large, from newspapers to bloggers.

Media can direct questions to:

Brian McClung
Director of Communications for Minnesota's Governor
phone: (651) 296-0001.

Media ought to ask, "What is Governor Pawlenty's position on
Minnesota laws allowing involuntary outpatient electroshock?"

Sometimes the Governor's office is re-directing calls to the
Minnesota Department of Human Rights. At first that sounds good. But
this office says it is only focused on determining whether narrow
discrimination complaints are legally valid. A spokesperson said this
department makes no statements about policy.

This Minnesota agency said they are planning a major one-day human
rights conference and forum on 5 December. One barrier is the "forum"
costs $200.

For information on this Minn. Dept. of Human Rights, and their
"forum," click here:
or use this link:

You can also keep up with some of the latest developments about the
Ray Campaign on the MindFreedom blog by MindFreedom director David
Oaks, here:

Disclaimer: Because the State of Minnesota won't reply, portions of
these alerts are based on Ray's personal statements. By Ray's own
admission, he now has severe memory problems. Therefore, journalists
may want to find a second source to confirm accuracy.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A call to share your story

I came across the below post at the memoryartist's blog, Why can't the past just die? I think, this is an important opportunity to draw attention to the situation of users, ex-users and survivors of the mental health system, violations of human rights in the system, and the need for change.

"Share your story with the incoming Obama administration

President-Elect Obama has setup a new webpage where people can write in and share their story. Every person with a psychiatric disability has a stake in this. We need to keep our issues open and in the forefront so they don’t get lost.

Please forward this to any person with a disability or a list of people with disabilities you know and encourage them to write in. You do have to give your full contact information. This is a great opportunity for us all."

Update on " 'Coercion in the mental health system' - A Norwegian documentary"

Since I wasn't quite satisfied with it in the first place, below the edited version of my post on the Norwegian documentary with a few, but as I think interesting, additions.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Coercion in the mental health system - A Norwegian documentary

On October 28th 2008 the Norwegian television station NRK 1 broadcasted the documentary "Tvang i psykiatrien" (Coercion in the mental health system) in the series "Brennpunkt" (Focus). The program can be watched here (in Norwegian language).

In the program two young women, Kristina and Hege, tell about their experience with commitment and coercion in the Norwegian mental health system. The thought that immediately came to my mind after watching the program was: 'Grotesque'. While I, at the same time and once again, hardly could believe my own luck.


Kristina S. Larsen's first experience with psychiatry occurs after she has been assaulted physically and, as a result of this, loses the child she at the time is pregnant with. She says, that what she herself felt she needed, was to be listened to, a calm and safe environment, and her feelings being acknowledged as real enough.

Around Christmas 2007 her mother notices that Kristina becomes more and more stressed, doesn't sleep well, and loses her appetite. Kristina is committed to a psychiatric hospital where she is assessed as being in need of "protection" - "protection" and "protected unit" are euphemisms for seclusion, while there officially is no such thing as seclusion in the Scandinavian mental health system - to "calm down", as her psychiatrist says.

Kristina describes the situation as extremely humiliating, especially being forcibly drugged, and not knowing when she'd be allowed to leave. She says, the only way to get a somewhat tolerable stay at the hospital was to not get angry,not criticize, not cry, not show any emotions, and to just please the staff. "These people act as if they are gods. They may define, they may judge, and no one can in any way re-examine what they say and do", she says.

After some time at the "protected unit", Kristina is moved, only to be sent back into "protection" shortly after again, because she, according to her psychiatrist, has a very "unfavourable influence" on the other patients at the unit, whom she makes refuse to take their drugs.

In March 2008, after two and a half months at the hospital, Kristina is discharged, but is now under outpatient commitment referred to the community mental health system. She asks for a female therapist, preferably with some experience in treating women who have experienced violence and the loss of a child due to spontaneous abortion. She is referred to a young male psychiatrist in training, who hasn't much understanding for her situation, and whom she often becomes angry with. In July 2008 the therapist assesses, that Kristina isn't angry with him, but "hypomanic". He contacts her psychiatrist at the hospital, and they decide that Kristina would have to go back to the hospital, since another "episode" seemed to be on its way.

Kristina's mother arranges for her to escape and hide at Store Torungen Lighthouse Station. The lighthouse keeper says, there were no problems with Kristina whatsoever during her stay. On the contrary, she was cooking, making coffee, and easily socializing with the people in the community.

Meanwhile, her psychiatrist chooses to see her escape as a "sign that her ability of decision making is rather poor. She could have come here, and proven that she was sane, and left again. But she chose not to show up. I experienced this as poor ability of decision making. And it is typical for these episodical diseases that the ability of decision making deteriorates."

Three weeks after her escape, Kristina's mother succeeds to arrange a meeting between her, Kristina and the psychiatrist. On neutral ground. Kristina, of course, refuses to go and talk to her psychiatrist at the hospital as long as the court order for her commitment is effective. "You never know what these people can imagine to do", she says, while she attentively watches the parking lot where her mother is waiting for the psychiatrist. He, nevertheless, arrives alone, and after a one and a half hour long meeting at a nearby hotel, he agrees to lift the commitment order for Kristina if she is willing to stay in touch with the community mental health system and see a therapist.


The other woman in the documentary is Hege J. Orefellen. In summer 2003 Hege has been in contact with Folloklinikken, a community mental health facility under Aker University Hospital, for a shorter period because of emotional problems. - Interestingly, at the top of the website the terms "openness", "community", "respect", and "involvement" appear in turns. Well, just a - somewhat funny - observation. - Hege, whose baby daughter suffers from a rare condition, and is very dependent on Hege breast feeding her, is not minded to take psychiatric drugs, and wants to end her regular talk sessions at Folloklinikken.

The 3rd of July 2003, while Hege is preparing to go to university to discuss her thesis with her supervisor, she receives a phone call from Folloklinikken and is told, that if she doesn't show up at the clinic within an hour, they'll send the police to come and pick her up. After consulting her GP about the matter, Hege, who feels clearly threatened by the phone call, and says, just as Kristina, that no one knows what these people might imagine to do, decides to go "voluntarily" to the clinic, still convinced, that she'll be able to leave as soon as she has made sure, that she isn't in any need of "treatment". What she doesn't know is that the psychiatrist at Folloklinikken assesses her to suffer from "major depression" and to be "a danger to herself", "acutely suicidal".

Hege says about the conversation: "I realize then, that my words don't count anymore. No matter what I may say, it is of no importance." She is denied permission to call her partner or her GP, and is referred to Blakstad hospital, where another psychiatrist is to assess her within 24 hours, and confirm that she is acutely suicidal in order to keep the commitment order effective. At Blakstad hospital Hege, who according to the psychiatrist at Folloklinikken is acutly suicidal, is asked to wait in a kind of workroom, with scissors, glue, paint, and lots of other stuff that easily could be (ab-)used to commit suicide...

At night, Hege writes a complaint to the control commission at Blakstad hospital: "I write this complaint, hoping that someone might see what a commitment can do to an individual. My story is long, but the way here to Blakstad is terrifyingly short. I admit, that I was in need of help and support, but instead I got a traumatizing commitment."

The next day, the psychiatrist at Blakstad assesses Hege as not suicidal, and she is discharged. Since she hadn't been under commitment for more than 24 hours, her stay at the hospital is registered as "voluntary".

Hege decides to sue Aker hospital for violation of human rights, illegal loss of liberty, and violation of family and private life, in regard to the threatening information she was given in the initial phone call from Folloklinikken, and wins in court.

The commitment procedure has left Hege with a deep feeling of insecurity towards both the health system, telephone calls, and the police, and a couple of months after she is discharged from Blakstad, while passing by a police station on her way to her GP, there's a turn-out that provokes an anxiety-attack in Hege. Her GP gives her a couple of valiums and a prescription for more. Hege isn't quite happy to take the valiums, as she isn't happy to take psychotropic drugs at all, since she has experienced adverse drug reactions before, but agrees to take them anyway. The valium causes an adverse reaction. Hege doesn't recall anything from the time period after she left her GP's office until next day, when she recovers her senses at Moss hospital. She learns, that she has been to a pharmacy and bought the prescribed valium, which she then took altogether.

Moss hospital has Hege assessed by a psychologist while she still is under the influence of the valium - she doesn't recall the conversation with the psychologist either - and the psychologist evaluates that she should be sent to Blakstad psychiatric hospital. At Blakstad hospital, Hege is asked to give up her cell phone which she denies as it is her "last lifeline to the outside world", as she says. The alarm goes, and Hege is violently thrown to the ground by four staff members, her arm twisted around onto her back, and the phone pulled out of her hand, with her fingers getting sprained. The whole incident only takes a few seconds, and Hege says, she didn't even get what was happening to her, and only felt extremely trampled on.

"The first three days at Blakstad were a downward spiral for me, psychologically seen", Hege says. "I can't stand further commitments, I can't stand further assaults. I won't be able to cope if they do implement involuntary drugging, I won't be able to cope if they do implement electroshock, I won't be able to cope with further interventions against me now. I reached a point where ending my life was the only solution. But it wasn't a solution anyway, because I could never have done that to my child."

Also this time, Hege complains to the control commission. At a meeting with the commission on the sixth day of her hospital stay, the commission evaluates her as neither depressed nor suicidal at all, and she is discharged.

Hege, who holds a doctorate in chemistry, went to law school after her experiences with human rights violations in the mental health system, and specialized in human and patient rights. She is active in the user/ex-user/survivor movement, and a member of MindFreedom International.

Accidentally, I came across Sørlandet hospital's reaction to a statement by Hege from 2005, quoted in a Norwegian newspaper, that says that one of the main reasons for people to commit suicide are the mental health system's "own suicide-triggering mechanisms". A statement, clearly based on her own dehumanizing and humiliating experience. Of course, the staff at Sørlandet hospital "believe[s] that Hege Orefellen is wrong to theorize" this. I believe - also from my own (even though only hypothetical) experience - she is right on. My plans in case of a possible commitment were quite clear to me.

Some thoughts about the documentary

There are several things, I found noteworthy about this documentary. First of all the striking difference between Kristina's experience of herself, her situation, and her needs, on the one hand, and the "expert's" perception of her and her needs on the other. While Kristina says, that what she felt she needed most was someone to ask her what had happened to her, that made her react the way she did, and while she, additionally, expresses that she didn't feel any whatsoever need for "protection" (isolation), or to be "medicated" into a consciousness erasing, mental fog, the "expert" states, that he couldn't "expose" Kristina to the "strain" a dialoge with her at the time of acute crisis in his opinion would have been. "Kristina was asking for dialogue. That's right. But during the acute phase, I don't work with dialogue but with treatment to stabilize", the "expert" says. "And when an individual is stable, then the intention is, that dialogue, accordingly to what Kristina is asking for, treatment of her psychological traumas, becomes relevant. Because this in itself, being treated for psychological traumas, is a strain. I can't put strain on someone in an acute phase."

I wonder how it is, that this "expert" doesn't seem to realize how much more straining it can be for an individual in acute crisis to be denied his/her most vital need, the need to come to an understanding of him-/herself through dialogue, to be met, than a dialogue in itself ever could be. And I wonder, if we also here have projection being at work, to be understood in the way that a dialogue with Kristina first of all would have been straining for the "expert", and not for Kristina.

As far as I myself am concerned, the need for dialogue, for being listened to, became overwhelming at periods of crisis. And that I certainly not am an isolated case, this experience can serve as a good example for. In principle, I guess, everyone has at some point in their lives had the opportunity to observe that the more overwhelming an experience is, the greater the need to come to terms with it - through expressing one's feelings about it in words, terms, through a dialogue with another human being - becomes.

It sometimes seems to me like there's a short circuit happening in the thinking of people, especially in that of the "experts": On the one hand it is acknowledged, that people who've had an overwhelming experience need to talk it through, and crisis intervention is offered. But as soon as the overwhelming experience, on the other hand, isn't immediately understandable for one's surroundings, the reaction to it is defined as "sick", the reacting individual as having a brain disease and thus in need of medical "treatment": "protection" (isolation) and the administration of chemical substances, that blunt consciousness, and render clear thought and speech a city in China. Instead of being recognized as in need of a dialogue. If at all, a dialogue is only offered after the individual has been "treated" enough, to make an open dialogue with the potential for coming to terms more or less impossible. Backwards world.

Thus, of course, the "expert" in the program also questions Kristina's ability of decision making. By definition, an individual's ability of decision making is put out of the running - by an alleged brain disease - if the individual is in crisis, and the cause of the crisis isn't immediately recognizable for the individual's surroundings - so that the cause can't but must be the alleged brain disease. Very simple.

Unfortunately - for the "experts" - the outcome of Kristina's story shows, that her ability of decision making obviously, and in stark contrast to the "expert's" allegations, was at its peak. Intuitively, she did what was best for her in her situation. While she mentions, that her immediate reaction to hospitalization and "treatment" - as being the opposite of what she herself felt, she was in need of - was anger.

Kristina's story clearly shows, what people in crisis really need, instead of "treatment": self-determination, personal freedom, and security - for, even if she is on the run for three weeks, this situation feels more secure to her than a commitment, with the inextricably linked to it loss of personal freedom and self-determination, ever could have felt. Security does not equal to be exposed to others' "care", for better or for worse. Security equals to being respected unconditionally.

The worst that can happen to an individual who has had an overwhelming experience, is feeling an additional loss of control over the situation. For instance by being controlled by others, by being told what to do and what not to do, by being "protected" (isolated), by being "medicated" with substances, that make the individual concerned lose control over their own thinking, intuition and body sensation, by being told by others what and how to think, and feel, and how to define oneself, etc. Such interventions in an individual's privacy will already under "normal" circumstances be perceived as a violation of one's limits. It becomes unbearable, if an individual beforehand is in a very vulnerable state because of an acute crisis. Nevertheless, the only logic reactions to the intrusions - in the shape of fear and anger - are regarded a worsening of the "symptoms", of the "illness", thus needing further "treatment", i.e. further intrusions. A vicious circle, or spiral, that unfortunately all too often ends with the individual in crisis going down, breaking. Mentally - or physically.

Quite interesting I also find the system's definition of "voluntary", in the program illustrated by Hege's story. "If you don't show up within an hour, you'll be picked up by the police", and the defence lawyer underlines how much effort is put into making people to show up voluntarily, although they also need to be informed about what will happen, if they - completely voluntarily - decide not to show up. A somewhat strange definition of "voluntary" the system makes use of. Kafka* comes to my mind. Just as I think 'Kafka', as I hear Hege tell about her conversation with the psychiatrist at Folloklinikken: "I realize then, that my words don't count anymore. No matter what I may say, it is of no importance."

I wonder, when the system eventually will start to respect and treat its clientele as human beings. And if the system ever will be capable at all of the humility, this would require. That the outlook, so far, is rather sinister, also this documentary again shows.

Which distinguishes this program from most other programs on the matter I've seen, is that not only Hege but also Kristina is given the opportunity to present herself as a fully accountable human being, fully aware her own situation and absolutely capable of making reasonable decisions about it, that she is given the opportunity to speak for herself, while, even though the "expert" involved in her case also is given the opportunity to tell his view of the situation, there is no attempt made to devalue Kristina's self-presentation as being that of a "mentally ill" person, and thus not trustworthy. On the contrary, the program actually proves the in the psychiatric establishment widespread idea that "patients" with "serious mental illnesses" have poor insight and thus are incapable of decision making, that is explicitly stated by Kristina's psychiatrist in the program, wrong.

Kristina chooses not to name her diagnosis directly in the program. But that it isn't in the category of some sort of "anxiety disorder" or the like, stands pretty clear. Her mother tells that the therapist saw Kristina's anger toward him to be "hypomania", so, figure it out. While, if at all I had to label anything in regard to Kristina, in regard to my own experience, and/or in regard to everything else, that gets labelled as "mental illness", I'd say there is only one "mental illness": PTSD.

No matter how critical of psychiatric practices otherwise, all Danish programs dealing with the matter of psychiatric "treatment", choose to only interview individuals who, in contrast to Kristina, display "insight" and furthermore, and also in stark contrast to Kristina, are compliant with psychiatric "treatment", i.e. drugs. The Danish media still has it coming to them to give people labelled with "serious mental illnesses" who are not "insightful" and "treatment compliant" a fair chance to speak out.

Until today, this group of "patients" is only reported about. Preferably in context with incidents that are meant to prove the insanity and lack of accountability of the individuals in question on the one hand, and to emphasize the alleged necessity of getting these individuals into psychiatric "treatment" as fast and extensively as possible to prevent further damage and deterioration, on the other. Proving psychiatric "treatment" - i.e. drugging and electroshock - to be both life-saving "treatment" measures, and the only reasonable, "evidence-based", "treatment" options for "severe mental illness", and thus being completely in line with the mainstream doctrine.

Individuals labelled with "severe mental illness" who successfully chose to do without the "help" of the system, have not yet been given a chance to present themselves and their reasons to do without the system's "help" in the Danish media. Hat off to the Norwegian NRK 1 for having the courage to do this groundbreaking documentary!

You can read more about the documentary, Kristina and Hege at MindFreedom's website.

* or Orwell

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Stop the torture!

Go here for full information, and to see what you can do to help end the forced electroshock-"treatment" of Ray Sandford from Minnesota. Take action now, and help end this torture!

" is of vital importance that ECT be administered only with the free and informed consent of the person concerned, including on the basis of information on the secondary effects and related risks such as heart complications, confusion, loss of memory and even death." -from the "Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak"

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


Yah, I know. I haven't been posting anything here for almost a week now. Not even a music-vid. And it's not that I don't know what to write about. The list of possible subjects is long, and it gets longer and longer for every day, that I don't get a thing done about it. Well, at least I do get done a lot about it at my Danish blog, and that's one of the reasons why this one is left a bit unexploited, for now. The other reason is that I promised myself, not to engage in the production of any major piece for this blog, before I haven't made a certain phone call. A phone call, yep. A frigging phone call, I've tried to make for the past, uhm, how many months?... The thing is, I loathe having to make phone calls to people I don't know, and I especially loathe having to make phone calls to authorities. And this is a phone call to an authority. That I will have to make in order to get a translation finished, that would/should/could have been finished, yeah, months ago... "Disabled"??? Did anyone say "disabled"? I'll show you "disabled"!

Well, in the meantime, here are some pictures of Bibi and her son Sasha.

Friday, 17 October 2008


About ten days ago, I received an e-mail from a Dr. Geoffrey Rutledge, M.D., Ph.D., "Invitation to be a featured Health Blogger on Wellsphere".

This is the e-mail:

Hi Marian,
I was searching online for the best health bloggers when I discovered your blog at I want to tell you I think your writing is great. My name is Dr. Geoff Rutledge, and I've taught and practiced Internal and Emergency Medicine for over 25 years at Harvard and Stanford medical schools. I'm also the Chief Medical Information Officer at Wellsphere (, where we are building a network of the web’s leading health bloggers -- and I think you would be a great addition.
Wellsphere is a fast growing, next-generation online platform that is revolutionizing the way people find and share health and healthy living information and services. Our platform connects millions of users each month with the valuable insights and knowledge from health leaders and knowledgeable writers like you. 
We recently launched a new series of health communities, and I would like to invite you to be a featured blogger in the Mental Health Community. By joining our network of over 1400 of leading health and healthy living bloggers, you will be in great company, and will benefit from exposure to the expanded audience of the Wellsphere community (now over 2 million visitors per month, and growing fast). When you join, we also will feature you on our very popular WellBlog (, with a link back to your blog.
We will republish the postings you’ve already written for you, and feature them not only on the  community pages of the site, but also on our WellPages, where we give users a comprehensive view of expert information, news, videos, local resources, and member postings on topics you write about. Your profile page on the site will give you special status as a featured blogger on Wellsphere. If you are an active contributor, we also will feature your posts on our homepage at
By connecting to the Wellsphere platform, you will greatly expand the audience for your postings and attract additional readers to your blog. Also, your posts will link back to your blog, so you will benefit from Wellsphere's high ranking and large readership interested in your topic, which will give you more traffic, additional relevant audience, and a higher ranking for your blog.
If you would like to be a featured blogger on Wellsphere, just send me an email to You can see examples of our WellPages on our live site. For example, take a look at
Good health,
Geoffrey W. Rutledge MD, PhD
Chief Medical Information Officer
Wellsphere, Inc.

The first thing I do in cases like this, where I have no idea, neither of who Geoffrey W. Rutledge nor of what "Wellsphere" is, is that I do a Google search. And I must admit, the rather exaggeratedly flattering rhetoric had aroused my suspicion. So I primarily looked for a possible snag with it. My Google search brought me to this blog entry, and from there I eventually arrived at this one.

Now, as I write in my comment at Jeanne's blog, it's not that I don't want "my message" out there. And it's neither that I don't want to share. But:

1. my stuff is out there, and if people are interested in the subject(s) of my blog, they can find it;

2. I prefer to keep my right to decide whom I want to share with, and in which context my stuff is going to be published, reserved;

3. I have a full time job, a social life, and, apart from blogging, another time consuming hobby: my own horse. I don't feel up to entering into a continuous collaboration like this;

4. my blogs are sort of a sanctuary for me, and I want them to remain that. Independent, free from any obligations. While a collaboration with a site like Wellsphere inevitably would be an obligation;

5. my intuition says: "Don't." And one of the most important things crisis has taught me, is to trust my intuition.

So, I reacted to the e-mail, as I usually do react to this kind of e-mails: not at all. Which resulted in another e-mail, received today - note the last sentence:


Hi Marian,

We are excited to recognize you in our new YES, WE CARE! Campaign that honors everyday heroes, like you, who put themselves on the front lines in the quest for a healthier, happier world by spending their time and putting their hearts and souls into helping others in need. We’re particularly excited to have this chance to honor you, for dedicating your time and writing to help people improve their health and well-being. We've nominated YOU as one of our Everyday Heroes! 
As part of the YES, WE CARE! Campaign, we are creating a special video to highlight some of the amazing stories we’ve heard that demonstrate that caring for others is alive and well today all over the world. We would love to include YOUR story in the video! If you would like to send us a short video (cell phone or webcams are just fine!) about what moved you to start your blog, or to share a moving story of caring that you were involved in or heard about, we’d be happy to include it in the video. You can also interview someone you think is an Everyday Hero, or tell their story. Please keep the length of your video between 20 seconds and 2 minutes. The video can be very casual and definitely does NOT need to be professional or polished - just be yourself! 
Please send us the video ASAP, and no later than Sunday, October 19th. 
We can't wait to see your videos and are looking forward to recognizing you and other Everyday Heroes you know for your extraordinary contribution to the world!

To submit your video, send us your video as an attachment via email to If you would like to send a video directly from your cell phone, just email me at and I'll send you the cell phone number you can send a video-text message to.

Good health!

Geoffrey Rutledge MD, PhD
Chief Medical Information Officer
If you prefer not to receive updates from Wellsphere, please just reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe updates"

Obviously, at Wellsphere, not reacting to their e-mails equals to subscribing to updates. At least, with the best will in the world I can't recall ever to have subscribed to any updates from Wellsphere directly. Now you can call me hysterical if you like, but in my opinion this is both aggressive and intrusive. I now will have to react, and reply in order to unsubscribe.

In regard to #2 in my above list of reasons not to join Wellsphere, I today came across a blogger who is part of the Wellsphere community. A woman who identifies as suffering from "clinical depression" and "ADHD", and advocates mental health screening... I like the idea, that I would work together (???) with someone who has nothing but HURRAY!!!s for crap like "The National Depression Screening Day" - "If you are at all curious, please take an hour out of your busy schedule and get screened." - and, if not from "clinical Depression" nor "ADHD", anyway suffers from the delusion, that "ADHD" would be a neurological disorder. Just follow the link in the post and get "refreshed" about "ADHD"... One has to draw the line somewhere.

I wonder, did those guys at Wellsphere actually read my blog?? I guess not.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Soteria San Francisco 1972

A 15-minute documentary about Soteria House, filmed mostly on location in 1972.

Soteria San Francisco 1972

In my mind, if these hippie undergrads can cure schizophrenia, than anybody with courage and a big enough heart can do the same! -bipolarorwakingup, comment on YouTube.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Emergencies I

Some time ago, a friend told me about an incident on a Danish discussion forum, more precisely: at the forum's chat room. A guy announced, that he would take his life, right there, while being online. Everyone of course got extremely upset, and everything was tried to find out who he was, where he lived. I don't know, if they succeeded. Of course, the idea was to call the police, make them check up on him, and, in case, get him admitted/committed.

Each time I hear about situations like this, if it's about suicide or someone "just" going "manic"/"psychotic", it seems people's first reaction is to call the cops, or get the person to an ER at the rate of knots.

It was the mid-eighties, I was in my twenties, studying at Munich, living downtown where I rented a room at a woman's, G.'s, apartment, at the mezzanine. It was about 11pm. I sat in the kitchen, contemplating a rather early retreat, since I had an early class next day, and I was dog-tired. G. was out that night, and wasn't expected to come home before the next day. The doorbell rang. 'Now?' I thought, 'Nope, sorry.' A few moments later, I heard a woman shout G.'s name in the street, right under the kitchen window. Three times, and I went to the window: "Hey there, what's up? G.'s not home," I reached to say before I realized the confused and terrified expression on the young woman's face, and added: "But you can come in and have a cup of tea, if you like." She liked.

We talked a bit, or, more like: she talked, I listened, before I asked her her name. "S." I'd heard that name mentioned a few times before, in context with the term "schizophrenia". The term didn't mean much to me. I'd read some Jung, some Alice Miller, that kind of stuff. But I had no idea about psychiatry's definition of the term. Actually, I hadn't much of an idea about psychiatry at all. So, basically, the only thing I had at hand to relate to was S. herself.

We sat and talked for about a couple of hours. She was obviously agitated, talked fast, and a little incoherently every now and then, but nonetheless perfectly intelligible. I offered her to stay and crash on G.'s sofa, which she accepted, so I equipped her with a pillow and a blanket, and went to my own room. Mistake. Ten minutes later, she popped up at my bedside - or: mattress side, that is - telling me, she thought, she was the phone, or some kind of medium at least. The word "rubbish" immediately crossed my mind, and although a 'No, not rubbish at all!' also crossed my mind at the same time, I reached to say it: "Rubbish." Second mistake. Luckily, she wasn't offended, and I suggested some more tea and talk. We passed the phone on our way to the kitchen. I gave it a glance, and thought: 'Never. That would be the ultimate betrayal.' No mistake.

We spent about an hour more at the kitchen table, talking. I made my third mistake in asking about her father when talking about her family, which resulted in some "word salad". Obviously the core problem. Her father. I can only guess... Well, I changed subject, and, voilà, no more "word salad".

Eventually, we went to sleep again. This time I stayed at her bed- or: sofa side, until I was sure, she was asleep. She was quite all right the next day, and went home.

We kept in touch for a while afterwards, then I moved and lost contact.

What really maddened - and saddened - me, was G.'s reaction, when I told her about what had happened. G. was one of the "enlightened" ones. Reading the Tao, the I Ching, Jung and stuff. And she hardly ever touched as much as an Aspirin herself, since she considered all drugs to be poison. Which they are. Nevertheless, this is what she said: "Oh no! She's such a pain in the behind! She's got pills at home, but won't take them. It's entirely her own fault. I don't want to get involved!" I didn't know anything particular about the "pills" either at that time. What I knew was that pills impossibly could be the right answer to S.'s problems. Especially not when you're oh so enlightened. So much for G. being "enlightened".

And why is it not at all rubbish, if someone thinks s/he's the phone, or a medium of a kind? Because if you've never been allowed to establish a language of your own, if your own emotions and thoughts consequently were denied by others, while you were told what to feel and think by these others, then, at some point, all you feel and think is others' emotions and thoughts, and you become a medium through which these others feel and think. You become the phone, others talk through.

Applies just as well to believing thoughts are put into one's head. They are. In the dim and distant past. Or believing others can read your thoughts. If the person someone was most dependent on, apparently could, why would other people not be able to?

The term "schizophrenia" still doesn't mean a lot to me. I experienced S., a couple of others, and I experienced myself. What I experienced wasn't "schizophrenia", not "insanity". It was, the circumstances taken into account, absolutely reasonable and sane confusion, terror and anger.

For Sylvia

Supertramp - The Logical Song

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Gaderummet - from "a space in the street" to a space in the street

Although Gaderummet's case is far from settled in court, the picture in my sidebar will be history on Friday, October 10th. Since the past weekend, the young people at Gaderummet have been busy packing all their goods and chattels, and moving them out - into the street. Gaderummet has not yet found a new place to be in, and on Friday they have to leave the building at Rådmandsgade 60 in Copenhagen. About 40 young homeless people will, once again, be without shelter. They're collecting tents and sleeping bags to establish a, hopefully, temporary "space in the street" literally in the street.

All I can say is: my heartfelt congratulations to Mayor Mikkel Warming and the Municipality of Copenhagen for showing such a thorough lack of reason, accountability, and human decency.

The pictures in this post are taken by my friend, peace, environment and social justice activist, Pia Qu. You can see the whole series here.

Graffiti at Gaderummet - also this will soon be history.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Maybe it's in my genes??

I'm sure, I have a typewriter-computer-keyboard-pen-and-paper-gene...

Monday, 6 October 2008

An overdue book

In a recent blog entry, Ron Unger asks if anyone knows about a book for people with mental health problems on how to "manage" their family. Personally, I don't know of any such book. I only know about tons of books for families on how to manage their "mentally ill" offspring, and I think, a book for people with mental health issues on "managing" their family is overdue, and I hope, it will be written, as Ron's blog entry suggests it may be.

I myself am in the - as I choose to see it - lucky position, that my parents both died quite a long time ago, before it became clear that I had "mental health issues" that would require professional intervention, and that the only family I have left are some French(wo)men, whom I've never had any contact with.

In one of my first therapy sessions, my therapist asked about the whereabouts of my parents - of course the ulterior motive was to get them involved. (Or maybe that was just my "paranoia", instantly smelling a rat?? I don't think so.) My immediate, (survival-) instinctive, and not at all thought out reaction was panic - to put it mildly - followed by an enormous relief when I, after some seconds, that seemed to last an eternity, spent in terror, recalled, that they were dead, and thus couldn't be involved at all. Phew!!!

I've pondered a few times over how my folks probably would have reacted. There's no doubt whatsoever, that my mother would have welcomed the opportunity to re-establish a relationship where I would have been totally dependent on her. When I was in my twenties, she once said, she thought it a good idea if she could keep me under her surveillance and completely cut off from the outside world for at least a couple of years, so she could put my screwed up head straight. Not that this was the only time, she'd say stuff like that. But it was probably the clearest statement on how she saw things, she ever made. - And the system seriously suggests it's all biological??? No what the system's polemics call "bad parenting" involved??? I just wonder.

So, that she abstained from asking me to see a professional certainly wasn't because she didn't realize something was wrong. But, unfortunately (for her - luckily for me) she wasn't aware that a more and more purely biological model was about to be adopted by the mental health system during the '80ies. The thought, that she might be blamed, kept her from seeking professional help on my behalf. "Freud" was a naughty word at our house. She would have loved the biological model! A potential NAMI-mother. Without doubt.

My father... I don't know. I never really knew that man, although he lived at our house, and was married to my mother.

And how did I "manage" this mother-terrorist long-term? Well, I withdrew, to my safe-places, both inside and outside myself, to Munich, and eventually to Denmark. The geographical cure - that didn't work out, not even when she died, since the problem remains the same, as long as it isn't addressed directly.