Protesting the American Psychiatric Association: We Are the Ones Lucky Enough To Be Free

I spoke at the Occupy the American Psychiatric Association Protest in New York City in May 2014.  Here is the transcript of my speech.  

On May 8th, 2004, twenty-seven year Dan Markingson died by his own hand after being placed without consent in an AstraZeneca clinical trial of three powerful neuroleptic drugs. On December 13th, 2006, four-year old Rebecca Riley took her last breath as heavy doses of Depakote, Seroquel, and Clonidine coursed through her veins, filling her lungs with fluid and shutting down her heart. On January 5th of this year, eighteen-year old Keith Vidal, who was said to be having a so-called “schizophrenic episode”, was tased, pinned down, and shot to death by a police officer who allegedly declared, “We don’t have time for this.” And for over a year, fifteen-year old Justina Pelletier has been a psychiatric prisoner of the State of Massachusetts, separated from her family, her friends, and her home, her every breath and action and uttered word controlled by this powerful, violent, dehumanizing mechanism of social control deceptively called Psychiatry.

We are here, today, for these individuals, and for the millions of fellow Americans who’ve lost their identities, their freedoms, their sexuality, their physical health, their minds, or their lives to Psychiatry. For the many who die twenty-five years early because of the damage caused from psychiatric drugs. For the youth of our country, whose natural, healthy human experiences have been turned into “symptoms” to be drugged for the rest of their lives. We are here, today, because we are the ones lucky enough to be free—free to have and use our voices, to own our bodies, to be in this fresh air. Free to be human again, after being so dehumanized by you, Psychiatry, your pockets bulging with profits reaped from our human fears and pain. You, Psychiatry, a master exploiter of suffering. A pill hustler. A preacher of false promises. You, Psychiatry, a slavemaster of the human experience.

At the heart of this dystopian age of Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical control is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, a book of degradation and dehumanization, and Psychiatry’s most effective enslavement apparatus. A slave is “a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.” Justina Pelletier and so many others are currently locked against their will on psych wards and in so-called “group homes”, clinical strangers their indefinite masters, determining what chemicals are to be put in their bodies, whether they’ll have custody of their children, or be allowed to work, or see friends, or attend school, and when they’ll again be able to breath fresh air: Psychiatrists calls these human beings their “patients” for whom they so-called “care”; we call them psychiatric slaves, for this is what they are.

Our Founding Fathers declared that we are all equal, that we are all endowed with the unalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, and that when these rights are denied by our Government, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

To be a free-thinking, free-feeling, free-believing American today is to be at risk of government-sanctioned psychiatric imprisonment. We are not safe in our minds and our bodies; no, we are far from it. Are we not called by our duty as citizens to listen to our country’s Declaration, and to fight for all that our Founding Fathers fought for? Our government is but a pawn of Psychiatry, our politicians’ campaigns padded by the Pharmaceutical and so-called “Mental Health” Industries. The Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex has a lobby almost one hundred million dollars greater than any other in our country, and our elected leaders—like Representative Tim Murphy—are currently fighting hard to pass bills that will strip American citizens of their basic rights in the name of so-called “mental health”, bills they claim are for the greater good, but that are truly for the benefit of those who stand to profit from the psychiatrization of our citizens.

It’s time to rise up and take back our humanity. It is time!

We must start by naming Psychiatry for the many things that it is: a political manipulator; a force of social and behavioral control disguised behind a façade of medical authority; a government-supported perpetrator of civil and human rights violations; a chemical rapist declaring, “This is for your own good,” as it guides a syringe or pill bottle to its unwilling victim.

The DSM has now reached into nearly every facet of our humanity in the name of a phantom “Normal”, the slow creep of Psychiatry’s influence over the last century now deep within our homes, our schools, our foster system, our nursing homes, our prisons, and our workplaces. It has seeped into the courtroom, its skill as supreme scaremonger altering the course of justice by manipulating words like “safety”, “risk”, and “care” so that judges no longer privilege individual liberty over the tyranny of force. Psychiatry uses the media to fuel our fear of difference, of emotional suffering, and of our capacity as human beings for violence and self-destruction. Indeed, it’s taught us to forget what it means to be human. Perhaps most catastrophic of all is the impact we can’t see—the devastation that resides within us—for Psychiatry has slinked into our most sacred corners of self: our minds, where we house everything about how we define ourselves and what we value and how we want to live in the world.

To this, we say, no more. NO MORE!

It is time to fight back, to push this master out, to expose it for what it is, and to bring down its tyrannous throne, where it sits with a self-satisfied smile, petting the head of the government kneeling before it.

It is time for us as a collective human family to shed the chains of psychiatric oppression and reclaim ourselves, for you, Psychiatry, have power only because we’ve given it to you. We the People can and will take it away—no matter how many generations of protest and community organizing and determined activism it takes—and as you convene across the street from us, strategizing about how best to spread your medical model propaganda and keep us passive, compliant, dependent, afraid, and asleep, our voices are growing ever-louder, our spirits more invigorated, our message of psychiatric liberation reaching more and more of those enslaved by you. We know you are afraid; we sense it growing in your greedy belly and we see it in the way you desperately try to prove yourself valid. We know that one day—however far into the future it may be—the last faces you’ll see before you fall into extinction will be the ones of those who’ve survived you, their cheeks lit up by the light of a bonfire of burning DSMs, these human beings whose spirits could never be touched by you, no matter how hard you may have tried. That day will come. It’s already on its way.