Psychiatry and the American Declaration of Independence

It is my intention in this blog entry to demonstrate that psychiatry as it is practiced today exists in opposition to, and in violation of, those rights American citizens have been guaranteed as they were set forth in The Declaration of Independence framed by our nation’s founders in the year 1776.

The Declaration of Independence begins by speaking about self-evident truths, the foremost of which this document states we are granted by birth, that being the truth of equality. Just as men and women in slavery were held to be but a fraction of a whole human being, and thus an exception to this truth of equality, so people in the mental health/illness system are being treated as an exception to this truth today. People on the receiving end of the mental health/illness system are said by proponents of biological medical psychiatry to be inferior by genetic make up to other people, and thus less than fully capable human beings by birth.

The document goes on to say that people are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that chief among these inalienable rights are the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We have just listed 3 rights that are not applied to people in the mental health/illness system in the same way in which they are applied to the rest of the population. Let me go over these three rights, and show how they are being routinely ignored, dismissed, and violated when it comes to our treatment of people who are struggling with the mental health/illness system.

Life is precious. The first of these 3 rights concerns its preservation. Studies have shown that people in the mental health/illness system are dying off on average 25 years younger than the rest of the population. The act of violating this right is typically known as murder. When this right is violated among people in the mental health/illness system, it is called “treatment”. We know the source of this violation of rights. The right to life of people in the mental health/illness system is being denied by the psychiatrists who put them on powerful neuroleptic drugs. These drugs are known to cause a number of metabolic changes in the bodies of those people who use them, and a number of serious health conditions are associated with these metabolic changes. We have a word for the diseases behind these early deaths, and that word is iatrogenic, or physician caused.

Every time a person is civil committed, in patient or out patient, to psychiatric treatment, that person’s rights to liberty are being denied and violated. In the criminal justice system a person is guaranteed the due process of a fair trial by the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution. Mental Health Law, being seen as a civil matter, represents a loophole to this same Bill of Rights. People facing mental health hearings don’t get a jury trial. A person, who has not violated any of the laws of the land, in such instances, can have his or her liberty taken away from him or her on medical pretenses. No other branch of medicine can do this to a person once that person has passed the age of consent. Out with the right to liberty go other more subtle rights like the rights to dignity and respect.

Even the pursuit of happiness is not to be permitted people who have been admitted into psychiatric ‘care’. The aura of “mental sickness” is such that it over shadows all other aspects of a person’s life. People in the mental health/illness system are disadvantaged to the extent that they not expected to have the same opportunities that other people have been given. Should there be talk of hope, usually it is a false hope. If the ‘sickness’ can be challenged, that is only the beginning of the challenges faced. The jobs that people who have been through the mental health/illness system are permitted tend to be at the lowest end of the totem pole, and should they receive a higher education, businesses are still less prone to employ them than other people.

America still has a long ways to go before it accepts those who have been through the mental health/illness system as full citizens and complete human beings entitled to the same rights as other citizens of this country. Black people, women, and members of other oppressed and minority groups within this country have had to fight on the civil rights front to reach some degree of parity with their more privileged neighbors. This fight is, in many instances, still on. People who have endured privations and hardships at the hands of psychiatry and the mental health/illness system have an even further way to go. Some of them realize this, and it is a struggle they are grateful to take on. When people oppressed by psychiatry and the mental health/illness system attain some degree of equal treatment with other members of the populace, The Declaration of Independence will then be that much less of a meaningless scrap of paper than it is today.