Forced Treatment Advocate Bashes Alternatives Conference

DJ Jaffe should go to an Alternatives Conference. DJ Jaffe just issued a Huffington Post blog entry about the latest Alternatives Conference that shows he has absolutely no real idea as to what he is writing about. That DJ Jaffe is so content with his total ignorance is disturbing.

The Alternatives 2010 conference is a gathering of “consumers and survivors of mental health services.” They use that language, because many in the leadership believe mental illness doesn’t exist and is merely a label society uses to control them. By failing to include “people with mental illness” in the list of ‘consumers’ and ‘survivors’ who are invited, they are sending a not-so-subtle message: mentally ill not welcome. The term “mental illness” isn’t even allowed in the program.

They use that language because they are a large heterogenous body of people with diverse attitudes and beliefs. “Consumers”, in this case, usually means “consumers” of mental health services, and many of these “consumers” do identify themselves as having a “serious mental illness”. Psychiatric survivors, on the other hand, are people who feel they have suffered human rights violations at the hands of the mental health system. Nobody was sending out a message that says people who identify themselves as “mentally ill” were unwelcome to this event.

People like my sister-in-law, who suffers from the most devastating and debilitating mental illness: schizophrenia. Will you see people like her in MIAW public service announcements or being welcomed at the Alternatives Conference? How about the homeless or those actively hallucinating and experiencing psychosis? The mere existence of very symptomatic people is inconsistent with the MIAW and Alternatives narrative that people with mental illness are just like you and me.

I have gone to an Alternatives Conference, and I have met people there who had been given diagnoses of “schizophrenic” from trained psychiatrists. I have also met people at the same conference who had known the homeless experience firsthand. Many of the people who go to these Alternatives conferences have been “very symptomatic”. Many of them take psychiatric drugs to control their “symptoms”. I don’t know that receiving a diagnostic label would automatically expell anyone of them from the human race. I’m not sure what we should do with this invariably false dichotomy of “people with mental illness” versus “you and me” that Mr. Jaffe imagines to exist. “We” share a species identity, “we” are all homo sapiens, and “they”, people who have encountered difficulties in their lives, “they” aren’t even a subspecies. “They” are members of the same species as “we” are.

The Alternatives Conference doesn’t have anything to do with Laura’s Law, nor does it have anything to do with Mr. Jaffe’s personal endorcement of Laura’s Law. There were people at the Alternatives conference who opposed Laura’s Law, surely. There were also probably people at the Alternatives Conference who thought Laura’s Law was a good idea.

In California, these groups are fighting implementation of Laura’s Law. Laura’s Law allows courts to order certain historically violent mentally ill individuals to accept treatment as a condition for living in the community. A similar program in New York reduced homelessness 74%; suicide attempts, 55%; hospitalization, 77%; arrests, 83%; and incarceration, 87%. (A new independent study showing even more benefits will be released on Friday. Like with past studies, the Consumertocracy will attack it).

California is not New York. New York spends more money, more tax payer dollars, on mental health care than any other state in the union. California has not recovered from its own economic meltdown. California is going to have economic priorities that don’t include the enforcement of Laura’s Law. The enforcement of Laura’s Law would prove unnecessarily burdensome, and that state simply doesn’t have the money to pay for it. I would question the reliability of any of Mr. Jaffe’s statistics, and I would definitely question the amount of independence any study would have that would get his mention.

Mr. Jaffe is described in his Huffington Post biography as a cofounder of the Treatment Advocacy Center. The Treatment Advocacy Center is a group that lobbies for more forced outpatient commitment laws in the USA. These outpatient commitment laws would force mental health treatment on people who don’t want that treatment. Maybe Mr. Jaffe’s relationship to, and passion for, these coercive treatment laws has something to do with his rant about the Alternatives Conference. Hmmm. What do you think?


3 Responses

  1. D.J. Jaffe is a dangerous man, indeed…

    “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C.S. Lewis

    Thank you for the post,

    Duane Sherry

  2. It’s hard to do but do you think that you might be able to demonstrate or somehow allocate a portion of this blog to show that most of what is written about the supposed mentally ill is substantivley false? IOW that what is recorded about the supposedly mentally ill is simply not true.

    • You said it, Rod. Most of what is written about the supposed mentally ill is substantively false. I think I have on at least one occasion taken a website, and I have tried to show, point by point, how all the information presented on the site was misinformation. I don’t know that I have done so effectively, and perhaps I need to return to the subject. You call this kind exposure “hard”, and I’d say it was not so simple as I’d imagined it to be. One thing that might help is if we took a closer look at biological medical model psychiatry, and some of the criticisms that have been applied to it. I would be glad to do that kind of thing. The problem with the misinformation out there is that some of the people who are being treated are inundated with it, and subsequently they have been brainwashed for lack of a better term. Yes, I think a person could write a How To Manual on Chronic Mental Illness. It’s just that the How To Manual on Mental Wellness then gets ignored. People get brainwashed, and they then buy into the bullshit. This is dangerous. The psychiatric disability rate is growing by leaps and bounds, and one of the biggest areas of growth is among children. This is disturbing, and extremely so, given that some of these children receive a psychiatric label early on, and then wind up spending their entire lives in the “mental health treatment” system. This didn’t used to occur so much. Parents knew the terrible twos happened, and they didn’t dope up their children for going through what all or most or many children go through at one time or another anyway.

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