Minding Freedom Of Expression On Campus In Gainesville Florida

I had been absent from my blog for a few days, all of last week in fact. There was a good reason for this absence. I was engaged in the Civic Media Center (a local radical library) sponsored Radical Rush at Santa Fe College and the University of Florida. My group, MindFreedom Florida, was tabling with other socially progressive groups handing out literature and information at these schools. This is my 3rd year tabling at the Radical Rush on campus.

What continues to amaze me is the difficulty students and professors have in connecting with our movement. Women studies and African American affairs have been around in education departments for years, and I would like to believe the disabilities movement is making a little progress on campus as well. Gay bisexual transsexual queer issues are even beginning to make great strides forward. The psychiatric survivor movement itself, and the mad movement, locally, are still pretty much a dark space untouched by the light of academic endeavor.

Considering the depths of prejudice we face, and how discrimination is applied in other fields of endeavor, I think there is no question as to why this is so. We’re talking about a group of people that people are so prejudiced against that the first words that pop to mind are ‘lack of charisma’. Rather than seeing ‘gators’, panthers and tigers, people think labeled ‘mentally ill’, and they envision worms, rotted fruit and bats. I think that it would help if they envisioned human beings instead. Actually, that’s what our movement is all about, reminding people that they are dealing with human beings, in these instances, and not with less evolved creatures. It’s just too easy for them to forget sometimes it would seem.

I’m hoping this deficit can be corrected over time. I’d like to see people labeled by the mental health system make progress in the real world of everyday affairs. MindFreedom International has a number of academics associated with it. MindFreedom has both a Scientific Advisory Board and an Academic Alliance. Unfortunately, none of these professionals are at Santa Fe College or the University of Florida. I want to change this situation. I guess that means tabling on these campuses in coming years. Sooner or later, maybe they will begin to get it. The “it” I’m talking about is embodied in the slogan, familiar to people in the disabilities rights movement, “Nothing about us, without us!”

The University of Florida and Santa Fe College teach psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, and pharmacologists. These schools know how to oppress people, but do they know how to liberate them? I’m all for liberation myself, and I’m against oppression. I’d like to see some forces on campus join me in calling for liberation and in opposing oppression. We are out to educate the educators because apparently there is much that has still escaped their schooling. Eventually, I have no doubt, if we keep at it, we will find a place for ourselves here in Gainesville, too.

4 Responses

  1. One of the things that people have learned in the gay rights’s movement is that you don’t win friends and influence people by congregating in a large mob on the street corner and shouting. Study after study has shown that you change people’s perceptions about the “Other” by one-on-one interaction.

    A homophobe’s attitude changes radically when that person finally comes into day-to-day contact with a single gay individual. Initiating this sort of interaction can be tough and emotionally bruising to the gay person (and most of us queers are, quite frankly, lazy just like everyone else and want to be comfortable so we continue to congregate in mobs on the street corner), but this one-on-one contact is the most effective way of changing another’s opinion of the “Other”. It gives a single, individual face to the group of people the homophobe has been taught to hate.

    And you know what? Odds are that this former homophobe has friends just like he used to be and now maybe he can go out and change their attitudes, again by one-on-one interaction.

    I’m not saying that demonstrations, guerilla performance art or whatever don’t have their place. They do. They help bring people’s attention to your problem. But for lasting, effective change, it’s individuals working on an individual level that bring about the greatest results.

    Any way, I think that’s what you were talking about when you wrote, “Rather than seeing ‘gators’, panthers and tigers, people think labeled ‘mentally ill’, and they envision worms, rotted fruit and bats.”

    • I think there is a place for both one-on-one interactions and demonstrations, Marlboro. If there had been no marches in the 1960s, and no civil disobedience, Jim Crow would still be in effect in the American south. It took legislation to change the situation of black people in the USA, and legislation is still required if gay people are to gain marriage rights.

      GLBT peoples have had Gay Pride parades for a number of years, and now people in the mad movement are launching Mad Pride celebrations throughout the world. I have no objections to these endeavors, and in fact I fully support these activities. If it was a matter of one-on-one actions alone, I think you’d see the issue resolved by hate crimes in a number of instances. When hate crimes happen, it helps if large numbers of people can get out on the street and express their outrage. The hate crime was usually a “mob” action as well.

      I’ve talked to a number of people who claimed to be unaware that shock was still being used in mental health treatment. I think that if you had a number of people out there in the streets holding signs demanding an end to this barbaric practice there would be fewer people who had no idea it was still being used. As the press sometimes covers protest events, even more people would be made aware that these practices are still taking place. There is absolutely no way that I can see that increased awareness as a bad thing.

      Our’s has been dubbed an information age, but if some people choose to bury their heads in the sand, and ignore what’s going on in the world around them, I think it is a good thing when a group of people can bring them out of their somnolence once again by shouting and creating general mayhem.

  2. Its the amount of money in big Pharma pockets . No one makes billions from NOT selling drugs. and it is also giving people (masses) what they want , an easy answer of brain chemical imbalances, a scapegoat and a mysterious boogyman-Monster to find, kill and fear. Find and stop the M.I. mass murderer before they kill.

    While thousands of children die in Somalia. “”Somalia’s child mortality rate in 2010 stood at 180 deaths per 1,000 live births, which now ranks worst in the world,” the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a media statement Friday.”Even before this current crisis, one in six children was dying before their fifth birthday. Now we anticipate this number of deaths will be even greater,” said Rozanne Chorlton, UNICEF representative in Somalia.

    No one is stopping the rich western world Governments from killing innocent children . our Governments greed of money is killing people then the media makes a big deal about a Al-Qaeda suicide bomber killing people.

    But anyways
    Why do people go to College?
    To get a job other than digging ditches, and if everyone at College is saying mental illness are to be treated with drugs (a physical object) thats what you believe in to get the degree, to get the job, to get the house, the car , the wife-husband and 2.5 children.

    Has Psychiatry Been Corrupted Beyond Repair?
    fake science is causing real harm
    by John D. Gartner, Ph.D.
    We know that corporations can show few scruples in hiding the damage done by their products. Cigarette makers hid the link to lung cancer for decades. Energy companies and their political allies deny any link between burning fossil fuels and global warming. But no industry has been as systematic nor as successful as drug companies in infiltrating the knowledge base concerning their products. The results have been high profits. The top ten pharmaceutical companies in the Fortune 500 make more money than the other 490 companies combined.

    Imagine this: What if every scientist studying global warming was paid by Exxon? New York would be underwater before anyone knew global warming even existed. Yet, that is exactly the state of scientific research in psychiatry. Over 80 percent of the psychiatric research studies conducted in academic medical centers are funded by the drug industry.by John D. Gartner, Ph.D.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mark. I think it goes a long ways towards addressing why a one-on-one approach alone is not going to get us very far. When we go up against Big Pharma, we go up against corporatism. US law may have given corporations the rights of individuals, but they are still made up of thousands of individuals. Corporatism itself involves a big, big gang of people in business suits chasing maximum profit even when this greed involves a great deal of harm done to a much larger number of people. No one person alone is going stop these corporations from running rough shod over an untold number of victims. There is, as the saying goes, strength in numbers, and by combining with like minded people, we can take back this country back from the government and corporations that have stolen it.

      I feel certain that corporatism and official corruption has a lot to do with the famine in Somalia. There is a great disparity of wealth and power between countries in the world. People in other parts of the world have plenty to eat. I’m rational enough not to blame black magic for what is happening to the people in that country. This famine was man made, and the solution to the famine has to be man made, too.

      The drug industry is much like the oil industry. Students usually want to go where they will be paid the most money. The drug industry, like the oil industry, makes mega-bucks. The drug industry and the oil industry buy law firms, lobbyists, and good will. The people who choose to work against this evil (oil spills, brain damage, metabolic disease), don’t get paid the amount of money that people who work for them receive. You can see what part of the problem is right there. All the good opinion that money can buy is still bought opinion. On top of this fact, people need to survive, and selling out insures personal survival at the expense of the species.

      Something is dreadfully wrong in psychiatry today. This is a fact that people can’t ignore. The numbers of people on disability for a psychiatric condition is growing rapidly while the numbers of people recovering from such conditions tends to be very slim. The reason for these low recovery rates seems to have something to do with an over reliance on chemical compounds for “maintenance of symptoms”, or the masking of personal problems. Psychiatric drugs are killing people in mental health treatment. The statistics show that. 25 years of life lost is not an acceptable trade-off. 25 years of life lost is murder. Drug companies must be held accountable.

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