Thursday, November 8, 2007

Don Weitz's speech about psychiatric abuse

Above is a picture of Don Weitz, an antipsychiatry activist from Toronoto

Read this powerful speech by Don Weitz:

(draft speech for Antipoverty Day of Action, September 26, 2007)
by Don Weitz

I want to thank the Disability Action Movement Now/ DAMN, particularly Loree and AJ, for giving me the opportunity to say a few words today at this historic event in our continuing struggle for human rights. Since I'm also a psychiatric survivor, I say Hi to and eagerly embrace all other survivors, people with disabilities, and antipoverty activists who are here today, who have the courage and fighting spirit and who are making common cause for justice and human rights long-delayed. NO JUSTICE-NO PEACE.

Today, we are making some very good and necessary and just demands on this corrupt McGuinty-Liberal government that specializes in breaking promises and violating our human rights. Of course, I support all our demands, particularly immediate raise in the minimum wage, an immediate 40% raise in ODSP and welfare rates, and affordable housing NOW - like a crash program of building 3000 affordable housing units a year for the next 5 years for homeless brothers and sisters. As I speak, hundreds or thousands of psychiatric survivors are homeless and on the street - homelessness drives them mad or crazy, it also kills them. So-called "mental illness" doesn't cause homelessness--governments and corporations cause homelessness.

I want to focus on one of our huge and urgent demands:
STOP PSYCHIATRIC ABUSES INCLUDING FORCED DRUGGING, ELECTROSHOCK AND COMMUNITY TREATMENT ORDERS. These are extremely destructive and dehumanizing and psychiatric procedures (not treatments) that have harmed and sometimes killed our brothers-and-sisters in the psychiatric system and community.

Forced drugging is an assault, a crime. It's administering brain-damaging antidepressants and neuroleptics to people against their will or without informed consent. There's no informed consent in psychiatry, it's a cruel sham because refusing psychiatric treatment on coercive and intimidating psychiatric wards in Ontario and other provinces is virtually impossible. Some of the more horrific, tragic and direct effects (not "side effects") of antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil are suicidal ideas, mania or agitation, and sudden homicidal violence. Some of the direct effects of the neuroleptics or so-called "antipsychotics" are neurological disorders like Parkinsonism, Tardive Dyskinesia (a grotesque and permanent neurological disorder), and Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (a neurological and life-threatening disorder) - they all indicate brain damage, a medical fact minimized or denied by the psychiatrists. I should also point out that proportionately more women than men are drugged.

Electroshock ("electroconvulsive therapy" or "ECT")) is a barbaric psychiatric procedure that always causes brain damage, including permanent memory loss, and other intellectual impairments including problems concentrating, reading and learning new material after a series of shocks. Women, particularly elderly women, are the prime targets of electroshock; According to ECT statistics I've collected over several years from the Ontario government's Ministry of Health, 2-3 times more women than men are electroshocked. Women diagnosed with postpartum depression and elderly women including those 80 and older have been shocked and experienced it as torture! Clearly, electroshock isn't just a human rights issue but primarily a women's issue, its time it was publicly recognized as such.

Community treatment orders (CTOs) are the more recent state-sanctioned psychiatric assaults on the mind and freedom of psychiatric survivors. Ontario's CTO law was proclaimed into law in the Mental Health Act in 2000 under the repressive Harris-Tory government, unfortunately the McGuinty-Liberal government is still enforcing CTOs. Essentially, a CTO is a doctor's order giving the psychiatrist or another doctor the authority to forcibly drug you after you've already been locked up and "treated" 2 or 3 times and after you've been released from the hospital. It's like being put on psychiatric probation in the community, a CTO is in force for 6 months at a time, it can be renewed almost indefinitely, appeals are generally useless since the psychiatrist's opinion carries more weight than the patient testimony. Psychiatric survivor-activists and other critics call CTO a leash law. It's time to outlaw CTOs. HEY-HEY, HO-HO, CTOS HAVE GOT TO GO!

Forced drugging, electroshock and community treatment orders are assaults and must be stopped. That is a big demand and challenge. I make another demand on this government: Call and hold public hearings on forced drugging, electroshock and community treatment orders. If not now, when? NO JUSTICE-NO PEACE!


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