Respecting Human Rights is the sine qua non for
All Mental Health Care and Support
The Strategy of MindFreedom International
Introduction by Peter Lehmann
David W. Oaks
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared there
is a "global emergency" of human rights violations in the
mental health system. We look at this emergency from the point
of view of individuals who identify as survivors of rights
violations while in mental health care.
We focus on three types of coercive human rights violations:
Force with intrusive, irreversible procedures. We use
(a) Involuntary electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) against
the expressed wishes of the subject is a documented practice
in both developed and developing nations. WHO has stated
an intent to ban what is commonly known as "forced electroshock"
absolutely and internationally.
(b) Long-term, high-dosage administration of neuroleptic
psychiatric drugs on an outpatient basis, using court
orders, is now a fairly common practice in the USA and
several other countries. Increased use of "involuntary
outpatient commitments" or "community treatment orders"
are opposed by every known client organization, but is
favored by many professional organizations. We examine
this controversy by focusing on the implications of recent
medical evidence (brain scans, autopsies, animal studies)
that long-term use of high-dosage neuroleptics is linked
to structural change in the higher level areas of the
Fraud. All agree full informed consent is important,
but what if physicians themselves are not informed of
significant hazards that psychiatric drug manufacturers
may be aware of?
Fear. If a family with a member in severe crisis is
primarily or only offered psychiatric drugs, when non-drug
approaches can work, this too is a kind of coercion. Decades
ago coerced psychiatry was most common in back wards.
Today with globalization and marketing of psychiatric
care to the general population, the "fear of no alternative"
is one of the most common forms of psychiatric coercion.
Creating more non-drug voluntary alternatives is a fundamental