Snapshots from the Occupy Psychiatry Protest- San Francisco,California on 19th May

In my previous post I talked about the Occupy the APA (American Psychiatric Association) 2013 protest that took place yesterday (Sunday 19th May) in San Francisco,California.

Amy Smith’s artwork for Occupy APA (


The Occupy the APA 2013 can be seen in the video in this post. I watched the  Live Streaming of the Occupy the APA protest and certain moments and snapshots from it stayed with me…


A psychiatric survivor activist who is also a lawyer,Ted Chabasinski, talked very movingly about his encounters with children and young people in the care system who have also entered the psychiatric system in the USA; Ted is in a way seeing himself in those children and is able to connect with their profound emotional distress given that he too experienced extreme abuse from the mental health system as a young person – as a 6-year old boy he was experimented on with electroshock and he was locked up in a state psychiatric hospital until he was 17; Ted stressed  the lack of humanity and the inability to meaningfully relate to these children’s distress that he feels characterise the majority of psychiatrists; Ted went as far as depicting the majority of psychiatrists as ‘sociopathic personalities’.

Another psychiatric survivor, who is also a family doctor, really passionately portrayed psychiatry as ‘immoral’ given that psychiatrists tend to over-medicate people, often with unsuitable drugs.

And then spoke Leonard Roy Frank, a  long-time activist and survivor of electroshock and insulin coma therapy; Leonard is in his 80s and has a very powerful presence; he reminded me of those ascetic,  deeply spiritual  and emaciated figures  that one is likely to meet in Greek and Russian Orthodox monasteries; Leonard, among others, talked about  how psychiatrists prescribe drugs that kill; he mentioned  the time (1996) when  the drug Zyprexa (Olanzapine) came out- Zyprexa being one the most destructive atypical anti-psychotics; apparently during the 3-year trial that was carried out in order for Zyprexa to be approved for release to the market, a number of people – 1 in 125- died; this Leonard considers a crime against humanity, especially when those over-drugged are children, as it is the case currently in the USA; my heart sank whilst listening to the story about Zyprexa- I was on Olanzapine for a while when I was very ill; I did not die but I put on an excessive amount of weight, which is very difficult to lose and which is a real health hazard; finally, Leonard  depicted the administration of psychiatric drugs and electroshock as ‘a crime against the soul and a desecration of the spirit’, whereas he talked about psychiatry as ‘the Inquisition which seeks to suppress people’  and as ‘politics and religion masquerading as science’.

A young woman told her story which featured her having suffered a brain damage as a result of over-drugging, and also her being told by psychiatrists that she needed to lower or minimise her expectations of herself and her life as she had severe ‘bipolar disorder.’; in spite of all this, the young woman went back to college and finished her studies that were disrupted as a result of her mental health crisis.

Lastly, a middle-aged woman  talked about how she was over-medicated and had forced ECT whilst she was involuntarily admitted to hospital; she said that her memory had been wiped out as a result of the ECT; I could detect a painful sense of loss and grief in her voice when she talked about the loss of her memory; she also said  she felt  all her rights were taken away when she was involuntarily admitted to hospital, which resonated deeply with my own experience of detention in a psychiatric ward as well.

The Occupy the APA protest concluded with a period of silence that was kept for those who have died and suffered and are still suffering in the hands of psychiatry.