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“Most psychiatric drugs can cause withdrawal reactions, sometimes including life-threatening emotional and physical withdrawal problems… Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs should be done carefully under experienced clinical supervision.” Dr. Peter Breggin

Oct 9, 2011

Advocacy "for the mentally ill" is actually advocacy for an agenda

Prejudices are what fools use for reason.
DJ Jaffe never misses an opportunity to capitalize on a tragedy which involves a person with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.   Oddly, whether the tragedy involves the person with the diagnosis committing criminal acts or the person being victimized by the criminal acts of others, does not matter. He uses tragic events to further his advocacy platform and spread the seeds of ignorance and to justify bigotry towards those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.  Using fear and misinformation, he capitalizes on tragic events and advocates for his agenda in a column in the Huffington Post, and in whatever arena or forum he is allowed. In the latest instance of fear based "advocacy for the seriously mentally ill," DJ Jaffe's utilizes the murder of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton California, to further his platform calling for increasing forced psychiatric treatment. Kelly Thomas died after a prolonged violent assault in which six police officers beat and repeatedly shocked him with tasers; a homicide committed by out of control police officers.

The US Constitution grants DJ Jaffe the same Individual Rights that are  granted to all individual American citizens.  The First Amendment protects his right to say whatever the hell he wants, whether based on reality or fantasy.  Jaffe uses his Freedom of Speech to advocate for an agenda that implicitly suggests that people with a psychiatric diagnosis either don't need or don't deserve equal protection of their Individual Rights under the US Constitution; although he denies this is so.  DJ Jaffe denies this is the case because he is unwilling to objectively consider whether one's individual rights are in fact effectively preserved, when individual rights are not defended.  DJ Jaffe's advocacy activities are protected by the US Constitution; and he is entitled to exercise these rights as he sees fit.

DJ Jaffe assumes that because Individual Rights are defined within civil commitment statutes, and the statute itself contains a declaration that  Individual Rights of people Court Ordered to Involuntary Treatment are to be preserved and defended when Court Orders are sought; the declaration written into the law preserves and defends an individual's rights. This is an erroneous assumption.

When we as a society, fail to preserve or defend the individual rights of an entire class of people, predicated on the notion that preservation of the individual rights of people labeled "mentally ill" is secondary to the interests of the rest of society, we diminish ourselves as a society and as individuals; we violate The US Constitution, which clearly states that no law can deprive any individual or group of their Liberty, without Due Process of Law.


Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.
Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.
Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
When the Involuntary Treatment laws are implemented and carried out, the Individual Rights to Substantive and Procedural Due Process are neither protected or defended for those who are the Court Ordered to conform to a treatment protocol which may disable or cause their  sudden or early death.

We as a society have allowed so-called advocates like DJ Jaffe and the "grass roots advocates" like NAMI, to successfully lobby Have we done so in the mistaken belief that these laws help the people who are effectively deprived of their Individual Rights to Substantive and Procedural Due Process of Law? The casual manner in which DJ Jaffe, and other advocates "for the seriously mentally ill" dismiss the negative impact of a legal deprivation of individual rights on the people so deprived, is despicable.

DJ Jaffe and "grass-roots advocates" who claim to be "The Nation's Voice on Mental Illness" do not seem to understand or care that Individual Rights are not protected by words alone. Rights are protected when Rules of Evidence are followed, Proper Notice served upon to the person facing a Court Order for Involuntary Treatment and Proof of Service is filed with the Court, Standard Court Procedures used, and Effective Assistance of Counsel provided.  All of these elements are necessary to effectively preserve an Individual's Rights under the US Constitution. When Court Orders for involuntary psychiatric treatment are sought, these clearly defined individual protections are conspicuously absent.

The people who are detained on psychiatric holds, Court Ordered to Involuntary Treatment, and/or Assisted Outpatient Treatment under Laura's Law, Kendra's Law, or other Involuntary Treatment statutes, are deprived of these individual rights as a matter of course; and as a matter of fact.  We, as a society, have been misinformed by zealous advocates and have blindly accepted it and in effect, we have justified allowing fears, biases and ignorance to be the legal basis used to deprive an entire class of people, "the seriously mentally ill," of their individual rights outlined in the US Constitution. We have legally declared the mentally ill to be different and have passed laws that are obviously discriminatory, and which effectively lower the legal standards applicable in Court proceedings for Involuntary Treatment. How can we as a society claim to be acting in the best interests of an entire class of people by instituting lower legal standards applicable only to them, depriving them of their Individual Rights?

The Declaration of Independence
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
As a society, we validated intolerance and openly discriminate against people with a psychiatric diagnosis Under Color of Law. 

Advocates like DJ Jaffe, are lobbying for strengthening existing laws that are much like the public policies implemented in Germany during WWII:  Identify, segregate, and provide "treatment" to people who are given no choice; depriving the people targeted of the individual protections the rest of society takes for granted.  We are doing this right now in the United States of America, targeting the people who are labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis, depriving those targeted of their Individual Rights to Substantive and Procedural Due Process of Law, under the US Constitution, and Court Ordering psychiatric treatment with teratogenic drugs and/or electric shock which can be disabling and fatal, "for their own good."

Utilizing a human tragedy as a means of furthering a forced treatment agenda to "help the mentally ill" belies having any altruistic intent. Involuntary Treatment Laws are morally reprehensible.  It is as if proponents of these discriminatory laws determined that the words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" are not self-evident truths, but are privileges some of us still have... 

"Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity."
Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, 
he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope."
Robert Kennedy

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims 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 
DJ Jaffe's huffpo Kelly Thomas article which inspired me to write this post 

DJ Jaffe's Washington Times article September 16, 2011 well worth your time to read the comments to see how DJ Jaffe is unwilling to answer questions about what he has written.

DJ Jaffe's Tip Sheet written when he was a NAMI Board member and co-author E. Fuller Torrey 
they are both co-founder's of the Treatment Advocacy Center a non-profit established as a function of NAMI in 1998.

from this "tip sheet":
"While AMI/FAMI is not suggesting you do this, the fact is that some families have learned to ‘turn over the furniture’ before calling the police. Many police require individuals with neurobiological disorders to be imminently dangerous before treating the person against their will. If the police see furniture disturbed they will lusually conclude that the person is imminently dangerous.

Read How and why to change involuntary treatment laws in your state.

NAMI/ NYC (formerly AMI/FAMI) does not endorse any medicines or treatments. This info is a public service as part of our efforts to educate and help others affected by these disorders. Do not rely on it. Consult your doctor before making any decisions. NAMI/NYC is a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of people with neurobiolgical disorders (“NBD”, formerly known as ‘mental’ illness) through education, advocacy, support, and research. If this has been useful to you, PLEASE JOIN US. Send a deductable contribution of $30 (or more) to NAMI/NYC, 432 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016 to get on our mailing list or call (212) 684-3AMI. To join chapter outside NYS: 1 800 950 NAMI. Families Helping Families is what NAMI/NYC is all about. Thank you for helping us help others."

This "tip sheet" is no longer available on the website I originally found it on; so I am glad I took the liberty of copying it verbatim. I suspect it is no longer on the NAMI site due to how much DJ Jaffe has been confronted about the outrageous advice it offers...He has claimed that he does not endorse lying or tipping over furniture---I, for one, do not believe him. Jaffe in fact put these statements on a widely distributed Tip Sheet meant to advise families how to get help for a family member who is in crisis, making his denial not at all credible. The fact that this document was disseminated by "advocates for the mentally ill" belies an altruistic intent. NAMI functions as a Nation-wide special interest lobby, using propaganda produced by The Treatment Advocacy Center. The fact that NAMI advocates for a very specific agenda--which is not the same thing as advocating for a group of individuals who have psychiatric diagnoses.  
NAMI, the Treatment Advocacy Center, Torrey, and Jaffe, all disseminate the same inaccurate information claiming that schizophrenia is a "brain disease" or "neurobiological disease" as if it is a scientific fact, or medical certainty; and further assert the disease can be "effectively treated" with teratogenic drugs. The claim that schizophrenia is a disease, defect or the newest term, "neuro-biological" disease is not in reality, based upon any empirical evidence, there has been no pathology found to cause schizophrenia to date. All of these "advocates" take their cues from the corrupt drug industry and continue to exaggerate the effectiveness of neuroleptic and other psychiatric drugs; while minimizing and denying altogether the actual brain damage and disability caused by the drugs. Even worse, is their denial of drug-induced adverse events including fatalities---advocates effectively become co-conspirators of a corrupt drug industry in defrauding federally funded medical programs.
The fraud, corruption, and Conflicts of Interest in psychiatric Research, Drug development and marketing, and Medicaid and Medicare being the source of the majority of the ill gotten gains which were obtained in the Pharmaceutical pilfering of the Federal Medicaid and Medicare Programs ARE not even mentioned. NAMI, TAC, Torrey and Jaffe function as pharmaceutical Lobbyists who advocate for a very specific agenda.  It is obvious that if their advocacy was for individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis, these Lobbyists would spend some of their energy towards stopping such criminal conduct from victimizing the people they claim to be advocating for. 

It is also plain that when a person with a diagnosis of schizophrenia is killed as a result of being beat to death by a gang of out of control Police Officers, the death is the fault of the assailants. Blaming the victim or 'the mental health system" is inappropriate. It is done for because is serves as propaganda to support the forced treatment agenda which is the primary focus of their "advocacy."  
The simple truth is that Kelly Thomas is dead because of brutal assault and battery, intentionally inflicted by six Police Officers; each of whom had a duty to protect and serve Kelly Thomas. It is a Hate Crime. The tragic death of Kelly Thomas, a man with a diagnosis of schizophrenia is used by Jaffe, TAC and individual NAMI members as a means to a very specific end: to lobby State legislatures in support for forced psychiatric treatment; including soliciting the endorsement of Kelly's grieving family members, to support Laura's Law. Jaffe and others minimized the fatal actions taken by those whose Duty was to Protect and to Serve Kelly Thomas---whether he was "treatment compliant" or not; homeless or not, and whether he was mentally ill or not. The fact that he was a man diagnosed with schizophrenia, homeless and not on psychiatric drugs or any intoxicating substances when he was killed---should have compelled any advocate who reached out to support the family to stand with them to demand that Kelly Thomas's murderers be brought to justice. It is not advocacy or altruism that compels advocates who choose to blame the victim or "the broken mental health system" for the murder of a mentally ill person. It is self-interest that compels advocates to exploit a brutal murder committed rogue Police Officers of a mentally ill man to further a forced psychiatric treatment agenda.

I am a mother of a young man who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and I know that when I heard of Kelly's murder; my first thoughts were for his family. My second was that those responsible, would be held accountable. I know from painful experience, crimes committed which victimize people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are seldom prosecuted, or even investigated. I do not believe that Kelly's lifestyle choices are the issue, nor do I doubt or question his family---It is for me, very simple: Senseless brutality committed by anyone which ends a person's life must compel society to hold the perpetrators responsible. Kelly Thomas and people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are considered "vulnerable" yet when victimized, are in fact frequently neither protected or defended; far more often, the victims of crime are blamed or ignored altogether. It is as if their vulnerability compels the rest of society to abdicate any responsibility by failing to perform any duty which would protect or defend them---even when they are killed. Otto Zehm was killed by Police Officers in Spokane, Washington and although his death was ruled a homicide, and his brutal assault was caught on video---none of the handful of Police officers who killed him were charged with murder.  This is the 'norm.'

The forced psychiatric treatment agenda, that some 'advocates' focus on, is a biased and discriminatory agenda; not altruistic advocacy in the public interest in service to the mentally ill. People psychiatry labels as mentally ill and society considers to be vulnerable should have the same legal protection those of us who are not mentally ill take for granted. Surely, we can not claim to be a just, civil society if we deprive vulnerable people of their individual rights under color of law, and then claim the deprivation is "for their own good."
Portions of this post were first published on August 16, 2011 under the title, Advocacy for who?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't finish reading this article yet because I just totally went ... bleh by DJ Jaffe's article (Which I googled since I didn't see a link) on the Kelly Thomas beating.

Wow. According to him and people who think like him, it's not the fault of the people who beat, abuse or kill the mentally ill, it's the fault of the mentally ill for being mentally ill and therefore either being obnoxious, hostile or vulnerable. So instead of trying to prevent violence toward the mentally ill and punishing those who commit it, perhaps we should just euthanize all of the mentally ill instead? Or re-open the asylums? Or, because it's cheaper, just drug them into zombies so they wont even want to leave their bedroom (if they have on)?

Wow. Look what he said in the comments for that article. "AOT does not require anyone to take dangerous chemicals."


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