Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Psychiatry's Human Rights Violations


In the Name of Mental Health - Psychiatry's Human Rights Violations

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is holding its Annual Meeting this year in Toronto on May 20-25. On May 26-27, a "Conference on Ethics in Mental Health:" endorsed by the APA, is also being held Toronto. Since psychiatric survivors have not been invited to speak at these conferences--with 1 exception of an unnamed "client" at the mental health conference--we feel it's appropriate to distribute this document as our contribution to public education about many human rights violations in the psychiatry-dominated "mental health system", This is a short list of many of psychiatry's unethical practices or human rights violations minimized or denied by the APA and the Canadian Psychiatric Association.


The right to voluntary informed consent is enshrined in virtually all mental health laws, it's a key principle of medical ethics. This right means that when prescribing any treatment or procedure, the physician must, a., not use any pressure, threat or coercion to obtain consent; b., tell you the nature of your condition or illness; c., inform you of the immediate risks and other common risks of the treatment ("side effects"); d., inform you of alternatives to the treatment; and e., inform you of your right to refuse. Psychiatrists frequently violate this right - especially when prescribing psychiatric drugs ("medication") and electroshock ("ECT").


Psychiatrists frequently administer brain-disabling antidepressants and neuroleptics and addictive tranquilizers ("medication") without informed consent of their patients. This is unlawful. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, "unwanted touching" is an assault. Forced drugging is assault. Many psychiatric survivors have been traumatized and disabled (sometimes permanently) by forced drugging (e.g. injections). Many more women than men are drugged; women diagnosed as depressed, "bipolar" or suffering "postpartum depression" are the main targets of this psychiatric assault.

3. ELECTROSHOCK ( "electroconvulsive therapy"/ECT")

As one of the most disabling and inhumane procedures in psychiatry, electroshock is increasingly used in several countries including Canada, United States, and the UK. ECT's immediate effects include seizure, convulsion, coma, severe headache, disorientation, nausea, and physical weakness. Its long-term effects include permanent memory loss, learning and reading disabilities, impaired concentration, and brain damage. "ECT" consent forms are a sham, since patients are misinformed or not informed of most of these serious health risks. Women and the elderly, especially elderly women, are the main targets. Anti-shock campaigns advocating abolition are growing in the United States (Texas, California), the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. "ECT" should be banned


Involuntary committal is the psychiatric imprisonment of people labeled and believed to be "mentally ill", dangerous to themselves or others, and/or "incapable". Locking up citizens on the belief or opinion they might commit a violent act or criminal offence - without being charged and denied a trial - is preventive detention, which is prohibited in international law. Many involuntary patients are poor or homeless, with little or no community support. Although involuntary committal violates several rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (sections 7, 9,15), it is legal in all provinces, all states in the United States and many European countries.


Under these "leash laws", psychiatrists have the power to force psychiatric patients to be treated in the community - the treatment is usually powerful, brain-damaging antidepressants and/or neuroleptics. If patients refuse to obey community treatment orders (CTOs) or "take their meds" (sometimes ordered by judges in the United States), they can be locked up again for longer periods or indefinitely. These psychiatric orders are enforced by community treatment teams of mental health professionals. In Ontario, patient appeals are rarely successful; CTOs may soon be challenged as Charter violations.


Child psychiatrists frequently prescribe health-threatening antidepressants and neuroleptics to young children (some as young as 2 or 3 years old) as a treatment for "behavior disorder" or "mental illness". Some researchers have used children as guinea pigs in hi-risk drug experiments. In Canada and the United States, hundreds of thousands of children have been fraudulently diagnosed with the label attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and prescribed highly addictive stimulants like Ritalin. The United States government's national "teen screening" program targets and tests youth suspected of being "mentally ill". A similar program is recommended in the current mental health report of the Canadian Senate ("Out of the Shadows - Highlights and Recommendations", 2006, p.19)


Adults and children labeled "non-compliant" or "unmanageable" are frequently subjected to 2-point, 4-point and sometimes 5-point restraints ordered by psychiatrists. Hundreds of patients have been seriously traumatized or died while restrained (see "Deadly Restraint" series in The Hartford Courant). Many have also languished in "seclusion", a form of solitary confinement. "Seclusion rooms" exist on virtually all psychiatric wards and hospitals. Patients experience restraints and seclusion as cruel and degrading punishment or torture. Physically and chemically restraining children is child abuse - a serious violation of the UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In April 2005, the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA), sponsored four days of public hearings on the effects of psychiatric drugs and electroshock Approximately 40 psychiatric survivors courageously testified about many of these rights abuses and violations they personally experienced. (see "Inquiry Into Psychiatry": -

We demand that governments immediately call public hearings into these psychiatric abuses - human rights violations the American Psychiatric Association and Canadian Psychiatric Association minimize or deny - in the name of "mental health".

1 comment:

Danny Haszard said...

Appreciate your blog,mental health consumers are the least capable of self advocacy,my doctors made me take zyprexa for 4 years which was ineffective for my symptoms.I now have a victims support page against Eli Lilly for it's Zyprexa product causing my diabetes.--Daniel Haszard