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MLK on IAACM: Martin Luther King on the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment

Here are more than a dozen examples of Martin Luther King, Jr. passionately exclaiming his pride in being "psychologically maladjusted" and repeatedly calling for an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment (IAACM). [updated 2 July 2012]

Please email this 'thank you' to all you feel are creatively maladjusted!


Martin Luther King, Jr.: Maladjusted

Did you know you are a leader in the IAACM?

MindFreedom International supports peaceful protests of the psychiatric industry to "Boycott Normal.” It is time to revisit the clarion call of one of the main activist leaders of the 20th century.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. repeated a theme over and over, in many different ways, for at least 12 years: 

"The salvation of our world lies in the hands of the maladjusted."

He repeatedly said the world was in dire need of a new organization, the IAACM. You can help his vision become a reality!

 

More than a dozen examples of MLK on Creative Maladjustment & IAACM, in chronological order: 

   

(1) In one of his earliest references to creative maladjustment, MLK addressed the 27 June 1956 annual convention of the NAACP in San Francisco to describe the historic victory of the ''Montgomery Story'' bus boycott in 1955. 


Excerpt:

There are certain words in the technical vocabulary of every academic discipline that tend after a while to become stereotype and cliches, there is a word in modern psychology which is now probably more familiar than any other words in psychology. It is the word the maladjusted; it is the ringing cry of the new child, psychology -- maladjusted.

And as a minister seeing and counseling with people very day concerning their problems and their maladjustment's, I'm certainly concerned with those who are maladjusted, concerned to see everybody as adjusted as possible.

But I want to leave this evening saying to you that there are some things in our social system that I'm proud to be maladjusted to, and I call upon you to be maladjusted to. I never intend to adjust myself to the viciousness of lynch mobs; I never intend to become adjusted to the evils of segregation and discrimination; I never intend to become adjusted to the tragic inequalities of the economic system which will take necessity from the masses to give luxury to the classes; I never intend to become adjusted to the insanity's of militarism, the self-defeating method of physical violence.

There are some things that I never intend to become adjusted to, and I call upon you to continue to be maladjusted.

History still has a choice place for the maladjusted. There is still a call for individuals to be maladjusted.

The salvation of our world lies in the hands of the maladjusted.

I call upon you to be maladjusted, maladjusted as the prophet Amos who in the midst of the tragic inequalities of injustice in his day cried out in words that echoes across the generations: ''Let judgment run down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.''

As maladjusted as Lincoln who confronted a nation divided against itself and had the vision to see that the nation could not exist half free, and half slave.

Maladjusted as the -- hundreds and thousands -- of Negroes, North and South who are determined now to stand up for freedom, willing to face possible violence and possible death, who are willing to stand up and sacrifice and struggle until segregation is a dead reality and until integration is a fact.

Maladjusted as Jefferson who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery cried out in words of cosmic proportions: ''All men are created equal; they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.''

I call upon you to follow this maladjustment. It is through such a maladjustment that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man to the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom, equality and justice.

Sources:

http://tucnak.fsv.cuni.cz/~calda/Documents/1950s/MLK_55.html

You may download a PDF of the speech here:

http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/primarydocuments/Vol3/27-June-1956_MontgomeryStory.pdf

 


(2) Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee helped train MLK. One of his earliest speeches touching on maladjustment is his September 1957 speech at their 25th anniversary.  

 

Excerpt:

I call upon you to be maladjusted. Well you see, it may be that the salvation of the world lies in the hands of the maladjusted. The challenge to you this morning as I leave you is to be maladjusted..."

Source to download an image of his actual typed speech:

http://www.highlandercenter.org/pdf-files/mlk-25th-anniv-speech.pdf 

MindFreedom has held two strategy summits at Highlander. One of those participants, activist and shock survivor Kristina Yates, returned for Highlander's 75th anniversary in 2007, and distributed this letter from MFI about the MLK & IAACM:
http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-global/iaacm/kris-yates-highlander.pdf/view

 

(3) Martin Luther King on June 6, 1961 at Lincoln University


Excerpt:

Every academic discipline has its technical nomenclature, and modern psychology has a word that is used, probably, more than any other. It is the word maladjusted. This word is the ringing cry of modern child psychology. Certainly all of us want to live a well-adjusted life in order to avoid the neurotic personality. But I say to you, there are certain things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I call upon all men of good will to be maladjusted.

If you will allow the preacher in me to come out now, let me say to you that I never did intend to adjust to the evils of segregation and discrimination. I never did intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry. I never did intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never did intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, and the self-defeating effects of physical violence. And I call upon all men of good will to be maladjusted because it may well be that the salvation of our world lies in the hands of the maladjusted.

So let us be maladjusted, as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, "Let justice rundown like water and righteousness like a mighty stream." Let us be as maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln, who had--the vision to see that this nation could not exist half slave and half free.

Let us be maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth, who could look into the eyes of the men and women of his generation and cry out, "Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Pray for them that despitefully use you."

I believe that it is through such maladjustment that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice. That will be the day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!"

Source:

http://fairandunbalancedblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/proud-to-be-maladjusted.html

 

(4) In St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio on 14 May 1963, he called for the immediate creation of the IAACM:

 

Excerpt:

It may well be the greatest need of the hour, the greatest need of our world, to have more maladjustment. 

This is why I am calling for the immediate formation of a new organization, “The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.” There is a need for men and women to be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos. In his day, in the midst of injustices, his proud words echo across the centuries, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” 

There is a need for men and women today to be as maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln, who had the vision to see that this nation could not exist half-slave and half-free. There is a need for us to be as maladjusted as Jefferson, who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery cried with words rising to cosmic proportions, “All men are created equal."

There is a need for men to be as maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth, who could stand amid the men and women of his day, amid the intricacies of the formidable military machinery of the Roman Empire, to say, “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword,” and cry out, “Love your enemies; bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you."

Source:

http://moreinthebox.blogspot.com/2006/01/international-association-for.html

 

(5) MLK repeated that call later that year, 18 December 1963,  in at a Western Michigan University lecture:

 

Excerpt:

...there are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good-will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self-defeating effects of physical violence.  

You can watch a video excerpt here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXEIYpnlxbw

Transcript:

http://www.wmich.edu/~ulib/archives/mlk/transcription.html

 

(6) Springfield College commencement address on 14 June 1964 (the FBI tried to stop this speech):

 

Excerpt:

It may well be that our world is in dire need for a new organization, the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment, men and women who will be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day, could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, 

Source:

http://www.billweye.com/2006/03/mlks-springfield-college-address/

 

(7) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for creating IAACM to an estimated crowd of 8,000 people on 21 January 1965 in the Recreation Building on the Penn State University Park:

(Note: When he endorsed psychological maladjustment, King often reassured his audience he understood they did not seek to experience the extreme mental and emotional distress that is diagnosed "neurotic and schizophrenic." Some have mistakenly used that to try to discount MLK's statements. However, if MLK were alive today, he would no doubt update his speech to endorse the movement led by psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers, which was inspired by the civil rights movement and emerged in 1969, one year after his death. MLK would applaud that movement's leadership in peaceful creative maladjustment.)

Excerpt:

You know, there are certain technical words within every academic discipline that soon become stereotypes and clichés. Every academic discipline has its technical nomenclature. Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than other word in psychology. It is the word "maladjusted." Certainly we all want to live the well-adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities. But I must honestly say to you tonight, my friends, that there are some things in our nation and some things in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted, in which I call all men of goodwill to be maladjusted until the good society is realized.

(8) In his famous Sermon at Temple Israel of Hollywood on 26 February 1965, MLK said he was proud of being maladjusted and called for creating the IAACM.

Excerpt:

And I say to you that I am absolutely convinced that maybe the world is in need for the formation of a new organization: "The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment"

Source where you may hear an MP3 and read the transcript.

(9) MLK again called for the IAACM to start, this time in a speech in front of the NY Bar Association on 21 April 1965.  Time Magazine dismissed his call as 'half joking.' We ask, if so, then what about that other half?

 

From Time magazine:

“What the U.S. needs, King said, is a ‘divine discontent.’ He spoke of his own ‘maladjustment’ to segregation, religious bigotry, the ‘madness of militarism’ and ‘the self-defeating effects of physical violence’ {and} half-jokingly urged the formation of an ‘International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.’”

Sources:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,898653,00.html

Also, an article by activist Mike Ervin in a cross-disability publication Independence Today, which describes MFI's campaign to support the reality of the IAACM:

http://www.itodaynews.com/december2007/maladjusted.htm

 

(10) At the Antioch College Commencement on 19 June 1965 MLK echoed his calls about maladjustment. 

(11) At Illinois Wesleyan University commencement on 10 February 1966.

Excerpt:

....I must honestly say to you, as I’ve said before, there are some things in our nation and in our world of which I’m proud to be maladjusted, which I call upon all men of goodwill to be maladjusted until the good societies realize.  I must honestly say to you that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination.  I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry.

Source: You may read the speech or hear it here: 

http://www2.iwu.edu/newsrelease06/KingSpeech1.shtml

Above excerpt can be found here: 

http://www2.iwu.edu/newsrelease06/KingSpeech6.shtml

 

 

(12) A major speech in front of the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly on 18 May 1966, he said the world was in "dire need" of the IAACM:

Excerpt:

And I call upon you to be maladjusted and all people of good will to be maladjusted to these things until the good society is realized. I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry .I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, and leave millions of people perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of prosperity. I must honestly say, however much criticism it brings, that I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, and to the self-defeating effects of physical violence...

 I must confess that I believe firmly that our world is in dire need of a new organization – the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. Men and women as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day, cried out in words that echo across the centuries—"Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." 

Source:

http://www.uua.org/ga/past/1966/creativeuse/warelecture/index.shtml

 

(13) MLK's speech in front of national meeting of psychologists on 1 September 1967:

One of the best examples of MLK calling for the "The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment" (IAACM) was in the conclusion of his keynote speech in front of the American Psychological Association Annual Meeting.

Excerpt:

There are certain technical words in every academic discipline which soon become stereotypes and even clichés. Every academic discipline has its technical nomenclature. You who are in the field of psychology have given us a great word. It is the word maladjusted. This word is probably used more than any other word in psychology. ...

But on the other hand, I am sure that we will recognize that there are some things in our society, some things in our world, to which we should never be adjusted.

There are some things concerning which we must always be maladjusted if we are to be people of good will.

We must never adjust ourselves to racial discrimination and racial segregation. We must never adjust ourselves to religious bigotry.

We must never adjust ourselves to economic conditions that take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. We must never adjust ourselves to the madness of militarism, and the self-defeating effects of physical violence. ...

Thus, it may well be that our world is in dire need of a new organization, The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. 

Men and women should be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day, could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, 'Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream'; or as maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln, who in the midst of his vacillations finally came to see that this nation could not survive half slave and half free; or as maladjusted as Thomas Jefferson, who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery, could scratch across the pages of history, words lifted to cosmic proportions, 'We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. And that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'

And through such creative maladjustment, we may be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man, into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.

I have not lost hope. I must confess that these have been very difficult days for me personally. And these have been difficult days for every civil rights leader, for every lover of justice and peace.

Source via Society for Humanistic Psychology: 

http://societyforhumanisticpsychology.blogspot.com/2011/01/martin-luther-king-role-of-behavioral.html

 

Other Speeches, Sermons, Essays by MLK on Creative Maladjustment and Transformed Noncomformists

  

The above are just some of the examples of MLK's theme in many of his activist speeches about psychological maladjustment. Of course, he also wrote about this theme.

He was also calling for creative maladjustment in his role as a minister in his sermons, too. 

A number of MLK's sermons were put in a book entitled Strength to Love (1963) that his widow Coretta Scott King later stated summed up her husband's philosophy. You may read a page from that book that helps define his vision of being a "transformed nonconformist," here:

http://tinyurl.com/2n62ax

Excerpt:

This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists. Our planet teeters on the brink of atomic annihilation; dangerous passions of pride, hatred and selfishness are enthroned in our lives; and men do reverence before false gods of nationalism and materialism. The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.

~~~~~~~

You Are a Leader in the IAACM... 

PLEASE forward a link to this 'thank you' to all you feel are creatively maladjusted!

And let us know how you will lead on!

For information on MindFreedom International campaign to peacefully "occupy" the psychiatric industry, click here:

http://www.boycottnormal.org 

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Celia Brown

Celia Brown is a psychiatric survivor and leader in the movement for human rights in mental health. Celia has served on the MFI board for several years, including as MFI president. Celia leads MFI's United Nations team, and International committee. Celia is shown here speaking at an MFI protest directly in front of the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting. (Photo by Tom Olin)
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