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Hunger Strike News Release & Fact Sheet



NEWS RELEASE - 21 August 2003

Hunger Strikers Demand Human Rights in Mental Health:
American Psychiatric Association Replies

PASADENA, CALIF: On Sat., 16 August 2003 six "psychiatric survivors" from throughout the United States arrived in Pasadena, Calif. and began a hunger strike to press for human rights and choice in psychiatry.

Their demand: that the mental health industry produce even one study proving the common industry claim that "mental illness is biologically-based." The hunger strikers charge that the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatry are medicalizing an ever-widening spectrum of human emotion and behavior for financial gain, and are willing to deceive the public while they too frequently humiliate and harm their clients.

"The government gives virtually total support to a quick-fix, pill-pushing model of mental health at the expense of alternative, less invasive ways of helping people in emotional distress," asserts David Oaks, hunger striker and Executive Director of MindFreedom Support Coalition International.

The hunger strikers are subsisting on a liquid-only diet until the American Psychiatric Association (APA), The Surgeon General, and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) adequately respond to seven challenges sent to them. The American Psychiatric Association has sent the Fast for Freedom a response.

A team of 14 mental health academics and practitioners are reviewing the APA response. One, Loren Mosher, MD, former head of schizophrenia studies at the National Institute of Mental Health said, "What we are dealing with here is fashion, politics, and money... I want no part of a psychiatry of oppression and social control."

"The targets of our fast have muddied the waters of mental health for too long," said Mickey Weinberg, hunger striker and MindFreedom board member. "It's time they come clean. They claim science is on their side. We're just saying, 'prove it.'"

MindFreedom International is a Non-Governmental Organization with Consultative Roster Status in the United Nations, and a non-profit that unites 100 sponsor groups to win human rights & alternatives in mental health.


Media Advisory - Fact Sheet

Hunger Strikers Challenge American Psychiatric Association, US Surgeon General, and National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

WHAT: Six MindFreedom International members from throughout the USA have gathered in Pasadena, California and started a fast on August 16, 2003 while awaiting three leading advocates of psychiatry to provide evidence for claims.

Hunger strikers are refusing all solid food while they await responses to seven challenges they have made to leading national advocates of mainstream psychiatry. Hunger strikers seek reliable and valid scientific evidence backing claims about psychiatry, or a public admission by the American Psychiatric Association, the Surgeon General, and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill that the claims do not meet the standards of orthodox science. Responses to the challenge are being reviewed and analyzed for scientific credibility by a panel of mental health academics and practitioners.

WHEN: Began Saturday, August 16, 2003 

WHERE: Ahiah Building; 277 N. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101 USA. Parking available in front of the building.

WHO: Hunger Strikers -- Vince Boehm (Wilmington, DE), Krista Erickson (Chicago, IL), David Gonzalez (New York, NY), David Oaks (Eugene, OR), Romi Sayama (CA), Mickey Weinberg (Pasadena, CA). [Plus solidarity strikers in various locations internationally.]

Review Panelists -- Fred Baughman, MD (CA), Peter Breggin, MD (NY), Mary Boyle, PhD (United Kingdom), David Cohen, PhD (FL), Ty Colbert (CA), Pat Deegan, PhD (MA), Thomas Greening, PhD (CA), Albert Galves, PhD (NM), David Jacobs, PhD (CA), Jay Joseph,PhD (CA), Jonathan Leo, PhD (CA), Bruce Levine, PhD (OH), Loren Mosher, MD (CA), Stuart Shipko, MD (CA).

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Chuck Hughes is a psychiatric survivor activist from Santa Barbara, California.

"I find inspiration and mental support in MindFreedom," says Chuck. "I like associating with like-minded activists for human rights in mental health. When I go into a Board or Commission and say I am a member of MindFreedom International. It gives what I say a lot more validity and my voice carries a lot farther. My first of eight involuntarily institutionalizations was at age 23. I have witnessed much injustice in mental health. I have been involved with the user and survivor movement since 1992. My goal is to help stop forced outpatient psychiatric procedures, seclusion, restraints and other human rights violations, psychiatric abuse and torture. Of particular concern is the elimination of forced electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) on people of all ages."
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