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You are here: Home Knowledge Base Disability The link between the "mad movement" and the cross-disability movement is crucial.

The link between the "mad movement" and the cross-disability movement is crucial.

The psychiatric survivor/mental health consumer movement -- also known as 'mad movement' -- accelerated in the early 1970's at about the same time as the general cross-disability movement that addresses concerns of all people who end up with some type of disability label.


The social change movement led by psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers entered a new era of growth in the early 1970's, at about the same time people diagnosed with physical disabilities were also holding protests and gaining more basic rights.

The intersection between all movements is important.

However, because of pioneer work by activists such as Justin Dart and Rae Unzicker, the intersection between what is sometimes affectionately called the "mad" movement and "crip" movement is an especially crucial one.

The cross-disability movement has a rainbow approach, to include all those who are given a disability label. In fact, some have named it the movement of the "dis-labeled." A challenge is questioning the domination of what is considered "normal."

It's a complicated intersection, but for clarity just look for the banner of "freedom," and keep your eyes on the prize.

If you accept your diagnosis of a disability, and see this is traditional medical terms, you are welcome in both movements. If you  totally reject your label of disabled, as gay and lesbian people did when they successfully removed their direct label from the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, you are also welcome. We all unite under the banner of freedom.

MindFreedom director David Oaks, who also has a physical disability (related to ankylosing spondylitis) has written a brief essay about this intersection, published by a disability liberation web site, and you may find a link to the article by clicking "related content."

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Jay Mahler

Jay is a survivor of forced electroshock who spent ten years in the mental health system. He is now a widely respected leader in California, where he founded Mental Health Consumer Concerns and the California Network of Mental Health Clients. Jay is pictured here at a MindFreedom strategy conference at Highlander. (Photo by Tom Olin.)
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