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My Comment to The Huffington Post about Bias in Mental Health

The Huffington Post once more is turning their blog over to an extremist attack on the human rights of people in mental health, while not giving a voice to organizations of, by and for mental health consumers. Here's my comment I submitted to The Huffington Post on 1 Oct. [Update 5 Oct. 2010]

 

Update 3: The Huffington Post has closed the comments section on the offensive Jaffe blog entry attacking Alternatives 2010. But you can use the updated alert here to make a civil but strong comments to their editors. A second comment by David Oaks was approved by The Huffington Post on 2 October, and appears on their blog, and can be ready here.

Update 2: Emerging from the dialogue on his blog, it turns out Jaffe's main point is about what he believes should be "politically correct" language about us. Organizers of Alternatives 2010, reflecting the thought of many mental health consumer and psychiatric survivor groups and leaders, are finding other language for ourselves more inclusive of our diversity, than the phrase "mentally ill." In a bullying way, Jaffe is mainly wanting to tell us what to call ourselves. I have a long-standing essay on the language debate called "Let's Stop Saying Mental Illness."

Update 1: The post submitted on Friday, 1 October 2010 by David Oaks to The Huffington Post dialogue about D. J. Jaffe's blog, has still not been approved by their editors as of Saturday morning, 2 October. 

Links:

To MindFreedom news article about The Huffington Post controversy.

To previous blog entry with live coverage of Alternatives 2010.

 

Say It Ain't So Arianna!

 

Years ago, Arianna Huffington used to be a fighter for human rights in mental health. Why doesn't she understand the disability motto, "Nothing About Us Without Us?"

As reported by MindFreedom International, The Huffington Post has run an attack by extremist anti-human rights advocate D. J. Jaffe, against the Alternatives 2010 conference community.

You can read about the controversy here.

At BOTTOM is my own comment I've submitted to the growing debate on Jaffe's blog. But even more important, you are encouraged to contact The Huffington Post itself and ask for them to end their bias in selecting mental health stories. Send a civil but strong comment via their web site here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/contact/

And here's my submission to the dialogue following Jaffe's blog entry:

Unfortunately, the editors of The Huffington Post illustrate the immense level of discrimination faced by people diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities. Huffington is supposed to be a friend of marginalized citizens. But instead of finding a voice from organizations of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors, The Huffington Post once more runs hate speech from one of the most notorious opponents of human rights in mental health, D. J. Jaffe. 

Can you imagine The Huffington Post covering gay/lesbian, labor or immigrant issues by consistently excluding any voice from actual groups of those constituencies, but giving frequent coverage to extremist opponents of those constituencies? What's especially disappointing, is that Ms. Huffington herself used to have a solid reputation of caring about social change in mental health. What happened?

This is my 34th year working as a community organizer of, by and for people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. I myself was diagnosed schizophrenic, bipolar and clinically depressed. I experienced the kind of forced psychiatric drugging that Mr. Jaffe promotes in his single-minded chemical crusade. No doubt, Mr. Jaffe's response will be to claim I was "misdiagnosed." 

But what about Mr. Jaffe's own firm grip on reality? I've attended many of these Alternatives conferences. I'm here at this year's. Rather than "shunning" those diagnosed as mentally ill, there are 1,000 strong of us here. There's near universal revulsion by our constituency's groups against authoritarian agendas like those of D. J. Jaffe's.


The next day after I submitted the above to The Huffington Post dialogue on Jaffe's blog, it still has not been approved to appear. Maybe it's because it's the weekend. In any case, below is a new post I've submitted:

 

Last night, 1 Oct., I posted a civil but strong comment here about the D. J. Jaffe biased report about Alternatives 2010. It's the next day, but it still has not appeared on this blog. Perhaps it's a technical problem. Those interested can easily find my submission by googling the following words -- My Comment to The Huffington Post about Bias in Mental Health. It's the very first link. I direct MindFreedom International, which for 24 years has been one of the main independent coalitions in mental health human rights. I hope my post to The Huffington Post will eventually be approved here.

 

We have addressed media bias for years, but it would be sad to have a campaign focusing on media bias by a blog that one would think would support the voice of groups representing marginalized constituencies.

 

It's ironic that the last significant conference I attended on mental health (the "PsychOut" conference in Toronto) also had only one media piece covering it, and that was off-the-charts hatefully biased coverage. You can find that by googling the words -- psychout media bias.

 

It would be tragic indeed if a web site founded about social change, censors comments by those who are from groups on the receiving end of its negative and biased reporting. Forced drugging could not silence our voice. Forced electroshock could not silence our voice. And bias in the media can no longer silence us...

 

David Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International

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Harry Bentivegna Lichtenstein of New York

Harry is a MindFreedom Member and coordinator of MindFreedom NYC affiliate. He is a New York City poet, runner, health enthusiast, teacher, and employee of Gary Null & Associates in Manhattan. He received his MS from Howard University, Washington, DC and BA from Hunter College, CUNY.
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