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After Arizona: Media Still Ignoring Viewpoint of Mental Health Consumers and Psychiatric Survivors

The horrible attacks on innocent people in Tucson by Jared Lee Loughner has resulted in a flood of media about the topic of mental health. The mainstream media have given a lot of coverage to the views of an organization promoting more forced psychiatric drugs. At the same time the media have largely ignored representatives of groups composed of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors, with very few exceptions.


26 January 2011


Bias By the Numbers: Mass Media Bigotry in Mental Health is Clear


It's been 18 days since the nightmarish shootings in Tucson. 

The numbers are in. 

Please, I hope someone tells us we're wrong. But the data we have proves the bigotry of mainstream media about mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors.

Compare these numbers: 

20 to 2. 

That's a ten-to-one ratio.

Twenty (20): 

Twenty is the number of times some of the largest media outlets in the nation - such as CBS, CNN, New York Times, Reuters, USA Today - have quoted or based pieces on Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) supporters, including TAC board members and their extremist director psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey. 

That is about one major media quote every day.

TAC's single-minded, simplistic focus is on vastly increasing the use of forced psychiatric drugging, including on an outpatient basis (though the controversial practice was already legal in Arizona, as it is in most states). 

Apparently corporate media likes single-minded, simplistic solutions. For TAC's media list click here.

Two (2): 

Two is the number of times - as far as we know - that a representative of a mental health consumer/psychiatric survivor organization has been quoted in mainstream media about these mental health controversies. 

That's twice, or about once every 10 days since the Arizona shooting. If you've heard of others, let us know at

We're not saying these two examples speak for our whole movement, but at least they put a human face on people with psychiatric disabilities, who are being demonized as never before.


Boston Globe, 13 January: A columnist did quote one of the founders of NCMHR, psychiatrist Dan Fisher, here.

National Public Radio, 24 January: Joseph Rogers was included in a piece about Arizona and forced mental health care, which also included an individual promoting more forced psychiatry, here.

Let's Learn From This


Mainstream media is carrying one side of the forced psychiatric drugging debate. This debate is about our lives and our liberty. 

January 2011 should be the month that our social change movement wakes up and realizes that the psychiatric industry is not the only corporate offender in the mental health field: 

Mainstream media itself is a significant part of a mental health crisis we face in the USA.

ACTION: Speak out! 


Write letters and guest columns to your local newspaper about this media bias.

And remember: In 2011, each and every one of us is our own media, especially by using the Internet. Use your own media to speak out about media bias!

Because of the web, mainstream news media are struggling economically to even hire enough reporters, which is one reason editors act as cheerleaders for pre-digested news releases by extremist organizations promoting bumper-sticker agendas. 

But the media have handed us our own laser-focused sound bite, and this one is true:

Nothing About Us Without Us!

Other comments on MindFreedom web site about post-Arizona media bias about mental health:


Martin Luther King Day MindFreedom article about media bias.

Martin Luther King Day blog entry by David Oaks.

22 January Oaks blog entry on media pushing forced drugging.

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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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