Presenting the consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement

Uploaded by ChangSchool on 13.06.2011

So far we've talked about the politics of language.
We've also talked about the intersection of madness and race, madness and gender,
madness and sexual orientation.
We've also talked about the changing relationship of madness and work.
The next set of modules is about political action,
specifically that action undertaken by people who have or are having
encounters with madness.
A new social movement emerged in the late sixties.
Originally called the "Mental Patients Liberation" movement, it is now commonly
called the "Consumer-Survivor-Ex-Patient" movement.
I've developed a metaphor
to illustrate the different phases of the movement
and the different activities the movement has undertaken
and continues to undertake.
Our metaphor requires a table.
Now that we have our table,
we have to set it.
We're going to put on the table
some of the trends and developments that gave rise to the movement.
After the Second World War,
there was an explosion of self-help activity of all kinds.
The most famous self-help group of course is Alcoholics Anonymous,
but there were many others.
The asylums that were built a hundred years before
were overcrowded and falling down.
So all over North America, asylums began to be closed in a trend called
In the mid-sixties, we started to see evidence
of a counter-culture.
There were a number of liberatory movements that were important:
the civil rights movement,
the gay and lesbian movement, the women's movement,
the student movement.
And movements need an intellectual infrastructure,
and that was provided by people like Thomas Szasz
who said that mental illness did not exist,
R.D. Laing who said that schizophrenia was fun,
Erving Goffman who said that asylums were bad for you,
and Foucault who said that madness was social control and nothing more.
The table is almost set,
but there was the development of psychotropic medication.
The first one was called Thorazine.
When it was introduced in North America in 1954,
experts believed that mental illness would be a thing of the past
by the year 2000.
The table is set.
By the late sixties, psychiatry often meant
forced confinement and forced electro-convulsive therapy.
Survivors wanted to turn the tables.
The members of some groups
wanted to set up alternatives to psychiatry.
What we had was a bed, a pill and a rest.
Activists wanted to change that
so that we had a home, a job,
and a friend.
Some activists wanted to change the system.
They wanted influence on decisions that affected their lives.
They wanted a seat at the table.
"There's David Reville! Maybe it's time to roll up our sleeves!"
For some,
a seat at someone else's table just won't do.
They want tables of their own.
We're the Psychiatric Survivors Of Kingston.
We have our own table, and we have our own agenda.
"...housing, income.... And you, and you...."
Lots of survivors are poor,
that's because they have difficulty getting and keeping jobs.
They decide to set up businesses of their own.
They want to make tables and sell them.
Some survivors actually did build tables and sell them.
Other survivors found other businesses to do.
Many activists want to tell their stories.
They have ideas about how to change things.
They table their critique.
When we tabled our critique,
we used books and pamphlets and other media,
some of us did art shows,
but all of us
wanted the system to change
and we wanted to say "Why?".
Like all social movements, the Consumer- Survivor-Ex-Patient movement is in
constant flux.
Forty years on, things have changed. Some people have moved on,
there've been wins and losses.
There's a lot of interest right now in madness.
Exactly what that interest produces remains to be seen.