Lecture 5: Mad History
Patient Radical (1960-1970) Conservative Identity
Ex-Patients were the first in the movement because they were later considered to no
longer be patients
Survivor of the psychiatry system
Consumer of Mental Health Services: grew out of the survivor movement and to turn the
system into something that would be better for the patients by getting professionals on
Timeline 1: Lunatic Inmates
People considered mad have been fighting oppression from at least the 1400s. Here are some
examples from English speaking countries.
1430s: Margery Kempe, first English autobiographical writer (U.K.)
o The experience for her was spiritual and was not heard from again until 1800s
when her autobiography was found
1750s: Alexander Cruden, religious writer and protester (U.K.)
o Wrote on version of bible
o Protested against the madness trade: families who said they would care for the
unwell of other families, but really just put them in the basement
o Alienists: taken over from mad doctors and taking over psychiatry
o Psychiatry attempted to become a medical help system
1840s: John Perceval, gentleman activist (Alleged Lunatics Friends‟ Society, U.K.)
o Psychiatry and institutionalism officially began
o Institutions became hospitals
1860s: Elizabeth Packard, activist for rights of women and inmates (Anti Insane Asylum
o Was against the psychiatry system as it abused the inmates
o Elizabeth Stone, activist for rights of women and inmates (U.S.)
1910s: Clifford Beers, activist against force (National Committee on Mental Hygiene,
o Activist against forced treatment
o Mental Hygiene: get rid of mental illness/madness anyway possible, even through
Timeline 2: Mental Patients
Patient-only groups started forming in the 1940s. Here are some well-known examples from the
U.S. and Canada.
Moved towards talk therapy/ life story (Freud), then biological in 1930s because they
want to be known as a medical therapy (i.e. fact based) rather than just talk therapy
Big-pharma gain ground in the psychiatry field
o Women were given Valium for their distress
o Big hope was to move away from talk therapy
Anti-psychiatry came (R.D. Lang)
o Tried to free mental patients and help them realize own strengths
o Thought that those refuse their medicine were anti-psychiatry but not Patients taking power over their own lives to help them get better service and treatment
o Psychiatry locks them up and holds them against their will while using destructive
treatment, making them survivors
1968: We Shall Overcome: Norway.
1970: Insane Liberation Front: Portland, Oregon
1971: Mental Patients Association, Vancouver, BC
o Became a self-help movement to help with practical issues such as food and
o Mental Patients Liberation Project, New York
o Mental Patients Liberation Front, Boston
1972: National Network Against Psychiatric Assault, San Francisco
o Got to ban electric shock before it got reinstated again
1974: On Our Own, Toronto, Ontario
(Don Weitz, David Reville– Reville used to teach the course)
Timeline 3: Psychiatric Survivors
By the mid-1970s, ex-patients started calling themselves psychiatric survivors. They
started conferencing and editing newsletters.
1973 – 1985: “Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression”
o Started at University of Detroit (sponsored by a progressive professor who
suggested the name, “Rights of the mentally disabled”, which ex-patients
Made them sound like they were dysfunctional or had a problem
o By 1976, this conference was run by ex-patients only.
o Survivors distinguished themselves from antipsychiatry activists (who were
usually academics and progressive professionals).
o 1973: Madness Network News. Based in San Francisco (published by NNAPA).
o By 1976 run by ex-patients only.
1980 – 1988: Pheonix Rising Magazine, Toronto. See:
Psychiatric Survivors consider psychiatry not so much a medical specialty as a form of
eugenic control using destructive biological interventions that damage the brain (as a way
of repressing behaviour), shorten life spans, and prevent reproduction through therapeutic
and legal constraints.
Psychiatric survivors have survived or are trying to survive (and may fail) by raising the
status of mental patients in society, protesting their treatments, and proving that people in
distress can be rational, caring, and “normal” in any way.
Psychiatric survivors may be using psychiatric treatments either because they want to
avoid withdrawal or they have no other way of dealing with distress for a time. They do
not believe these treatments directly reduce distress but indirectly reduce sensitivity to
Psychiatric survivors do not identify as “mentally ill” (“schizophrenic,” “manic
depressive,” “bipolar,” etc.) except to negotiate for rights, privileges, and status. Some psychiatric survivors use the term “survivor” to mean anyone who has been given
mental health treatment because of the negative possibilities of such treatment over time.
Survivor Groups in the 1970’s
Judi Chamberlin‟s article notes:
All groups independently run, grassroots based.