Alternative Psychiatry and Patients Rights Collection
Alternative Psychiatry and Patients Rights Collection
This collection brings together a small number of rare zines, pamphlets, and writings from activist patients' groups that coalesced in the early to mid 1970s. In-part arising from and influenced by late 1960s activism, civil rights, and anti-war movements, these patients groups formed to combat the terrible conditions of mental hospitals in the United States and Britain during the 1970s, as well as the general lack of rights for committed persons.
Groups like EPOC, Mental Health Patients' Union, and Berkeley Radical Psychiatry formed peer-therapy groups, founded collective living situations, and published critical theory and practical guides for patients.
Part of a larger movement of anti-psychiatry and alternative psychiatry influenced by the philosophies of Wilhelm Reich, Jacques Lacan, and RD Laing, as well as alternative therapy communities like the La Borde clinic in France, SPK in Germany, Kingsley Hall in Philadelphia, these activists attempted to seize the means of control and treatment, and through peer support and experimentation, to demand for themselves rights which had often been denied to them.
By Anita Friedman
IRT (Issues in Radical Therapy) Reprints, [date unknown]. Reprinted from Issues in Radical Therapy, Vol. 1, no. 1, Winter 1972-1973). Stapled Pamphlet. 8vo. Some yellowing commensurate with age, otherwise very good. Price written in pen in upper corner.
A pamphlet written for those interested in information and training on radical psychiatry. Written by Anita Friedman, an individual who circulated around the Berkeley Radical Psychiatry Center, it explains some of the principles of training, including working cooperatively, fostering self-awareness, self-evaluation, and self-criticism. “Paranoia is heightened awareness,” states one of the slogans in these pages, and the Radical therapists at the Berkeley center sought to reclaim terms of illness and disorder for patients, thereby empowering them towards self-treatment.
Castles in the Air: A critique of the recent government white paper ‘better services for the mentally ill” October 1975. (EPOC Pamphlet #2)
London: EPOC Collective, 1976. Stapled pamphlet. 55pp. 8vo. Good with mild rubbing and staining to boards. Open tear to back cover.
A chapter by chapter critique of the government “white paper” report on “Better Service for the Mentally Ill.” Influenced by Wilhelm Reich, R.D. Laing, and David Cooper, EPOC advocated the autonomy of patients and a critique of a repressive medical system. “There is no true cure for mental ill health in a sick society,” they insisted, in order to heal society itself must change, and people must explore alternative forms of living and dealing with mental illness. Includes a directory listing radical mental health organizations.
How to Cope with Mental Health Act 1959: A practical survival manual. (EPOC Pamphlet #1)
London: EPOC Collective, 1975. Stapled pamphlet. 31 pp. 8vo. Mild rubbing and stains to wrappers, nevertheless in good condition.
This pamphlet details the Mental Health Act of 1959 which allowed for those suffering from mental illnesses to be seized and held against their will, medicated, and committed. This pamphlet advocates for patient rights and outlines strategies and methods for evading involuntary commission as well as how to survive and be released (or escape) should one be committed.
While for “legal reasons (only)” EPOC states “we do not encourage people to break the law” sections are included on what to do if one should escape from prison and what your legal rights in that scenario are, as well as how to evade taking drugs while committed, and a glossary of drugs often administered to patients. EPOC, while deeply critical of the idea of how sickness was handled institutionally, was pragmatic about real suffering and mental illness: “if a friend is too disturbed to handle” they write, “get them to someone who can help…don’t get caught up on the rhetoric we-should-all-be-able-to-take-care-of-one-another. Sometimes we simply can’t. Then it is good to know what your options are.” This pamphlet, like all their publications, was free for mental patients.
The Fear of Madness and The Madness of Fear & Self-Hate
By Patrick Schofield and Madeleine Francis.
London: Madeleine Francis, 1972. Stampled pamphlet in yellow wraps. 20pp. Good, with evidence of dog-eared wraps and some mild staining,
From the introduction:
“This pamphlet has been printed because someone died. The two essays in it are related mainly by the fact that they were written by two people fighting for their lives.
The first, ‘The Fear of Madness and The Madness of Fear’ is the work of a brilliant young writer who found himself unable to survive sanely in an insane world. It concerns his experiences in a Yorkshire mental hospital. On 7th August, 1972, he fell to his death from the cliff-tops at Ramsgate, convinced he had made a failure of his life.
The second essay on ‘self-hate’ was written by me partly in commemoration of what he lived and died for, and partly to try to reach and give hope to others who feel misunderstood amidst the sickness we have all been taught to see as ‘normality’”.
A detailed testimony and critique of life in a Yorkshire mental hospital in the 1970s, concerning the psychology of the staff, the patients, and doctors. Evidence of the mutual subjugation and sickness bred by a vastly unjust system, both to the confined and the captor. The second essay follows up on this testimony, advocating for a radical acceptance of self-hate rather than an attempt at combating it. Self-hate, the author argues, must be, paradoxically, befriended.
MPUnews (Mental Patients Union) #3
By The Mental Patients Union
London: Mental Patients Union, 1974. Folded pamphlet in wraps. Moderate staining to the wraps and first two pages, as well as yellowing commensurate with age throughout, otherwise good. Includes as center spread a double page poster.
The mental patients union was a grassroots mental health advocacy group made up of mental patients and their allies which arose in the London experimental therapeutic community, Paddington. An important document in the history of radical treatment and response to mental illness, and an important precursor to the Mental Health Survivors Network. Like similar experiments such as Oak Ridge in Philadelphia where patients were famously given LSD, or La Borde, its mixture of idealism, radical empowerment and innovative therapeutic techniques, (while not always successful) symbolized a profound epistemic break in the thinking about madness in western society.
Heavy Daze no. 1
By EPOC Collective
London: EPOC Collective, [date unknown]. Offset. Stapled in wraps. 4to. 47 pp. Some closed tears repaired with tape. Edgewear to fore edge, as well as mild yellowing and staining, nonetheless, in good condition.
Heavy Daze was a magazine produced by EPOC, formerly COPE (Community Organization of Psychiatric Emergencies), and later PROMPT (Promotion for the rights of mental patients in treatment) and finally CAPO (Campaign against psychiatric oppression). COPE was an organization founded by Eric Irwin, one of the key organizers of the Mental Patients Union, who had left the group due to frustration at its increasing bureaucracy. Heavy Days, created once COPE had transitioned to EPOC, featured comics, illustrations, and articles on topics like “Do-it-yourself co-counseling” and “how to deal with suicide attempts.”
Heavy Daze no. 6
London: EPOC Collective [date unknown]. Offset. Stapled in wraps. 4to. 30 pp. Slight dampstaining to the bottom of pages. Mild edgewear and bumping, nevertheless in good condition.
This issue of Heavy Daze features a review of Peter Reich’s Book of Dreams, a discussion of primal scream therapy, an article on Reich and orgone energy by Bill West, correspondence, fiction, comics and more.
Mental Patients liberation Project’s Bill of Rights
By the Mental Patients Liberation Project
New York: Mental Patients Liberation Project, 1971. Flier and manifesto printed on recto and verso. 8.5 x 11 in. Evidence of past folding both vertically and horizontally, though not very noticeable. Small close tear to edge where its been horizontally folded, otherwise very good condition.
A foundational text in the patient’s rights movement, the bill of rights was drafted by members of the Mental Patients’ liberation project in New York, which along with the Boston based Mental Health Liberation Front and Portland centered Insane Liberation Front were early pioneers in fighting the abuses perpetrated against mental patients, who in the early 1970s had little protection once institutionalized.
The bill of rights is as follows:
1. You are a human being and are entitled to be treated as such with as much decency and respect as is accorded to any other human being.
2. You are an American citizen and are entitled to every right established by the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America.
3. You have the right to the integrity of your own mind and the integrity of your own body.
4 . Treatment and medication Could be administered only with your consent. You have the right to demand to know all relevant information regarding said treatment and/or medication.
5. You have the right to have access to your own legal and medical counsel.
6. You have the right to refuse to work in a mental hospital and/or to choose what work you shall do and have the right to receive the minimum wage for such work as is set by the state labor laws.
7. You have the right to decent medical attention when you feel you need it just as any other human being has that right.
8. You have the right to uncensored communication by phone, letter and in person with whomever you wish.
9. You have the right not to be treated like a criminal, not to be locked up against your will, not to be committed involuntarily and not to be fingerprinted or mugged (photographed).
10. You have the right to decent living conditions.
11. You have the right to retain your own personal property.
12. You have the right to bring grievances against those who have mistreated you and the right to counsel and a court hearing and you are entitled to protection by the law against retaliation.
13. You have the right to refuse to be a guinea pig for experimental drugs and treatments and to refuse to be used as learning material for students.
14. You have the right to request an alternative to legal commitment or incarceration in a mental hospital.
Jailers of the People
By Mental Patients Political Action Committee and member Tony Colletti
Folded 1-sheet pamphlet in very good condition. 4to (8.5 x 11). Damp staining across the bottom. (2 copies, second without dampstaining, though significantly more yellowing.)
Letter to mental patients from the Mental Patients Politcal Action Committee and essay regarding their policies. “We of the Mental Patient’s Political Action Committee declare a state of insurrection against Institution Psychiatry. We do not demand its reform; we demand no less than its abolition.” Also included is a bill of rights for patients and those suffering from mental illness (not the same as the Bill of Rights of the Mental Patients’ Liberation Project).
Come to a meeting: Work à Depression = Fairield.
South Wales: Social Work Alternatives Project, [date unknown]. Mimeo. One sheet 8.5 x 11. Condition: good with some yellowing and closed tears, folds, and edgewear.
Flier for a meeting with information about ECT or Electro-Convulsive therapy. Explains what ECT is and what your rights are as a patient should you be confronted with this therapy. On verso is a comic which explores the aftermath of a patient treated with ECT following his release from the hospital.
Everyday Death in The Mad House
[Oxford?]: [Clive …?], [Date unknown, probably early 1970s, written prior or contemporaneous with the founding of COPE].
An examination of class as it plays out in mental illness, arguing that the hospital is a means of the ruling class to subjugate members of the working class, who, as a natural reaction the overbearing structures of power that oppress them, express their revolt in behavior that deviates from the norm, or find recourse in losing themselves in worlds of the imagination and fantasy.
“It is not surprising, for instance,” writes the author of the tract “that so many working class women; suffering continually under the strain of being trapped within an institution called the ‘family’…often in poor and cramped housing, or pigeon holed in tower blocks of flats; and, often having to work at low paid jobs as well as caring for (or being slaves to) children and husbands, should at some point react against this intolerable situation. Being isolated individuals and in no position, as yet, to fight collectively their oppression within the family and in the work situation, many of them ‘crack up’ and are admitted to mental hospitals where they are subjected to a process which regards them as ‘sick’ rather than seeing their so-called ‘illness’ as a legitimate, if desperate, response to a sick and intolerable situation.”
This pamphlet, an influence on people like Eric Irwin of EPOC, was written by a man whose first name was Clive and was located in Oxford; information on him is scarce, and the pamphlet is exceedingly rare, though quite influential for patients’ groups in England.