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David Oaks says: SPEAK UP! FIGHT INJUSTICE! 06/10/2013

Posted by ALT in Activism, Quotes, Survivor Voices.
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Damn, I’m inspired.

David Oaks, co-founder and former executive director of MindFreedom International, is a leader and a visionary. After experiencing forced drugging and solitary confinement in the mental health system as a young man, he’s devoted his life to fighting against stigmatizing psychiatric labels, forced drugging, and human rights abuses. He led the 2003 MindFreedom Hunger Strike/Fast For Freedom where 6 psychiatric survivors fasted for weeks, challenging the American Psychiatric Association to provide solid evidence for the biological basis of mental/emotional distress. Despite an unbelievably COLD initial response from the APA, the strikers did not give up, and the APA was ultimately forced to admit that it had no scientific evidence that mental distress was a “neurobiological illness.”

He’s spearheaded numerous MindFreedom Shield campaigns to stop the forced drugging/electroshock of human beings who had NOT given their consent. This includes an extremely public campaign on behalf of Ray Sanford, which significantly increased public awareness of the unfortunately very real phenomenon of forced electroshock.

David Oaks: Psychiatric survivor, activist, and HUMAN BEING!

David Oaks: Psychiatric survivor, activist, and HUMAN BEING!

David has never held back – he’s told his story of psychiatric survival, activism, and EMPOWERMENT on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, on YouTube, and in numerous articles and publications (I especially recommend this one). I know I’m not alone in looking to him as an INSPIRATION, and a leader in the struggle for human rights in mental health care.

Which is why I was so saddened to hear of David’s terrible accident back in December of 2012 – a break of the C7 bone in his neck. He’s now paralyzed, a quadriplegic.

But as Saturday’s MindFreedom Radio broadcast shows, he’s still the same David. Still an activist, still a SPIRTUAL GIANT!

Here are some of the amazing things he had to say…

On being a quadriplegic:

We all have a disaster or catastrophe in our lives; we all die. So, how do you prepare for that? For many decades, I have been in this movement, a social change movement, lead by survivors of the psychiatric system. So I have been preparing a long time…

When this happened, I heard from people all over the world who were very supportive. So, I feel those values of empowerment and support and activism have helped me. How do we react? How do we react? My way of reacting – I tried, from the start, to put a positive light on the resistance. Martin Luther King talked about creative maladjustment. So obviously it’s no fun to be paralyzed. But, how do we be creative about that?

—David Oaks, in this interview

On the importance of activism and living in the moment:

You watch DVDs for adventure. LIVE your adventure! Get in front of these monstrosities. Be peaceful – IT’S HARD – and speak up! There’s nothing like it. Live. LIVE.

Like when I swam in a mountain lake. Ice cold. I was ALIVE, right? So, you can be alive; speak up! Speak up! Write your letter to the editor. Now. Speak up to Congress. Protest….

Hey, guess what, everybody? 100 years from now we are ALL very disabled. Because, guess what? We’re MORTAL. We will all die. So, get your body geared NOW to speak up. Tell people you love that you love them! Speak up about injustice. NOW. TODAY.

—David Oaks

Watch the full interview here:

AND, let’s get busy people. Let’s do exactly what he said – speak up. Now; TODAY!

[Also – I understand that David and his family are currently in need of support as they try to establish the means for David to live independently. Learn more about how you can help at: www.supportdavidoaks.org]

Demonizing the unconscious is a mistake! — thoughts from Jung 02/03/2012

Posted by ALT in Philosophy/Spirituality, Quotes.
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From Carl Jung’s Modern Man In Search of A Soul:

“People [have made] a very dangerous monster out of the unconscious, that really very natural thing.  As if all that is good, reasonable, beautiful and worth living for had taken up its abode in consciousness!  Have the horros of the World War really not opened our eyes?  Are we still unable to see that man’s conscious mind is even more devilish and perverse than the unconscious?

The unconscious is not a demonic monster, but a thing of nature that is perfectly neutral as far as moral sense, aesthetic taste and intellectual judgement go.  It is dangerous only when our conscious attitude towards it becomes hopelessly false.  And this danger grows in the measure that we practice repressions.

But as soon as the patient begins to assimilate the contents that were previously unconscious, the danger from the side of the unconscious diminishes.  As the process of assimilation goes on, it puts an end to the dissociation of the presonality and to the anxiety that attends and inspires the separation of the two realms of the psyche…

The unconscious itself does not harbour explosive materials, but it may become explosive owing to the repressions exercised by a self-sufficient, or cowardly, conscious outlook.”

[emphasis added]

It is so easy to fear the unconscious.  That’s where our Shadow hides, after all.  All those nasty things we don’t want to know about ourselves and instead would prefer to project onto others.   It’s worth noting that the Shadow has a positive aspect, too — the unrealized creative potential that waits inside of us.  If we demonize the unconscious, we demonize this as well.   [check out this article for more on integrating/relating to both negative and positive aspects of the Shadow] 

Just like the Cartesian split between mind and body, a split in the psyche between conscious and unconscious can have disastrous consequences, and it simply is not sustainable in the long run.  Sooner or later, your being will alert you to the fact that it is what it is — not what you want it to be or what you’ve been told it should be.  It is what it is.

I truly believe that the key to wellness is integration.  Breaking down the barriers that our conditioning has constructed, and accepting ourselves as whole people, human beings with a continuity of existence inside us that cannot be compartmentalized. 

This brings us to another concept Jung mentions in the book that I really like:

The psyche is a self-regulating system that maintains itself in equilibrium as the body does.  Each process that goes too far immediately and inevitably calls forth a compensatory activity… The relation between conscious and unconscious is compensatory.

In other words homeostasis exists in both body and mind (or in the mind-body… as those of us who oppose the Cartesian split like to say!).


The artwork in this post is by Joseph Stella, an Italian immigrant to New York City who painted industrial America of the early 20th century.  To me it speaks very strongly of the split created by modern, industrialized, urban life, and the bridges we must build ourselves over such divides.

And that just goes to show the subjective nature of the interpretation of art!

Turning suffering into healing 03/25/2011

Posted by ALT in Philosophy/Spirituality, Quotes.
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“Violence has an energy to it.  Some Traditional beliefs have it that violence is actually a spirit.  Spirit can move from place to place and even across the generations.  You know, unless someone with “medicine” does something about it… 

If you can see how violence or anger were passed down to you from previous generations, that puts you in a very powerful place.  You can heal your great grandparents, your parents, and all the way up the line.  You also can heal all of your children and their children by healing yourself.  You see, this is the only place that the ancestors can heal their soul wound.  They didn’t have the opportunity to heal when they were alive, so the energy of the anger was passed on down.  Now that you understand, you can bring a lot of “medicine” to your family…

 This is an existential moment for the patient in which his personal anger and sadness are given a special power to heal what means the most to him.  Therefore, we are turning suffering into healing… ”

(Eduardo Duran, Healing the Soul Wound)

On Subjectivity 03/20/2011

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No, it’s impossible; it’s impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence — that which makes its truth, its meaning — its subtle and penetrating existence.  We live as we dream — alone…

(Josef Conrad, Heart of Darkness)


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