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June 24, 2001 News of the Week

(See below for more about this topic)

The Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) has issued a new Briefing Paper. Its title is, "How Many Homicides Per Year Are Committed By Individuals with Severe Psychiatric Disorders?" Homicide is a prominent theme in TAC's campaign to expand court-ordered psychotropic medication.

For years, TAC has plied the public with virtually baseless homicide numbers. The new Briefing Paper continues to promote TAC's convictions and assumptions about homicide using nebulous numbers, quoting selective studies, and misusing information from research done by others. Some material in the paper is new, however.

For the first time, TAC admits to using estimates on "violent crime" to arrive at an estimate of "homicides." Using this logic, if an identified group is said to commit 2% of the nation's violent crimes, TAC assumes the same group commits 2% of the nation's homicides. This frees TAC from needing data (currently unavailable) about the actual number of homicides committed by whatever group they say requires court-ordered psychiatric medication.

In another oddity, TAC lists European homicide studies despite vastly different homicide patterns in Europe. It is misleading to suggest that European data applies to the U.S.

TAC has expanded its focus from "people with untreated schizophrenia and manic-depression" (estimated at 1.4 million people) to a much larger category: "individuals with severe psychiatric disorders." We need to know if this newly-created group includes people with antisocial personality disorders, which are generally ranked higher than other psychiatric conditions in violence-risk studies and are considered unresponsive to medication. The public should know if "psychopathic" personality disorder is part of TAC's new group.

Also new, the paper acknowledges that alcohol and other drugs contribute to the majority of homicides committed by people with psychiatric diagnoses. This may mean that TAC will address the nation's dire need for integrated mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

The Briefing Paper says studies "suggest" (!) that in "almost all" homicides attributable to individuals with severe psychiatric disorders, the individuals who committed these homicides were not taking medication for their illness at the time. Readers should note that this is another TAC "guesstimate," and is unsubstantiated.

TAC's struggle with math continues (4.3% is not 0.43, but 0.043). A pleasant surprise: the paper drops an earlier TAC statement about "untreated" mental illnesses. TAC had wrongly reported that a 1994 Justice Department analysis of 1988 homicides, "Murder in Families," referred to untreated mental illnesses in their analysis of homicide, when in fact the report made no reference to diagnosis or to treatment status.

  • CLICK!/Index.htm For the new TAC Briefing Paper, "How Many Homicides Per Year Are Committed By Individuals With Severe Psychiatric Disorders?"

  • CLICK For a related article, "Mindless and Deadly: Media Hype on Mental Illness and Violence."

  • CLICK For National Stigma Clearinghouse Archives on Involuntary Outpatient Commitment

  • For more about TAC's nebulous numbers, ask for "Just The Facts, Please." E-mail your request, with your mailing address, to (This 1-page leaflet has a chart and cannot be posted on Webtv.)

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    June 17, 2001 News of the Week


  • The Chicago Consortium for Stigma Research has launched a new site that surely will become pivotal for mental health policymakers, advocates, scholars, members of the press, and the concerned public. CLICK for information about past, present, and future research by the Chicago Consortium on stigmatizing attitudes and discriminatory behavior.

  • Angela D. Vickers, Esq., a lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida, is determined to educate the legal profession about mental illnesses, beginning with law school curricula. Her success has been impressive, and her new web site is bound to spread her important message beyond Florida's borders. CLICK

  • David Gonzalez, a mental health survivor/activist in New York, is continuing to develop his 6-month-old web site, SeeCineMania. David encourages site visitors to air their views about stereotyping in the media. He has provided an easy-to-use message board that welcomes interaction from everyone, including visitors from the entertainment industry. CLICK
  • June 10, 2001 - News of the Week


    GO TO for "MINDLESS AND DEADLY: Media Hype on Mental Illness and Violence," by Phyllis Vine

    The article appeared in EXTRA!, May/June 2001, a magazine ofFAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) website ( >

    June 3, 2001 <"#03june01"> News of the Week


    Wonderful news appeared in a New York Times column ("Boldface Names,"June 7) announcing the remarriange of Alicia Nash and John Forbes Nash, Jr., mending the couple's divorce of 1963.

    The columnist struck a sour note, however, when he said that Dr. Nash had had the "life of a mathematician, schizophrenic, and Nobel Prize winner." With rare exceptions, people are not labeled by their illnesses. (Try calling someone a "cardiac" or an "alzheimer.")

    Using psychiatric diagnoses to label individuals (`"a schizophrenic," "a depressive," etc.) ignores 98 percent of the person in a dehumanizing way. Furthermore, the public knows so little about schizophrenia that using the word without explanation simply adds confusion.

    Dr. Jeffrey L. Geller argues against naming people by diagnosis in "Ain't No Such Thing as a Schizophrenic," a short commentary in the June issue of Psychiatric Services. Though intended for psychiatrists, the article could be useful to anyone to enclose when writing letters about prejudicial language. (For a copy, E-mail Remember to give us your mailing address.)

    A footnote: Mental health advocates will recall that it was a New York Times correspondent, Sylvia Nasar, who first told the Nashes' story in the Times's Business Section in 1994. Later, Ms. Nasar expanded the story into a book, "A Beautiful Mind," which is now becoming a movie starring Russell Crowe as John Forbes Nash, Jr. and Jennifer Connelly as Alicia Nash.

    For the Times item about John and Alicia Nash, Click , then scroll down to "The Second Time Around."

    In writing to the Times, your letter should go to both Joseph Lelyveld, Executive Editor, and James Barron, Columnist. Here's the address.

    The New York Times
    229 West 43rd Street
    New York, NY 10036-3959

    May 13, 2001 - News of the Week


    This news item has been moved to Positive Visibility Postings. Please CLICK below...

    May 6, 2001 - News of the Week

    LANGUAGE MATTERS: A Preferred Language Project

    Last September, the newly-formed National Advisory Council Subcommittee on Consumer/Survivor Issues, a committee of the National Advisory Council to the federal Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), introduced a resolution asking the full council to endorse the use of the phrase "discrimination and stigma" rather than "stigma" alone. That this was among the Subcommittee's first official acts underscores its concern that words can convey an unintended point of view.

    Advancing the Subcommittee's concern a step further, "WORDS MATTER" is a preferred-language project conceived by Harold Maio and Sylvia Caras at the "Spring To Action" conference in Baltimore in March. "WORDS MATTER" is an important step in shifting vocabulary closer to reality and away from judgmental cliches. It focuses attention on words and phrases whose prejudical impact are often overlooked.

    After re-examining terms we use from habit, members of the mental health community will be prepared spread this knowledge to broader audiences.

    "WORDS MATTER" is posted on Harold Maio ( and Sylvia Caras ( welcome all suggestions, comments, and discussion.

    April 22, 2001 - News of the Week


    The article below came to us via "Mental Health E-News," a service of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS).

    Even After Recovery, Stigma Of Schizophrenia Remains
    , April 19, 2001

    Nina Wouk's early childhood was marked by trouble in school, anxiety attacks and hallucinations. Things got worse in her teens when she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and sent to mental hospitals, where she spent years "totally numb" from the effects of powerful drugs.

    Her symptoms gradually abated, and, with great difficulty, she weaned herself from medications. By her late 20s, Wouk began picking up the pieces of her life, though the label of ex-mental patient hampered her efforts: Employers were reluctant to give her a chance, and health-insurance companies wouldn't offer coverage.
    Today she is a self-described "twitchy" person, with a nervousness that may have resulted from years of taking antipsychotic medications. But the 51-year-old Menlo Park, Calif., woman works in an occupation that is the very symbol of the clearheaded, organized personality that eluded her in her youth: She's an accountant. She also owns a home and has been in a stable relationship for 22 years.

    "I am not a crazed killer," she says. "In fact, I'm highly typical" of recovered schizophrenics.
    Extensive research conducted in this country and abroad indicates that Wouk is right: The stereotypical tortured souls who wander the streets responding to voices only they can hear are the exception, not the norm.
    With the right treatment, more than 75 percent of diagnosed schizophrenics have a complete or at least functional recovery, experts say. While they may suffer occasional symptoms, they "hold responsible jobs, have relationships and lead satisfying lives," says Raquel E. Gur, director of neuropsychiatry at the Schizophrenia Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
    Today, an estimated 2.5 million Americans -- roughly 1 percent of the population -- are diagnosed with schizophrenia. The illness usually emerges between the ages of 13 and 25 and often appears earlier in males than females. Symptoms include disordered thinking, paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and extreme apathy and social withdrawal. The National Institutes of Health pegs the total costs of the disease, including long-term care, at more than $30 billion annually.
    Yet many experts say that our mental-health system is ill-equipped to treat people with schizophrenia and that the psychiatric profession clings to outdated notions that patients deteriorate, not improve. It's no wonder, they say, that one of every 10 schizophrenics commits suicide within 10 years of diagnosis.
    Because the disease carries such a profound stigma, those who do recover often live secretive lives, revealing their psychiatric histories only to their closest intimates. So the public seldom hears about the thousands of success stories.
    "I spend so much of my time countering negative images; the label discredits and marginalizes people," says Dan Fisher, a psychiatrist and former schizophrenic who is co-director of the National Empowerment Center, a patients' rights organization in Lawrence, Mass.
    Indeed, some sufferers, like Wouk or Fisher, seem to go into full remission, meaning they have no symptoms and don't need to take medications. Others with residual symptoms learn to ignore them.
    The public's pessimistic view of schizophrenia has its origins in the research of Swiss psychiatrist Eugene Bleuler, who coined the term schizophrenia in the early 1900s to describe the disordered thinking, suffocating anxiety and vivid auditory and visual hallucinations his deeply disturbed patients exhibited. He thought such patients were hopeless. His son, Manfred, also a psychiatrist, realized there was a big piece missing from the picture: The patients his father studied remained hospitalized, which is why the disease seemed intractable. When the younger Bleuler tracked down those who had drifted away, he discovered they were leading relatively normal lives.
    "But he was dismissed as a cockeyed optimist and his findings discounted," says Sarnoff A. Mednick, a professor of psychology at the University of Southern California who has studied schizophrenia.
    A landmark study that was launched nearly half a century ago confirmed Manfred Bleuler's observations. In the 1950s, Yale University researchers began following 269 chronic schizophrenics at Vermont State Hospital. The patients, most of whom were middle-aged and poorly educated and had little social support, participated in a comprehensive rehabilitation program.
    "The head of the hospital asked the patients what they needed to get out of the hospital, and they told him -- jobs, friends and a decent place to live," recalled Courtenay M. Harding, a member of the Yale research team.
    Patients in the Yale study lived in a hospital ward designed to resemble a homelike setting. They received self-help therapy, vocational counseling and jobs, and were linked to family and friends to provide support. When researchers checked back with the patients 20 and 25 years later, they were astonished to find that one-half to two-thirds of the patients showed no signs of schizophrenia, though they may not have been working or were socially isolated. Slightly more than 25 percent were completely well and had jobs, families and friends.
    These were patients who had been considered hopeless, "who had been languishing in the back wards for years and couldn't dress themselves and had forgotten how to tell time," said Harding, who is now a professor at the Sargeant College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Boston University.
    For less severe patients who receive treatment, the recovery rates might be as high as 90 percent, Harding said.
    "But the belief that schizophrenia is incurable is so deeply embedded," she noted, "that no amount of facts seem to make a difference."

    This article is a posting of the NYAPRS "Mental Health E-News" To join their list, e-mail your request and, where appropriate, the name of your organization to

    April 15, 2001.


    CHALLENGING STEREOTYPES: AN ACTION GUIDE (32-page booklet with directories)

    For a free copy call 1-800-789-2647, ask for publication #SMA 01-3513.

    The mass media wield a powerful influence over public opinion. It is essential that the news media are challenged to be fair and accurate, and that the mass entertainment media meet standards of fairness when using the public's communication channels.

    At stake is the public's understanding of what are known as "mental illnesses." A 1990 survey of public attitudes sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concluded that "Mass media is, far and away, the public's primary source of information about mental illness."

    A confirmation of the media's power to influence public discourse and policy comes from We Interrupt This Message, an activist organization based in California and New York. On their new web site,, Interrupt states that "disenfranchised peoples face significant media stereotypes and media bias. These distortions hurt marginalized communities, the advocates that work in the community interest, and public policy."

    There is an inexpensive and direct way to combat stereotyping. It is not the only way (perhaps not even the best way), but it is effective and often leads to further dialogue with members of the community and key representatives of the media. The method is a "smoking gun" approach; it addresses misrepresentation head on, explains the damage done, and offers alternative ways of portraying mental illnesses to the people in charge. When the media get it right, praise and honors should reward the extra effort.

    Like members of the public, many media professionals have limited knowledge about mental illnesses. Stereotypes become self-perpetuating unless they are replaced by clear, credible alternatives. If mental health activists fail to speak out, we resign ourselves to the status quo.

    Most people, and particularly media people, have a natural curiosity about what they don't understand. Seek to build good relationships with journalists and other media professionals by being informative and reliable. Let members of the media know you respect their intention to be fair and accurate.

    For a copy of CHALLENGING STEREOTYPES: AN ACTION GUIDE (32-page booklet), call 1-800-789-2647 and ask for publication #SMA 01-3513.

    When you call, ask for a list of other excellent educational resources offered by the federal Center for Mental Health Services, a division of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    April 8, 2001


    Barbara Lurie of Hollywood's Entertainment Industries Council ( showed an impressive collection of film clips to over 400 advocates attending the first national anti-discrimination / anti-stigma mental health symposium in Baltimore on March 26-27 (hosted by On Our Own of Maryland and sponsored by the federal Center for Mental Health Services/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

    Ms. Lurie's purpose was to show that the entertainment industry has begun to look beyond the stereotypes of mental illnesses, and her clips were encouraging. Media watchers, too, are telling us that a new sensitivity and authenticity are appearing in some recent TV depictions of people with psychiatric vulnerabilities (for example, on FOX's "Boston Public" and "Once and Again" on ABC).

    Is this a blip or a trend? Anecdotal information is interesting but is not good enough; numbers are needed. Positive depictions are still badly outnumbered by villains, such as last week's homicidal predator in "NYPD Blue" on ABC, who was labeled with manic-depression.

    Is there improvement? Please let us know what you see. E-mail

    Most important, let the broadcasters hear your praise when they get it right.

    10201 West Pico Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90035
    Tel: 310-369-1000

    2040 Avenue of the Stars
    Los Angeles, CA 90027
    Tel: 310-557-7777

    To receive a FREE DIRECTORY OF CONTACT INFORMATION, order the new "Challenging Stereotypes: An Action Guide" from the CMHS Knowledge Exchange Network, 1-800-789-2647.

    April 1, 2001


    The Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) has written an opinion piece, "Courts Must Be Able to Order Help," which appeared in the Baltimore Sun on March 1st. The article recommends a forced-treatment law for Maryland similar to New York's new Kendra's Law.

    The article opens in capital letters with 'IT IS SHOCKING," followed by six sentences using "dead," "killed," "violent," "shock," tragedies," "bludgeoned," "stabbed," "shot," "tragic," and "violence."

    The article goes on to perpetuate the lie that Kendra Webale's subway assailant in New York, Andrew Goldstein, was "medication noncompliant" and required court-ordered treatment. In fact, Mr. Goldstein (now in prison) had repeatedly tried to get treatment and was repeatedly denied the help he knew he needed.

    No one condones violence. Neither should we condone fear-mongering. Research at Duke University found that individuals with severe mental illnesses who were not taking medication were no more violent than other individuals in the study, as long as they were not abusing substances. (Am J Psychiatry, 155:2, p.230, February 1998.)

    When rare acts of violence occur, often (as in the case of Andrew Goldstein) they are the results of program cost-cutting and treatment diversion policies. Maryland would do well to look beyond New York's flawed example for ways to improve the state's mental health system.

    March 18, 2001

    Psychiatric Services, a journal of the American Psychiatric Association (, devotes a 25-page special section to involuntary outpatient commitment (IOC) in its March issue. Abstracts of the articles are available on the web site. A single copy of the issue can be ordered for $12.00.

    Psychiatric Services is to be commended for summarizing most of what is known today about forced treatment. The most consistent message is that results are inconclusive. This echoes a recently-released study by Rand researchers ( who found no conclusive support for the court-ordered treatment policy and program.

    We saw only one reference about the effects of IOC proponents' strategy of "capitalizing on fear" to win public support, such as repeatedly linking mental illnesses to words like "Shocking," "Dangerous," "Deadly," "1,000 homicides," etc. in the mainstream press.

    A new web page, "Archives re Involuntary Outpatient Commitment," has been added to this website. (Now changed to "Stigmatizing Fear Tactics" -- see main menu)


    March 11, 2001.




    "Homicides by people with mental illness: myth and reality," PJ Taylor and J Gunn. The British Journal of Psychiatry 174: 9-14 (1998).


    BACKGROUND: Tragic and high profile killings by people with mental illness have been used to suggest that the community care model for mental health services has failed.

    AIMS: To consider whether such homicides have become more frequent as psychiatric services have changed.

    METHOD: Data were extracted from Home Office-generated criminal statistics for England and Wales between 1957 and 1995 and subjected to trends analysis.

    RESULTS: There was little fluctuation in numbers of people with a mental illness committing criminal homicide over the 38 years studied, and a 3% annual decline in their contribution to the official statistics.

    CONCLUSIONS: There are many reasons for improving the resources and quality of care for people with a mental disorder, but there is no evidence that it is anything but stigmatising to claim that their living in the community is a dangerous experiment that should be reversed. There appears to be some case for specially focused improvement of services for people with a personality disorder and/or substance misuse.

    Please mail the article to National Stigma Clearinghouse, 245 Eighth Avenue, #213, New York, NY 10011, or email it to Many thanks!

    March 4, 2001

    This news item has been moved to Positive Visibility Postings. Please click below:


    Hospital Refuses to Await the Finding of a Pending Court Hearing

    This horrific story of forced treatment has its own page on the website of Support Coalition International, a leading organization of survivor-activists. Click for details, information updates, and how you can help.



    The excellent NORTH RIVER JOURNAL, a publication of National Artists for Mental Health (NAMH), has blossomed into a glowing and elegant magazine. Learn more about it on the NAMH website,

    This year NAMH celebrates its 10th Anniversary. The all-survivor organization is the brainchild of Frank Marquit, CEO, a soft-spoken activist who is determined to shatter the stereotypes inflicted upon people labeled "mentally ill." Among its efforts to reach out to the community, the organization has sponsored a circus performance, annual art exhibits in New York City and in Albany, New York; and an ongoing project called Pillows of Unrest.

    NAMH hosts a yearly conference, The Art of Healing, with an emphasis on the well-being of the mind, body, and spirit. For more information, go to the NAMH website

    February 18, 2001.

    Publisher Dan Weisburd's Comments Are Censored by NAMI California (Weisburd's response is below))

    In 1989, Dan E. Weisburd created a unique magazine,The Journal of the California Alliance for the Mentally Ill (now NAMI California). For the past eleven years Dan has been its publisher, editor, and fund-raiser. Now this laudable magazine is, in Dan's words, "killed" by NAMI California's Board of Directors. As a sign of how ugly the killing was, Dan's "Publisher's Note" in the two final issues were glued together by the NAMI board to keep readers from knowing his views.

    From its first issue (on schizophrenia) The Journal revealed the world of mental illnesses from many different vantage points. In his first Publisher's Note, Dan wrote, "We shall offer what is hopefully a unique kind of forum for the exchange of information and ideas ... An honest attempt will be made to keep it jargon free and coherent to a lay person ... We shall be humbly mindful that yesterday's truths, in both science and human services, are almost inevitably today's lies...they were, alas, only the best truths available to us at the time." Dan further states, "...we shall search for ideas and open our columns to professionals of all disciplines, family members, persons who have experienced the illnesses, and public policy makers... "

    Indeed, what is particularly striking about the magazine is that most of the articles are by people in the trenches -- survivors, families, and mental health professionals. Through the years, the magazine's readers (and perhaps Dan himself) found a new and deeper understanding that comes from listening carefully to one another.

    The combined political strength of the mental health community would be truly formidable. But coming together requires understanding one another and the ability to find common ground. The Journal has been a lubricant in this process. It has been a de-polarizing force -- a strong tool for unity.

    Last year, Dan felt the time had come to move on to new projects. He arranged to phase out his leadership of The Journal over the next year (four issues) to assure the magazine's smooth transition to a new publisher. But this will not happen. Besides glueing shut Dan's Publisher's Notes, the NAMI board fired him. In a widely-circulated statement (SEE BELOW), Dan calls the actions of NAMI California "malicious absurdity" and declares, "It is censorship! I will never kowtow to a dictatorship! The Journal is no more. Period."

    What lies behind NAMI's hostility to Dan Weisburd? His history of service and activism, too extensive to list here, is indisputable. In Dan's words, "I have become a prime target for the simple reason that I am pro-consumer and pro-patients' rights." Specifically, it seems that Dan's indignation at E. Fuller Torrey's repeated use of unsubstantiated homcide numbers in the major national press, and his expression of concern about the lack of routine medical checkups in an otherwise model program inflamed the wrath of the NAMI board.

    To outsiders, it would seem reasonable for NAMI to honor Dan Weisburd with a Humanitarian Award for creating what many people consider to be the organization's proudest achievement, The Journal. Those of us who are lucky enough to have copies from its first issue will now value them as collectors' items.

    Comments are welcome. For additional views about the disgraceful muzzling of Dan Weisburd's views, E-mail the Support Coalition International, or visit their web site,

    Below is a STATEMENT FROM DAN WEISBURD. He has given permission to circulate this statement by any means.


     by Dan E. Weisburd
     Former Editor of The JOURNAL

    You may broadcast via e-mail what I'm about to tell you far and wide. In recent years the NAMI California Board of Directors has gone from being mediocre to being a malicious absurdity. In the process I have become a prime target for the simple reason that I am pro-consumer and pro-patient's rights. They worship E. Fuller Torrey, MD, who is a good person but has succumbed to selling involuntary treatment by branding unmedicated people with mental illness as violent, and I've pointed out his fallacious and unsubstantiated statistics.

    The simple truth of the current state of affairs is that The JOURNAL---that I created and for which I alone raised funding, recruited authors and then edited---is no more. Period.

    The board of directors of NAMI California, through its attorney, has informed me that it has suspended The JOURNAL. In addition they voted to glue shut my traditional Publisher's Note pages opening the "Mental Illness and the Law" issue because Brian Jacobs, the current board president, got an attorney to give the opinion that my calling into question the views of E. Fuller Torrey, MD (a public person---published in The NY Times, Washington Post, etc.) could constitute defamation.

    Again, showing me no courtesy, had they have called on me they could have learned that I had obtained four authoritative legal opinions to the contrary including one from a former Harvard Law School professor who taught First Amendment and defamation law. Plus, they could have learned that sources cited by Torrey had told the National Stigma Clearinghouse that their work in no way substantiated his claims of 1,000 murders a year by persons with serious mental illness. My concern was labeling our people as violent and that that stigma-raiser was printed, without hesitation or verification by some of our nation's best newspapers!

    True to this board's form they did not even notify me of their decision to "suspend" The JOURNAL until after the "WELLNESS" issue was off the press. Brian Jacobs, the board president, upon reading my Publisher's Note in that issue went to Martha Long, Director of The Village ISA in Long Beach, CA and Richard Van Horn,her boss at MHA-LA County and tried to persuade them to send a letter to the NAMI-CA board protesting what I had written. You should know that I am recognized as the "Godfather of the Village" and am very proud of it and fond of its staff, having chaired (1986-8) the California Economic Development Commission's Task Force on Serious Mental Illness, which conceptualized the Integrated Service Agency (ISA) Concept--The Village being the first model of the legislation known as AB 3777. You should also know that my son, David, is a member of the ten year old Village, and has been there for some three years now, and is employed, happy and doing well despite his very "voicey" schizophrenia.

    When they (Long and Van Horn) refused to write a critical letter, and Van Horn even told Jacobs that he agreed with the thrust of my column --- that good medical care was needed for our population---Jacobs nevertheless went to his attorney and his Executive Committee and got concurrence to once again glue shut my Publisher's Note, this time in the "WELLNESS" issue, before mailing it out. But, typical of their ineptitude, they didn't even do a good glue job. People have been calling me asking why this was done, and saying it was silly and offensive and easy to pull apart.

    But the event is not silly. It is censorship. Perhaps next they will burn the books (press over runs) that are in storage and have an approximate $250,000 value when sold at conferences or by mail. That value belongs to the members of this 501(c)(3) nonprofit and is not to be taken lightly by those who accept board responsibility. Few magazines live beyond three years. The JOURNAL lived 11. I believe it is now dead, and that they, the board of NAMI California, have knowingly killed it for reasons known best to them.

    In 1989 when, as 1st Vice president of CAMI, I was given carte blanch to create a new publication as long as I raised all the money for it and would not take liquor or tobacco funds. I took the responsibility seriously. Over the years I have raised more than two million dollars to produce the 44 issues contained in the 11 volumes of what has become The JOURNAL, and never was there ever a talk of censorship. I am very proud of the legacy I leave behind, and will never kowtow to a dictatorship---not in these United States! What sorry times our family movement has fallen upon, and what a sad excuse for leadership we have now holding power.

    Dan E. Weisburd
    10260 Moorpark Street
    Toluca Lake, CA 91602
    (818) 769-3252

    January 28, 2001.


    George Gerbner, a monitor of television violence for 30 years, says parents are "desensitized"

    A front page story in the New York Times, "Violence Finds a Niche in Children's Cartoons," (click, reports that the Fox and WB broadcast networks and the Cartoon Network on cable have loaded their children's progamming with new, low-cost animated cartoons from Japanese suppliers and American imitators. Fighting is virtually nonstop and, at times, children use deadly force.

    In the article, George Gerbner, dean emeritus of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that parents may be desensitized to violence in children's entertainment. "They are used to it -- they themselves have grown up with it," Gerbner said.

    Last year, researchers reported that evil villains in children's cartoons are apt to be characters portrayed as mentally ill. (See this site, Archive 2000, May 21.) Mental health advocates must ask, does this new wave of violent entertainment further malign people who have psychiatric disabilities? If you can volunteer to monitor after-school and Saturday television cartoon shows, please E-mail

    NOTE: Dr. Gerbner will be a media panelist at a National Mental Health Symposium To Address Discrimination and Stigma on March 26-27, at the Baltimore Rennaisance Harborplace Hotel. For more information, click

    January 21, 2001.


    Law Would Impose a Higher Standard on a Targeted Group

    We reprint below an excellent letter to the New York Times. The letter refers to a Times article reporting that some Massachusetts gun law critics are calling for tougher laws against people with mental illnesses. The concern stems from a multiple murder on December 26th by a Massachusetts man whose history includes psychiatric treatment. For a copy of the article, E-mail your request to Remember to include your mailing address.

    Letter to the New York Times, January 21, 2001.


    To the Editor:

    While the office shooting in Massachusetts a few weeks ago was tragic and disturbing, instead of faulting gun laws concerning the mentally ill (news article, Jan. 14), the ensuing discussion should concern strengthening all gun laws.

    Revoking the rights of solely the mentally ill marginalizes them and further perpetuates the image that they are more violent and dangerous. If the laws are changed to encompass those who voluntarily commit themselves, it serves to discourage those who really need treatment from obtaining it by attaching a stigma and actually limiting their rights as citizens.

    By focusing on Michael McDermott's mental illness instead of on his actions as an individual, not only has a horrible crime occurred but the millions of Americans living with mental illnesses also suffer an assault through the stereotypes perpetuated through this association. Sarah Resnick, Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 14, 2001

    Use "back" for

    NEWS of the WEEK... LINKS for Stigmabusters... About the Clearinghouse... Media Issues... Archives 2000... Archives 1999...Positive Visibility Postings... LINKS for Rights Activists...International LINKS

    January 14, 2001.


    MARCH 26 AND 27, 2001
    (Monday and Tuesday)


    SPRING TO ACTION: A National Mental Health Symposium To Address Discrimination and Stigma will bring together a cross-section of the mental health community to examine and develop specific ways to address the discrimination and stigma that affect millions of Americans.

    Hosts for the one and one-half day event in Baltimore, Maryland (at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel) will be On Our Own of Maryland, Inc. (Click for more information about this statewide mental health consumer education and advocacy network.)

    The symposium's sponsors are the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS).

    Two plenary addresses and 14 workshops will stimulate discussions on Policy and Advocacy, Public Awareness and Education, Research, and Media. The climax of the event will be a Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, March 27.

    In early February, an official Registration Brochure will be mailed to those who request it. Go now to the web site,, and post an E-mail request to receive the Registration Brochure by mail. (Please be careful to give all of the information asked for.) If you have any questions, contact Mike Finkle or Jennifer Brown at On Our Own of Maryland, Inc., 1-410-646-0262 or 1-800-704-0262.

    January 7, 2001.


    David Gonzalez, a dedicated activist/survivor from Brooklyn, New York, has launched a website ( to battle the stereotypes of mental illnesses that pervade the movies. The site has polish, clarity, and powerful content. Technical assistance is provided by David's son, David Gonzalez, Jr.

    The site is a "work in progress." David intends to keep it lively with updates, links, and additional features such as a "point of view" page that will give a voice to consumers/survivors, providers, and hopefully, will open an exchange of views with members of the media industry.

    The site speaks best for itself. Click






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