National Stigma Clearinghouse
NEWS ARCHIVE - YEAR
Scroll down for January
June 24, 2001 News
of the Week
MORE NEBULOUS NUMBERS FROM TAC
(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
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
READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC:
For the new TAC Briefing Paper, "How Many Homicides Per Year Are
Committed By Individuals With Severe Psychiatric Disorders?"
For a related article, "Mindless and Deadly: Media Hype on Mental
Illness and Violence."
For National Stigma Clearinghouse Archives on Involuntary Outpatient
For more about TAC's nebulous numbers, ask for
"Just The Facts, Please." E-mail your request, with your mailing
address, to email@example.com.
(This 1-page leaflet has a chart and cannot be posted on Webtv.)
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June 17, 2001 News
of the Week
NEW WEB SITES ADD UNIQUE RESOURCES FOR ANTI-STIGMA ACTIVISTS
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 www.stigmaresearch.org
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 www.puebloadvocacy.com/50states/vickers
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 www.seecinemania.com.
June 3, 2001 <"#03june01"> News of
LABELING IN THE NEW YORK TIMES PAINS ADVOCATES
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 www.nytimes.com/2001/06/07/nyregion/07BOLD.html
, 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
AN IMPRESSIVE SIGN OF PROGRESS APPEARS IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
This news item has been moved to Positive Visibility Postings. Please
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
"WORDS MATTER" is posted on www.peoplewho.org/documents/wordsmatter.htm.
Harold Maio (email@example.com)
and Sylvia Caras (firstname.lastname@example.org)
welcome all suggestions, comments, and discussion.
April 22, 2001 - News
of the Week
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES REPORTS:
BELIEFS THAT SCHIZOPHRENIA IS INCURABLE ARE BELIED BY RESEARCH
The article below came to us via "Mental Health E-News," a service of
the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services
Even After Recovery, Stigma Of Schizophrenia
BY LINDA MARSA, LOS ANGELES TIMES, 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
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
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
"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
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
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 NYAPRS@aol.com.
April 15, 2001.
THE FEDERAL CENTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES OFFERS A NEW EDUCATIONAL
CHALLENGING STEREOTYPES: AN ACTION GUIDE (32-page booklet with
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, www.interrupt.org, 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
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
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
IS HOLLYWOOD (AT LAST) LOOKING BEYOND THE STEREOTYPES ?
Barbara Lurie of Hollywood's Entertainment Industries Council (www.eiconline.org) 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 email@example.com.
Most important, let the broadcasters hear your praise when they get it
10201 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90035
2040 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles, CA 90027
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
TAC TAKES FEAR TACTICS TO MARYLAND
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
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
PSYCHIATRISTS' JOURNAL GIVES DIFFERING VIEWS OF INVOLUNTARY OUTPATIENT
Psychiatric Services, a journal of the
American Psychiatric Association (www.psychiatryonline.org),
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 (www.rand.org) 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.
PLEASE HELP US FIND THE COMPLETE TEXT OF THE ARTICLE DESCRIBED BELOW
[ !! ARTICLE WAS GRATEFULLY RECEIVED !! ]
"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
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
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
Please mail the article to National Stigma Clearinghouse, 245 Eighth
Avenue, #213, New York, NY 10011, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Many thanks!
March 4, 2001
THE FOUNDER OF "STAMP OUT
STIGMA" MAKES HEADLINE
This news item has been moved
to Positive Visibility Postings. Please click below:
HOSPITAL INFLICTS SHOCK TREATMENT ON A PATIENT ACTIVIST AGAINST HIS WILL
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 http://mindfreedom.org/mindfreedom/paul.shtml
for details, information updates, and how you can help.
THE NORTH RIVER JOURNAL IS BORN AGAIN IN GLORIOUS COLOR
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, www.namh.org.
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 www.namh.org
February 18, 2001.
CALIFORNIA'S ESTEEMED PUBLICATION, THE JOURNAL, ENDS IN ACRIMONY
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, email@example.com or
visit their web site, www.mindfreedom.org/
Below is a STATEMENT FROM DAN
WEISBURD. He has given permission to circulate this statement by any
"IT IS CENSORSHIP!
I WILL NEVER KOWTOW
TO A DICTATORSHIP!"
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
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
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
January 28, 2001.
THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS A SHARP INCREASE IN VIOLENT
CARTOONS FOR CHILDREN
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 www.nytimes.com/2001/01/28/business/28TOON.html),
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 www.onourownmd.org.
January 21, 2001.
A GUN LAW TARGETING PSYCHIATRIC SURVIVORS
WOULD DISCRIMINATE AGAINST AND STIGMATIZE NON-VIOLENT CITIZENS
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 email@example.com. Remember to
include your mailing address.
Letter to the New York Times, January 21, 2001.
A VIOLENT STEREOTYPE
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.
SAVE THESE DATES:
MARCH 26 AND 27, 2001
(Monday and Tuesday)
FEDERAL CENTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
CONVENES A SYMPOSIUM
TO ADDRESS DISCRIMINATION and STIGMA
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 www.onourownmd.org 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,
In early February, an official Registration Brochure will be mailed to
those who request it. Go now to the web site, www.onourownmd.org, 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.
A NEW ANTI-STIGMA WEBSITE MAKES ITS DEBUT
-- STILL IN DEVELOPMENT --
IT OFFERS A WORKSHOP PRESENTATION
David Gonzalez, a dedicated activist/survivor from Brooklyn, New York,
has launched a website (www.seecinemania.com)
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
The site speaks best for itself. Click www.seecinemania.com.