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Psychiatric Discrimination as Social Injustice

Erick Fabris. Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Not Ill or Mad?

I would like to consider the terms Strange, Mad and Mentally Ill. I would like to say that they show us how psy discrimination and force operates. The distinction of the body as strange, as ‘mad’ in English society for 500 years, and as ‘mentally ill’ in the last 150 years, is the same production of sanism, critical or conservative, which faces psychiatric survivors and Mad people today. (I use sanism as the simple distinction between normal/sound/sane/sapient and strange/mad/insane/unwise: mentally ill). This is a lingual basis for legal discernment and control, which are practicable today by psychiatric incarceration (interbodily and intrabodily). Questions arising from psychiatric practice refer back to legal distinctions and then back to social conflict and naming of differences. As a word ‘strange/mad/insane/ill’ comes from familiar practices of identifying ‘what is mad’ in the family, at the campfire, and in the psychiatrist’s office.

Ronald Carten.  Vancouver/Richmond Mental Health Network, Vancouver, BC

The Citizen Transformed: Psychiatrization’s Effects on the Social Status of the Individual

1. Detainment under the Mental Health Act of B.C.

-The legislation that puts tremendous power in the hands of a psychiatrist and provides dubious appeal mechanisms.

-The exclusion of mental patients under the Representation Agreement Act.

-The denial of the right to informed consent as guaranteed to all BC citizens in the Consent to Care Act.

-The absence of advance directives as a means of protecting oneself against forced treatment. The Kirby Report recommendations on advance directives.

2. Facing the Bind: Inside the Walls

-The reality of asymmetrical power relations inside hospital walls.

-The consequences of rebellion.

-The administration of forced treatment. Extended leave.

-The successes and failures of the forced treatment approach.

-The fear of being in a new and restrictive environment.

3. On the Outside: Managing a New Identity

-The shame of having been a psychiatric patient (a personal account).

-Shame, isolation, sedation and poverty.

4. Transcending Stigma: The Lucky Few

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