Hospitals & Asylums    

Why MLK, Jr. Would Be Pleased HA-16-1-06

      by David Oaks, Director
    MindFreedom International

And Tony Sanders of Hospitals & Asylums

MindFreedom News -
16 Jan. 2006 MLK Day

1. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2006! A MindFreedom Delegation is Entering the United Nations for Meetings on Disability and Human Rights.  Today, the United Nations again begins special meetings about the human rights of people considered disabled.  Once more, MindFreedom International will have a delegation inside UN headquarters in
New York City for these important meetings, which could lead to an international binding treaty.  MindFreedom is focusing on the human rights of people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders.

2. This year our delegation is again headed by MindFreedom President Celia Brown, with able leaders Myra Kovary and author Kate Millet. All are psychiatric survivors, that is, individuals who have experienced human rights violations in the mental health system.  They are joined in the UN this year by the Executive Director of MindFreedom
Ghana from Africa, Mrs. Janet Amegatcher. From MindFreedom Ireland the poet John McCarthy will be bringing his warmth.  A delegation from the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP), led by the dedicated attorney Tina Minkowitz, is working closely with the MindFreedom delegation.  This will be the 7th meeting to form the "Draft Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities" since these UN sessions began in August 2002. Leaders of disability movement groups from all over the world are attending.  You may read more about this process on the United Nations web site at: I know some individuals feel that we should never participate in UN activities while governments continue to promote human rights violations in the mental health system.  But with the world in such a crisis, I believe those who have been personally affect by the mental health system may have something very helpful to offer at the UN.

3. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and a good time to reflect on the need for "The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment." Believe it or not, this is an actual organization that Martin Luther King, Jr. said ought to begin to help a troubled world!  There are many examples of MLK talking about psychologists' use of the term "maladjusted," and how being "creatively maladjusted" may be the salvation of the world.  It is true that MLK tried to distance his comments a bit from people actually diagnosed "neurotic," "schizophrenic," etc.  But I believe if Rev. King were alive today he would see today's large cross-disability movement -- and our psychiatric survivor’s movement -- as directly linked to the heritage of the civil rights movement and its "creative maladjustment."  Rev. King would be proud of the psychiatric survivor’s movement today.  With people affected by the mental health system again speaking out inside of the United Nations, this is an ideal moment to hear from MLK, Jr. on being "maladjusted."  Below are just a few examples over many years of King's speeches and written works on the topic.

4. Martin Luther King's ''Montgomery Story'' Address, 1955 by Martin Luther King, Jr.  states, There are certain words in the technical vocabulary of every academic discipline that tend after a while to become stereotype and cliché, there is a word in modern psychology which is now probably more familiar than any other words in psychology. It is the word the maladjusted; it is the ringing cry of the new child, psychology -- maladjusted.  And as a minister seeing and counseling with people very day concerning their problems and their maladjustment's, I'm certainly concerned with those who are maladjusted, concerned to see everybody as adjusted as possible.  But I want to leave this evening saying to you that there are some things in our social system that I'm proud to be maladjusted to, and I call upon you to be maladjusted to. I never intend to adjust myself to the viciousness of lynch mobs; I never intend to become adjusted to the evils of segregation and discrimination; I never intend to become adjusted to the tragic inequalities of the economic system which will take necessity from the masses to give luxury to the classes; I never intend to become adjusted to the insanity's of militarism, the self-defeating method of physical violence. There are some things that I never intend to become adjusted to, and I call upon you to continue to be maladjusted.

5. History still has a choice place for the maladjusted. There is still a call for individuals to be maladjusted. The salvation of our world lies in the hands of the maladjusted.  I call upon you to be maladjusted, maladjusted as the prophet Amos who in the midst of the tragic inequalities of injustice in his day cried out in words that echoes across the generations: ''Let judgment run down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.''  As maladjusted as
Lincoln who confronted a nation divided against itself and had the vision to see that the nation could not exist half free, and half slave.  Maladjusted as the -- hundreds and thousands -- of Negroes, North and South who are determined now to stand up for freedom, willing to face possible violence and possible death, who are willing to stand up and sacrifice and struggle until segregation is a dead reality and until integration is a fact.  Maladjusted as Jefferson who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery cried out in words of cosmic proportions: ''All men are created equal; they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.''  I call upon you to follow this maladjustment. It is through such a maladjustment that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man to the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom, equality and justice.

6. Martin Luther King on
June 6, 1961 at Lincoln University stated, every academic discipline has its technical nomenclature, and modern psychology has a word that is used, probably, more than any other. It is the word maladjusted. This word is the ringing cry of modern child psychology. Certainly all of us want to live a well-adjusted life in order to avoid the neurotic personality. But I say to you, there are certain things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I call upon all men of good will to be maladjusted.  If you will allow the preacher in me to come out now, let me say to you that I never did intend to adjust to the evils of segregation and discrimination. I never did intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry. I never did intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never did intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, and the self-defeating effects of physical violence. And I call upon all men of good will to be maladjusted because it may well be that the salvation of our world lies in the hands of the maladjusted.  So let us be maladjusted.


7. Let us be as maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln, who had--the vision to see that this nation could not exist half slave and half free.  Let us be maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth, who could look into the eyes of the men and women of his generation and cry out, "Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Pray for them that despitefully use you."  I believe that it is through such maladjustment that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice. That will be the day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!" ,


8. In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.  In the Letter from Birmingham Jail King wrote, An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding upon itself.  A law is unjust if it is inflicted upon a minority as the result of being denied a right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law.  Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application.  An individual who breaks a law that conscious tell is unjust and who willingly accepts the punishment of imprisonment in order to arouse the consciousness of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law. 


9. In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist, negotiations, self purification, and direct acting.  The way most people deal with a conflict is by first asking themselves the question, "How can I get my way?" This is the normal way of dealing with a problem. When we think this way, as we all do so often, we let our egos manage the conflict. But there is a better way. When we make nonviolence a way of life, the first question we ask at a time of conflict is, "What is the most loving thing to do?" When we think this way, we tap the power of the soul. We overcome the narrow, selfish concerns of the ego. We don't want to destroy our opponent. We want to win their friendship and understanding. We try to find a "win-win" solution, which benefits everyone. This is how we create lasting peace. We resolve the conflict, not with the attitude of a conqueror, but with the motivation of a peace-maker. A commitment to study and practice nonviolence in our personal lives gives us an edge in resolving conflicts and in achieving your goals without making enemies. These teachings can help improve our family relationships and our dealings with friends and our peers. Nonviolence can help us more effectively communicate with our adversaries and resolve disputes in a way that benefits everyone.  Therefore to make these truths self evident for both the judicial officer and the defendant I make this pledge:


I pledge to do everything that I can to make America and the world a place where equality and justice, freedom and peace will grow and flourish.


I pledge to make nonviolence and freedom a way of life in my dealings with all people.


I will reject all forms of hatred, bigotry, prejudice and slavery, and I will embrace the values of unconditional, universal love, truthfulness, courage, compassion, and dedication to a community where all people can live together as sisters and brothers.


I believe in Nonviolence:


Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.

Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding

Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people

Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform

Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate

Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice

10. Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.   Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.  A world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.  We therefore reaffirm our faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women.   Determined to promote social progress in rehabilitation and better standards of life in larger freedom, Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all people, particularly those people whose status relegates them to slavery.  A common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948 that states at Art. 4; 

“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms”.

11. At that time of the Republic of Plato more than half the population of Athens were either slaves, by birth or prisoners of war, with no civic rights or resident aliens.  In democratic temperament the principle of freedom and equal rights for all is applied.  When the poor win, that is democracy.  In a democracy people are first of all free.  Liberty and free speech allow everyone to arrange their own manner of life and to protect themselves from crimes by individuals or the State. 


a. Acton said, “All power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  The despotic character has not a friend in the world; he is sometimes master, sometimes slave, but never knows true friendship or freedom.  The man whose crime is on trial is the unhappiest by three tests:  freedom, wealth and security from fear.  In making a decision as to the worthiness of a State, is it free, under a despot or enslaved?  The most important of all questions is the choice between a good and an evil life?  A man with many slaves will be driven out of a desire to lead a good life to offer liberal promises and freedom.


b. The Politics of Aristotle states, “what is found among men who share in a common life respect for the rule of law, with a view to the attainment of self-sufficiently, as freemen and as equals either proportionately or arithmetically?  It follows that where men are not in this position, such as between masters and slaves, there is no political justice to govern their relations, there is only justice of a sort.  Justice exists only as between men whose relations to one another are governed by a system of law that all parties agree to.   


12. From the 16th to 19th Century the transatlantic slave trade is estimated to have deported some 15 to 18 million captives.  These millions of African captives sold as slaves in the Americas provided the labor required for the exploitation of mines and plantations of sugar cane, tobacco, coffee and cotton. More than half of them were employed on the sugar cane plantations in the Caribbean and in Brazil, where their life expectancy did not exceed five to six years after their arrival. It was a deadly system in which it is estimated that for every African captive who reached the Americas alive, five others died during the various phases of raiding, conflict and capture in the villages of the continental hinterland, during the forced march towards the assembly centers and trading posts, and during imprisonment in the baracoons on the African shores and subsequently during the

transatlantic crossing.


13. The French edict of March 1685, known as the Code noir, devised to govern the rights and duties of masters and slaves in the remote colonies of the Americas, stated under Article 44 : “We declare slaves as movable property “.  This text subsequently served as a model for the Code drafted for Louisiana in 1725, and later for the Código negro Carolino devised by Spain in 1784 and promulgated in its American colonies in 1789. The Community of Friends which the Quakers founded in Pennsylvania in the late seventeenth century came out publicly in 1688, for the first time in the Western world, against the fact of, “buying and keeping Negroes, and condemned the trade in human bodies”. A century later, Anthony Benezet convened the first meeting, in April 1775, of the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. The majority of its 24 members were Quakers who, in February 1784, founded the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. The Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade led in 1788 to an investigation by the Crown’s Privy Council. The subsequent debate in Parliament enabled Wilberforce to secure a vote on the abolition of the slave trade in 1807.


14. In the mid-eighteenth century, the Encyclopédie stated that, “slavery is the establishment of a right based on force, a right which makes of a man the property to such a degree of another man that the former becomes the absolute master of his life, goods and freedom, recalling that all men are born equal and that nature had made them all equal. Reducing a man to slavery, buying him, selling him, keeping him in servitude – these are veritable crimes and crimes that are worse than theft.  


a. Adam Smith had stated in 1776 that, “a free worker is superior to a slave as constraint never makes a man inventive, zealous and intelligent”.


b. Thomas Clarkson wrote, “Every man by Nature is born free, and has a Right to his own Body, and whoever attempts to enslave him by force and against his own consent, is the worst of Robbers, and violates a Commandment of God, I ask this again in the name of Humanity” in the Letter to François Guizot, of 18 January 1841, in the Archives nationals du Paris.


c. Victor Schoelcher wrote, “In a society of slaves, there will always be horrendous accidents that can be attributed to its way of life, will always be peculiar to it and can never be found in the state of freedom. As slavery is a state of violence, it is impossible that it should not involve awful acts of violence. Slavery corrupts the master as it does the slave. Slavery can corrupt even those who are good through the ease with which abuses can be perpetrated and the aberrations of limitless power, to the extent that we have seen” in About the workers’ petition for the abolition of slavery, Pagnerre, Paris, 1844.Measures had to be taken to ensure that this great act of reparation of a crime of human abuse was conducted in a manner that was most beneficial to those who had been the victims” in, Preliminary report to the Minister of the Navy and Colonies by the Emancipation Commission, 3 May 1848.


14. The American colonies were frequently disrupted by slave revolts, or the threat of revolt as the result of the estimated 10 million Africans who were brought to the Americas as slaves. After several centuries however the administrators of the British and French colonies in the 1730’s observed that a "wind of freedom" was blowing in the Caribbean.  The destruction of the slavery system began in the French colony of Santo Domingo in the slave rebellion of August 1791 sparked a general insurrection that lead to the abolition of slavery and the independence of the island with the foundation of Haiti on 1 January 1804. The Haitians also played an important part in the gradual process of destruction of the proslavery system in Guadeloupe and Martinique between 1804 and 1848. This was also true of the 1808 rebellion in British Guyana and that of the slaves of Demerara in 1823 and other insurrections which broke out in Jamaica (1831-1832) and in Puerto Rico during the second half of the nineteenth century. The arrival of the Haitians in the United States encouraged the authorities to strengthen the proslavery system which led to many revolts, particularly in Louisiana and the heroic resistance of Gabriel Prosser (1800), Denmark Vesey (1822) and Nat Turner (1831, Virginia). In Venezuela, Francisco de Miranda, in February 1806, and Simon Bolivar in December 1815-January 1816 and in October-December 1816, received assistance from Haiti which had a determining effect. President Pétion asked Bolivar for, “freedom to be granted to all the slaves in the province of Venezuela”. The Haitian Government also accepted to provide weapons and ammunition to the Mexicans led by General Mina in September 1816 and to Colombia in September 1820. Finally, after the abolition of slavery in the French colonies in 1848, new freemen took as their model the Haitian Revolution for advocating the independence of Guadeloupe. Slavery however lasted until 1886 in Cuba and 1888 in Brazil. Two outstanding colonial decrees for abolition were produced during the nineteenth century:

a. The Abolition Bill passed by the British Parliament in August 1833 and,

b. The French decree signed by the Provisional Government in April 1848.

15.  Drawing inspiration from the Declaration of Independence of 1776, the slaves of New England published petitions in favor of their freedom. The states of Vermont in 1777, and then Massachusetts and New Hampshire inserted the prohibition of slavery in their constitutions. Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Connecticut expressed a preference for gradual emancipation. The North of the United States was becoming industrialized, requiring salaried labor in ever-increasing numbers. The prosperity of the South based on cotton seemed forever linked to slavery.  A decisive abolitionist campaign began.   Frederick Douglass, a slave who escaped from the South in 1838, published his autobiography in 1845 under the title, My Bondage and My Freedom. He settled in Washington and became a journalist, Union soldier and subsequently a diplomat. When the Convention of Colored People met in Cleveland, Ohio in November 1848, it paid tribute to the liberation of slaves in the French colonies. Frederick Douglass, who was the main speaker at these conventions, reminded his audience: “We are now the most oppressed people in the world. In the southern states of this union, we are slaves.”  In his Narrative, as amended Thanksgiving 2005, he wrote,

What! preach freedom, and kidnap men?

Give thanks, and rob thy own afflicted poor?

Talk of thy glorious liberty, and then

Bolt hard the captive's door?


What! servants of thy own

Merciful Son, who came to seek and save
The homeless and the outcast, fettering down

Free the tasked and plundered slave!

Although the inpatient psychiatric population has dwindled from 550,000 to less than 200,000 in the
USA there continues to be a slave trade in the alleged mentally ill that is the closest of any class of prisoners to being totally abolished.  Recent decisions have upheld that the mentally have the right to community alternatives to incarceration.  Research reveals that this is the most dynamic right that exists in the US justice system and it is only the slavery of the alleged mentally ill (ami) by the Probate and Juvenile Courts that impedes the Probate Judge from clear thinking and exercising the right to call themselves the justice of the peace.  The World Health Report on Mental Health suggests that in the future the incarceration of the mentally ill be limited to short observation periods in the general hospital psychiatric wards with unimpeded access community aftercare and the large asylums and private psychiatric hospitals be abandoned in the future.  The directors of these institutions of slavery will be forced to decide whether to fulfill the mandate of Dorothea Dix from the 1840’s to open the facility to the community to provide the public a State Mental Institution Library Education (SMILE) headquarters or keep the doors of the institution closed and limit their service to the criminally accused population that opts for the Not guilty by reason of insanity plea proud to uphold higher standards of human rights and cooperation than the jails and prisons in the community.


We at MindFreedom International like to think that we are part of an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment, already. Join us!

* Win human rights campaigns in mental health.
* End abuse by the psychiatric drug industry.
* Support the voices of psychiatric survivors.
* Promote safe and humane options in mental health.

MindFreedom International unites 100 sponsor and affiliate groups with individual members, and is accredited by the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with Consultative Roster Status.  MindFreedom is one of the very few totally independent groups in the mental health field with no funding from governments, drug companies, religions, corporations, or the mental health system. JOIN, DONATE, or give GIFT MEMBERSHIPS to MindFreedom International today:  Want to get "maladjusted" at home? Our new refrigerator magnets let you invent hilarious new psychiatric labels! For a MAD MARKET of these and other products to support human rights campaigns in mental health:

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