UPDATE 3: The New York Times, Boston Globe, NPR and Washington Post have all run obituaries for Judi Chamberlin, who died at age 65. Judi was widely considered a grandmother of the mad movement: author, leader, activist, psychiatric survivor. Judi served on the MindFreedom Board of Directors for many years. You can read a statement by MindFreedom director David Oaks, and follow updates about Judi here. [updated 30 May 2010]

Judi bridged the gap between system-funded projects and street activism: She saw the necessity of both.


Message from David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International:

I received sad news from several good friends of long-time mad movement activist Judi Chamberlin in Massachusetts.

I’m sorry to provide this news to you all by Internet, but Judi died on Saturday evening, 16 January 2010, at the age of 65. I send my support to Judi’s relatives and friends, and everyone who admired and loved her.

Many were aware that she was in hospice for some time. True to the amazing passionate and practical person she was, Judi had a hospice activist blog. You may click here to get to the blog, or you can find via Google with these words:

    Judi Chamberlin hospice blog

Judi’s family and friends have a message on the blog, and they are encouraging comments to remember Judi there.

Judi has been a good personal friend of mine since we met in Mental Patients Liberation Front in 1976, and she has been a unifying leader with so many organizations in our mad movement, including for many years on the board of directors of MindFreedom International.

Judi has sometimes been called the “grandmother” of the mad movement, beginning with her pioneering work for empowering alternatives for mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors with her book “On Our Own: Patient Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System” (1978).

I’m sure there will be information and remembrances soon about this remarkable heroine and human being. While she was alive, Judi’s friends and relatives held a celebration of her life this past 20 August 2009. I’m told Judi appreciated the YouTube video I contributed to the memorial.

End Psychiatric Oppression by Tuesday

I’m so glad Judi and I had a chance to visit when I got out to Massachusetts in October. As many have noted, she was so supremely pragmatic about the dying experience, as one can read on her blog.

I asked Judi what I could do to help. 

Judi said, “Remember back in MPLF? You put up a sign on the office wall that said, ‘End Psychiatric Oppression by Tuesday.’ That’s what I want. End psychiatric oppression by Tuesday.”

That would be tomorrow, Judi. We will do what we can.

And I especially want to say that Judi so admired the work of her dear friend, the late Rae Unzicker. Mentioning Rae here is one of the best ways I know Judi would like to be remembered, because both Judi and Rae (and their friend the late Justin Dart) did so much to build bridges to the cross disability movement.

This Wednesday, 20 January 2010, is the 10th anniversary of this document, US National Council on Disability (NCD) historic report, “From Privileges to Rights: People Labeled with Psychiatric Disabilities Speak For Themselves.”

As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. on his holiday today, 18 January 2010, let’s also remember all late leaders for a nonviolent revolution in all justice movements, including Judi Chamberlin.


In support,

David W. Oaks, Executive Director
MindFreedom International

Unite for a Nonviolent Revolution in Mental Health.

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”
– Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Will Hall has an interview with Judi that can be heard free on the Internet, click here.

For a list of links on the MindFreedom web site with photos, articles, news items, etc. that mention Judi, click here.

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