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Announcing the Launch of the MindFreedom Landing Zone Committee – a new blog from Frank Blankenship (August 2014)

Frank Blankenship

There has, at one time or another, been talk among psychiatric survivors,mental health consumers, and former mental patients about operating an UndergroundRailroad for people oppressed by psychiatry. As a part of this need, ofmore recent date, and related to it, this talk has revolved around the idea ofcreating safe places, Landing Zones, for people facing involuntary outpatientcommitment orders. Involuntary outpatient commitment, often misleadinglyreferred to as assisted outpatient treatment, almost invariably means forceddrugging.

As some psychiatric facilities are being downsized, and others are beingshut down, involuntary outpatientcommitment orders have become the government’s way for dealing withnon-compliant mental patients.  These commitment orders usually involvesentencing the person suspected of  “mental illness” to adrug-taking regimen. Sometimes this drug-taking regimen involves injections everyother week with a long acting neuroleptic drug. These injections tend to bemore potent, and hence more harmful, than the pills one might receive on adaily basis. Should a person under court order refuse to take psychiatricdrugs, civil commitment proceedings are likely to result.

Psychiatric drugs are known to have many adverse effects. It is our feelingthat nobody should be forced to take these  powerful and potentiallyharmful drugs against his or her wishes. Neuroleptic drugs, misleadinglyreferred to as antipsychotic drugs, are known to cause a neurological movement disorder,Tardive Dyskinesia, and they also cause a metabolic syndrome associated withmany physical ill health conditions. Studies have shown  that people inmental health treatment are dying 25 to  30 years earlier on average thanthe rest of the population due in large measure to the drugs they have beenprescribed. Relocating people threatened with forced drugging can preserve physical health, and it can save lives.

45 states now have involuntary outpatient commitment laws. 5 states arecurrently free of such laws. The number of states with involuntary outpatientcommitment laws only goes up. The number of states without such laws only seemsto go down. Among the 5 states without involuntary commitment laws, there aresustained efforts afoot to enact such laws. The situation in two of the mostpopulous states in the union helps illustrate the seriousness of the problem.In New Yorkstate Kendra’s Law has been extended, and there is pressure to make itpermanent. In CaliforniaLaura’s Law has passed in both Los Angeles Countyand in San Francisco,and other localities are likely to follow their lead. Obviously, the situationhas grown so dire that it demands popular resistance.

MindFreedom International is a global human rights organization consistingmainly of psychiatric survivors, their relatives, friends, and allies.The idea of establishing such Landing Zones has been rolling around for awhilein the heads of MindFreedom International members. As far back as 2006, therewas an article on the MFI websiteabout the launch of a Landing Zone Project, and MFIwas instrumental in getting a story into the Wall Street Journalfeaturing the plight of one Gabriel Hadd. Gabriel Hadd, a young musician,fleeing forced drugging in Michigan,successfully attained drug-free sanctuary in Colorado for a time before eventually returningto his home state.

Just what do we mean by Landing Zones? As long as there has been no mandateat the national level, involuntary outpatient commitment orders stop at thestate border. If the person under such a court order were to surreptitiouslyslip into another state, and refused to take psychiatric drugs in that state,there is not much that anybody at present can  do to prevent him or herfrom doing so. A Landing Zone is a locality with the resources in place, interms of services, advocacy, support, and assistance, to accommodate a personfleeing forced outpatient drugging orders in another state.

On the evening of July 25, during the MindFreedom Creative RevolutionConference held at Wisdom House in Litchfield Connecticut, July 24 – July 27, we conducteda focus group on the subject of the creation of Landing Zones. As a result ofthis historic session, we are happy to announce the launch of a Landing ZoneCommittee. This Landing Zone Committee will be scheduling regular teleconferencesto brain-storm, network, and organize around the issue of forming LandingZones. If you, and the same goes for anyone you know, would like to get on thecommittee, and participate in this effort, you can do so by contacting me,Frank Blankenship, either by email or by telephone.

Landing Zone Committee

African Americans under slavery during the 1800s used the UndergroundRailroad to escape to freedom.. Today many people find their basic rights asfree citizens jeopardized by the threat of forced drugging. Chemical restraintsare being used to institute a different sort of slavery, the slavery that comesof numbing a mind into oblivion with pills and syringes. The drugs being used arepowerful, they have many adverse effects, and they have a potential to wreak agreat deal of damage on a great many people. This harm includes early death. Owingto this situation, we are intent on forging an Underground Railroad to freedom ofour own. By participating in the creation of Landing Zones, you, too, can playa vital role in defending the independence of proud and capable people.



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