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MindFreedom director David Oaks wonders, “How do we build social change when resources are few, and yet the mental health system is so profitable?”

A few days ago I returned from MindFreedom’s amazing and wonderful conference/retreat dedicated to promoting humane and creative alternatives to the conventional mental health system. Given our low resources, the organizing committee purposely chose to have a cap on attendance, which was quickly reached two months before the event.

The retreat center itself, one hour east of Hartford, Connecticut, was in a beautiful woods. The Daughters of Wisdom, a progressive order of Catholic nuns, has a great solid facility that fit all of our participants, meetings, meals, gatherings, registration. It is so helpful when working on these issues to be surrounded by nature like this.

During the event I was struck by the convergence. Yes, our social change movement is about some of the most disempowered people in our society, by many measures. Yes, those who are promoting our constituency’s disempowerment are part of an industry that, by many measures, is one of the most profitable in history.

But consider… As a supporter put it there are “alternative currencies.” There is the currency of mutual support… of culture… of values like democracy and freedom…of love… of spirit… of nature. Sometimes it appears that these alternative currencies are no match for the “domination model” currently running our society, but as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, the arc of the universe bends toward justice.

The universe did appear to bend toward justice as our conference/retreat. We had participants from five nations. We covered many topics. We launched Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of an “International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.” We planned an online directory of alternatives, with appropriate screening questions. At one point in the evening it felt like I was an auctioneer or in a stock market selling “pit” as many people passionately utilized our remaining time to organize with each other about activism in California… New York… about electroshock… about psychiatric drugging… about Mad Pride.

Spirit, health, nature, resources, expressing ourselves, activism, thoughtfully working with friendly people… Tell me  could billions of dollars buy that, or add to that? By converging our interests, much is achieved.

Isn’t the grand vision of massive social change despite low resources, isn’t that exactly the kind of “madness” we ought to be proud of?

Let’s see portrayals of your own “mad pride,” especially in digital video form uploaded on the Internet (such as google, etc.) You can tag it IAACM and let us know so we can share it with others.

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