Paula Caplan was unable to attend the May 5 protest of the 2012 conference of the American Psychiatric Association, and offered this statement to be read out at the event.
I am with you in Philadelphia in spirit.
David Oaks and MindFreedom helped in the 1980s petition campaign against some DSM diagnoses that brought support from more than 6 million people. But the terrifying DSM juggernaut rolled on, heedless of the way it ruins people’s lives.
Last weekend, in a groundbreaking move, eight brave women harmed by psychiatric labels filed ethics complaints with the APA. I filed my own complaint as an “interested party” who for more than a quarter of a century saw the DSM people play fast and loose with the science yet convince many professionals and the public that their manual is scientific and not damaging. I have personally made the powers-that-be aware of these problems. I have watched the DSM leaders fail to take steps to care enough to gather evidence of harm, redress past harm, and prevent future harm. I watched them deny the harm as the victims struggled to survive.
There is reason for hope. My article about the complaints in last Sunday’s Washington Post within 4 days elicited 400 comments, nearly all of them extremely positive!
The courageous attorney Jim Gottstein first made me aware of the APA’s complaints process and their ethical standards, and I received invaluable help from attorney Jeffery Wilson, Judge David Dunlap, psychologist David H. Jacobs, and researcher Emily H. Cohen.
Let us move the APA to come clean, to take the radical steps of being completely and consistently honest and caring, to make important changes and to warn others of the dangers that may await them when they go to see even the most well-meaning professional.
Let these complaints start a tsunami of such attempts at last to hold those in charge accountable and stop the harm. STOP THE HARM!
Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D.
Fellow, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University
Associate, DuBois Institute, Harvard University