Author Pete Earley has spent years arguing for laws making it easier to force psychiatric drugs against us over our will, based on his belief that our mental and emotional problems are matters of chemistry. With views similar to D. J. Jaffe, it’s no surprise that Mr. Earley used his blog, too, to attack the recent conference, Alternatives 2010, that brought together more than 1,000 mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors in Anaheim, California. The views of conference participants and presenters was diverse. Maybe it was this diversity that Mr. Earley objected to. MindFreedom director David Oaks has posted this response on Mr. Earley’s web site.



The below reply was posted by David Oaks, MFI Director, to Pete Earley’s web site on 4 Oct. 2010 (below is slightly modified to fix typo’s etc.). To read Mr. Earley’s attack on Alternatives 2010, and other posted comments, click here:


Pete, you may remember that Judi Chamberlin and I have tried to have a substantive dialogue with you in years past about these issues, and — despite a few blips back and forth — my feeling is that I’ve felt generally confronted by a closed door with you.

Now I see you choose to write “about” me rather than try that dialogue.

The disability movement says, “Nothing about us, without us.” So here I am. I support your passion Pete, and I want to try dialogue again, perhaps with a mediator so we can both feel heard.

But at this point, I must also protest… so I want you to know I intend to be compassionate, but I have some tough stuff to say. I know you’re a loving father to your son, but I hope you can hear my protest in the spirit it’s given.

So now I’m afraid I need to say the following with all due respect:

Thank the universe and all the Gods and Godesses and stars in the sky…. that you were never my father. 

Thirty-four years ago a dozen psychiatrists labeled me a variety of psychiatric diagnoses, and I was locked up five times. They wanted me to stay on a regimen of neuroleptics for life, and even get a court order to make that happen.

But my family came through for me, as is described in my chapter in the new book about families and mental health, “A Way out of Madness.” As my mother famously said, “If our David wants to try freedom, we support him.” Today, 34 years later, my 93 year old mom is one of our volunteers… She’s even volunteering at this moment in the MindFreedom office a few feet away.

This isn’t unusual.

I talk to literally hundreds of moms and dads who are sickened by the main approach of the mental health system, and who demand more alternatives.

You say your son works as a peer support specialist. Do you think such programs came out of the blue? The move for more empowerment and mutual peer support came from mental health consumer and psychiatric survivor persistent activism, going back 25 years. This took a lot of grassroots support.

But look at the hate speech you now fling at our community, at the main gathering in the world of this constituency, in all its diversity!

Rather than celebrate this community finding its voice, you join extremist opponents in calling for ending its support. I’m a taxpayer, and this is some of the best, most efficient, most effective money spent in the mental health system.

I can only begin to imagine what it would be like to have this kind of combination of intelligence and authoritarianism as a father for all my life… a father who shows his love by looking at me as a chemical imbalance.

I well remember your description of going into your first emergency room with your son, and encountering the jaded cynicism and hopeless demeanor of a conventional psychiatrist. Rather than greet you and your son with support, and perhaps peers, during this crisis… He recited a quick cognitive test and then made a political speech that he needed more power, more power, and more power. 

I want a father who at that moment would have vowed to change the PSYCHIATRIC SYSTEM that would have traumatized his son, right at the moment when the family needed its most help. Don’t tell me that the magic of ‘big government’ power could have transformed that disturbed psychiatrist, overwhelmed by lack of resources, into a psychiatrist like Loren Mosher or so many other truly skilled psychiatrists.

I’d want a father who would fight by my side for the services I deserved, who wouldn’t take that kind of attitude in an emergency room, who would recognize that just “more power” and “more money” were not going to fix the current chemical crusade approach of the dominant mental health system.

I’d like to thank my family, for supporting me, and for being bold enough to call for far more for me, than a bag of pills and a court order.

At Alternatives 2010, there was actually a huge range of perspectives and diverse opinions, from those who embrace their mental illness diagnosis and take prescribed psychiatric drugs, to those who reject their label. All were welcome.

I wonder if your son attended, and if not why not? Because this was a gathering of 1,000 of his peers — diverse in perspective, but united in mutual support. And, yes, we unite in standing up to say “no” to those who want to push more and more forced psychiatric drugging on us, which is apparently still your own position to this day.

Talk about “big government”! You Pete apparently still support the idea that the government should get billions of dollars in order to coerce us to take prescribed psychiatric drugs even in our own homes. So you apparently would rather have the government fund the forced drugging of people like myself, rather than fund HEARING from our people.

And so for a third time… If I had a parent who would rather have me on the sharp end of a needle, than to support me gathering with my peers to find our collective voice… then, what would have happened? Instead, I had a family who saw there was more complexity to me than could be fixed by traumatically forcing me against my will to take chemicals, that are proving to be not quite the magic fairy dust panacea that we’ve been told.

I’m pro-choice about taking prescribed psychiatric drugs. Everyone I met at Alternatives — whether on or off psychiatric drugs — was pro-choice about taking prescribed psychiatric drugs. Because we know recovery takes more than a forced needle… It takes the complexity of community.

What about your own healing Pete? The times I’ve communicated with you, you’ve refused to be open to real substantive dialogue…. And now you tear into our community with this hate speech… What about your own personal mental and emotional demons, Pete? Are you truly the example of “normal” that you want us all to aspire to? Is your heart open at all to the message I’m trying to reach you with here, today?

We focus on broken minds… But what about the closed heart of a father that is illustrated in your post? What about healing that heart?

I’m here when you want to really dialogue Pete. Judi Chamberlin and I tried… She’s died since then, so it’s too late for her to have a dialogue with you. But I and thousands of others are open to mediated, civil dialogue with opponents such as yourself.

Now, are YOU open to dialogue Pete? Is your heart open? Or do you have a type of sickness in your own heart, a moral sickness, that closes your heart to dialogue with others with differing opinions, even when your own son’s well being is at stake?

Again, with a mediator we can both agree upon, I’m fine to try again to have an open dialogue with you. But in the meantime, we need to peacefully protest, including hold civil disobedience, when opponents gather to try to rip away our fundamental human rights.

I’d rather have my own family, in their imperfections… because at least they’ve had an open heart.

David Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International

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