Front PageJim Flannery at the 2018 Protest of the American Psychiatric Association in New York
Jim Flannery at the 2018 Protest of the American Psychiatric Association in New York

depicts Jim, a light skinned man with brown shoulder length hair holding a bullhorn

Shield Update for Jim Flannery, Sunday, January 29, 2023

Jim Flannery is free! MFI learned today that he was discharged this morning, Sunday, January 29.

Jim expressed tremendous gratitude to Shield members who responded with hundreds of letters and calls to the hospital. He is filled with joy and relief to be back in his home state of Massachussetts, in the safety of his apartment, less than one week after he was first incarcerated and less then 48 hours after his Shield alert was activated.

His discharge was highly unusual in that he was given no advance notice, it happened on a weekend, and it was not accompanied by any formal discharge plan, explanation, or apology.

Regardless of the unusual circumstances of his discharge, one thing is crystal clear….your Shield involvement paid off! Thank you!

Please cease from calling or writing additional letters to Middlesex Hospital!

Shield volunteers who were a part of the roll-out of this Shield alert, including our partnering organization, Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, or Psychrights were pleased with the quick response rate, as well as the quality of the responses.

Some of the letters were so eloquent MFI obtained permission to publish them on our website and will do so, soon

The responses were from a diverse population of psychiatric survivors, mental health consumers, family members, researchers, scientists, and clinicians, all united in their fierce opposition to forced psychiatric treatment

Dr. Martin Luther King popularized the term ‘Beloved Community’ referring to a community in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger, and hate. Dr. King’s activism was fueled by his faith that such a community was, in fact, possible.

The Shield program relies primarily on volunteers who embrace the notion that together we make a difference. MFI embraces the principles of non-violence, mutual trust and cooperation. We are thankful to the many Shield members whose responses embodied these principles

Jim is putting together a formal thank-you to Shield volunteers and others who belong to the ‘beloved community’ We will publish that when it is ready.

If you wish to become more involved with MindFreedom’s Shield program, please send an email to with ‘Shield Volunteer’ in the subject heading.



  1. Hopefully Jim was respectful of women inmates while he was incarcerated. We all remember his regrettable comedy routine where he made jokes about bi-coastal sexual assault exploits involving “drugged up women”. Of course, MindFreedom supported him then, at the expense of institutional rape survivors everywere, so it is no surprise they support him today. So disgusting to see someone like this termed a “disability rights activist”. I am literally gagging.

  2. I had sent this letter, but I sent it to the place he was taken from. The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center, Middletown, Connecticut. I didn’t get any response, and had sent this e-mail to them the morning of January the 28th. I wondered whether they had anything to do with it, and wondered what really went on. How they would have excused it, were they involved. Can someone just call the police etc. if they aren’t facilitators of that “Arts Center?” Anyone can go to a public gathering and target someone they think is “crazy?” This should be exposed if nothing else was going on than Jim expressed views that someone thought meant they had the right to decide he needed “treatment.” And I’m not including a link to their site because right now both my browsers (Chrome and Firefox) tell me that it’s a security risk when I click on a link to their site from a google search. You can access their information on facebook though, would you want to call there, or e-mail: I haven’t received a response from them. I don’t know. But it’s not helpful if someone can just go to a public forum, and when there are views expressed they don’t want to be made public that anyone can call the police, and have that person escorted to an asylum. Just to hear about this was distressing to me, but when I got the e-mail that he got out it brought me to tears. There’s STILL goodness on the planet. THANK YOU everyone that took the trouble to petition for this lovely guy…..

    Here is the letter I sent:

    I received word that Jim Flannery was taken to a psychiatric facility, after performing in your Anything goes” show.

    I know that Jim not only protests against, and doesn’t agree with certain psychiatric treatments, and he can direct people to sources, valid scientific sources that state vital facts that the drug companies don’t want people to know. Also statistical sources pointing out what methods correlate with recovery, and what methods correlate with the current spike in the occurrence of mental illness in contrast to before such implementation. What he protests is the current methods that correlate with the spike in mental illness. Instead of clear evidence being acknowledged that certain methods and processes correlate with the spike current, the spike is used as an excuse for maintaining the very methods whose implementation correlates with the spike. This while other methods are not allowed or not promoted although they correlate more with recovery. That’s a very simple, valid protest.

    If there is any reason why Jim Flannery, while at your facility, was taken away to a psychiatric institution, other than he expressed ideas that others were in disagreement with, could you please let me know. Because many of us are extremely concerned.

    • Mr. Bijkerk, that is a very interesting point you raise!

      Jim Flannery was a visitor, not a resident, of the state and city that conducted the Involuntary Commitment, which makes any misconduct all the more terrible.

      Additionally, these visitor circumstances combined with the possibility that, as you say, this may have been instigated by a random bystander (or even formal The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center staff) makes it all the more disturbing, not just for the reasons you cite (of the unchecked power of a random bystander to wreak havoc).

      We also must consider that given all these circumstances together, these most likely preclude the criteria for most diagnosis required to put a person away in 3-day Emergency Detention or a longer Involuntary Commitment. Long-term psychiatric disorders require repeated evidence over usually a 6-month period. That would be impossible to meet in this circumstance (unless there was other evidence recently and prior to, for 6 months).

      Even for any temporary psychiatric disorder, the evidence would have to be rigorous and according to the robust, diagnostic evidentiary standards, and not merely hearsay and vague accusations that can’t be mapped to specific known, clinical criteria examples.

      The lightning fast speed of all these circumstances, suffered by a visitor, would make it highly improbable that the criteria for a diagnosis that authorizes 3-day detention or Involuntary Commitment was met.

      It also makes it highly probable (also given Middlesex hospital’s willful bad faith behavior, hanging up on phone calls, not answering the phone, not answering voicemails, diverting people to the wrong voicemails, etc.) that general allegations, clinical allegations/clinical evidence (on which the diagnosis
      authorizing the detention/commitment would be based) were outright fabricated and/or terribly distorted.

      Misdiagnosis from not following robust, evidentiary diagnostic standards and/or from fabricated and distorted evidence is a huge problem in psychiatry and an especially dangerous, unacceptable problem in the context of psychiatry and the court, law enforcement, etc. including 3-day emergency detentions and Involuntary Commitment.

      In efforts to remedy unjust and harmful 3-day emergency detentions and Involuntary Commitment, we must consider the rampant injustice of misdiagnosis, in addition to the possibilities of, as you raise, random bystanders having disproportionate, unchecked power to ruin people’s lives undeservedly and get them detained and/or committed against their will.

      Again, all the more terrible that he had to suffer from this injustice and all its features while he was a good will visitor!

  3. Dear Dr. Tariq Latif,

    Jim Flannery is a well-known filmmaker, comedian and disability rights activist. I am very concerned to learn about Jim Flannery’s involuntary hospitalization and coercive treatment with neuroleptics in your psychiatric ward. I am requesting you to discontinue Jim Flannery’s involuntary treatment and to discharge him.

    Involuntary psychiatric treatment and hospitalization are standard practice in mental hospitals in the United States, yet both practices are highly controversial.

    In accordance with the international standard established by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) Article 12, the Norwegian government now requires a drug-free and consensual psychiatric treatment and hospitalization option for all Norwegians.

    The United States government lags behind international standards on a number of human rights issues, including the UNCRPD human rights based standard of care for persons with psychosocial disabilities or those perceived to be so. The United States has signed but not ratified the UNCRPD.

    Despite this fact, there is no restriction on individual medical doctors, including psychiatrists, in the United States, from upholding a higher human rights based standard of health care.

    I am attaching two United Nations Human Rights Commission statements by United Nations special rapporteurs, one issued by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities and the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, and another by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, calling on states to end coercive psychiatric treatment. Links to both statements are also provided below.

    Excerpt from UN Special Rapporteur Juan E/ Mendez’s 2013 Statement (boldface type added)

    Despite the significant strides made in the development of norms for the abolition of forced psychiatric interventions on the basis of disability alone as a form of torture and ill-treatment and the authoritative guidance provided by the CRPD, severe abuses continue to be committed in health-care settings where choices by people with disabilities are often overridden based on their supposed “best interests”, and where serious violations and discrimination against persons with disabilities may be masked as “good intentions” of health-care professionals.

    The mandate has previously declared that there can be no therapeutic justification for the use of solitary confinement and prolonged restraint of persons with disabilities in psychiatric institutions; both prolonged seclusion and restraint constitute torture and ill- treatment. In my 2012 report (A/66/88) I addressed the issue of solitary confinement and stated that its imposition, of any duration, on persons with mental disabilities is cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

    Fully respecting each person’s legal capacity is a first step in the prevention of torture and ill-treatment. As already established by the mandate, medical treatments of an intrusive and irreversible nature, when lacking a therapeutic purpose or when aimed at correcting or alleviating a disability, may constitute torture or ill-treatment when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned.

    Deprivation of liberty on grounds of mental illness is unjustified. Under the European Convention on Human Rights, mental disorder must be of a certain severity in order to justify detention. I believe that the severity of the mental illness cannot justify detention nor can it be justified by a motivation to protect the safety of the person or of others. Furthermore, deprivation of liberty that is based on the grounds of a disability and that inflicts severe pain or suffering falls under the scope of the Convention against Torture. In making such an assessment, factors such as fear and anxiety produced by indefinite detention, the infliction of forced medication or electroshock, the use of restraints and seclusion, the segregation from family and community, should be taken into account.

    Mister President,

    The CRPD offers the most comprehensive set of standards on the rights of persons with disabilities and it is important that States review the anti-torture framework in relation to persons with disabilities in line with the CRPD. States should impose an absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions against persons with disabilities, including the non-consensual administration of psychosurgery, electroshock and mind-altering drugs, for both long- and short- term application. The obligation to end forced psychiatric interventions based on grounds of disability is of immediate application and scarce financial resources cannot justify postponement of its implementation.

    Forced treatment and commitment should be replaced by services in the community that meet needs expressed by persons with disabilities and respect the autonomy, choices, dignity and privacy of the person concerned. States must revise the legal provisions that allow detention on mental health grounds or in mental health facilities and any coercive interventions or treatments in the mental health setting without the free and informed consent by the person concerned.

    ‘Dignity Must Prevail’ World Mental Health Day statement by UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights of persons with disabilities and the right to health

    UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez statement (with link to full statement; full statement is attached as PDF)


    Janna Weiss, PhD
    New York

    • Excellent letter Janna! I hope you allow me to publish this in other formats as a ‘model letter’ Although most people do not have the time to write letters as detailed as this one, it is good for people to have much of these citations handy. Thanks again for responding to Jim’s Shield Alert. Thanks to the quick response of people you, I am thrilled that he is free!!!!

  4. Excellent letter in support of Jim. As a person who also was subjected to forced “treatment” in my 20’s and as a psychiatrist who uses emotional CPR to reach people in altered states I oppose forced medication.

  5. I sent this:

    Dear Dr Latif,

    Please respect human rights and immediately stop your forced treatment and forced hospitalization of your patient Jim Flannery.
    These psychiatric practices are a form of torture and must be abolished according to the UN CRPD Disability Rights Convention (Ref CRPD/C/GC/1).
    Moreover, The UN CRPD Committee asks for complete reparations regarding these gross violations of human rights. (Ref. CRPD/C/27/3).
    Even though the USA has not ratified the UN CRPD yet, I urge you to realize how wrong and backwards, and internationally condemned these practices are.
    May I suggest you learn alternative practices respectful of human rights, as the WHO offers a free course online:

    Best regards,

  6. Some Shield members have asked me to share ‘model’ letters. This was one of the first we received and I think it is very good. It is written by MFI member Rudi Leibik

    Hello, Dr. Latif –
    I am a 61 year old parent of two, writing from Canada to ask you to stop force drugging your patient, Jim Flannery. When I was 25 years old, I was similarly hospitalized, and put on psychiatric medication that made it very hard for me to function. I was treated brutally, and inhumanely. Fortunately, I was eventually able to wean myself off of all medication, and I have lived a very balanced, healthy, and full life for many decades. My wish for anyone being detained against their will, and forced medicated against their will, is for them to find their way to safe, respectful, and compassionate care, and to be given the support needed to find their own answers, and their authentic path to healing, and restored health. So may it be for Jim Flannery. Please imagine yourself, or a cherished loved one, in his vulnerable position. Forced medication, most especially by involuntary injection, is a terrible transgression of a person’s basic civil liberties, and right to personal autonomy. This violence is not healing; rather, it exacerbates trauma, and amplifies fear, and distress. I ask you to do the right thing – stop this regime of forced medication, and allow Jim Flannery to be heard, seen, and respected. Dialogue, not brutality.

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