Maths Jesperson is a long-time psychiatric survivor activist, leader and actor in Sweden, who is calling upon psychiatric survivors and allies all over the world to submit comments to an online medical magazine. This magazine covers all kinds of medical topics, but the editor, who is a psychiatrist, has reached out to psychiatric survivors and allies to ask for their commentary, and articles.

Maths Jesperson of Sweden

MindFreedom’s director David Oaks tried out the below alert, and it works! David’s commentary about how some psychiatric drugs cause brain damage was published in this online medical magazine. MindFreedom encourages you to act on this alert and submit a commentary, or even an article. You may reach into the general medical community, as well as to the public. While the magazine is on all medical topics, a number of articles you can comment on are about mental health.

26 Sept. 2007

ALERT Encouraging Psychiatric Survivors and Allies to Submit Commentary to Online Medical Magazine

by Maths Jesperson of Sweden

In the latest issue of the online medical magazine Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine (http://www.peh-med.com/home) there is an article by the British psychiatrist Anthony Maden, which praises the new English Mental Health Act. This Act was adopted by the UK Parliament this summer of 2007. This new law legalizes compulsory psychiatric treatment in the community which actually means compulsory psychiatric treatment — including drugging — in your own home.

To publish an article in this online medical magazine can cost a lot of money, but you can write comments on already published articles totally free. You can also subscribe on this online medical magazine for nothing. You just have to register online and then you can get the magazine and all its articles.

The editor of this medical magazine really want comments on the articles, including from psychiatric survivors.

I have already written a comment to another article, which is now published in the online magazine at http://www.peh-med.com/content/2/1/12/comments#285639 (if anyone of you want to re-publish this text you can do that for free).

And David Oaks has written a comment to Maden’s article. This comment is called “Involuntary neuroleptic (antipsychotic) psychiatric drugs may result in brain damage.” It is published in this online medical magazine at http://www.peh-med.com/content/2/1/16/comments (use the link to comments at the top).

My suggestion is that some of you also write comments to the article by the psychiatrist Anthony Maden, “England’s new Mental Health Act represents law catching up with science”, which you find at http://www.peh-med.com/content/2/1/16

Why Speak Out Against the New British Law?

The new English Mental Health Act is a legal step made in UK this summer in opposite direction to the new United Nations convention on human rights for persons with disabilities.

Anthony Maden is one of the English psychiatrists who have been working hard to get compulsory psychiatric treatment in the communty legalized. He is the author of the book Treating Violence: a Guide to Risk Management in Mental Health, published by Oxford University Press (January 2007), a book which opens with these amazing lines: “The most important event in the history of modern British mental health services occurred on the platform of Finsbury Park tube … station where, on the afternoon of 17 December 1992, Christopher Clunis killed Jonathan Zito.” [That incident was used to promote more forced psychiatry in UK.]

Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine (PEHM) is a general medical magazine, covering all areas of medicine, including Psychiatry, Medical Ethics and that sort of thing. I think this is a beneficial place for us to discuss with the wider medical world the new UN declaration on human rights for people with disabilities as well as our view on compulsory psychiatric treatment in the community.

To write a comment in this online medical magazine is free, and is a chance to reach huge numbers of people within medicine all over the world. And because this magazine is especially focused on “philosophy, ethics and humanities in medicine” their readers are doctors, scientists, teachers, students, journalists and politicians who are interested in ethical questions, human rights and similar things.

I and David Oaks have had a lot of email correspondence with the editor-in-chief of PEHM, Michael Schwartz. He declares that they really want to have comments from psychiatric survivors and allied movement activists. He wrote, “Why ‘consumers/survivors and allies?’ I cannot imagine why not? Medicine is a social endeavor and should be a collaborative process including all stakeholders. We seek an open society – information should be available to all, all should be able to review and criticize, all voices count.”

PEHM is part of something called BioMed Central, which is a publisher of 180 open access online medical magazines.

If you write a comment in PEHM it will be highlited on the front page of BioMed Central as well, which means that it reaches people interested in all these 180 online medical magazines. That is a very huge number of potential readers all over the world, so this is a high-visibility spot.

At the time this alert was written, I could see how the comment of David Oaks was highlighted at the front page of BioMed Central at http://www.biomedcentral.com/home/, as well as its “Latest Comments” at http://www.biomedcentral.com/latestcomments/

The editor of PEHM, Michael Schwartz, encourages us to write not only comments, but also articles.

As I said above, you can write comments totally for free, but to publish an original article costs normally 1625 US dollars. Now, Michael Schwartz tells us that it’s possible for us also to write artcles for free, if we ask for waivers: He wrote, “It does not necessarily cost $1600+ to publish [an article] because people with no funds can ask for waivers. The publisher is committed to ‘open-access’ – people have asked for waivers and gotten them. How are these fees ‘waived’ or partially waived? Authors send in an abstract and ask the publisher BioMed Central (not PEHM) for a waiver – reason being lack of funds. BioMed Central is responsive – but you have to ask them. You can also appeal their decision back to them.. So it is complicated but it does work if authors are willing to go through all of this. Editors have no influence over these matters. That is our weakness.”

Anyway, to write comments on already published articles is very easy.

David Oaks has helped me to describe the procedure to make a comment to PEHM.

  1. At the very bottom of an article or comment you can click to make a comment yourself.
  2. But note: You do need to register first, which is very easy… and then respond to a confirming e-mail (which takes a few minutes to receive).
  3. Then you can type in your comment, and submit it. You even have a chance to review your comment before final submission. Note they do publish comments… but they do review them first, so keep professional, maybe include a citation.
  4. The editor may send your comments back with suggested changes. The person making the comment needs to make the changes themselves, and resubmit the article.”

There are more articles related to mental health that are already published in PEHM, which you can comment on. You may find these using the search engine in their web site.

For example:

“The encounter with God in myth and madness” by Otto Doerr and Óscar Vélasquez (http://www.peh-med.com/content/2/1/12 – this is the article I commented)

“Secular humanism and scientific psychiatry” by Thomas Szasz (http://www.peh-med.com/content/1/1/5)

“The new philosophy of psychiatry: its (recent) past, present and future” by Natalie F. Banner and Tim Thornton (http://www.peh-med.com/content/2/1/9).

But most important now are more comments on “England’s new Mental Health Act represents law catching up with science” by Anthony Maden (http://www.peh-med.com/content/2/1/16).

Write a comment to Anthony Maden’s article! It’s easily done.


Maths Jesperson can be reached at maths.jesperson@bredband.net. He appreciates hearing about any commentary (or article) you submit to PEHM. Maths and David are both contributors to the new book, Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry, available through the Mad Market.


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