This essay celebrates the MindFreedom delegation once again entering the United Nations, in this case on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, 16 January 2006.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why MLK, Jr. Would Be Pleased!

by David Oaks, Director MindFreedom International

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2006!

Today, the United Nations again begins special meetings about the human rights of people considered disabled.

Once more, MindFreedom International will have a delegation inside UN headquarters in New York City for these important meetings, which could lead to an international binding treaty.

MindFreedom is focusing on the human rights of people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders.

This year our delegation is again headed by MindFreedom President Celia Brown, with able leaders Myra Kovary and author Kate Millet. All are psychiatric survivors, that is, individuals who have experienced human rights violations in the mental health system.

They are joined in the UN this year by the Executive Director of MindFreedom Ghana from Africa, Mrs. Janet Amegatcher. From MindFreedom Ireland the poet John McCarthy will be bringing his warmth.

A delegation from the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP), led by the dedicated attorney Tina Minkowitz, is working closely with the MindFreedom delegation.

This will be the 7th meeting to form the “Draft Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” since these UN sessions began in August 2002.

Leaders of disability movement groups from all over the world are attending. You may read more about this process on the United Nations web site at:


I know some individuals feel that we should never participate in UN activities while governments continue to promote human rights violations in the mental health system.

But with the world in such a crisis, I believe those who have been personally affected by the mental health system may have something very helpful to offer at the UN.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and a good time to reflect on the need for “The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.” Believe it or not, this is an actual organization that Martin Luther King, Jr. said ought to begin to help a troubled world!

There are many examples of MLK talking about psychologists’ use of the term “maladjusted,” and how being “creatively maladjusted” may be the salvation of the world.

It is true that MLK tried to distance his comments a bit from people actually diagnosed “neurotic,” “schizophrenic,” etc.

But I believe if Rev. King were alive today he would see today’s large cross-disability movement — and our psychiatric survivors movement — as directly linked to the heritage of the civil rights movement and its “creative maladjustment.”

Rev. King would be proud of the psychiatric survivors movement today.

With people affected by the mental health system again speaking out inside of the United Nations, this is an ideal moment to hear from MLK, Jr. on being “maladjusted.”

Below are just a few examples over many years of King’s speeches and written works on the topic. You may find a lot more by googling words such as:

Martin Luther King psychologists maladjusted


For examples of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s references to International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment see here:


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