One year ago today, on 15 April 2009, Ray Sandford of Minnesota received what we at MindFreedom hope will be his last involuntary electroshock over his expressed wishes, on an outpatient basis. We asked Ray today how his one year victory anniversary feels. Ray said, “It feels great! I’m absolutely okay without the electroshock.”
When Ray first phoned the MindFreedom office, each and every Wednesday morning he was being woken up in his group home to be escorted, under court order, for another electroshock, also known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT. In court and to he media, the mental health system claimed Ray could not survive without his weekly forced electroshock.
Because of MindFreedom’s campaign, thousands of people found out about Ray’s struggle, and many spoke out. Adding special meaning to USA’s “Tax Day,”
One of the most eye-opening aspects of Ray’s campaign is that at first the system resisted. So MindFreedom identified more than 30 agencies and individuals getting taxpayer money that were supposed to be defending Ray! A few helped, but most didn’t, or actively opposed Ray, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
You can read about this amazing list of Ray’s Web of Links, recognizing many have changed, here:
Finding out about the role of the USA’s biggest Lutheran Church (ELCA) was certainly sobering. It turns out ELCA is affiliated with hundreds of social service agencies, like Ray’s general guardians Lutheran Social Service, who make a lot of money from taxpayer funded services. The “Lutheran” name opens a lot of doors, and several State of Minnesota bishops in ELCA have served on the LSS board.
Yet, when we finally reached ELCA headquarters in Chicago, they said they absolutely refused to have any oversight or supervision of any of these agency activities.
Given the grief the Catholic Church has experienced by denying and covering up abuse, ELCA may want to revisit their hands off policy. To top it off, after Ray was free of LSS, a news item appeared that an LSS employee had bilked several clients of money, including Ray!
What ultimately won Ray’s campaign is people power. The pressure was so much, Ray won a new psychiatrist, new lawyer, new guardianship, and many new friends. Remember, Ray’s psychiatrist quit saying that his own insurance company asked him to, since there was so much public controversy!
Said Ray today: “It’s a year. No one has tried to commit me or give me forced shock treatments. That’s great! Your organization MindFreedom had a lot to do with it. Otherwise I’d still be sitting there getting forced treatment.”
Ray said the community he discovered is one of the best results of his victory. “The supporters I’ve talked to, I’ve had pretty interesting conversations. I wish I could phone up all my supporters! I made some good friends of people working on my behalf.”
To look back on the Ray campaign, see http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray
Ray also saw his neurologist today. She said, “I’ll see you in a year.”
Celebrate! The Ray campaign was one of the best examples of how a MindFreedom can help activate thousands to unite, reach the general public, and make a difference in a person’s life. Thank you to all of Ray’s supporters.