Protest the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is a protest annually held against the APA meeting every May, intended to publicize the forced psychiatric treatment within the mental health system. Such coerced psychiatric treatments include chemical restraints (through forced drugging), physical restraints, solitary confinement, involuntary commitment, and shock treatment. Each year, the APA Protest adopts a different theme. In 2012, the theme was “Occupy the APA”; in other years, the theme was “Boycott Normal”; and in 2018, “Do No Harm.”
2012 “Occupy the APA”/“Boycott Normal”
On May 5th, in Philadelphia, hundreds of psychiatric survivors and allies gathered to march and protest. One of the most empowering and touching moments of the march was the “Mass Label Rip,” in which survivors and allied activists displayed psychiatric labels which had been negatively applied to them on pieces of paper. Then, in solidarity, they ripped the labels together. The labels included “ADHD,” “Depressive,” “Sick,” DSM,” and “Schizophrenic.” The protests were recorded saying, “This is not me”; “These labels have destroyed more human spirits and souls than any cure”; and “I am not a diagnosis. I have a voice.” For more details about the 2012 protest of the APA.
2014 “STOP Psychiatric Assault and RESIST the Abuses in the Mental Health System”
On May 4th, in NYC, activists and survivors gathered to protest the Murphy Bill. At this time, Congress was threatening to pass this new Bill, which would provide massive funding for the injections and drugging of mental health patients outside of psychiatric hospitals. The Murphy Bill was founded on an “outpatient commitment,” meaning that medical workers would be allowed to bring people from their own homes to receive coerced psychiatric treatment. The 2014 protest was also conducted in support of the #FreeJustina campaign, which publicized Justina Pelletier’s medical ordeal. Pelletier was a teenage girl who suffered from mitochondrial disease; however, she was wrongly diagnosed and held in a psychiatric ward for 16 months. There, she only had one hour to speak on the phone and 20 minutes to visit in person with her parents, weekly. For more details about the 2014 protest of the APA.
2018 “Do No Harm”
On May 6th, in NYC, activists and survivors gathered outside the annual APA meeting to protest the annual APA meeting. The entire event was Livestreamed over Facebook, YouTube, and Periscope. All of the speeches are available at ProtestAPA.com.
In addition to the live protest, this year’s protest also included a virtual “counter-conference” from May 7-9th. This conference featured interviews with psychiatric survivors and healthcare professionals. Counter-Conference participants included, but are not limited to, Robert Whitaker, Jim Gottstein, and Sean Blackwell. Whitaker is a journalist who specializes in investigative journalism. He covers the pharmaceutical clinical trials industry and psychiatric research/medication. Gottstein is lawyer who co-founded the organization PsychRights in 2002, which has won five Alaska Supreme Court cases surrounding Alaska’s involuntary commitment and forced drugging practices. He was also involuntarily hospitalized twice in the 1980s for mania. Blackwell is the author of “Am I Bipolar or Waking Up?” and broadcasts his research on a YouTube series called, “Bipolar Awakenings.” All of the interviews are available at ProtestAPA.com.