Whose Voices Should Be Heard?

David W. Oaks

in Mental Health and Human Rights

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199213962
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754500 | DOI:
Whose Voices Should Be Heard?

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In a challenging perspective, David Oaks discusses oppressive aspects of psychiatry, the sanism that ostracizes citizens whom society calls mad, and the Mad Pride movement’s response. He observes how users and survivors, formerly marginalized, now influence international developments through (for example) participation in the drafting of the CRPD, and how language usage of mental health professionals accommodates terms like empowerment, peer support, advocacy, trauma, alternatives, recovery, and self-determination. Questioning the widening ambit of psychiatry through avenues such as community treatment orders, and school screening and referral, he argues that users and their families should be presented with a range of mental health service choices, not just the conventional mental health system or the medical model. He warns against the rising tide of mental health export packages to developing countries, comprising drugs and electroshock (including without anaesthetic) but little by way of information, advocacy, alternatives, and activism. He asks about the long-term brain effects of neuroleptics. Probing normality to reveal its reductionism and silent complicity with the (potentially suicidal) status quo, he argues for creative maladjustment: while being fully aware that ‘not all strange thoughts are necessarily good’, pleads that madness as dissent may represent imagination and ingenuity.

Chapter.  6632 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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