What a wild week I've had here in the Coming Out Crazy cranny.
We made it onto several American blogs. Have a look at the fiery comment thread on my last post about Mad Pride Day. Some exciting, dramatic and intense emotions were flying fast, back and forth, from people on both sides of the Great Divide.
This is great. Just what a blog should stir up. Reaction. Emotion. Anger. Disagreement. Controversy.
All about Mad Pride.
So, let’s reflect.
Mad Pride fights oppression. Like Black Pride that evolved from the history of Black oppression and Gay Pride that fights discrimination against Gays and Lesbians.
Women have been and still are oppressed, so International Women’s Day on March 7 is an international holiday – and a day off in many countries – to celebrate women and recognize the history of the oppression and maltreatment of women, particularly in the labour force.
“Pride” movements are social-change movements and Mad Pride is no different. It’s a Human Rights crusade.
Mad Pride has a political agenda not universally accepted and hotly political.
If you believe the biomedical approach to “mental illnesses” – that they are lifelong, incurable conditions like diabetes, “brain diseases,” that must be diagnosed, managed and treated with medications and other therapies, Mad Pride will seem odd, perhaps trivializing.
In July 2007, Respectives, McMaster University’s Human Rights and Equity Services Newsletter devoted a whole issue to Mad Pride.
Worth reading. It refers to “so-called mental illness.” A philosophical issue. As yet, there is no scientific evidence that proves mental illnesses exist organically, in the brain, as “chemical imbalances.”
There are still a lot of assumptions widely considered to be truths. They have to be questioned.
Positron emission tomography or PET scans can show some differences in the brains of people with schizophrenia diagnoses, but Pet scans are not yet used for diagnostic tools.
Furthermore, "difference" doesn’t necessarily mean "disease."
Many people question the existence of schizophrenia as a “mental illness.” Between 30% and 50% of people with schizophrenia diagnoses get better with no medical intervention at all.
The World Health Organization did two very conclusive studies comparing schizophrenia recovery rates between developing and developed countries. Recovery rates in the developing countries were 50% higher than the developed countries.
Mad Pride may date back to the anti-psychiatry movement of the 1950s and 1960s when psychiatric patients often were subjected to cruel, inhumane treatments.
• Electroconvulsive “Shock” Therapy
• The earliest “typical” anti-psychotic drugs replaced lobotomy – Thorazine or Chlorpromazine were called chemical lobotomies and they were utterly dehumanizing, turning people into zombies and they had serious, sometimes irreversible side effects.
• Involuntary hospitalization and treatment
• Physical restraints
I lived through all of these “treatments” in the mid-1960s. Unfortunately, I remember them, though I wish I could forget. I can empathize, though I’m more critical of psychiatry than anti-psychiatry.
Mad Pride Day is on July 14, Bastille Day.
Last year, Toronto Mayor David Miller officially proclaimed July 14 “Mad Pride Day” and a week of activities around it winds up this year’s events this weekend.
Tomorrow, the 2nd Annual Mad Pride Bed Push and Parade begins at 1 p.m. at the Ossington and Queen entrance of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
On Sunday, a workshop and discussion about Mad Pride takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. in Room 560 at the Sally Horsfall Eaton Building at 99 Gerrard St. E.
Mad Pride is all about social-change and empowerment. It's for the public and for people who've been hurt by the mental health system.
It’s gone global since it started in the 1990s in the U.K.
Mad Pride fights fear and ignorance with public education. It raises awareness through serious and witty, often theatrical, creative events that celebrate the people who have been oppressed by a mental health system that was not always humanistic.
Mental hospitals or institutions were historically run more like prisons than places promoting recovery and well-being. Remnants of that prison model still exist today, though they’re slowly disappearing. In many psych wards, you have to earn a pass to leave with good behaviour. I remember having my clothes locked up.
Mad Pride is against psychiatric labelling, which works well for doctors but can destroy a person’s sense of self, his or her feelings of uniqueness.
Labelling can promote denial – toxic when it comes to mental health and wellness. And Recovery.
To be continued...