Citizen Rights

“For your own good is a persuasive argument that will eventually make a man [or woman] agree to his [or her} own destruction.”  Janet Frame

It is unfortunate that in the twenty-first century it is still necessary to advocate for consumer/survivor/ex-patients (c/s/x) to have the same rights as any other citizen.   Discrimination begins with the selective withholding of decision-making rights from people who have a disability label.  For c/s/x to realize their potential, they must be afforded the same rights and opportunities as other citizens, including the right to make what others might consider to be bad decisions.  To choose to subsist on a diet of greasy, fat-laden fast food, to attempt to make a solo voyage around the world in a small boat, to repeatedly choose incompatible marriage partners may be poor decisions, yet almost everyone is free to pursue such choices.  The exception is if you are a person who has been diagnosed to have a major mental illness.   For c/s/x, the choices can be restricted even if a decision does not violate civil or criminal law.

Too often c/s/x, unlike their fellow citizens, find that their rights are addressed as privileges to be earned.  When equality is diminished and differences are emphasized, recovery becomes elusive.

Below are a few more quotes from the magnificent writings of Janet Frame. She spent four and a half years out of eight years, incarcerated in mental hospitals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.  Thought to be hopeless, Ms. Frame was being considered for a lobotomy, which was only cancelled when one of her poems was published and received critical acclaim.  Now considered to be a national treasure of New Zealand, one can find information about her at the official website of the Janet Frame Literary Trust:

“They meant abnormal.  Divisions of the kind were fashionable at that time, and it was so easy to stifle one’s need to help by deciding that help could neither be accepted nor understood.”

“So we went to bed, assaulted by sleep that fumed at us from medicine glasses, or was wielded from small sweet-coated tablets — dainty bricks of dream wrapped in the silk stockings of oblivion.”

 “Possibility was not a bag or box that could be closed and sealed, it was a vast open chute which received everything, everything; one could not choose or direct or destroy the powerful flow of possibility.”