To the Editor: Psychiatric Services has done a disservice to any of its readers who might want an accurate picture of our movement for the human rights of psychiatric consumers/survivors. Anyone familiar with our history would have a hard time recognizing us from the bizarre and highly inaccurate article that appeared in your most recent issue.
The authors got it partly right when they mentioned two of our long-time leaders, Leonard Frank and Judi Chamberlin. If the authors had interviewed either of them, their account might have some resemblance to reality. Instead, the authors seem to have relied completely on articles and books, rather than first-hand reports from the people who have actually been involved.
As for myself, my 35 years of activity in our movement wasn't inspired by any books written by Drs. Szasz or Laing or the other seminal thinkers named, although I respect their contributions. It came about from my ten years in a state hospital as a child, after I received electroshock treatment at age six at the hands of one of the profession's most honored child psychiatrists. And most activists in our movement have also become involved because of their own experiences.
Though I would hardly expect a journal of the American Psychiatric Association to support our criticisms of psychiatry, I think that it would be much more useful for your readers—and more interesting—if you exposed them to accurate reports of our positions and activities. Any psychiatrist who relied on articles such as this to get a picture of our movement would be living in a dream world.
Mr. Chabasinski is a patients' rights attorney, Berkeley, California.