I’m an Escape Artist

(Speech delivered today, excerpted from my book, Myths of the Mental Health System)

I’m an escape artist. I was kept in mental hospitals for over three decades and then, got away. The change was drastic and shocking. Now, I live as an ordinary person. I help others get out, too. I do this by telling my fantastic story.

I’m fundamentally the same as anyone in this room. There are no brain differences and there’s no chemical imbalance. The only difference was created by the institution itself, the arbitrary split between Patients and Staff. I was locked up, and I lived to tell the story. In the institution, we patients were denied our self-evident rights. Why? Because of arbitrary and false diagnoses, which were government-santioned and continue to be upheld in popular media.

We were always monitored, always watched, supervised or “followed” by people who held privy to the keys. We were were told that the so-called “treatment” was necessary for the rest of our lives, but that wasn’t true. This amounts to eugenics, and it must be stopped before our society gets swept up in hate propoganda.

I ask everyone here, community as a whole, to undo the Us and Them notion. Obliterate the concept of mental illness. It is only an invention, a construct. Even the slightest hint of the past dichotomy you shall simply toss out. I ask you to take a leap together. Please join me and fight for this one dream: the day that no human being is locked up.