From Privileges to Rights: People Labeled with Psychiatric Disabilities Speak for Themselves
January 20, 2000
SCOPE AND PURPOSE:
This report focuses on people with psychiatric disabilities, who are routinely deprived of their rights in a way no other disability group has been. In order to learn more about the problems of psychiatric disability, NCD conducted a hearing specifically on this topic. At the hearing, held in Albany, New York, in November 1998, NCD heard testimony from mental health professionals, lawyers, advocates, and relatives of people with psychiatric disabilities. However, unlike most investigations on the topic of psychiatric disability, the primary participants in this hearing were people with psychiatric disabilities themselves, who testified passionately and eloquently both about the mistreatment they had experienced or witnessed, and their proposals for real and viable change. NCD heard testimony graphically describing how people with psychiatric disabilities have been beaten, shocked, isolated, incarcerated, restricted, raped, deprived of food and bathroom privileges, and physically and psychologically abused in institutions and in their communities. The testimony pointed to the inescapable fact that people with psychiatric disabilities are systematically and routinely deprived of their rights, and treated as less than full citizens or full human beings.