The “Mentally Ill” Stigma

By Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Special for  USDR

Mental health industry watchdog, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), disclosed that thousands of Americans every year lose their Constitutional rights under a mental health system where patients or their families report abusive psychotropic drug prescribing, involuntary detainment and deprivation of liberty, and forced electroshock treatment — often passed off as “therapy” without recourse for the abuse. CCHR was formed in 1969 to assist such  individuals.

While Americans celebrate Independence Day on the Fourth of July this year — a day when, in 1776, the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence, [1] CCHR points to the Declaration’s opening lines — the landmark decree that “all men are created  equal.”[2]

However, given the huge number of individuals or their families reporting abuses to CCHR each year, its president, Jan Eastgate, says that equality is clearly not evident if you are labeled mentally ill. A large percent of cases reported to it involves therapist sexual abuse of patients, billing fraud, dosages of drugs that are so damaging that people suffer permanent nervous system damage, birth defects from pregnant women taking antidepressants, children — even infants — dosed with mind-altering psychostimulants, and allegations that electroshock ruins memory and harms brains. (Click here to report psychiatric abuse to CCHR.) “It is widely recognized now that psychotropic drugs cause harm, which is why informed consent rights are so vital,” Eastgate says. “People must have the Constitutional right to refuse any government-paid psychiatrist or funded facility where that treatment carries series risk of damage,” she added. CCHR investigates and tries to assist those that contact it and want to know their  rights.

CCHR’s co-founder, the late Dr. Thomas Szasz, professor of psychiatry emeritus and prolific writer, addressed such issues in his book Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry. He said, “Historically, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were designed to regulate the relationship between the people and the government. As a rule, therefore, problems of constitutionality arise only if there is a conflict of interest between these two parties.” Szasz argued that mental health laws that empowered psychiatrists to involuntarily commit individuals and force treatment on them in government-owned institutions is unconstitutional. But in practice, he said, “Certain psychiatric actions — like the indefinite sentencing of some person to mental institutions — have been held constitutional on the ground that deprivation of liberty was incidental to therapy, and not intended as punishment.” He questioned, “But is this not a misinterpretation of the  Constitution?” [3]

“Involuntary mental hospitalization has always been considered constitutional,” Szasz added, “for people believed it was right to segregate so-called mentally sick persons from the rest of the population, both for their own welfare and that of society. Just as the Dred Scott decision [affirming the “right” of slave owners to take their slaves into the Western territories(4)] of the Supreme Court betrayed, in 1857, the people’s sense of value about slavery, so our traditional acceptance of involuntary mental hospitalization as constitutional reflects the current sense of value about the mentally  ill.” [5]

What happens to the individual once admitted or committed to a mental institution is out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Again, another of Szasz’s books Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry, covers the extensive history of the use of coercion throughout psychiatry, including the early use of various mechanical restraints, insulin shock therapy, electroshock today, lobotomy, and the development of drugs.[6] All have serious adverse effects which, adding to Szasz’s argument, should never, therefore, be forced on  anyone.

More recently, media have reported the  risks:

  • Prescriptions for benzodiazepines more than tripled and fatal overdoses more than quadrupled between 1996 and 2013. Nearly 50 million scripts for the more common types of benzos are written each year, according to a Psychology Today article posted June 29.[7] Dr. David Sack reported, “In addition, tolerance and dependence can develop quickly. There have been reports of people who received high doses of benzodiazepines becoming physically dependent in as little as two days. Without medical supervision, withdrawal symptoms after stopping benzos can be severe, ranging from extremely intensified anxiety to high blood pressure, shaking, seizures and convulsions.”[8]
  • What makes these drugs even more dangerous is that many people combine benzos with other substances such opioids. Adults labeled with a mental illness receive more than 50 percent of the 115 million opioid prescriptions in the United States annually, according a study published in June 2017 in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.[9]
  • While lawmakers push for increased mental health funding to curb or prevent violence, what is ignored is that at least 36 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs. Such shootings have resulted in 172 wounded and 80 killed. Dr. David Healy, a UK psychiatrist and author estimates that 90 percent of school shootings, over more than a decade, had been linked to SSRI antidepressants.[10] He warned, “What is very, very clear is that people do become hostile on the drugs.”[11] Yet psychotropic drugs are forced on individuals committed to psychiatric institutions on the basis that they are a threat to themselves or others — only to be forced onto the very drugs that may have caused their “threatening” behavior leading to their liberty being deprived.

Prof. Szasz asserted that “It is dishonest to pretend that caring coercively for the mentally ill invariably helps him, and that abstaining from such coercion is tantamount to ‘withholding treatment’ from him … All history teaches us to beware of benefactors who deprive their beneficiaries of  liberty.”

Decades later, the same message rings true: In a recent report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dr. Dainius Pūras, said, “There is now unequivocal evidence of the failures of a system that relies too heavily on the biomedical model of mental health services, including the front-line and excessive use of psychotropic medicines…” [12]

In his book, Psychiatric SlaverySzasz also spoke of the direction in which the mental health system must go. He said: “…we shall have to create an increasing number of humane and rational alternatives to involuntary mental hospitalization. Old-age homes, workshops, temporary homes for indigent persons whose family ties have been disintegrated, progressive prison communities — these and many other facilities will be needed to assume the tasks now entrusted to mental  hospitals.”

CCHR encourages any family member or friend to report any incident of human rights or patient abuse in the mental health system to  CCHR.

CCHR is a mental health industry watchdog organization that works for patient protections and encourages the public to take action against mental health abuse. In the course of its 48 years it has helped get more than 180 laws enacted. As a nonprofit, CCHR relies on memberships and donations to carry out its mission and actions to curb psychotropic drug use in foster care. Click here to support the  cause.




[3] Thomas Szasz, M.D., Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry, pp. 243-244.


[5] Thomas Szasz, M.D., Law, Liberty, and Psychiatryp. 244





[10] “Psych meds linked to 90% of school shootings, WND, 18 Dec. 2012,

[11] FDA Mulls Antidepressant Warnings,” Daily Press21 Mar. 2004 or Glenmullen,

[12] “World needs ‘revolution’ in mental health care – UN rights expert,”

SOURCE Citizens Commission on Human  Rights

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.