Jim Flannery

To watch all the speeches from the APA protest, visit ProtestAPA.com.

For details on my feelings about the protest, you can watch my two previous videos:
What I Wish You Knew About Mental Health
Why I’m Protesting the American Psychiatric Association

My Speech from the APA Protest

When I was trying to plan something to say today, I couldn’t figure out who I should be planning on speaking to.  I wish I could speaking to the psychiatrists.  But they don’t listen to me when they’re being paid to, I don’t expect them to listen today.  We setup a livestream, so I thought it’d be nice to speak to the public, but I dunno if I did a good job setting up the livestream.  So the most practical thing would be to speak to all of you, since you showed up today.  But I don’t think there’s anything I can tell you all that you don’t already know about forced psychiatry… that’s why you’re here.

So what I’ll do is try to pretend that the psychiatrists are actually listening and that this livestream is working.  Fortunately I have a pretty good imagination – delusions of grandeur are actually one of my super powers.

When I first started speaking openly about psychiatry five years ago, I started doing it through stand-up comedy.  I thought that somehow through comedy I could spread a message.  I grew up watching black comedians speak about the truths of racism and helping people in their community, I thought maybe somehow I could do that for mental illness.  Given that none of you know who the hell I am, you can tell that’s not going very well.

What I’ve noticed from going out telling jokes, is that nobody knows that there’s a movement.  Nobody knows that we exist.  So I just come across as this crazy guy who probably deserves to be locked up.  Whereas with black comedians, people know that they exist… they’re interested, they’re curious, they want to know about their struggle – nobody knows about the psychiatric survivor movement..  It’s really unfortunate that more people don’t know about us and that we don’t have the liberty to speak up, we’re all kind of hiding in the shadows.

And I don’t really feel comfortable speaking on behalf of the movement, I can only speak about my own experiences.  Everyone has their own thing – so its ok for me to make jokes about my story – my stuff is funny because I got out… I got out of the system, so I can laugh about it.

But there’s a lot of people that are still stuck in it, we’ve got a fucking casket here, people are dying. This is serious.

It’s ok to joke about my stuff.  It’s funny if I’m tied up in a four-point restraint and I want to get revenge at the people who locked me up and left me in a room by slowly pulling off my hospital gown so they have to keep looking at my naked body.  It’s kinda funny.

If they won’t let me wear my own clothes and force me to wear a hospital gown, so I piss all over myself, so they gotta change the gown – that’s kinda funny.

If I take a shit on the bathroom floor of the hospital, and they have to clean up after me.  That’s funny.  I feel good about that.

The problem, is that their response is that it’s “crazy” behavior, that its a “symptom” of my “illness.”  I’m not here to say that these are normal thing or that normal people act like that.  But I’ll say this, if you take any person, and put them in a situation where they are locked up against their will and all their agency and all their dignity is taken away from them, they will resort to whatever measures they can to feel a sense of ownership of themselves.

I was never once violent.  I’ve been locked up four different times.  And I wonder, was I nonviolent because I believe in nonviolence, like its a moral thing?  Or is the reality that when you literally are completely locked up, helpless, and drugged, being violent just ain’t an effective strategy.  It’s just ain’t gonna work.

If you were being raped, and you used violence as a defense, nobody would hold that against you.  Nobody would see any issue with it.  But if you were locked up in the building and there was no escape, in your mind, you would think “if I resist, that’s only going to make my punishment worse.”  So you may end up not resisting.

A lot of people in the psychiatric survivor movement talk about forced psychiatry as feeling like they’re being raped.  I know its a graphic idea but when you think about it visually, when you think about being tied down to a fucking bed, having someone getting on you, penetrating you with a needle, and injecting fluid into your body against your will, and the drapes suddenly close on your consciousness and you’re never the same… it’s not that different.

There is one big difference I suppose between forced psychiatry and being raped.  When you’re raped, you believe you can go to doctors for help and you go to the police for help but with forced psychiatry, it’s doctors that are doing it to you, it’s often the police that are surrounding you holding you down, and it’s judges that are court-ordering these things to happen to people.  So where do you get your help from?  Where do you go?  There’s nowhere to go to.

The point is: you’re fucking hurting people.  You think you’re treating people.

Four different times I’ve been locked up.  Four different teams of doctors independently came the the same conclusion: that I had a neurochemical imbalance, that I’d be permanently disabled for the rest of my life, and the only way I would ever be well would be to take medication.

Yet here I stand, I’m a little emotional in this moment, but in general, pretty damn stable, not on medication, and I’m doing alright.  I work, I’m happy, I enjoy my life.

So one has to wonder:  1) Were these doctors all right and I was actually cured by these drugs they gave me?  That’s unlikely, cause that’s never happened.  2) Did they all independently make the same mistake? or 3) it’s all bullshit?

It’s possible.  I’ve talked to a lot of other people who have had the same experiences, who went through the system, and they’ve recovered.  But nobody gets to hear those stories.  Those stories aren’t broadcast on infomercials promoting psychiatric drugs.  Nobody knows that the survivors exist.

They’re all around us.  They’re at the grocery store checking out behind us.  They’re taking your order at a restaurant.  Some of them are running for political office and we vote for them, some of them run Fortune 500 countries that we buy stuck in… but nobody talks about it – because if you knew that had a psychiatric history, you wouldn’t invest in their company… if you knew they had a psychiatric history, you wouldn’t vote for them.  So all the people with power have to keep their mouth shut.

Yet the reality is, we’re out here.  We’re not alone.  We’re not bad people.  We’re very nice, we’re very loving people.  Some of the nicest, kindest people I’ve ever met in my life, I’ve met through the psychiatric survivor movement.  It frustrates me a lot that the world is scared of people diagnosed with a mental illness.  The truth is, you have no reason to be scared of us.  We’re far more scared of you than you need to be of us.