Freedom Center Western Massachusetts

[ The Freedom Center] is a Northampton, Massachusetts-based activist, support, and advocacy group run by and for people diagnosed with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar, borderline and obsessive-compulsive who are challenging the 'disease and disorder' medical model of mental illness and working for human rights and real alternatives, in favor of explanations that emphasize the role of trauma, belief, environment, and the unconscious in every aspect of life. More importantly, the organization challenges the idea of 'mental illness' as being objectively distinct from other forms of human behavior or even useful in solving individual or societal problems. Members of the organization therefore maintain a firm anti-psychiatry stance, or at the very least vigorous criticism of the exclusive use of medication to treat extreme states or illnesses. Instead, the Freedom Center promotes therapies including acupuncture, yoga, psychiatric survivors' support group, herbal remedies, as well as system-wide change and the political activities needed to accomplish it.

The Freedom Center's stated goals include:

-- to end all force and coercion, including involuntary treatment and forced drugging;

-- to ensure access to resources such as housing is without strings and not conditional on treatment "compliance;"

-- to defend human rights and ensure protective laws and regulations are enforced;

-- to ensure all treatment decisions are based on true informed consent and accurate information about risks;

-- to change drugging as the medical standard of care for psychosis;

-- to end all psych drugging of children and offer alternatives instead;

-- to support effective alternatives such as nutrition, exercise, holistic health care, nature and animals;

-- to provide voluntary, non-paternalistic social supports such as peer-run programs, housing, income, and individual and family therapy;

-- to create [ Soteria House] -style options;

-- to expose psychiatric and pharmaceutical industry myths, propaganda, and corruption;

-- to end wasteful bureaucracies and expensive professional elites;

-- to break the silence around trauma and abuse;

-- to end fear and misunderstanding of "madness" and extreme states of consciousness;

-- and to make common cause with progressive movements for social justice and ecological balance.

The organization has experimented with several decision-making models, but to date has not settled upon any formal structure. The Freedom Center completely disassociates itself from the Church of Scientology.

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