I have recently learned of Psychex, a non-profit Swiss organization that stands up for people who are force-“treated” against their will in psychiatric hospitals. Psychex was founded in 1987 by Edmund Schönenberger, Barrister at Law. In 2012, Edmund produced a document titled Fundamental Criticism of Coercive Psychiatry. It runs to 19 pages, and makes interesting reading.
Here are some quotes:
“Over the 40 years that I have worked as a lawyer, the majority of the clients I have defended have been people subjected to forced psychiatric treatment. I can therefore claim to know the fields of psychiatry, justice and their ‘judgements’ inside out. The conclusion I have come to is that the strongholds of psychiatry have absolutely nothing to do with ‘care’, the law or justice – instead, they are nothing other than instruments of domination.”
“When the association PSYCHEX was founded by me a quarter of a century ago in 1987, I was the first lawyer – and practically the only one at the time – to take on the cause of those who have been robbed of their freedom and those who have been tortured with malicious nerve poisons. I did this professionally and in great style in Switzerland – a country where freedom is lauded as the highest principle. In my work with the lawyers’ collective and association, I have listened personally to the stories of well over 10,000 such people committed to mental institutions, and have taken hundreds through administrative and judicial habeas corpus proceedings – including almost precisely a dozen victims who were locked up for between 10 and 40 years. In the course of all these proceedings, I had access to both the clients’ testimonies and all files and – audiatur et altera pars – I regularly came into contact with those who ordered that patients be committed to psychiatric institutions.”
“From thousands of testimonies by clients, the PSYCHEX Association knows that many cases of persons being committed to institutions “voluntarily” were actually the result of threats from the admission bodies: ‘If you don’t go voluntarily, we will have to force you to be admitted.'”
“Labelling a person as ‘of unsound mind’ is equivalent to destroying his existence. He is quite literally degraded. Nothing he says or does is taken seriously any longer.”
“The way in which the term ‘mental illness’ is misused can also be demonstrated in terms of the interplay between the justice system and psychiatry. Before the legislative regulation of psychiatric deprivation of freedom in the year 1981, people who had committed no criminal offences at all were not committed to institutions as ‘mentally ill’ persons – instead, they were given ‘administrative care’ there. Mental illness only played a murky role in guardianship law as grounds for legal incapacitation. In legal terms, it was defined as the completely incomprehensible and bizarre behaviour of a person, which cannot be understood by educated laypeople. When this definition was also included in the new law, it was also decided that the habeas corpus proceedings must involve expert witnesses – exclusively psychiatrists. This was where the justice system began to improvise. On the one hand, it continued to operate as usual with its legal definition, but on the other hand it waffled on about a medical definition which in the end meant that the non-specific and therefore non-justiciable abstractions spouted by the psychiatrists (see PSYCHEX sample complaint, No. 4, 10 – 12) were repeated literally, parrot-fashion. The sinister pact between judges and psychiatrists has become a nightmare for those persecuted by psychiatry, because it makes locking people away a purely mechanical routine procedure for which nobody feels responsible any more: The judge can say to himself that he is simply going along with the evaluation of the psychiatrist, while the psychiatrist is let off the hook because, in the end, it is not his decision but that of the judge.
The inconvenient ‘educated layperson’ has completely lost his voice, while the demigods in white – who are sponsored by the pharmaceutical lobby – take merciless decisions in alliance with the justice system about the fate of those who have been labelled as psychologically unstable.”
This is a very interesting paper from someone working on the front lines of coercive psychiatry in Switzerland.