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On Sunday, October 16th, 2016, two members of the Painted Brain joined a delegation of Southern California psychiatric survivors to speak out about forced psychiatric treatment at a United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in San Diego, California.
The Working Group was part of the United Nations’ effort to closely examine various forms of arbitrary detention in the U.S. Over the next several weeks, UN delegates will be visiting places of deprivation of liberty, including jails, prisons, and psychiatric institutions, in addition to holding forums around the country on the topic.
Painted Brain members Emily Sheera Cutler and Brette Tell spoke about the trauma of forced psychiatric hospitalization alongside several other survivors of forced treatment. Survivors spoke about the trauma of losing their bodily autonomy and frequently being subjected to restraint, seclusion, invasive strip searches, forced drugging, and verbal and physical harassment. They highlighted the lack of education and support in filing grievances against these types of abuse, as well as the fear of retaliation that prevents so many from doing so. They stressed the fact that many individuals with mental health struggles, trauma, and distress cite fear of coerced or forced treatment as a reason that they do not choose to seek mental health treatment or speak out about their mental health..
Emily Sheera Cutler and Brette Tell have both found the Painted Brain to be a helpful, compassionate alternative to the abusive medical treatment they experienced while hospitalized. “The Painted Brain provides healing through community building and creativity,” says Cutler. “I am very grateful to be part of a mental health community that respects the dignity and autonomy of every member.”
Psychiatry is the only medical specialty to have its own survivor movement – not from the illnesses it hopes to treat, but from the practices of the profession itself. Please click here to read testimonies of psychiatric survivors.