This is a modified version of the original paper newsletter.
Links and other information may be outdated.
APA Will List RadPsyNet On August Schedule
As noted in the last RadPsyNews, we're planning to meet in New York during August's American Psychological Association convention. We have lots to discuss at RadPsyNet's first meeting since APA's Toronto convention two years ago.
Where do we go from here? Should we define our notion of "radical psychology" more clearly? What committees can we set up to work on outreach and other key tasks? Do we have the energy to keep this newsletter going, or should we fall back entirely on the Internet (hint: the Editor needs a break!)? How can we reduce our need to continually remind members to send in dues to save us from going broke? Would changing our name attract more people? It's time to talk face-to-face!
APA has agreed to list RadPsyNet in the convention schedule as an unaffiliated group. They did have some initial hesitation, reflected in this letter we received a couple of weeks ago: "The Board of Convention Affairs was not able to come to a decision based on the information provided. In order to make a final determination, please send us a copy of your mission statement, bylaws, goals, and membership list."
Obviously this presented a problem. Sending APA more newsletters and another statement of our mission and goals was okay with us. And APA might accept the fact that we don't have bylaws. But Isaac and I were not prepared to send them our membership list. Frankly, we were pretty annoyed at being asked for something seemingly so inappropriate.
Raising this problem on the e-mail discussion list led to a heated debate. Should radical psychologists bother with APA when there are other organizations where we'd fit in better? Should we reject such requests in principle? Are the organizational advantages worth our going through these hoops? Does APA ask all groups for their membership lists, or only those called radical?
In the end, we sent APA another mission statement and the names of half a dozen volunteers. Isaac and I felt uncomfortable doing even that, but decided the practical benefits justified rising above principle, at least this time.
And after a brief delay, APA came through. So plan on a Friday "Information Meeting" from 5:00-6:50 pm (and then a restaurant tour?) and a Sunday "Business Meeting" from 1:00-2:50. RadPsyNet goes to the Waldorf! See you there!
If you're giving a paper, chairing a symposium, or participating in other activities RadPsyNet members should know about send your name, paper title, and meeting location and time to Isaac Prilleltensky (address appears at the end of this document).
We'll distribute a list so we can find each other!
One evening last month I went with another professor to hand out leaflets on the Sangamon State University (SSU) campus where we both teach. Before we knew it, the campus police had arrested both of us on a variety of unfounded charges. Although I am hesitant to use this much space in RadPsyNews for something I'm directly involved in, I believe the situation is of legitimate concern to members of any organization with the name "radical" in the title. This incident relates to a number of disturbing trends across the United States and elsewhere, as noted in the accompanying article.
Ron Sakolsky is a tenured associate professor of public affairs and labor relations long controversial in Springfield because of his consistent activism. For 23 years he has taught courses at SSU on everything from Organizing for Peace and Justice to Workplace Democracy to World Music. I've been here seven years, and am a tenured associate professor in legal studies and psychology. I teach things like Law and Inequality and, this semester, a seminar in Conservative Efforts to Reclaim the Law. A couple of years ago Ron and I team-taught a course on the Columbus Quincentennial: Hype and History From 1492 to 1992.
On March 15th, we went to give leaflets to people going to a mayoral debate because one of the candidates for Springfield mayor, State Senator Karen Hasara, had recently co-sponsored a bill partly designed to destroy our faculty union. The leaflets pointed out Hasara's role and the media's failure to report the story, and we listed a few questions we hoped the audience might ask during the debate.
I was arrested when I refused to stop leafleting in the hallway outside the auditorium. An SSU employee and someone from WICS-TV Channel 20 instructed SSU police officers that no one was allowed to hand out what they called "campaign literature" at their "invitation-only" event (Channel 20, Springfield's only news-reporting TV station, reported later that night that we had been taken away "for violating a ban on leafleting"). An officer ordered me to stop or leave the building. He also grabbed leaflets out of the hands of a few people who had taken one. After 15 minutes of intermittent warnings, he said I couldn't even stand in the almost empty hallway with the leaflets "visible." Then I was handcuffed and taken away, charged with criminal trespass to state property (the cop told me I no longer had permission to be there) and interference with a police officer (I never did find out what that was about, since the police report didn't say I had done anything disruptive).
Ron Sakolsky's case went much differently. He was inside the auditorium, quietly handing leaflets to people who had gotten there early. When the police discovered him inside, Ron offered to leave the auditorium and join me in the hallway, but the cop told him he'd have to leave the building instead. So Ron stayed where he was, leaflets in hand. Without telling him he was under arrest and without warning him they would use force, the officer grabbed Ron, twisted his arm, and began to push him out. Ron says he then told the cop he would leave peacefully, but the officer just twisted his arm tighter. In pain, as the physical assault intensified, Ron tried to get loose and a struggle ensued. Now he's charged with aggravated battery, a felony.
I'm in pretty good shape legally. When the State's Attorney read my police file, he told my lawyer he would not file charges. (That police report makes interesting reading, by the way. It makes you wonder why SSU's campus police force thought anyone could be arrested for what they say I did.)
Ron's in greater danger. When he went to court on April 20th, the State's Attorney had not yet filed charges. But it's not clear if the lack of charges represents a final decision or is merely a tactical delay, perhaps until the semester is over. The statute of limitations leaves the state three years to make up its mind. If Ron does go to trial, he faces possible prison time if convicted. In any case, he faces mounting legal fees. That seems pretty excessive, considering the whole incident began when the university's poorly trained police force improperly prevented us from handing out leaflets. (Perhaps not coincidentally, Ron and I led the opposition on campus a year and a half ago when the President decided to replace the campus security guards with armed police. Also disturbingly, although two years ago the Administration promised the campus community that there would be a police review committee with well-defined complaint procedures, that promise was not kept. The Administration's decision to refer the matter only to the State Police for investigation clearly does not fulfill the earlier commitment to campus-based review.)
When several weeks of negotiations broke down four weeks after the arrests and Ron's court date approached, we took the issue to the Internet on April 11. We posted an Action Alert on e-mail discussion lists and asked people to e-mail Naomi Lynn, SSU's President, to ask her to get the State's Attorney to drop the charges. By the day of Ron's hearing nine days later, we had received copies of over 300 messages! The messages came from professors and students, lawyers and labor activists, and many others all around the planet. That people we didn't know would take the time to write in our support was immensely encouraging.
It's too soon to tell if the e-mail barrage and other efforts (including those of our campus Support Committee, the faculty union, and the Faculty Senate) will persuade Dr. Lynn to come down on the side of free speech. But even if criminal charges are not imposed, a number of other outcomes are crucial.
We filed union grievances just before the deadline. But we hope to avoid the time and energy drain that civil rights lawsuits would involve. We can probably do so if the Administration:
If all this happened, there wouldn't be much point in dragging the university where we work to court. Whether the administration is willing to acknowledge that it let things get out of hand remains to be seen. So far the Administration's public comments have been short, careful, and defensive.
Our Support Committee is placing relevant documents on the World Wide Web......
For directions or paper copies, e-mail me.
And if you'd like to urge the responsible administrators to do the right thing, contact:
Note: Issue is resolved!
Dr. Naomi Lynn, President
Sangamon State University
Springfield, IL 62794-9243
Robert J. Gregory
Disparate streams of facts, opinions, and theories offer creative opportunity for visionaries and dreamers to join bits of information into word pictures. As the millennium nears, speculations about possible futures creates entrepreneurs and planners with vivid scenarios, imaging and imagining with artistic flair what life will be like after the year 2000.
For me, I am reminded of the parable of the European fellow who in 1935 or 1936 felt sure that war would come to Europe in 1938 or 1939, so moved to a remote island in the Pacific which no one had ever heard about before. He chose Guadalcanal because it seemed perfectly safe and yet, unfortunately, he was never heard from again. Having moved to New Zealand in the aftermath of Three Mile Island, and the disillusions of United States politics, I now wonder if something new and even more formidable might be coming over the horizon.
The strands of thought and bits of data that can be tapped are many. By choosing several ideas, I undoubtedly demonstrate my own background, personality, limited knowledge, and present fears, but nevertheless, maybe I can lay groundwork for others to pursue these questions further. To begin, I look about and see the world wide ethos of the "me" generation, plus their coming of age politically and economically, coupled with the continuing population explosion. The inevitable overshoot with eventual accompanying devastation of carrying capacity, added to the accrual of extraordinary wealth by a few rich individuals, is foreboding.
And then, I note the remarkable technology of Biosphere II. These ideas collectively give me the thought that several private islands of refuge, utopian communities if you need a label, will emerge very soon, perhaps in extremely remote locations such as Antarctica, the Sahel, in the Rocky Mountains, or on high islands in the Pacific. Built on the model provided by Biosphere II, the owners and
occupiers will be able to link together via Internet and satellite communications, tap into secure data bases on virtually everything, and be safe from all but direct hits from comets or H-bombs. Perhaps we already have such fortresses, as represented by civil defense, police, military, political, and secret underground installations and even more certainly by atomic powered submarines, hidden in the ocean's depths in unknown locations?
To move from where we are to the grim future, only a few additions are required. Foreshadowed by Kurt Vonnegut's concept of Ice-9, a transformed water molecule which solidifies all water that it touches into a permanent ice, add viruses into the equation. The pictures of victims of "slim" or AIDS from Africa, as well as United States cities and rural areas, are foretelling a future that is occurring, inevitably, in India, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and beyond. When and if accompanied with the possible transformation of the HIV virus, or other viruses, into vectors having abilities to travel by airborne delivery systems, the emerging biosphere communities may save a few humans who can maintain and continue established survival colonies, on Planet Earth, not Mars or some far distant moon.
But plenty of other options to promote changes are numerous. For example, ozone depletion may be responsible for the die-off of amphibians, and with pollution, radiation, soil erosion, military experimentation, corruption in leadership positions, shaky financial markets, compromised immune systems from chemicals, weapons proliferation, and genetic experiments, the population die-off may take place regardless of any one factor. This is an ugly thought, but then again, the world is an increasingly ugly place for many millions of people. Those of us who have lived outside the circles of privilege know full well that illness, destruction and disaster do not always happen to "others."Indeed, why not billions?
Could or would individuals and/or governments and/or military leaders let loose plagues to destroy five or six billion people, while a few hundred or thousand wealthy and elite persons hide in their life preserving capsules? Would they, could they, seek to destroy "excess" populations in order to save their environment and thereby for the long term, human life? The question is not whether or not they can, for the technology appears available now. To me, the question may be phrased differently, that is, whether or not they will succeed in getting their survival colonies in place and appropriately occupied and situated beyond the experimental stage before the massive population decline occurs. If they do not, then we would be left without hope that human beings would have opportunity to survive at all.
Given such scenarios, what is the role of psychology and psychologists now and into the next millennium? Do we deal with psychic numbing, or the paranoia and megalomania often attributed to messengers? Do we try to treat the so-called problems of the visionaries and doomsday forecasters? Or do we help the masses of people adjust to their changing environment? Or do we seek grants to study the processes of change? Psychology and psychologists have the opportunity and responsibility to address these and related questions, including identifying the problems, outlining the options, articulating the directions, and promoting participatory (for we are involved whether we choose to be or not) action research.
A mini-campaign has been started to help lessen the potentially devastating effects of welfare reform. Since one can't always count upon compassion as a means to gain support for lessening welfare cuts, another tact is to say that if there is to be welfare reform, it should be even-handed, across-the- board, etc. It will seem hypocritical to cut benefits to the poor without doing so for the wealthy, as well. And there will be enough opposition to cutting corporate benefits that less cutting for the poor might occur.
See the March 6 editorial by James Donahue in the Outlook section of the Washington Post. For example, subsidies to agribusiness are greater than money for food stamps, companies can graze or mine government lands at fees well below market prices, and companies get money to help promote products they then sell at regular prices. Get Donahue's manual, Aid to Dependent Corporations, from Essential Information (202/387-8030).
Thus far we have gotten letters to the editor in various newspapers, have gotten support from some in Congress who will push this strategy, and have gotten some other publicity. Any way you can get more publicity out or calls/letters to Congress/President would be great. It is an uphill battle since most in Congress get money from corporations, but if enough publicity emerges, Congress may be forced to make some moderation in cuts, or indeed cut from corporations, as well, maybe resulting in less cuts for the poor if money is taken from corporations. If you want to discuss further, contact me.
RadPsyNet is co-sponsor of the Research/Study Team on Nonviolent Large Systems Change 10th Annual Meeting May 21-23 at George Williams College near Chicago. Don Cole, conference organizer, is looking for a volunteer delegate to represent us at this meeting. If you can make it, contact:
SKEPO [the group of Indonesian psychologists described in the January RadPsyNews] stands for SKEtsa POjok. Pojok means corner, but also the second word of where the Faculty of Psychology, University of Padjadjaran is. I mean, it is on Dago Pojok Street. Sketsa means a sketch. Therefore, Sketsa Pojok means a rough picture of who we are, where we come from what we want to do. As you can see, most of us graduated from the faculty of Psychology University of Padjadjaran.
Realism and Emancipation
The University of East London, UK
Ethics, Justice, and Power
Postism, Endism, and New Beginnings
Physics, Ontology, and Ecology Conference Administrator
To offer a paper, contact:
Bill Bowring, School of Law, UEL
Tel: 0181-590-7722 X2194
8 July 1995
Manchester Discourse Unit
Research Day Conference
This conference will bring together varieties of research on "hearing voices" (experiences that psychiatrists term "auditory hallucinations"). The day is intended to bring together a variety of approaches to hearing voices from fields as diverse as clinical psychology, cultural studies, film theory, parapsychology, political theory, psychiatry, sociology, and spirtualism. Parallel sessions will consist of papers and discussion (with 30 minutes for each contribution), and plenary discussions (in the morning and afternoon) will explore differences in approach and methodology.
Abstracts (150 words) by May 31:
Department of Psychology and Speech Pathology
The Manchester Metropolitian University
Manchester M13 OJA UK
Ian Parker at the Discourse Unit
June 1-4, 1995
Third Parties '96 is focused on organizing progressive third party movements to counter the growing influence of the radical right---an effort to bring a coalition of progressive activities together to prepare for the national elections in 1996. We are greatly alarmed at the almost total absence of voices speaking against the Republican-led congressional assault on America.
Linda Martin in Virginia
Phone/fax/answering machine: 703-642-5710
Sam Smith in Washington
Hank Chapot in California
Phone (Fax call ahead): 510-654-5311
June 14-17, 1995
Sponsored by the Vermont Conference on the Primary Prevention of Psychopathology.
The University of Vermont Department of Psychology.
To propose of a poster or discussion hours (by May 15), take a three-credit course the week of the convention (by May 24), or register, contact:
UVM Conferences, att: VCPPP
20 South Park Drive
Colchester, VT 05446 USA
NUVUPSY is a forum to share points of view critical of the "therapeutic state" and institutional psychiatry, and those supportive of contractual psychotherapy and psychiatry. We're interested in discussions concerning the relationship between liberty and responsibility and its implications for clinical, legal, and public policy. The list will serve to promote alternative views to explaining unwanted behaviors.
To subscribe, send the following command to LISTSERV@SJUVM.STJOHNS.EDU:
SUBSCRIBE NUVUPSY firstname lastname
Jeffrey A. Schaler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Information from and about the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (APA Division 9). You can find info on the Journal of Social Issues, publications, membership information, etc.
InterPsych forums (aka mailing lists) are one way mental health and behavioural science professionals, students, and interested others keep up with discourse in their fields, as well as with each other. Like everything on the Internet, InterPsych is evolving. We look forward to your participation in the developing global community in cyberspace.
Interpsych Email Forums include everything from affective-disorders and computers-in-mental-health to transcultural-psychology and traumatic-stress
Ben Goldhagen at email@example.com
The CRITPED list is intended to generate discussion, to share information about our teaching, and to build community for those of us who see education as part of a transformative vision. Please feel free to post, comment, share course descriptions, and tell all of us about happenings in the community.
To subscribe, send an email message to LISTSERV@VM1.MCGILL.CA
Leave the subject line blank . In the body of the message write SUBSCRIBE CRITPED Lastname Firstname
Sharon Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe, send an e-mail message to LISTSERV@URSUS.JUN.ALASKA.EDU with the following command:
SUBSCRIBE CORP-WELFARE your name
Jim Goes at email@example.com
Using the Internet to organize, students all across the US have already planned nationwide demonstrations and plans are in the works for more. The group has an e-mail discussion going.
To subscribe, send an e-mail message to CANET@PENCIL.CS.MISSOURI.EDU with Subject canet
and the message sub can-rw Firstname Lastname
To treat a group of people without input from the recovering and those who have recovered has been the accepted practice in the history of mental illness.
For more than six years the New York Office of Mental Health (NYOMH) has recognized the often ignored obvious, and has encouraged the development of programs that draw heavily from recovery models advocated by the Consumer/Survivor/Ex-Patient movement (C/S/X). Some simple concepts guide this revolution: those labelled with a diagnosis of serious mental illness can and should be full collaborative partners in a recovery process guided by hope, choice and a voice that is heard. Despite the recent cuts in funding for mental health services in New York, we may see the core initiatives of the past six years survive.
Over the last two years the New York State Psychological Association (NYSPA) and the NYOMH have engaged in ongoing dialogue to address the role of psychology in the Public Sector. A unique feature of the dialogue was the inclusion of recipients of mental health services. The inability of the system to serve the mentally ill and its continued role as an agent of social control provided the sparks for energizing the discussions. The stigma, loss of credibility and exclusion from providing input into the development of their own treatment services was highlighted by a pervasive lack of awareness of the large body of accumulated knowledge that has been generated by the recipients of services. It was clear that the typical mental health professional was not exposed to this information during graduate study or subsequent training.
What follows are key problem areas raised in a meeting of recipients and psychologists (Defining the Role Of Psychology In The Public System, April 1,1993, NYOMH, Albany, NY):
To begin to address identified needs that emerged from discussions, a position was created for a licensed psychologist whose resume included experience as a recipient of mental health services_hospital based. I was the person selected to develop and implement the project that I later named Collaborative Empowerment. My experience as a psychologist included work in a NJ state psychiatric hospital, a mental health clinic, a maximum security correctional facility, a school for emotionally disturbed children and full-time independent practice. Licensed in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Dakota, for the past three years I was the executive director of a seven-county comprehensive mental health center in South Dakota. My experience as a psychiatric survivor includes: electroshock, insulin shock, massive doses of psychotropics and probably the most damaging of all, a first diagnosis of schizophrenia, paranoid type which was followed by another hospitalization and a permanent diagnosis of schizophrenia, chronic type. My new position begs the question: Will the last twenty-five years ofsymptom-free living without medication enhance my credibility or will I be the anomaly that is dismissed through rationalizations inspired by pre-conceived notions?
The loss of credibility and personhood that accompanies the diagnosis/role of the once-hospitalized recipient discourages the recovered from becoming role models that would provide hope for others. Psychologists, along with professionals in other fields who are in various stages of recovery could, if they felt safe, provide much needed input into what truly worked for them. Unfortunately, mental health professionals see their patients at their worst_hospitalized or in major crisis. The recovered mechanic, salesman, teacher, physician and psychologist can not, without great risk, acknowledge their hard-fought successes. Presently I am forming a national self-help support group for psychologists who have been hospitalized. To advocate, to make our knowledge public, to be models that inspire hope, and to give each other support in our own struggles are the objectives.
Typically, psychologists and other mental health professionals are unaware of the C/S/X movement. Since the early 1970s, there has been an active C/S/X movement that has produced a significant body of literature receiving little mainstream exposure. Psychologists along with other mental health professionals are often unaware of their implicit participation in the maintenance of stigma and stereotypes. The development of meaningful dialogue between recipients and professionals with university-based training programs is a goal. Following this article is a small bibliography sampling some of the new research and movement literature. Some of the references are identified as "fugitive" literature, adopting the nickname in reaction to the difficulty finding acceptance in mainstream publishing. It is interesting to note that recipients are near unanimous in praising the value and help that such books provide in their recovery journey.
The concept of empowerment that has been embraced by the C/S/X movement can also serve the psychologist well. The despair and hopelessness associated in working with recipients of service within the public sector often deters psychologists from sharing in the excitement of pushing the envelope to develop new people-sensitive models. For psychologists, the public sector offers the stimulation and challenges that can potentially become the impetus for a future paradigm shift.
Lastly, on a personal note, it was at the APA convention in Toronto two years ago, at a Conversation Hour led by Dennis Fox and Isaac Prilleltensky, that I made a silent personal commitment to act on my beliefs and go public as an ex-patient. The title of that meeting, "Will Psychology Pay Attention To Its Own Radical Critics" is a question to which I may offer a more informed opinion a year or two from now.
Breggin, Peter R., M.D., Toxic Psychiatry, 1991, NY: St. Martin's Press. Comprehensive readable expose of the negative effects of over-reliance on psychiatric drugs by the most outspoken psychiatric critic who trained as one of their own.
Chamberlin, Judy, On Our Own: Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System, 1977, Available from J. Chamberlin, 2 Dow St., Somerville, MA 02144. A classic in the self-help movement by one of the originals in the psychiatric survivor movement, internationally recognized speaker now affiliated with the National Empowerment Center, Boston, MA 800/769-3728.
Cohen, David, Ph.D., ed. Challenging the Therapeutic State: Critical Perspectives on Psychiatry and the Mental Health System (special double issue) The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 11, # 3 & 4, 1990. Excellent critiques by professionals and survivors.
Coleman, Lee, M.D., The Reign of Error: Psychiatry, Authority, and the Law, 1984. Available from L. Coleman, 1889 Yosemite Rd., Berkeley, CA 94707. Another powerful critique from within the medical field.
Farber, Seth, Ph.D. Madness, Heresy, and the Rumor of Angels: The Revolt Against The Mental Health System, 1993, Open Court Publishers. A psychologist, through a series of interviews with recovered survivors and anti- psychiatry professionals builds a strong case against the system.
Frank, Leonard Roy , ed. The History of Shock Treatment, 1978. Available from L.R. Frank, 2300 Webster St., San Francisco, CA 94115. The most well-researched literate challenge to the medical profession's denial of the deleterious effects of shock treatment, by a highly respected survivor of massive doses of electric shock and insulin coma "therapy." With the present resurgence in the use of electroshock, this is must reading to cut through the propaganda.
Gotkin, Janet and Gotkin, Paul, Too Much Anger, Too Many Tears: A personal Triumph over Psychiatry, 1975 (1992 Rev. Ed.), NY: Harper Collins. A moving account that touches the reader deeply.
Hirsch, Sherry et al., eds. Madness Network News Reader, 1974. Available from L.R. Frank, 2300 Webster St., San Francisco, CA 94115. A compilation of the best of articles from the Madness Network News. The movement's early struggles are seen through humor, anger, tears and the early activist efforts of ex-patients.
Kirk, Stuart A. and Einbinder, Susan D., eds. Controversial Issues In Mental Health, 1994, Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Experts, professionals and survivors debate opposing points of view.
Lifton, Robert Jay, The Nazi Doctors, 1986, NY: Basic Books. Little known facts that the Nazis first murdered the mentally retarded and schizophrenic who they called "useless eaters." Explores the implications of physicians working with primary loyalty to the state rather than their patients and how it reflects on today's issues of forced treatment.
Masson, Jeffrey M., Ph.D. Against Therapy: Emotional Tyranny and the Myth of Psychological Healing, 1988. NY: Atheneum. Expose of psychoanalysis by one of the elite inner circle_fascinating reading.
Millet, Kate, The Loony-Bin Trip, 1991, NY: Simon & Schuster Respected author's autobiographical accounts of her struggles with madness and the system. As would be expected, well-written and insightful.
Podvoll, Edward M., M.D. The Seduction of Madness, 1990, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. Excellent description and analysis of the experience of psychosis along with the presentation of compassionate model of recovery.
Sharkey, Joe, Bedlam: Greed, Profiteering, and Fraud in a Mental Health System Gone Crazy, 1994, NY: St. Martin's Press. A mainstream journalist stumbles into the mental health system and is amazed at the abuses he finds; well written and documented.
Susko, Michael A., ed. Cry of the Invisible: Writings from the Homeless & Survivors of Psychiatric Hospitals, 1991. Available from M.A. Susko, 1927 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Well-respected work by a psychiatric survivor that gives eloquent voice to the struggles.
Szasz, Thomas S. M.D. The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement, 1970 ( 1983 ed.). NY: Harper Collins. The classic work of the theoretician who puts the social control agenda of the current mental health system into historical perspective.
Warner, Richard, M.D. Recovery From Schizophrenia: Psychiatric and Political Economy, 1986, NY: Methuen. Psychiatrist looks at social and political barriers to using pre-existing knowledge in the design of programs that work.
Zinman, S. et al. eds., Reaching Across: Mental Health Clients Helping Each Other, 1987, California Network of Mental Health Clients. Respected movement leaders describe creative patient-run alternative treatments.
[Editor's Note: Peter started a fascinating discussion in March when he posted this message on the radical-psychology-network e-mail discussion list. Not the first time one of our members has wondered how to put our principles into action! Responses to Peter varied. Can one really be a "radpsycher" and still pay the bills in capitalist society? Is escaping to academia a solution or a copout? Can psychologists trained in clinical practice depart from business as usual? Should clinicians abandon working with individuals and focus instead on political and social change?
Peter now reports he almost found a job that "like everything else in life, would be somewhat of a compromise"_and then he decided the compromise was too great. He's still looking.]
My name is Peter Cobrin and I'm a soon to be Ph.D. graduate in clinical psychology. I've been a member for a while of, and subscribe to most of what I believe to be the shared principles advocated by, the radpsych group. For example, I have tried to incorporate notions of social responsibility into my clinical practise (e.g., using a social analysis in therapy, and trying not to pathologize people), and in my dissertation research, I asked psychotherapists for their opinions about this and other related topics.
Now that I am involved in searching for a job (throughout North America), I have come to realize, in a very up close and personal manner, the difficulties one encounters in trying to be true to these principles. The pressures, both internal and external, to "conform" to traditional practises are immense.
It seems that almost every advertised job would require me to conceptualize clients as being sick, to use assessment tools which can pinpoint the exact nature of their sickness, and to offer clients brief, simple solutions so that they can conform to societal demands.
I really do want to help people. That is why I went into this field in the first place. I can also appreciate the financial constraints on the delivery of mental health care, and the concomitant need to deliver timely service to clients. However, I don't want to sell myself out, completely.
Have other people had similar experiences? Does anybody out there have a "radpsych" job for me?
Sangamon State University
[Soon to be reincarnated as the University of Illinois at Springfield]
After I got my job seven years ago at Sangamon State University, I came across a clipping I had saved from years earlier. It was a notice from the journal Radical Teacher urging students to come to a "radical university" in the middle of the country. Sangamon State, founded in 1970 as an alternative to traditional institutions of higher education, began as an experiment in alternative education. Now celebrating its 25th year, SSU's experiment is over. Long past its prime, SSU's final days came about through a lethal combination of legislative restructuring of higher education, union-busting legislation, deceptive political maneuvering, and biased local news media. The arrest of two faculty members for distributing leaflets objecting to the destruction of the union symbolized the end of an era. As one of the arrested faculty members, I took it kind of personally (see page 2).
Twenty-five years ago Sangamon State University, the smallest of the 12 state universities in Illinois, was a different kind of place. There was no grading of students, for example, just individualized evaluations. No large classes. No deans or department chairs. No publish-or-perish requirement for faculty and no teaching assistants. The primary requirement for hiring faculty was an interest in teaching. SSU was designated "the public affairs university of Illinois" at a time when public affairs, for many of the faculty at least, meant opposing the war in Vietnam. Created as an upper division university for juniors, seniors, and masters degree students, SSU attracted working class transfer students from community colleges as well as many state workers (Illinois is the state capital) and others who had never been able to finish college. The average age of undergraduates was over 30. Faculty and students who were around at the time describe those days with obvious affection.
By the time I arrived in 1988, much had changed. There were not only grades but even deans. And a Dean's List. Class size was creeping upwards., the students' average age downwards. Teaching still counted more than research for promotion and tenure, but research had gained in status: People I met were more likely to ask what research I did than what courses I taught. The University proposed its first doctoral program, in public affairs. But now, the state's "public affairs university" had switched from anti-war organizing to training state workers to serve the state more effectively.
Still, compared to most other state universities, Sangamon State was a pretty interesting place. It still is. Classes frequently have fewer than 20 students, and many programs are interdisciplinary, including my own (Legal Studies). It's relatively painless to gain quick approval for new courses. Students do a lot of writing, and teachers read a lot of papers while teaching three courses a semester. Multiple choice tests are rare. Although the faculty are now divided into four schools, each of which has a dean, the programs (not "departments") mostly have conveners (not "chairs"). Many conveners serve a two-year term and then pass the coordinating role onto someone else. In our program, as in many others, the convener has no power to make decisions for the other program members. Decentralization reigns, which annoys the administration immensely.
Among the 162 faculty members a surprising number teach courses with radical content. Although the faculty has become more mainstream over the years, there are still Marxists and anarchists and environmentalists and feminists, some of whom even take their radical perspectives out of the classroom and into the streets. This has been a thorn in the side of the Springfield community for a long time. In fact, SSU was only two years old when outside pressure began to make the university more traditional. By the time I arrived, the transformation was well under way, and many new faculty members knew little about SSU's origins. Most students knew, and cared, even less.
The book about SSU remains to be written by someone who was around at the beginning. For now, I want only to report on events of the past few months. These events parallel trends in higher education all over the United States. The difference here is that, for SSU, these trends led to the formal end of something that once had the potential to be something unusually interesting.
A few years ago, the Republican governor, Jim Edgar, put in motion a plan to revamp the four higher education boards in Illinois. Sangamon State and two other universities are under the Board of Regents. Southern Illinois University has two campuses. Five other universities are under the Board of Governors. The University of Illinois_the pinnacle of Illinois higher education in the research university mold_has its original university in Urbana-Champaign and a newer research university in Chicago.
Edgar's first effort to restructure the "system of systems" was stopped by the Democratic-controlled House. Last November, though, after the Republicans took control of both the House and the Senate, Edgar began all over again. A bill was introduced in January as part of Republican fast-track legislation, parallelling the frighteningly similar GOP push for the Contract With America. When the Higher Education bill passed in February, Edgar quickly signed it. There was minimal legislative debate, minimal media coverage, and minimal evaluation of what was at stake. Instead, we got deception, manipulation, and political pressure.
The new law dismantles the Board of Regents and Board of Governors, not necessarily a bad thing. Seven of the affected universities will have their own governing boards, which means somewhat greater autonomy but also means that each will have to fend for itself in the annual funding struggle against the larger U of I system. The eighth university is Sangamon State, which is "merging" with the University of Illinois ("merging" is the local euphemism for "hostile takeover"). As of January 1, 1996_or July 1, 1995, if a current bill passes in time_SSU will become UIS, the University of Illinois at Springfield, U of I's third, and most minuscule, campus.
Many students at SSU are thrilled, envisioning a more impressive resume. A lot of the faculty like the idea, too, for similar reasons as well as others, especially newer faculty who have little connection with SSU's past. The administration likes the idea, because SSU will become bigger and have higher status. And Springfield's business and political leaders just love the idea. They are already planning new construction projects to accompany the expected jump in enrollment .
I'm on the other side, for a lot of reasons. Sangamon State University was a failing experiment, but at least it was an experiment, an attempt to do something different. And despite promises that we will continue to be a teaching university with small classes and a lot of autonomy, contradictory signs from U of I make it pretty clear that changes for the worse are inevitable. They're already talking about hiring new faculty more interested in research than in teaching, for example, something they denied would happen_until the legislation passed.
And here's the sleaziest part, the part that even made many faculty who liked the merger uneasy: University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry agreed to take SSU into his system only if he didn't have to take our faculty union. He got his way with little legislative opposition and no media coverage at all.
A few years ago, the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board decided that faculty in the University of Illinois system should organize on a campus by campus basis. The decision was based on state law, commonality of interests, and the other usual criteria. Thus, UI-Urbana and UI-Chicago would each have separate bargaining units. Neither campus has succeeded in establishing a recognized union, but the Chicago faculty were on the verge of calling an election to see where the faculty stood. Faculty at UI-Urbana, on the other hand, are unlikely to unionize.
Sangamon State faculty, in contrast, have had collective bargaining for about eight years, building on almost two decades of faculty rabble rousing and decentralized decision making. The union is the University Professionals of Illinois, part of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Two years ago, when I was on the bargaining team, we hammered out a four-year contract with some truly positive protections for faculty. (For the past year and a half, I was union secretary and newsletter editor, so I've been paying pretty close attention to what's been going on.)
That's the union Stan Ikenberry wanted out of the picture. He told the legislature that a faculty union just couldn't be accommodated in the happy UI system. So the legislature accommodated Stanley Ikenberry instead.
Think of it. Apparently for the first time in U.S. history, a state legislature overturned a state labor board's prior decision specifically to make sure that the usual criteria for bargaining unit recognition would not be followed_and only in a single institution! In the Southern Illinois University system, faculty at Carbondale can still organize without having to get a majority vote at the Edwardsville campus. But at SSU_at UIS_if we want collective bargaining once our contract runs out, we'll have to get a majority vote of professors at the two larger research universities, professors with whom we have little in common historically, professionally, politically, or institutionally. The union is filing a lawsuit to challenge the legislation. But even if we win, it will take years of turmoil
The local media have pretty much ignored this unprecedented legislation. The State Journal-Register and WICS-TV Channel 20 are pretty pitiful in general. But in this case they've gone to extremes, ignoring fundamental criticisms of the merger even before the anti-union focus became apparent. When I submitted a column in January to the State Journal-Register pointing out the inevitability of stricter admission standards for students (thus forcing many local students to go elsewhere or nowhere), higher tuition, and a faculty more interested in research than in teaching, the paper never ran the column even after the editor promised me they would. Media coverage was entirely positive and enthusiastic, reflecting the fact that the newspaper's publisher and the local TV station's general manager were both on a local committee advising SSU's president on how to manage the merger. Only after the governor signed the bill did the newspaper hint, once, that stricter standards, higher tuition, and more research would likely be in our future.
Once the bill was introduced, the media totally ignored the anti-union part of the legislation. They ignored the manner in which the union-busting provision was inserted in the bill at the last minute. They ignored the fact that committee staffers had gotten the 429-page bill only ten minutes before the members were asked to vote. They ignored the comment by a committee chair that he was personally opposed to the bill, but would vote for it anyway because he had been given his orders. Once the bill was well on its way to becoming law, the media finally did make a few out-of-context and inaccurate references to it. The newspaper mentioned a few more details in passing only after the governor signed the legislation and it was too late to affect the outcome .
And when Ron Sakolsky and I were arrested on campus last month for handing out leaflets complaining about a mayoral candidate who had co-sponsored the union-busting legislation, the media reported almost nothing. No headlines, no details, no pictures. Had two controversial SSU professors been arrested for any other reason, the newspaper and TV station would have used the incident to demonstrate the importance of getting rid of "old-style SSU radicals" standing in the way of the bright UIS future. But in this case, the media wouldn't touch the story. Because if they did, they'd have to explain what was on the leaflet we were distributing. They would also have had to explain that the ban on leafleting had apparently been ordered by the TV station that had sponsored the debate. (See accompanying story.)
That's pretty much the state of affairs here in Illinois. If you'd like to read more of the gory details, let me know. In the meantime, when you hear someone talk about restructuring higher education in your local university, be careful!
[Other info on the SSU-to-UIS transition]
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