Hold NAMI Accountable

Submitted by admin on Sun, 12/07/2003 - 00:11

Hold NAMI Accountable


Posted on Dec 07, 03

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill -- NAMI -- calls itself the 'nation's voice on mental illness.' But it's made up not of people labeled with mental illness but their self-appointed representatives. NAMI opposes the efforts of psychiatric survivors to end forced drugging and promote alternatives, and promotes a narrow view of mental illness as a brain disorder "like Alzheimer's" -- which is an untrue claim based on fraudulent science, as discussed in _Mad In America_. And NAMI is even funded by pharmaceutical companies. People want holistic alternatives and accurate information -- it is a shame that there are so few groups and alternatives for family members to join besides NAMI.

NAMI-Western MA President Jane Moser recently attacked Freedom Center in the Republican newspaper with an outright lie. Here is the letter co-founder Oryx Cohen recently sent to Jane Moser:

We are asking for a formal, written apology and retraction for the following statements that were quoted in the 11/23/03 edition of The Republican:

"Moser said she knows of some people who have gotten involved with the Freedom Center, gone off their medication, and had to be hospitalized. In a couple of cases people committed suicide, she said."

Since that time, we have audiotaped a voicemail that you left with us admitting that these statements are, in fact, untrue. Still, our reputation has been hurt. We need you to write an immediate letter of apology and retraction addressed to the Freedom Center and The Republican demanding that the newspaper publish it prominently and immediately. Please send a draft copy to Freedom Center before submitting the final version to the newspaper.

We at Freedom Center are in the process of obtaining counsel for this defamation, but would like to avoid legal action if at all possible."

Moser's statements are part of a pattern of opposition to anything deviating from their narrow view. NAMI recently condemned Mt. Holyoke professor Gail Hornstein for offering a public film series and public discussion forum with Freedom Center. NAMI never even attended the films -- which included PBS and BBC documentaries -- before it denounced them as 'harmful." And last spring NAMI members pressed Rep. Ellen Story to try to cut off funding not only for Freedom Center but the entire statewide consumer initiative grants, which fund advocacy, support groups, small businesses, theater groups, and other efforts by people labeled with mental illness across Massachusetts. The massive number of calls and emails that came into Rep. Story's office quickly showed her how misled she had been by NAMI.

We're still reeling from the meanspiritedness of NAMI's actions. We don't believe that the NAMI membership is as extreme and malicious as their chapter leadership.

Freedom Center is calling on everyone to email the national Director of NAMI Rick Birkel to ask for the resignation of local chapter President Jane Moser. Send emails to rick@nami.org NAMI's local chapter must be held accountable for its irresponsible and damaging behavior.

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