Remembering John Brodie, 1970-2006

Submitted by admin on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 12:01

John Brodie was a Vermont man who died in an encounter with Brattleboro police in 2006 after neighbors called 9-11. At 36, John was a Princeton PhD and already a world-reknowned physicist widely published in scientific journals. He was also a psychiatric abuse survivor, whose non-ordinary mental states were repeatedly met with force in hospitals. On the night of his death, he was not violent or suicidal, but was behaving in a strange way -- knocking on doors at 11pm. Confused neighbors called the police, which escalated a harmless situation into a tragedy. John ran away, terrified of the police, and went into the freezing river.

John's close friend Inez Kochius, a longtime Freedom Center supporter, was working with Freedom Center to try to support and care for John in the months before this tragic event cut John's life short. Inez shares her thoughts and feelings three years afterwards, in a society that has still not learned basic lessons of kindness towards mental difference.

Inez writes "To me John did not accidentally drown, he was driven into the water -- by all of us."

Read the Rutland Herald story about John Brodie.

Go to the Freedom Center page for more about John.

(drawing by Charlotte Clarke)



Three years later... a steadfast conspiracy of silence.

It's been almost three years since my friend John Brodie died.

I was blessed to have had John in my life.  As his death anniversary is approaching Jan. 28th, I still miss John and the injustice is beyond words. As a result of John's death, I felt drawn to the psychiatric abuse survivor community and found tremendous support.  As I got somewhat involved I learned that John's death is not as uncommom as I had thought at first, yet this knowledge did not exactly console me nor did it help my anger.

A lot of people, who are what is commonly called 'mentally ill', are being oppressed worldwide, yet there seems to be a steadfast conspiracy of silence about it.  To quote Edmund Schoenenberger  http://swiss.1net/1ftpdemokratie/ :"I'm absolutly sure, that, considering the total number of deaths as well, the last 130 years of global coercive psychiatry by far overshadows what happened during Inquisition or Holocaust.  E.S."   The problem is that the public has been duped into thinking that people who are or behave differently, for what ever reason, have defective brains, are dangerous to self and/or others and must be controlled with what ever it takes, even if that means resorting to violence, i.e. restraining them physically and/or chemically and depriving them of their basic human right called freedom, like locking them up, and administering electro shock or using taser guns on people.  These kinds of treatments are traumatizing, controlling and oppressive, also known as torture or abuse!

Therefore I feel the public is complicit when it comes to this inhumane oppression.  People have bought into the lies about the chemical brain imbalance, turn a blind eye to it and don't want to acknowledge the oppression sanctioned by authorities and governments.   Why is it that authorities or governments are so seldom questioned?  History shows that authorities or governments have erred many of times before! It strikes me as odd for anybody to think that violence accomplishes anything positive.  The police force has in my opinion no place in the mental health field or anywhere else for what it's worth.  The police force - one might want to take note of the word 'force' - is like the armed forces: frightening, violent and intimidating with their guns and uniforms.  It is high time we stop threatening people and put down the guns!

I fail to buy into the argument that people exhibiting signs of emotional distress are dangerous and need to be subdued by force. In a way we have created prisons for people who behave differently by taking away their freedom, by stigmatizing them, by poisoning them and by keeping them marginalized, sometimes even causing their death, when all we really need to do is mind our own business and practise love and kindness and compassion.  It's a lot cheaper and has no known negative side effects.

I was lucky to have known John and it is shameful the world was not able to be kinder and gentler.  John's death is a great loss to the world.  In John's memory I want to ask people to stop the oppression and the violence/torture.  We can all start by making a conscious effort to change our thinking, to abandon our fears and by showing love and gentleness and by accepting and embracing each other's differences. Peace, Inez