The Sunrise Center Project—2017

As of 2017, the Sunrise Center Project is alive and well. In 2003, an RC doctor and I talked about creating a center where physicians could learn that they need not prescribe psychiatric drugs and instead could use the RC process to help people.

Tim Jackins approved our working on this project. He asked me to promise not to give up on the project, no matter what. At the time, I had no idea that this promise would be tested.

I invited fifteen RC leaders to join the board of the Sunrise Center. As many were at the 2005 World Conference, we held our first board meeting there. We have since met monthly, mostly via teleconference.

In the first few years, we incorporated; acquired a 501(c)(3) (non-profit) status; developed a website ; began a policy manual for running the center; designed a logo and tee-shirt; produced a brochure (with Diane Shisk’s help); and decided some difficult issues as a board. We developed articles for our website, including “Frequently Asked Questions about MHL,” so that non-RCers could understand our thinking; stories about getting off psychiatric drugs using RC; an article about supporting someone to stop using the drugs (see page 83). Since 2008, white board members meet before certain board meetings to discharge for forty-five minutes on racism; and alternate months, Gentile members discharge beforehand on anti-Semitism.

In 2005, a fundraising committee formed, with some board members and others. It meets monthly. Mike Markovits, president of the Re-evaluation Foundation, has regularly counseled that committee, the board, and others on fundraising, including at many weekend Sunrise Center and MHL leaders’ workshops. We have raised $172,000, a third of what we need.

In 2006, Tim invited me and another board member to RCCR as counselors for a month. He thought learning how RCCR functions might help our planning. We felt supported there. Diane Shisk met with us almost daily. We agreed I would teach a class on MHL for the counselors there. That done, she asked me to teach another on psychiatric drugs. Both were helpful in figuring out how I might train staff at the center, who will also be RCers. Interviews with RCCR staff members about RCCR history and working together as RCers provided ideas for our policy manual. At the end of our month, Diane led a group for the counselors on our MH histories.

In 2011, the doctor working with us decided to leave RC. I was proud that the board moved ahead with adjustments but without confusion. Instead of getting discouraged or giving up, every member volunteered for extra tasks. One committee investigated relocating our proposed center near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the East Coast (USA), closer to where I live and far less costly. We revised plans.

At first, I tried to find other RC doctors interested in running the center. I had a number of conversations with Tim. He said that if we couldn’t find an RC doctor, or someone else, to run the center, we’d do it some other way. I was pleased to have his and Diane’s full support.

An RC doctor suggested we try doing the center part time, to establish a track record to attract funding. Her idea sparked a new project: a series of workshops to help people who want to stop using psychiatric drugs. We developed ideas, wrote ARPs and RRPs, revised our brochure and website. We also investigated insurance and legal issues suggested by an RC lawyer new to our board.

We have now held five of these workshops, about six months apart, each three days, for between ten and twenty-five people. The first was just for allies. The next, also in Philadelphia, had two people on psychiatric drugs. I led both. Rachel Noble led the third near San Francisco, California, USA, assisted by Lois Yoshishige, with classes by Anne Piche and Betsy Ames. Lois led the fifth near Seattle, Washington, USA assisted by Rachel.

A—, who is getting off psychiatric drugs attended the second workshop, and the fourth with two of her team members. I asked how getting off psychiatric drugs was going. A— said that she had gotten stuck and couldn’t contemplate further lowering the dosage. I, and others, worked with her and her team, and she renewed her enthusiasm about getting off the drugs completely. We were excited at the success.

Once we have developed more expertise, perhaps in a few years, we will invite non-RCers to these workshops. We will require that they learn RC during and after the workshop.

Two doctors attended the first workshop. One, interested in periodically working at the center once it’s established, said he didn’t think we needed a doctor’s supervision of the center because we aren’t doing anything medical. He said that an RCer at the workshop runs a MH center without a doctor, requiring instead that every client have their own personal doctor. We realized that any resident at a future Sunrise Center would have a doctor who had prescribed them psychiatric drugs. This opened possibilities as to who might run the center.

At the first workshop, on Sunday night, with the collaboration of some Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA) RCers, we held a fundraiser, optional for workshop attendees. It went well. Although it did not raise much money, the workshop attendees became excited about fundraising. In addition, the website manager for Mad in America, a wide-world website supportive to our project, attended the event. He reminded me, as had Bob Whitaker, whose book Mad in America had expanded into this website, that it would be good for us to have a blog on their website. Terry Simpson, with Tim’s permission, has taken charge of that blog.

The Philadelphia fundraiser got the board more involved in fundraising. We plan to do “crowdfunding” and house parties. I started doing fundraisers before many MHL workshops. Our most successful fundraiser raised $3,500, mostly from non-RCers. We use the format we used in Philadelphia: One or two of us talk about the center; someone tells their story of getting off drugs; and we take questions. Betsy Ames of the fundraising committee has written a new case statement, soon to be on our website. It describes why it makes sense to donate and explains why and how RC can help people who want to stop using psychiatric drugs.

From our first workshop, we learned three important things. First, board members had not discharged enough on psychiatric drugs to be able to be relaxed about the Philadelphia fundraiser. Our fundraising efforts were held back not just by feelings about raising money, as I had assumed, but also from undischarged feelings about psychiatric drugs and about saying publicly that we stand against them. This, despite our many hours’ discharging on the drugs. If this were true of us, it must be true of those we hope will join us. We now spend more time discharging on drugs of all types at these workshops, MHL workshops, and board meetings.

Second, to organize a fundraiser in a local RC Community, we first need a base of MHL work in that Community, then a community around the Sunrise Center project in that RC Area (see below). Once people have discharged quite a bit on their MH histories, or on being raised “normal,” or both, they seem more ready to discharge on psychiatric drugs and on talking with friends and acquaintances about psychiatric drugs, and fundraising.

Third, I realized that the workshops are building community around our work and that many people want to join us, seeing it important to their re-emergence. New people at the workshop were just as excited as the board members were about what we are doing. Given that so many people in our society feel hopeless about psychiatric drugs, it makes sense that our work looks hopeful to them.

At the third workshop, I realized that we need to focus on building a community around our project. In a class, I said we could discharge about reaching out. We could promote conference calls for discharge on the drugs, grouping constituencies as we do at workshops: having relatives on drugs; having been on psychiatric drugs; having prescribed psychiatric drugs; having taken street drugs; having taken street and psychiatric drugs; having had anesthesia.

Also, if we actually set up the center, we will need many people doing ongoing fundraising and many to volunteer periodically at the center. We need to start involving a larger group now so they can get experience. The board is the beginning of our Sunrise Center community, and I cannot think of a better group to work with. It has been increasingly dedicated over the years. We have resolved difficulties with each other and with our project. We try to model our cooperativeness at our workshops and usually talk about what being part of the board has meant for our re-emergence. We hope you will join us as we continue this fulfilling work.

Janet Foner

International Liberation Reference Person for "Mental Health" Liberation

New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, USA

Last modified: 2023-04-15 09:24:12+00