“Mental Health”
Oppression and Liberation

“Mental health” oppression is hidden. Most people don’t see it as an oppression and don’t talk about it.

“Mental health” oppression holds all the other oppressions in place, by making it un- acceptable to step out of expected roles. People who visibly deviate from what is “normal” are often put in mental hospitals, where they serve as an example of what can happen if, for example, you are upset and cannot hide your feelings.

The oppression scares people into conforming to the roles that society expects of them. It often leaves them quiet, numb, and passive. If people were less afraid of not being “normal” or of “losing their minds,” they might more often challenge the oppressive society and fight for a rational society not based on oppression and making money but instead on human flourishing.

Mental patients have not “lost their minds,” they are generally “stuck” in heavy distress. They have been badly hurt, usually by oppression, and haven’t been helped to heal from the hurt. (Many belong to three or more oppressed groups.) If they weren’t drugged a lot (as happens in the “mental health” system) but instead listened to patiently, awarely, and long enough, they would reveal how they had been hurt. And they would be able to release their emotions and heal from the hurt. Full recovery would likely require with-drawing from psychiatric drugs, and the healing might take a long time, but it would become clear that they are just like everyone else underneath the drugs and distress.

If we can understand that nothing is wrong with mental patients, we can understand that nothing is wrong with anybody—even when, for example, someone has very dif-ferent opinions from other people or behaves in unusual ways.

Psychiatric drugs cannot cure anyone. They simply cover over how people have been hurt, interfere with the natural healing process, and keep people numb. They also damage people’s bodies. They can cause physical illnesses, like tardive dyskinesia. Mental patients and others who use psychiatric drugs die, on average, at a much younger age than people in the general population.

What is “mental health” liberation? It is a movement to end “mental health” oppression.

Ending “mental health” oppression would bring many positive changes. People would be freer to be their true selves, to flourish—making it easier to win them over to liberation movements and the climate justice movement. Everyone would be more alive. We would all be having more fun.

The “mental health” system would transition to a truly helpful system in which people would heal naturally by exchanging listening with each other and releasing their emotions. Mental patients and “mental health” workers would work together cooperatively to create a system that worked well for everyone.

Janet Foner
International Liberation Reference Person for “Mental Health” Liberation
New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, USA
(Janet died on July 24, 2019)

Last modified: 2024-01-16 18:50:57+00