Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Immediate Release – June 8, 2009

CAPA Endorses Vigil-Memorial for Esmin Green in New York
and announces a Support Vigil in Toronto on June 19, 2009, 8pm

The Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) officially and wholeheartedly endorses WE THE PEOPLE’S Vigil for Esmin Green in New York City on June 19, 2009. The first Vigil was held last year in New York and Toronto. Ms. Green’s very tragic death in the emergency ward of King’s Country Hospital Center in Brooklyn on June 19, 2008 was totally preventable and outrageous and cries out for international protest and justice now. It’s important to remember that the death of this poor black woman was a direct result of race-and-class driven indifference and neglect by members of the hospital’s psychiatric, medical and nursing staff. Almost equally outrageous and unjust, the deaths of thousands of other brothers and sisters in American, Canadian and European psychoprisons have not been reported by mainstream media or covered up. Ms. Green’s death, including her sudden collapse, in King’s County Hospital could not be covered up because it was caught on the hospital’s own video cameras and widely posted on YouTube. Although Ms. Green’s family recently won a court-ordered judgment of $2 million, a city report of the investigation into her death at King’s County Hospital is pending.

CAPA is also proud to announce it is organizing and coordinating a support vigil-memorial on June 19, the same day of WE THE PEOPLE’s Vigil in New York. The CAPA Vigil-Memorial is being held in front of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, a branch of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), on the northeast corner of Spadina Ave. and College St., at 8pm. ‘The Clark’ houses CAMH’s admission department and its notorious ‘ECT’ unit where thousands of people, mostly women, have been electroshocked, frequently without informed consent or against their will. During our vigil, we are paying respect not only to the memory of Esmin Green but to many other sisters and brothers and friends who have died from medical neglect and psychiatric tortures such as forced drugging and electroshock in psychoprisons across Canada. The deaths of Esmin Green and many others must never be forgotten!

Everybody is welcome.
Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault –
Contact person: Don Weitz, Toronto, 416-545-0796; Lauren Tenney, New York, 516-319-4295


CAPA’s Media Release-Shock Protest on Mother’s Day, May 10/09

Media Release – May 2009


Date: Mother’s Day, May 10, 2009
Time: 1:15pm (March) & 2pm (demo)
Place: Queen’s Park, Toronto

The Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) announces another public
protest against psychiatry’s use of electroshock (“electroconvulsive
therapy” or “ECT”).   CAPA is a political action organization that
addresses psychiatric violence (see website below).  This special Mother’s
Day event is co-sponsored by Maggie’s and the Association of Part-Time
Undergraduate Students of the University of Toronto and is endorsed by
over 20 women’s, human rights, and social justice organizations.  This is
an international protest which occurs every year and which takes place in
locations throughout the world including Montreal and Cork Ireland.  This
year’s Toronto protest starts with a march at 1:15 pm at the NE corner of
Spadina and College (in front of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry,
CAMH); the rally, which includes shock survivor-testimony, speeches, and
entertainment, starts at 2:00 pm in Queen’s Park.  The keynote speaker is
MPP Cheri DiNovo.  Entertainment includes the legendary singer and
activist Faith Nolan.

The event is being held on Mother’s Day because a disproportionate number
of women generally and elderly women in particular are subjected to ‘ECT’
and ‘ECT’ is now considered the treatment of choice for postpartum
depression.  According to ‘ECT’ statistics (see Burstow 2006), 2-3 times
more women than men undergo ‘ECT’; approximately 70% of patients shocked
are women; 50% of these are women 65 and over.

The largest study in electroshock history was conducted in 2007 by Harold
Sackeim et al. At the level of statistical significance, it proves that
that electroshock always causes brain damage, including permanent memory
loss, and that women and the elderly suffer the most damage from it.
Other important pieces of research show that women are greatly traumatized
by the damage (see Burstow, 2006) and that despite claims to the contrary,
electroshock is no more effective than placebo (Ross, 2006).

This damage is authorized and paid for by the state and we demand that the
state put an end to it.  On May 10th, we call on psychiatry and the state
to stop shocking our mothers and grandmothers.  Join us in delivering this
challenge.   Eat with us, listen to testimony and other speeches, enjoy
the entertainment.  This is a child-friendly event (bring your children).
This is a BYOMAG event  (bring your own mother and grandmother).   Let’s
make Mother’s Day count.

Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault:,
Contact persons: Dr. Bonnie Burstow, 416-538-7103; Don Weitz, 416-545-0796

Call for Papers – Alberta Conference – “Are WeMad?”

Call for Papers

“Are We Mad? Critical Analyses of the Canadian Mental Health System” is organized by the Legal Activist Collective at the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta.


The purpose of the Conference is to bring together researchers and practitioners from various disciplines that share an interest in the Canadian mental health system, and the problems this system poses to individuals and society at large.
The treatment of the mentally ill in Canada, both by the law and by larger societal forces, is an ongoing source of concern. This conference will examine this treatment and provide critical perspectives which, although prevalent in much academic literature, are generally not understood or appreciated by the public. In particular, the legal, social and ethical implications of the medicalisation of mental illness, disease mongering by the pharmaceutical industry, the inherent power disparities and grievous dangers attendant to the idea of involuntary hospitalization, revisionistic and patient-centric positions on patient rights, and the ramifications of widespread xenophobia with respect to the mentally ill will all be addressed.
“Are We Mad? Critical Analyses of the Canadian Mental Health System” is a forum designed to bring together those sharing these, and other, concerns with the current state of the mental health system in Canada. Authors are encouraged to submit papers on any of the conference topics listed below. Accepted papers will be presented at the conference by one of the authors and published in the proceedings. Acceptance will be based on quality, relevance and originality.


– Medicalisation of mental illness
– Patient rights
– Disease mongering in areas of mental health
– Involuntary hospitalization.
– Xenophobia and the mentally ill


Robert Whitaker, authour of Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill
Don Weitz, co-founder of the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA)


Authors should submit an abstract of a paper in English of up to 1000 words in length, carefully checked for correct grammar and spelling, using the on-line submission procedure indicated below.
The program committee will review all papers and the contact author (the author who submits the paper) of each paper will be notified of the result, by e-mail.

Submission procedure:
A “double-blind” paper evaluation method will be used. To facilitate that, the authors are kindly requested to produce and provide the paper abstract, WITHOUT any reference to any of the authors.
The file sent must be a zip containing two files: author(s) information in one and the paper abstract, without any author(s) information, in another. PS/PDF/DOC format are accepted.


All accepted abstracts will be required to provide a paper at the time of the conference. The papers are not to exceed 20 A4 pages in length (double spaced) and will be published in the conference proceedings, which will be published as a special edition of the Alberta Law Review in 2008.


Paper Submission: February 1, 2008
Authors Notification: February 8, 2008
Final Paper Submission and Registration Deadline: February 22, 2008
Conference date: March 1 & 2, 2008


The conference will be held in the Law Centre on the campus of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.



conference website:

Speaking Out On Prisoners Justice Day

 I read most of this joint RAP/CAPA statement on August 10, 2007, Prisoners Justice Day, during a vigil in front of the Don Jail in Toronto.  – Don


We see the psychiatric system and the criminal “injustice” system as mutually reinforcing approaches that the state uses to control human beings. We recognize that classism, racism, sexism, ageism, heterosexism, and ableism are all implicated in psychiatric oppression. We focus on anti-psychiatry activities while highlighting the connection among the oppressions. Toward that end, we demonstrate, do nonviolent civil disobedience, speak out, and distribute information. Our groups include primarily ex-inmates as well as other anti-psychiatry activists.

What are the connections between the psychiatric and criminal justice systems?

•     Prisoners of both systems are locked up against their will.
•     Prisoners of both systems are denied access to information, wanted services, visits, sex, the media, and the public at large.
•     Just as people die in prisons, people die in psychiatric institutions through drug overdoses and improper mixing of drugs.
•     In both systems public investigations do not occur.
•     Both systems use solitary confinement, sensory deprivation, and forced transfers as means of control.
•     Just as women in the prison system are subject to extra oppression, women in the psychiatric institutions are subjected to more electroshock, more damaging drugs, and longer confinement.
•     In both institutions, lesbians and gays are doubly oppressed.
•     Both systems use coercive treatment such as drugging and shocking without informed and free consent.
•     Both systems deny the need for AIDS education, prevention, and treatment.
•     Both systems claim to be benefiting society while actually promoting hierarchy and oppression.
•     Both systems claim to be helping the prisoner, while, instead, punishing and controlling

There are many humane and more effective ways to help people in crisis. As examples, we propose these alternatives to prisons and psychiatric institutions: crisis and healing centres, community justice circles, residential-therapeutic houses, supportive housing, and decriminalization of drug and petty offences.


For more information, call Don: 416-545-0796 or

August 10, 2004

CAPA Statement Re Performance of “Stories for Hemingway’s Havana”

Sister and Brother Activists: We felt the need to issue a political statement about the performance of the play about Hemingway—Stories for Hemingway’s Havana–which CAPA hosted on July 7 2007. The play was put on as a CAPA benefit, courtesy of the playwright and actor Brian Gordon Sinclair. The reason why we agreed to Brian’s kind offer to do this performance free of charge to CAPA as well as the audience was that the play covers the final years of Hemingway’s life, including his being electroshocked—a psychiatric atrocity which deprived him of his ability to write and led to his suicide. Unfortunately, while a couple of the men read the script ahead of time, none of the women in CAPA did, and at least one of us surely should have. Moreover, the macho which dominated the performance seemed nowhere near so blatant in the script. Now the acting and the writing were brilliant—for indeed, Brian is a talented artist. And the performance captured the personality of the very macho Hemingway to a “t”. Herein, however, lay the problem. While of course, there is nothing wrong with a play about a macho man and while no one should be electroshocked whether macho or not, no frame existed which suggested that this over the top macho man was not simply loveable. Moreover, the bit on the electroshock was so short that it did little to mitigate the problem.

We regret any offence. And we are sorry that we did not proceed more cautiously. Measures that we have taken to ensure that such a problem does not occur in the future is including as part of our process a rigorous and specifically feminist read for problems before agreeing to any performance or release of material. Naturally, we will also be reading with reference to other oppressions. Our apologies to anyone who attended and was uncomfortable, as indeed, many of us at CAPA were.

This was our first venture into theatre which we did not pen or perform in. And we all take it as a lesson.

The Executive of Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault

Stories for Hemingway’s Havana shock scene included July 7




performed by award-winning Canadian actor-playwright


Free, Donations Welcome

A Mad Pride associated event

“Sinclair masterfully cedes the stage to Hemingway and the author’s multifaceted personality…He understands Hemingway’s strengths as well as vulnerabilities and does him justice…he (Sinclair) reaches into the writer’s soul and becomes him.”
– Miami Herald, 2006

Support statement of anti-shock demo by Leonard Frank

San Francisco, 12 May 2007

Greetings to all my friends participating in the anti-electroshock demonstrations (“STOP SHOCKING OUR MOTHERS AND GRANDMOTHERS”) on Mother’s Day in Toronto, Montreal, Cork (Ireland), and Eugene (Oregon).

My congratulations to each of you for protesting the use of the barbaric psychiatric procedure known as electroshock, or ECT.

These demonstrations are needed now more than ever before.

According to a leading ECT proponent, one to two million people worldwide are being electroshocked every year. And the numbers are growing.

Electroshock is psychiatry’s shock-and-awe “treatment.”

Electroshock is psychiatry’s weapon of mass brain destruction.

Electroshock is a brainwashing method disguised as a medical treatment. One electroshock psychiatrist described the effect of intensive ECT in this way: “Their minds are like clean slates upon which we can write.”

Electroshock is a brutal, dehumanizing, memory-destroying, intelligence-lowering, brain-damaging, life-threatening technique.

Electroshock robs people of their memories, their beliefs, their hopes, their personality and their humanity.

Electroshock reduces the capacity of people to lead full, meaningful lives, and crushes their spirit.

Electroshock is a method for gutting the brain in order to control and punish people who fall or step out of line, and intimidate others who are on the verge of doing so.

Electroshock is an atrocity. Even though sanctioned by the state, it is still an atrocity. What is legal is not necessarily right. It is well to remember that the Inquisition, slavery and the Holocaust were all, in their time, legal.

Electroshock has no place in a free society, and no society in which it is used is truly free.

We need to stop electroshock and we need to stop it now.

My thoughts and good wishes are with each of you on this occasion. May it be for those struggling against electroshock one of our finest hours.

Leonard Roy Frank

much thanks to our allies

Many allied organizations made possible the highly successful demonstration against electroshock on Mothers Day. These include but are not limited to: Sistering; Centre for Women and Trans People at York University; Ontario Coalition Against Poverty; The Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/ Multicultural Women Against Rape; Lunatic Liberation Front; Mind Freedom International; School for Disability Studies at Ryerson University; Greenspiration; Resistance Against Psychiatry; The Centre for Women’s Studies in Education at OISE/UT; The Transformative Learning Centre at OISE/UT; Friendly Spike Theatre Band; Canadian Alliance for Rights in Health Care; Parkdale Community Legal Services; Street Health; Mad Students Guerillas; Women’s Counselling Referral and Education Centre; Action Autonomie; Call Us Crazy; York University Access Centre; Toronto Disaster Relief Committee; Ithaca Mental Patients Advocacy Coalition; Assaulted Women and Children Counsellor Advocate Program, George Brown College; Action Autonomie Montréal- Comité Pare-chocs;
Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre, and Second Opinion Society

On behalf of CAPA, I would particularly like to acknowledge the work of Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape for their efforts with sign-making and Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, which supplied the vast majority of the marshals.

A special thanks also to all the artists, who donated so generously of their time, and helped to breathe life into our struggle against electroshock. –Bonnie Burstow

Colette’s testimony

    The following statement is from Colette, another courageous shock survivor who  gave personal testimony for the first time at the anti-shock demo in Cork Ireland on May 13/07 –  way to go, Colette!- Don

I was first given shock treatment (E.C.T.) at 19 when I was committed to Lindville, a private mental hospital, in Cork city.  They blasted me with it twice a week or so during the six months that I spent there. I managed to escape from there then.

Off and on, during subsequent committals to Sarsfieldscourt public mental hospital, I was given E.C.T.  I can only recall once being given a consent form for E.C.T.   In ,79, talking with other patients I gave my view that their (hospitals’) was not helping us.  We decided to confront the staff thinking meaningful dialogue was possible.  It was not.  We were transferred by ambulance to Our Lady’s .A huge gothic, much feared mental hospital.  I was blasted with E.C.T. and put into a locked ward Ita’s 2.  I was put on extremely strong drugs so I never could recall what actually took place when we spoke to staff in Sarsfieldscourt .  When I resisted taking heavy drugs they pinned me down and injected me . They poured largactil down my throat on other occasions.

At this time my poor mother suffered a mental breakdown, presumably due to worry over me.

Subsequently, I suffered very much from memory loss.  When I worked in a jeweller’s.  I was put in charge of repairs.  One day 2 ladies called in for jewellery left for repair.  We could not find it.  I had no memory of what I had done with it.  They were leaving on the liner from Cobh in a couple of hours.  Needless to say, I was fired.

Later I got a good job with the local newspaper, ’The Examiner’.  From the start, I had little or no recall of adverts I had taken. I seemed careless, not to be trusted with responsibility or promotion.  I thought it was due to medication, but when I came off medication in ’94, my memory was as bad as ever.

Colette, a member of MindFreedom Ireland.

Irish shock survivors speak out at Cork demo

This post is a speech by Mel during the anti-shock demo in Cork, Ireland on May 13, 2007 organized by MindFreedom Ireland. Many thanks to shock survivor-activist Mel and survivor-organizer Mary Maddock for sending me this powerul statement – Don Weitz

You asked me to write a synopsis of my ECT DEMO speech

I would be delighted to do that, but would probably need what i read out. My own piece after i had read out the testimony was roughly as follows:

When we think of giving people electric shocks, we think of things like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and associate it with the practice of torture and gross abuse of human rights. And yet the practice of ECT, electric shock to the brain, is widely used in psychiatric hospitals throughout the world, without any scientific basis whatsoever, and often with seriously deleterious effect.

Thus, if one cares about a world without torture, we must stand by all of those who have been tortured, unnecessarily and in the name of medical treatment, the benefits of which are at best unproven.

Amnesty international is currently running a “Stop Violence Against Women” Campaign. Two-thirds of ECT victims are women.

Join us in a call for human rights and oppose the practice of ECT.