20130320 Submission to CRPD women and psychiatric oppression

Submission to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for the Half Day of General Discussion on “Women and Girls with Disabilities”

What is the intersection between oppression of women and psychiatric oppression?

1. Girls and women face many contradictions in the ordinary course of life, navigating myriad oppressions that put women in the wrong whether for attempting stereotypically feminine behavior or for rejecting the limitations of a feminine role. Sexual predation, discrimination in public life, lack of safety even at home, and inequitable access to resources, deprive women and girls of the conditions needed for free development of the personality. Psychiatric oppression, and the underlying ostracism of “mad persons”, is a trap that polices the behavior of all girls and women with unpredictable physical, emotional, linguistic and legal violence, labeling those who fall in as members of an inferior social caste.

2. By “psychiatric oppression” we mean diagnostic labeling, civil commitment, forced interventions with drugs and electroshock, restraint and solitary confinement, and all the associated abuses and discrimination. We also refer to this as “psychiatrizing.” “Pathologizing” means labeling of mental, emotional, spiritual and social distress or crisis as an illness, with psychiatric diagnoses. “Psychiatric survivor” is a person who identifies as having survived psychiatric oppression or abuse.