"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

- United States Declaration of Independence

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Privileges to Rights - A Passage of Note

The following is an excerpt of the 2000 "From Privileges to Rights" Report, published 10 years ago by the National Council on Disability, in which Dr. Dan Fisher talks about the "Fundanmental Rights" legislation in Massachusetts - the focus of our current struggle.

Sadly, things haven't changed much.

(Thanks to Dr. Fisher for permission to reprint.)

Daniel Fisher, a psychiatrist, testified that some states, such as Massachusetts, had to pass legislation to ensure the human rights of people in institutions who are labeled with psychiatric disabilities, such as the right to make a phone call or have visitors, legislation that would not be necessary if people labeled with psychiatric disabilities did not lose their ordinary citizenship rights. It is important to note that both in institutions and in community facilities, rights are referred to as "privileges" that must be earned, generally by compliance with treatment. Such so-called "privileges" as using the telephone or having access to fresh air must be recognized as basic rights that may not be infringed. Just as it would be intolerable and unacceptable for people to lose their rights when they enter a hospital for medical treatment or surgery, such policies should be similarly unacceptable in psychiatric facilities.


  1. I completely agree with his standpoint. I was fortunate when I was hospitalized a few weeks ago to have been placed in a ward where patients are treated with respect and kindness and as actual human beings, not inmates. I know some of my fellow patients had not been so lucky in their previous hospitalizations, even at hospitals just down the road. There definitely needs to be a change in how these facilities are run; fresh air is a _privilege_? These are mental health facilities, not prison camps.

  2. Thanks for that comment Lisa. Sadly, psych hospitals on the whole are beyond poorly run; they are a national scandal. we hope to expose this in some way to the public.