Article from July 2010, updated at last on January 1, 2016.
Published in totally worked-over form and without illustrations
with the title "Facebook
friends and other enemies" in: Journal of Critical Psychology,
Counselling and Psychotherapy (U.K.), Vol. 14 (2014), No.
1, pp. 37-43
Whose Defamation? Whose Insult? Whose Shame?
About the indifference of the Berlin Runaway House organisation
towards its staff-member Jan Groth's cybermobbing and defamation
of Judi Chamberlin
This paper highlights the defamation of some fighters for human
rights by a small dogmatic group, especially the webmaster of
the Berlin Runaway House. The example shows how destructive it
will be in the long run to stay absolutely indifferent against
the defamation of survivors of psychiatry, who supported the founding
of the own antipsychiatric Runaway House in a meaningful way.
When public defamation comes from people connected with the own
organisation, staying silent publicly will undermine the own credibility.
Denying solidarity with attacked supporters might only produce
isolation, which will be dangerous for the project in future situations
where others are asked for support.
In 1989, Judi Chamberlin was one of the first international
human rights activists who supported the Berlin Runaway House
group. This group (called: Association for the protection against
psychiatric violence) had started in the early 80s of the last
century to plan a shelter for people who escape from psychiatric
violence and to find supporters for their struggle.
In Germany, Judi Chamberlin joined not only the Advisory board
of this organisation, but also demanded support from the Berlin
Senat für Gesundheit & Soziales (Senate for Health &
Social Affairs) for the planed Runaway House. See her letter below
(published in Uta Wehde's book "Das Weglaufhaus Zufluchtsort
für Psychiatrie-Betroffene" (Berlin: Antipsychiatrieverlag 1991;
English information about this book find at www.peter-lehmann-publishing.com/books/wehde-e.htm).
Sadly, Judi Chamberlin died on 16 January 2010 at age 65. She
was widely considered a grandmother of the mad movement: author,
leader, activist, psychiatric survivor. Find information about
her on www.mindfreedom.org/about-us/mfi-board/judi-chamberlin
Judi Chamberlin in Dresden, relaxing after
her lecture against coercive treatment in psychiatry (June
Judi Chamberlin "bridged the gap
between system-funded projects and street activism: She
saw the necessity of both"
(from MindFreedom website)
In June 2007, two and a half year before Judi Chamberlin died,
she participated at the congress "Coercive Treatment in Psychiatry:
A Comprehensive Review", run by the World Psychiatric Association
in Dresden, Germany. In 2006, the action project against Harassment
and Discrimination Faced by People with Mental Health Problems
in the Field of Health Services, organized in the framework
of the "Community Action Programme to Combat Discrimination in
2001-2006" with support from the European Union, a transnational
study within this program, was finished. It has been designed
and conducted by associations of (ex-) users and survivors of
psychiatry and their families from the U.K., Austria, Germany,
Spain, the Netherlands and France in conjunction with a Belgian
research institute, Mental Health Europe and the European
Network of (ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (ENUSP).
One of many proposed
measures to combat discrimination was the policy recommendation
of effective representation of (ex-) users and survivors of psychiatry
or user/survivor workers in crisis centres, counselling centres,
public relations work, research projects, congresses, networking
and international exchange of organisations representing (ex-)
users and survivors of psychiatry. According to these recommendations,
Thomas Kallert as Chair of the WPA congress organizing commitee
had invited ENUSP, WNUSP and MindFreedom International to participate
at the congress and offered two users/survivor-controlled symposia
(with 10 people alltogether incl. costs-reimbursement) two keynote
lectures for user/survivors of psychiatry, free information stands
for their organisations, participation at the press-conference
of their delegates, participation in the scientific and organizing
congress committee, distribution of their information sheets via
the congress folder and reduced fees for other participating user/survivors
of psychiatry (see the report
about the agreement in English.and in
German). On this basis ENUSP and MindFreedom had decided to
participate at the congress; for unknown reasons WNUSP was not
able to make a decision about the participation, and only a very
small group of some people around the German Rene Talbot (see
the documents No.
2 , No.
3 and No.
4 [all in the German language] about Talbot's friends' attempts
of defamation in the run-up to the negotiations about a congress-participation),
decided to stay outside the congress and to demand the abolishment
of coercive treatment outside.
The big democratic organisations of users and survivors of psychiatry
and their supporters like MindFreedom International demand the
abolishment of coercive treatment inside the congress. Beside
Judi Chamberlin, other courageous speakers at this conference
were the second keynote lecturer Dorothea Buck, survivor of the
forced psychiatric sterilization during Nazi regime in Germany,
the Chairwoman Mary Nettle from the ENUSP
and Robert Whitaker, author of "Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad
Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill". Judi
Chamberlin used the invitation to the congress to demand the abolishment
of forced treatment in her keynote lecture "Whose Voice? Whose
Choice? Whose Power?" Her lecture was videotaped and can be downloaded
like many other documents and photos, see http://ki-art-multimedia.de/dresden/dresden.htm.
Beside this, Judi Chamberlin was also one of the key persons who
formulated the Declaration
of Dresden Against Coerced Psychiatric Treatment, signed by
herself together with Peter Lehmann in the name of ENUSP,
Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry and MindFreedom
In 2007 / 2008, shamefully Jan Groth, Germany, used one of the
photos from the Dresden conference (see the screenshot below)
defame Judi Chamberlinbeside the two human-rights-activists
David Oaks, like Judi Chamberlin also former member the Runaway House
Advisory board, and Peter Lehmann, founding member of the Runaway Houseas
"expert for coercive treatment", who searched in Dresden "for
ways toward user-controlled and humane torture in psychiatry".
in English and www.iaapa.de/contest_dt.html
in German. User-controll and human torture of course wourd be
classical oxymoron, a contradiction in itself. But neither Judi
Chamberlin, Peter Lehmann and David Oaks demanded such an idiotism
(and even Thomas Kallert and Juan Mezzich were not so bizarre
to combine coercive treatment with user-control), nor were or
are they idiots to belief in such a nonsense, which of course
would be an insult to all users and survivors of psychiatry.
Ignoring the fact that all above mentioned survivors of psychiatry
demanded the abolishment of coercive psychiatry, Jan Groth and
friends took the simple fact of congress participation per so
to defame them as advocates of psychiatric torture. See below
the defamation by Jan Groth:
Defamation by Jan Groth, Germany: "In Dresden experts
for coercive treatment searched for ways toward user-controlled
and humane torture in psychiatry"
From left: Juan Mezzich (WPA Chair), David Oaks, Judi Chamberlin,
Thomas Kallert (Chair of the WPA congress organizing commitee),
Identical defamation in German by Jan Groth: "Experten
für psychiatrische Zwangsbehandlung suchten in Dresden nach
Wegen zu einer betroffenenorientierten und menschenwürdigen
On the internet you can find out the place of activity of Jan
Groth: the Berlin Runaway House organisation. Years later after
his defamation, still in July 2010, you can identify him as webmaster
of the Weglaufhaus (the German term for Runaway House) Berlinsee
Imprint-page of the Berlin Runaway House website, Screenshot
from July 7, 2010
Shamefully, until today (July 13, 2010) the Berlin Runaway House
organisation denies any public alienation from their perennial
webmaster Jan Groth, who obviously stopped his webmaster-activity
for the Runaway House in spring 2010, by simply repeating to say
that they "have no means of telling him what to say", that "at
the time of the Dresden conference, he was not employed by the
association, but doing voluntary work", that "he is webmaster
of our homepage without responsibility for the content".
They are not even able to delete the links to the organisations
which carry the defamation or to stop the collaboration with people
like Rene Talbot, Germany, whowith the same level of emotional
and political intelligenceshare or triggered the defamation.
[Same with George Ebert; hesitting at home in USA in front
of his computer screenobviously means it is a) cozy, snug
and comfortable to protest against human rights violations within
a psychiatrists' congress in Germany and b) disrespectul to call
his insult "disrespect".]
Facing the nonchalance of the Berlin Runaway House organisation
towards the defamation of former supporters of the Runaway House
by its webmaster, only sadness remains. Even when I, the author
of this paper, left the Berlin Runaway House organisation in 2001
and have never met Jan Groth, full of shame I now have to beg
pardon from all still living people whom I have asked in former
years to support the Berlin Runaway House and who now might also
feel defamed or insulted. Sorry, I did not succeed to convince
the Berlin Runaway House organisation to alienate publicly from
its webmaster's defamation and to ask publicly for pardon. I do
not have enough measures against human indifference.
No question, the Berlin Runaway House is extreme important as
one of the very few working alternatives beyond psychiatry (see
the article "Finding common strength together: The Berlin
Runaway House" by Petra Hartmann & Stefan Bräunling (in
the book "Alternatives
Beyond Psychiatry", edited by Peter Stastny & Peter Lehmann,
Berlin / Eugene / Shrewsbury 2007, pp. 188-199;
ebook in 2014).