Families for the Ethical Psychiatric Treatment of Patients and Prisoners

“Advocating for collaboration, not coercion”


January 20, 2009


Families greatly influence who we are and who we become.  When we find ourselves in challenging circumstances, our family may have more influence on whether we survive and recover than any other single factor.  Yet, in our society, the family is left almost alone with the responsibility for raising children.  It is not surprising that there are so many people who find it very hard to cope with the problems of living.


This is also true in the field of mental health. If an affected person has broken the law, the problems they face are practically impossible to solve.  Worse, the family is often treated as if they are criminals, and they are left alone to try to solve the riddles of the prison system and mental health bureaucracies.  Add to this the insurance maze, the legal intricacies, the financial burdens, and the emotional stress and worries, and you have a situation that will crush most families.


It is to the millions of persons affected by this dilemma that FEPTOPP addresses our message of hope.  We want to gather our resources to build a platform from which we can speak for ourselves.  We have suffered too long in silence and stigma.  FEPTOPP aims to bring the process of recovery out into the light of public scrutiny, so that we all may see this system, understand its strengths and failures, and become involved in making it more effective.


FEPTOPP is a private company at this point.  We look towards becoming a non-profit at some point in the future, if that path presents no obstacle between where we are now and achieving our goals.  We accept no support from pharmaceutical corporations or others who have vested profit interests.  Our base is the families, friends, and supporters of persons affected by the existing system of medical practices, laws, hospitals, clinics, outpatient facilities, halfway houses, jails and prisons that currently control millions of individuals.  The recovery of these individuals is of utmost importance to all of us in society, and FEPTOPP will focus attention on that process.  We ask that you join us.



Mental health care has a low priority in our society.  Although a lot of money is spent on mental health care, the outlook for the individual caught up in the system is bleak.


Along with this discouraging fact, we face an onslaught by the combined government and pharmaceutical establishments quite literally trying to drug us into acceptance of an onerous status quo.  This is marked by the increasing use of psychiatrists in a forensic setting (the courts) to deprive people of their liberty and by the widespread growth of the drug culture, both prescribed and illegal.


It is in the arena of the courts, the mental hospitals, the jails, and the prisons that these problems are most acute.  There, psychiatrists represent the State and only secondarily their patients, the prisoners.  Since the State represents concentrated force, the patient finds himself in an unequal struggle to regain both sanity and liberty.  Psychiatrists in that situation are limited to only those treatments that the State will sanctify, and the State is very difficult, if not impossible, to hold accountable.


Psychiatry has been linked to the prison system from its earliest days in the mid-nineteenth century.  The growth and concentration of power in the State has been matched by the growth and acceptance of psychiatry as a scientific branch of medicine.  But there are serious problems with psychiatric practices, problems that are consistently swept under the rug and ignored by the politicians who write the laws governing the institutions, while the courts rule over a system of incarceration and commitment that does not stand up under critical scrutiny.  There are many voices within the medical and legal communities attempting to address these contradictions, and the record of their efforts is being written in the court cases and medical journals on a daily basis, usually far from the eyes of the public.



All this is made possible by a climate of fear inspired at the highest levels of power in our society.  The results can be seen in the street, where police officers routinely murder psychotic people, and again in the courts that increasingly limit the freedom of all of us, while particularly attacking the rights of those accused of being mentally ill (see, for example, the latest Supreme Court decision denying people diagnosed as mentally ill the right to defend themselves in court).


We seek to hold the psychiatrists to their medical oath, their own self-proclaimed banner of ethics.  At the same time, we will carry forward legal battles for the civil rights of these citizens and help families of those who are hospitalized and imprisoned survive this devastating environment of ignorance, coercion, repression, and fear.




It’s our bet that 99 out of 100 people don’t know what this word means.


The dictionary says:  adjective; (of a medical disorder) caused by the diagnosis, manner, or treatment of a physician. 


The word came into being in the early 1920’s, but hasn’t become popular.


It could be used, for instance, in the following manner:  “The iatrogenic treatment that the patient received resulted in his eventual death.”


It seems clear that there is a community of interest that keeps this word from being used in its’ proper and useful role in our society.


Control of language is thought control, as George Orwell observed.

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