A chronological account of our campaign against a planned new outpatient commitment law in Germany

January 16, 2004

Dear Friends,

Since November 18 we have been engaged in a struggle against a planned law allowing outpatient commitment in Germany. Here I explain the full story in the context as I see it:

After the attack of the alliance of doctors and the pharma industry in the US in the last decade, we experienced a similar attack here in central Europe. The pattern of the attack in the US, as I understood it, was:

In the wake of the idea of social psychiatry to integrate the critics since the turn of the 90's in an alleged "subject orientated psychiatry", they worked on compliance organizations among the victims of psychiatry and as a main target, the relatives. Relatives anyway very often use psychiatry to discipline their "loved ones", so they are very easy to corrupt. The project of compliance organizations was taken over by the psychiatric mainstream and therefore in the US this obnoxious "NAMI" organization was sponsored with millions of dollars for agents of the financial and oppressive benefits of the above mentioned alliance in this organization. See article "Mother Jones": http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1999/11/nami.html

Only one social psychiatrist, Loren Mosher, took the integration path honourably and realized the corruption strategy of the psychiatric mainstream with the result of his resignation from the APA. The success of the strategy in the US was quite reasonable. Our US friends can tell us how many states have outpatient commitment laws by now. The medicalization and the therapeutic state could celebrate a heyday.

Despite my critique on the integration path, which in my opinion is only marginally less evil than the cynic psychiatric mainstream, I now want to focus on the European side of the Atlantic.

The same alliance of doctors and the pharma industry (organized in the WPA and world wide operating trusts) set themselves new goals in Europe with the same means. The initial steps were in a so-called "white paper" of the European Community which should, in alliance with the biotech industry, path the way for the dehumanization and biotechnical use of the human body for experimentation and forced treatment.

Even if they tried to hide it from any public discussion and discuss it only in very small, technocratic circles, the paper was uncovered and a wave of objections was unleashed, especially from Germany, where objections arose because more people than elsewhere remember the murderous consequences of a bio-political industry in the past. Parallel to this the alliance started to spread money among compliance organizations and in my opinion especially targeted Germany to break the front of resistance. Proof is e.g. the Lilly sponsored annual press conference of the Family Organization in Germany.

The other proof is that the outpatient commitment should get a breakthrough in Germany and therefore they hoped to overthrow any resistance by avoiding public awareness and making a sudden new law like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. The details of the process were: the so-called "dehospitalization program" of social psychiatry required a huge number of controlling custodians to keep people deprived of their rights. A new custodian law was issued in 1992 and the number of custodianships increased in 10 years 2,5 times to over 1 million in January 2003. This was not only very expensive because of an industry of social workers as custodians but also created more and more public criticism and objections.

In the idea of decreasing the state budget, also these custodian costs should be radically diminished and therefore changes in the custodian laws were planned. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the single states have to pay the costs, despite the custodian law being a federal one. So the juridical departments of the 16 German states formed from 2001 a special committee to discuss it. In the Summer of 2003 they published their results and invited lots of organizations, even us, the "Lunatics Offensive", to hear their statements. We used this to denounce completely any forced custodianship and the resulting psychiatric slander, force and fraud. Not a single word about outpatient commitment. (The main saving should come in their proposal by an automatic legal representation, also in medical questions, in the following order:those who are married, children, parents. But prevailing, and that is decisive for our struggle, is always a representation agreement, which can make you, equipped with such a paper, the victor in a family battle and also against psychiatry.)

On Nov. 6 completely hidden from public notice, the justice ministers of all 16 states agreed to the proposed changes, including suddenly an outpatient commitment law. We got to know that by Nov. 18 and were just able to make a first protest on Nov. 28 in front of the second Chamber of the Federal States of Germany (the "Bundesrat"), which is probably comparable to the Senate in the US. Only two days before it was put on the agenda and proceeded for further discussion in the Committees of the Bundesrat. Of course we protested twice when these committees met and started our seeking for a broad alliance against outpatient commitment and publicity. These activities culminated in protests by other groups in 2 other cities and in Berlin on Dec. 19. On this date even without finishing the discussions in the committees of the Bundesrat, the law was again put on the agenda. Obviously it is a forced procedure to hide the crime from public awareness.

But our common effort with our alliance friends resulted in a short time in the rejection of the outpatient commitment law by the four states with a green/labor party and a labor party/post-communist government. This was a decisive success because we could break down the unity block of all parties which were against us before. Till the end of January the federal green/labor party government will have to produce a statement of its own position to the proposed laws and we are now concentrating all efforts to influence the government to follow the path opposing the outpatient commitment law. This is very important because if the government takes a position, then the members of the Bundestag (the first chamber) with a majority of labor/green follow obediently.

February 2, 2004

Dear Friends,

As explained in my previous mail since Nov. 18 we are presently fighting a planned law allowing outpatient commitment in Germany.

Our argument is that outpatient commitment is a severe violation of human rights and is unconstitutional. To underscore our argument, we commissioned a juridical expertise and sent it last Tuesday to all members of the government, all members of parliament and published it on the internet:

What follows is the argument in the expertise, as it might help to build a similar argumentation in other countries:

The key argument in the expertise is "the right to illness". The right to illness was ruled by the supreme court of Germany in a verdict on 23/3/1998 (# VerfG, 2 BvR 2270/96) in a case of a person hearing voices but not being a danger for himself or others, who was sent from an ear clinic straight to a locked ward of a psychiatric prison.

The second article of the German constitution rules the right to liberty. This right can only be limited by a law. The planned outpatient commitment law is intended to be such a law, but as the only condition for a outpatient commitment order of the court would be the necessity for treatment, it would violate the right to illness as the supreme court has ruled it. The right to illness is a result of the informed consent necessary for any medical treatment otherwise it would be considered bodily harm. Although the right to illness is not always without limits, the planned law as a general rule would abolish it.

To use the language of the "right to illness" is very useful as it bypasses the ideological question of whether or not a mental illness does exist at all. The advantage of this argumentation is that if such a right to illness is accepted - and no doubt it is accepted for illnesses other than alleged "mental illnesses" - it opens the loophole for individuals to escape the psychiatric violence and therefore disables psychiatrists to slander them with a "diagnosis" of "mentally ill".So if first a few and later more people are able to waive the very idea of mentally illness for themselves, the result is that these individuals just do not want to be "mentally ill" and therefore can not be made "mentally ill". The criteria of objectivity if doctors are speaking of an illness would be violated as only the disagreement to the idea of "mental illness" is sufficient not to be able to get such an illness. This wrecks the ideology at a fundamental point even if the language of the right to illness never touches the ideological war on the existence of this alleged "illnesses", which are in fact only a metaphor.

Of course in the expertise there are more details and arguments, but for the international community this is in my opinion something that can be learned from our struggle here. As soon as we have the statement by the federal government I will report again about progress of our campaign.

You can see the photos of our protest and everyone who understands German (or has a good translation program) can read the statements and press releases here:http://www.psychiatrie-erfahrene.de/stellungnahme.htm

February 13, 2004

Dear friends,

We have won the crucial battle in the fight against outpatient commitment in Germany!

As previously reported since November 18 we have been engaged in a struggle against a planned law allowing outpatient commitment here. Last Wednesday the federal government issued a statement that the planned law is unconstitutional! The federal government was elected by the Labour Party and the Green Party and last Monday also the members of parliament of the Green Party published a statement that the planned law is unconstitutional. Therefore we are now sure that in the first house of parliament, the "Bundestag" (comparable to the House of Representatives in the USA), there will be a clear majority against the outpatient commitment law. The second house won't be able to overrule.

The argumentation of the government also follows the expertise of our lawyer, who pointed to the fact that by the right to freedom, we do implicitly have a constitutional right to illness. The other important point the government took into account is that it is irreconcilable with the constitution that the right to freedom - including the right not to be bodily harmed - is taken away by a judge (on the grounds of a psychiatric expertise) in a preventive way. That would be the case if a judge could legalize a forced outpatient treatment for the subsequent six months.

As such a statement was made by the federal government and will be made by the majority in the parliament too, also a conservative majority in both houses will hesitate to put the law on the agenda again, should they have the majority in both house some day in the future. As they could expect, serious legal complaints would be raised and most likely the supreme court would rule out this law.

This success was a result of our two-step tactic:first we criticized politically the new law with sharp words like "outpatient torture". We made lots of demonstrations (altogether 8 within 6 weeks) in front of the Second House of Parliament and the Federal Ministry of Justice (which drafted the statement by the government), walk-ins into the newspaper of the Green Party and walk-ins into the independent "Institute for Human Rights". Additionally we constantly flooded the Green Party members of parliament with information. We were able to form an alliance with the "Runaway House" here and associations of users and survivors in five states in Germany, which in a second step together presented just in time the 40 pages of legal expertise to all members of the parliament and government. So our sharp political protest was backed up just in time with strong legal arguments. So all those on the political level who were open minded to our demands, got a convincing argumentation in their hands. This double punch knocked out the efforts of the alliance of the doctors with the pharma industry who pushed the law.

Additionally they committed the mistake - probably they were afraid of our answer - of introducing the law in a surprise attack just before Christmas and therefore demonstrated to anybody involved the evil mission of this attempt. This provided us with an additional argument.

Our arguments are that outpatient commitment is a severe violation of human rights and unconstitutional. Therefore next week we will provide a juridical expertise and post it to the government, all members of parliament and publish it in the internet, making it available to all, not only to the press. March 4, 2004: First reading in the Bundestag, speakers of all parties are against the outpatient commitment law and declare it as irreconcilable with the constitution, the attempt to implement this law is completely failed.

We are in some hope of winning the struggle. You can see the photos of our protest and everyone who understands German (or has a good translation program) can read the statements and press releases here:

March 4, 2004:
First reading in the Bundestag, speakers of all parties are against the outpatient commitment law and declare it as irreconcilable with the constitution, the attempt to implement this law is completely failed.