The Speech of Gert Postel on 42 Years of the Lunatic Offensive

42 Years of the Lunatic Offensive
The celebratory speech

It is a pleasure and a satisfaction for me, 17 years after my last speech on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Irren-Offensive, to be able to give a speech now on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary. What I said then about the first 25 years can be read [watch the film]. So today I want to focus on these last 17 years.  Even though I am not actively involved, but lead a rather contemplative life in Tübingen, I have been able to observe what successes the Lunatic Offensive has been able to achieve in these 17 years since 2005. As a reader of the Werner Fuss Center’s newsletters, I would like to highlight five particular successes that I believe have struck at the heart of coercive psychiatry.

The first success was the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Jan. 1, 2009. I think a major impetus for this development against coercive psychiatry at the international level was the participation of the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, in the Russell Tribunal on the issue of human rights in psychiatry in 2001. A year before that, Hagai Aviel and Rene had made a side trip to New York after their trip to the symposium on the occasion of Thomas Szasz’s 80th birthday. As Rene told me, as secretaries of the planned Russell Tribunal, they wanted to persuade the UN, through its Human Rights Division, to participate in the Tribunal. The result was this greeting, and with it the recognition and to the notice of the Tribunal by the UN.
In the process of drafting the convention in the following years, unfortunately, the participants in the so-called „ad hoc“ group from the side of psychiatrists, namely Tina Minkowitz, were not able to assert the explicit incompatibility of coercive psychiatry with human rights, but implicitly this convention made coercive psychiatry a crime impossible to justify in human rights terms. This was even recognized by the World Organization of Psychiatry, the WPA by calling in its 2019 journal, „To ignore, reinterpret or amend the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD),“ and also that psychiatric professional societies should encourage governments to „ignore the Convention.“ This is obviously a new approach, as psychiatrists have otherwise always been opportunistic and obedient to governments. Suddenly, psychiatrists hoped to be able to direct international law and national governments because – note the conspiracy theory – “ … Blame it on the fact that the draft [of the CRC] was embraced by some of the most radical elements of the patients‘ rights movement,… „This implicit effect of the convention was well understood in the U.S., and probably why the U.S. has not ratified the convention to date. In Germany, on the other hand, despite a legal opinion known to all members of parliament in the states and the federal government, it was simply ignored. Instead, in order to bend the Disability Rights Convention from the outset, the Bundestag, with the approval of all the states, lied a word into the Convention in a so-called „memorandum“ that belonged to the ratification, which had been explicitly excluded in the development process. That this should avenge itself, however, I will explain later.
Ideologically, the backbone of forced psychiatry was broken, because, so to speak, UN officially, it suddenly stood against human rights, even if it could still cling to state-legalized violence.  Since then, the Lunatic Offensive has constantly displayed its poster „Psychiatrists – state-protected criminals“ unchallenged.  This gnaws even at such hard-boiled cynics as psychiatrists usually are.

The second success also dates from 2009, September 1, when the Patient Advance Dirctive Act § 1901a BGB came into force. Forces from the Werner Fuß Center were largely responsible for it coming into being, supported by a broad majority in the Bundestag. This was not at all self-evident, because not only considerable parts of the movement for the disabled, but also e.g. Prof. Dörner had fallen for the Nazi trick of calling mass murder „euthanasia“. This was an attempt at that time to sweep the systematic medical mass murder under a euphemistic carpet of a killing on demand, to make suicides out of the murders. An attempt was made to deny the central right to self-determination, the right of an adult to his or her own body, to place it under medical superintendence, in order to leave untouched psychiatry’s central claim to legitimacy, that it was the preventer of suicides. On the day the law was passed, advertising began for the so-called „PatVerfü,“ which took advantage of the part of the law that concedes that any medical examination can also be legally prohibited in advance. It becomes legally a bodily injury. The decisive criterion for the violence exercised by psychiatry is the diagnosis of mental illness. Only this diagnosis allows, against human rights, the special treatment through forced incarceration, forced treatment and incapacitation, misleadingly called „care“. If the examination for a diagnosis is forbidden, also none of the psychiatric special laws can be brought more to the application. Even if a PatVerfü can only be signed individually in each case as an „opt out“, the PatVerfü is nevertheless a central element in ruining coercive psychiatry. It breaks in the heads of those who sign a PatVerfü.
The fact that the Patient Decree Law was passed in spite of all opposition is to a considerable extent due to the support of Prof. Wolf-Dieter Narr and the lawyers Thomas Saschenbrecker, Eckart Wähner and Alexander Paetow. They were joined in 2013 by David Schneider-Addae-Mensah. To have won these 4 university-examined and the one at the university examining as active supporters was the third success of the Lunatic Offensive. They deepened the rift that had already been created by Michel Foucault and Thomas Szasz in the university’s system of domination in 1961. In the campaign to make the PatVerfü known, Nina Hagen was then the witness in the 2 minute video as a cinema preview and on the Internet. She is a particularly strong support as patron of the PatVerfü.
As fourth success I would like to call that 2 special rapporteurs on torture of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Juan Méndez and Nils Melzer have declared forced treatment in psychiatry to be torture, respectively cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In 2013 and 2020, they reported this to the UN Human Rights Council and from this the Alliance Against Torture in Psychiatry was born. Among the first signatories was Prof. Manfred Nowak, who was also Special Rapporteur on Torture of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights before Juan Méndez.
Perhaps not enough, it became known that Pope Francis also pointed out in a remarkable speech on Oct. 23, 2014, that torture occurs not only in secret internment or modern concentration camps, but also in psychiatric hospitals and other penal institutions. Thus, the delegitimization of coercive psychiatry as a penal institution that violates human rights is comprehensive.
As the fifth success of the steady drumbeat against coercive psychiatry, I would like to mention the publication of the resolution of the German Society for Social Psychiatry on March 1 of this year, the resolution that §§ 20, 21, 63 and 64 are to be deleted from the penal code. With this, an essential part of the reket, the mesh of doctors, judges and supervisors of forced psychiatry, stretched like a tennis racket, has been broken away. The moral shock which, as mentioned earlier, gnaws at the cynics of compulsory psychiatry has led to a turnaround in its most sensitive part, organized social psychiatry. For the field of the Maßregelvollzugs, it has become an ally of the lunatic offensive. This loss leaves the rest of the Reket powerless-and tensionless-like a demolished tennis racket.
This success has yet to be realized with the abolition of the relevant laws, but I am quite confident that this too will be accomplished.
To sum up: the unbendingness coupled with patience and perseverance, indeed tenacity, of the lunatic offensive is exemplary.