Dredging up the Histories of People who Have Been Denied by the Society: Research on Movements by Users and Survivors of Psychiatry
In this society there are some people with experiences that all of their actions and opinions have been denied by others. Such experiences are tough and sad. Users and survivors of psychiatry have been often forced to have such experiences just because they have “psycho-social disability.” Moreover, actions and opinions of users and survivors of psychiatry have been sometimes understood so that it is convenient for the society.
For example, in case users and survivors of psychiatry commit a crime, it is reported that its reason is that they have psycho-social disability. Then the society decides that users and survivors of psychiatry commit a crime, and consequently a legal system is enacted that forces users and survivors of psychiatry to hospitalize (the Medical Treatment and Supervision Act is one of its typical cases). Therefore, users and survivors of psychiatry are oppressed by the society in various ways just because they are “users and survivors of psychiatry.”
Although some people who have experiences the oppression have protested against this society individually, many of them have been deliberately ignored. Therefore, it led to the recognition that users and survivors of psychiatry should form a group constituting of users and survivors of psychiatry and express various opinions as a group. Then users and survivors of psychiatry had formed groups since the late 1960s and developed social movements.
By the way, how many people have known the social movements by users and survivors of psychiatry so that it could not be deliberately ignored? In fact, the movements are not known very much even among medical staffs/welfare staffs whose regular vocation is to support users and survivors of psychiatry.
Recently, users and survivors of psychiatry themselves are often enrolled, as adult students, in the psychiatric social worker training education of welfare-related universities. The motives of their enrollment in the university are various—what is often heard is that they would like to make use of their own experiences of diseases for others, or they would like to learn more about the situations they are placed in.
There is a subject of “Mental Health and Welfare” in the psychiatric social worker training education. Mental Health and Welfare covers systems, histories, and theories relating to mental health welfare, and thus a collection of basic knowledge to understand the current condition of users and survivors of psychiatry. I myself learned the history of mental health administration by reading references named as Mental Hygienic and Welfare. However, the interviews I made to people in charge of the social movements by users and survivors of psychiatry (research collaborators) enabled me to find out that they had protested under different historical recognition from the history of mental health administration written in the references. For example, there is a history recognition of the history of mental health administration that the revision of the Mental Health Act in 1987 as a result of Utsunomiya Hospital Incident led to the respect of the human rights. According to the research collaborators I interviewed, the revision of the Mental Health Act had been prepared before Utsunomiya Hospital Incident, and the revision made patients difficult to leave the hospital, and it did not respect the human rights, which led them to protest.
Users and survivors of psychiatry which are enrolled in the psychiatric social worker training education have to learn “history” at university which ignores the history of users and survivors of psychiatry. Users and survivors of psychiatry are, even in the description of history concerning its protest actions, forced to have the “history” which is convenient for the society. I think this does not meet the motives of enrollment in the universities users and survivors of psychiatry have—they make use of their experiences of diseases, or would like to know the situations they are placed in. Therefore, I feel that it is necessary to let people know more about the facts of the social movements by users and survivors of psychiatry.
On the other hand, I have some hesitation and conflicts when I interview my research collaborators who are usually my peers as a part of research. Since we are peers, there are many things to sympathize and share. Its relationship is equal and we sometimes fight, showing our feelings. Yet when I, as a researcher, conduct interviews to them, they also make my peers research collaborators, that is, the subjects. It provides me with heart-braking feeling and thus I feel some hesitation.
Although I waver in such positions, I would like to consider the resistance toward historical description and the society by interviewing peers, who are in charge of social movements, about their experiences and clarifying the history of how users and survivors of psychiatry have fought with the society.