Sally Zinman on Forced Treatment of People with Mental Disabilities

Listen (29 min)
Information on the danger of current psychological drugs.
Madness Network News.  Documents from the early days of the consumers-survivors movement.

Sally Zinman

Sally Zinman

One of the hardest things in the world is to be… is a long-time activist who is both successful and principled. I am proud to say that we are bringing one such person to you in this program.

Sally Zinman’s biography in the mental disability movement dates from the late 1970s when she founded and coordinated a client-run organization that developed a community center and residence program.

Apparently it was a success, because Sally Zinman never looked back.  She has been working in peer-run organizations ever since.

Currently, Ms Zinman works with the California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations and is a consultant with Alameda County’s Behavior Health Services, Consumer Empowerment Department.

As a young woman, Ms Zinman was locked up and tortured in a so-called mental health institution.  After discovering others with similar histories, Ms Zinman became a passionate and ground-breaking activist in the militant madness movement.

As the Founder and Coordinator of the Coalition for Alternatives in Mental Health, aka Berkeley Drop-In Center, Sally Zinman led efforts for state and national funding for recovery peer-based models of mental health treatment.

Sally Zinman

Sally Zinman

Today she is part of the resistance to the regressive mental disability law AB 1421, also known as Laura’s Law.  That law will be challenged in court this fall by Disability Rights California (DRC).  This, according to DRC staff attorney Pamela Cohen.

AB 1421 is a statewide ordinance which allows the government to force people who’ve been diagnosed with mental illnesses into treatment programs even though they are living in the community and do not require hospitalization.   It shifts money from prevention and support to policing and coercion.

We’re proud to bring the thoughts of this elder in the mental disability and the consumer/survivor movement to Pushing Limits listeners.

Produced and hosted by Adrienne Lauby.

Original air date: Sept 19, 2014
Posted in Activism, Adrienne Lauby, Individual disease and identity groups, Mental Disability, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , , , , , | | Leave a comment

Biography of Sally Zinman

Sally Zinman

Sally Zinman

(as published by the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Committee.)

Sally was born in 1937.  She received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in English with honors. She also has an M.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania.  She is a single mother.

From 1977 to 1983, Sally was the Founder and Coordinator of the Mental Patients Rights Association in Palm Beach County, Florida. She administered this client-run organization which developed and operated a community center and residence program.

From 1983-1985, Sally was the Co-editor of Madness Network News, which was the journalistic voice of the mental patient movement from 1973-1987.
From 1983-84, Sally was the Founding Member and first staff (Coordinator) of the California Network of Mental Health Clients.

In 1989, Sally was the Founding Member of the Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients, a self-help umbrella organization for county self-help groups.

From 1983-1993, Sally was the Founding Member of the Self-Help Committee of the California Network of Mental Health Clients, serving as Facilitator from 1987-1989, and remained an active member until 1993.

From 1985-1997, Sally was the Founder and Coordinator of the Coalition for Alternatives in Mental Health, aka Berkeley Drop-In Center. This Center, run for and by persons with mental disabilities, consists of a drop-in component, providing socialization, support groups, information and referral, food service, and phone use. The Center has an advocacy services component, which includes money management and a payee representation program, and assistance in obtaining benefits. The Center has a housing program consisting of a client-run housing compound and 60 plus subsidized units of supportive housing. The Center also provides job training and experience through a trainee program.

Sally Zinman

Sally Zinman

From 1997 to 2007, Sally was the Executive Director of the California Network of Mental Health Clients, a statewide self-help and advocacy organization run for and by mental health clients/survivors.

Sally has been on numerous Boards and Committees including:
• Mental Health Law Project (Now called Bazelon Center), Board of Directors, 1980-1983
• Editorial Board, Psycho-Social Rehabilitation Journal, 1982-1994
• Berkeley/Albany Mental Health Commission, 1986-1995
• Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients, 1990-1997
• California Network of Mental Health Clients, off and on, 1984-1996
• National Association of Psychiatric Survivors, 1985-1994
• Center for Self-Help Research, 1990-1993
• National Planning Committee, Self-Help Live, 1991-1993
• National Empowerment Center, 1992-1993
• Coalition on the Media Stigma of People with Psychiatric Disabilities, 1992-1993
• Berkeley Cares, 1995-1997
• South Berkeley Neighborhood Development Corporation, 1995-1997
• Disability rights Advocates Distribution Committee, 1996 – present.

Sally has credits in writing, film, and video, including:
• “Dangers arising from Mental Health Legal Advocacy, Advocacy Now, the Journal of Patients Advocacy, 2:2, June 1980.
• “A Patient-Run Residency”, Psycho-Social Rehabilitation Journal, 6:1, 1982.
• “Self-Help: The Wave of the Future”, Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 37:3, March 1986.
• “Maintaining Our Roots: The Challenge for Self-Help Development”, Self Helper, 6:2, Spring 1991. (with Howie T. Harp)
• “Crazy Women, Madness, Myth and Metaphor”, Midwest Films, 1990.
• “Museums of Madness”, BBC/PBS, 1991.

Sally has received several awards from mental health associations and from elected officials including former Congressman, now Mayor, Ronald V. Dellums, former Assemblyman Tom Bates, and former Mayor, Loni Hancock.

Posted in Activism, Cognitive Disabilities, Mental Disability, Protest | Leave a comment

Dangerous Drugs; Dangerous to Stop

word cloudResearch currently demonstrates that most people live better lives over time if they are not using psychological drugs.  The short and long term trade offs are extreme.  Current use of drugs for those with mental disabilities deserves much more attention and research from the medical profession.

It is nearly impossible to achieve informed consent because information as to the danger of these drugs is not accepted by most psychiatrists, much less passed on to patients.

People with psychosis (schizophrenia and other psychosis) tend to do better in the long run off medications, or with greatly reduced medications. Antidepressants disrupt the Central Nervous System through “down-regulation” of Serotonin receptors (i.e., the body stops making as many receptors because the system is overloaded with too much serotonin).”  That’s what most anti-depressants do.

Poster from the Cramps, a punk rock band that once did a concert at the Napa State Hospital.

Poster from the Cramps, a punk rock band that once did a concert at the Napa State Hospital.

Antipsychotics disrupt the Central Nervous system through “up-regulation” dopamine receptors (i.e., the body/brain makes too many dopamine receptors to compensate for the dopamine blockade effect of most anti-depreesants.  That leaves the body/brain super-sensative to dopamine and all wigged out, basically.

Both of those things — serotonin up-regulation and dopamine down-regulation — happen in combination with other complex neurotransmitter effects, which can cause serious withdrawal syndromes when people go off these drugs abruptly, and even when they reduce them gradually.

There are self-help manuals for those who want to decrease or stop these medications.  Unfortunately, it is rare to find a doctor who will help.  One of those self help manuals comes from The Icarus Project and Freedom Center:  Coming Off Psych Drugs – Harm Reduction Guide

This editorial from JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, has some of the details:

JAMA Editorial – “AntipsychoticMedication During the Critical Period
Following Remission From First-Episode PsychosisLess Is More

Posted in Individual disease and identity groups, Mental Disability, Research | Tagged , | | Leave a comment

Radio Activist Living with Terminal Cancer

Friday, September 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm PST on KPFA

Donna Dibianco, a community media activist and consultant, came to Iowa to help organize the Grassroots Community Conference this August.  Donna With the KHOI team, she organized a four-day participatory event for 150 people.  She helped provide the food, shelter, entertainment and technical support for two intensive sessions and nearly 50 workshops.  She did it for less than 20 dollars per person per day.  And, she did it while living with metastasized Stage Three B cervical cancer.

Adrienne Lauby asks Donna Dibianco how she manages to have such an active life and take care of herself as well. 

The Prairie Chicken, logo of the 2014 Grassroots Radio Conference

The Prairie Chicken, logo of the 2014 Grassroots Radio Conference


Dibianco, who is also known as the radio goddess, says people with disabilities are regular participants at community radio stations and talks about how to tackle some typical issues that arise.


According to the KHOI website, community radio is fundamentally not a technical enterprise, but a venture into building humanity. [Community radio] returns media to treasured and traditional person-to-person connections – especially as new technologies increase isolation. It reminds us that radio remains relevant  even in the digital age.

Community radio is when local people produce and broadcast their own programs and participate in operating the station. It is community space for people to meet and collaborate. It is extraordinarily fun and often life-changing. It typically leads to individual creativity and self-empowerment. Participants find it extraordinarily satisfying, not just to make radio in this unique fashion, but to also help transform community life.  (More)

 Adrienne Lauby produced and hosted this program with major editing work by Sheela Gunn-Cushman.


Posted in Activism, Adrienne Lauby, Community, Sheela Gunn Cushman | Tagged , | | Leave a comment

Eliminate Disability?

Listen (28 min)

Is the eugenics movement returning to the U.S. under the guise of progress?

Dr. Rosemarie Garland-ThomsonOur guest is Dr. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, a professor in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Emory University who works in the field of Critical Disability Studies.

Let’s end war and, in the process, stop creating veterans with PTSD and brain injuries. Let’s clean up the environment and end the epidemic of chemical sensitivity.   Let’s cure cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases so people will not suffer their pain and limitation.

But, wait,  disability scholars say that the unthinking adoption of these important goals can lead to neo-eugenic thinking.   Historically, people with disabilities have been horribly abused and murdered to meet a eugenics goal of eliminating disability.  When we assume prevention is positive, are we close to preaching a form of cultural genocide?  Will we eliminate the many future intellectual and cultural contributions by people with various disabilities if we eliminate their disability?   Do people with disabilities contribute something important, something that comes out of their experience of living with disabilities?

The Cripples by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  1568

The Cripples by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. 1568


Dr. Garland-Thomson navigates the philosophical, cultural and social landscape as Eddie Ytuarte asks, “Isn’t preventing disabilities a good idea. . . sometimes?”

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Mold, Housing and Legal Protection

Are bad housing conditions, like mold, a health risk for people with disabilities?   Are there legal protections to assist our community when we run into crummy  landlords?


Pushing Limits speaks to Amy Sholinbeck, coordinator of Alameda County’s Asthma Start Program about the link between mold in the home and illness,  In addition we will feature Martina I. Cucullo Lim (Housing Program Director) and Genevieve Bonadies ((Fellow) at Cento Legal de la Raza. 


An in-depth conversation about laws affecting tenancy in California and its cities.


Produced and hosted by Eddie Ytuarte.

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Sins Invalid – The Movie

L to R: Sins Invalid performers, Ralph Dickinson, Leroy Franklin Moore Jr. and seeley quest.  Photo by Richard Downing.

L to R: Sins Invalid performers, Ralph Dickinson, Leroy Franklin Moore Jr. and seeley quest. Photo by Richard Downing.

Friday, August 1, 2- 3 pm PST on KPFA.

A program busting though assumptions and stereotypes about sexuality and disability.  Our guests, the performance group Sins Invalid, make “an unshamed claim to beauty in the face of invisibility.”  They are also leaders in the burgeoning disability justice movement.

Sins Invalid performer, Maria Palacios.  Photo by Richard Downing.

Sins Invalid performer, Maria Palacios. Photo copyright by Richard Downing.

Sins Invalid brings entertainers with disabilities together with a focus on performers of color, and queer and gender-variant artists.  Their paradigm-breaking work is thoughtful, sexy and gorgeous.

Co-founder and film maker, Patty Berne joins us in the studio with her film documentary about Sins Invalid.   We’ll hear some great performances as we trash talk white, able-bodied privilege.

Deaf dancer Antoine Hunter.  Photo by Richard Downing.

Deaf dancer Antoine Hunter. Photo copyright by Richard Downing.

The 32-minute film, Sins Invalid, is our thank you gift for becoming a member of KPFA at the $60 level.  For a pledge of $120 we’ll add a pair of tickets and a signed poster.

The number to call is (510) 848-5732 or toll free at (800) 439-5732.

Hosted by Adrienne Lauby and Shelley Berman.


Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Arts, Dance, Disability Justice, Film, Poetry & Prose, Race, Sexuality, Shelley Berman, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , , | | Leave a comment

Race and Disability

Friday, July 18, 2:30 pm PST on Pushing Limits at KPFA

Lateef McLeod

Lateef McLeod

Black and brown people have always been present in the disability movement and some have played pivotal roles.  Yet our conversation about race is often pretty unsophisticated.  We’re a long way from truly supporting all our community members and, like in the rest of the U.S., people of color with disabilities are frequently the last to be included.


At the same time, movements for racial equality and disability rights overlap and inform each other.

Patty Berne

Patty Berne


Disability Justice activists Patty Berne and Lateef Mcleod join white woman Adrienne Lauby for a conversation about where we are and where we could be in the partnership of race and disability.


Lateef McLeod is a black writer who lives with cerebral palsy. His book, A Declaration of A Body of Love was published in 2010.  He currently is writing a novel tentatively entitled The Third Eye Is Crying.

He is the co-chair of the Persons with Disabilities Ministry at the Allen Temple Baptist Church, a intern at Sins Invalid, and the President-elect for the United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USSAAC). He was recently selected as the first Story Telling Fellow at the radio program Making Contact.  He speaks using a communication board.


Photo from:

Photo from:

Patty Berne  is a co-founder and executive director of Sins Invalid (www.sinsinvalid), a disability justice based performance project centralizing disabled artists of color and queer and gender non-conforming artists with disabilities. Berne’s background includes advocacy for immigrants who seek asylum due to war and torture; community organizing within the Haitian diaspora; international support work for the Guatemalan democratic movement; work with incarcerated youth toward alternatives to the criminal legal system; advocating for LGBTQI community and disability rights perspectives within the field of reproductive and genetic technologies; offering mental health support to survivors of violence; and cultural activism to centralize marginalized voices, particularly those of people with disabilities. Recently stepping down as Board Chair at San Francisco Women Against Rape (, Berne’s training in clinical psychology focused on trauma and healing for survivors of interpersonal and state-sponsored violence. Her work has been widely acknowledged including the 2009 recipient of the Empress I Jose Sarria Award for Uncommon Leadership in the field of LGBTQI and disability rights by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and in by ABC7 Television in their Profiles of Excellence. Her current work includes distributing the film Sins Invalid, which she directed and co-produced. Berne’s experiences as a Japanese-Haitian queer disabled woman provides grounding for all of her work creating “liberated zones” for marginalized voices.


Air date:  July 18, 2014
Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Arts, Disability Justice, Race | Tagged , , | | Leave a comment

Stories about Housing on Independence Day

Woman entering ramped doorwayListen (29 min)

Elizabeth Ore (age 64) and Corliss Rogers (age 86) are all fired up and won’t take it anymore.  It rolled out of their toilet and into their home. 

The memory of the mess it made keeps them going as they fight the landlord who first allowed their apartment to become uninhabitable and then moved to evict them.

They are being assisted by East Bay Solidarity (details below).

Ed Dudkin (age 93) reports on his journey after he left his home, his neighborhood and everything familiar to move 400 miles.  He wants companionship and support as he looks for a place to “hang his bones.”

Sometimes the unknown is safer than the known.  Ed Dudkin

Three older people with disabilities.  Two stories about housing.  This Fourth of July on Pushing Limits.

African woman

photo from

Hosted and produced by Shelley Berman.  Corliss Rogers and Elizabeth Ore’s story reported and produced by Sheela Gunn-Cushman.

You can reach East Bay Solidarity at (510) 239-3219.  Their e-mail address

from The Ability Center of Greater Toledo

from The Ability Center of Greater Toledo

Original air date 7-4-14
Posted in Activism, Adrienne Lauby, Bullying, Housing, Seniors, Story Telling - Disability | Tagged , , , , , , | | Leave a comment

A Tour of the Ed Roberts Campus

Friday, June 20, 2:30 pm PST on KPFA

The website says, “The Ed Roberts Campus is a national and international model dedicated to disability rights and universal access.”

Shelley Berman has stood in the large central room of that Berkeley, California building.  She’s gazed at the high ceiling and . . . she felt daunted.  Who works in this building and what do they do? 

Part 2 of the Disability Mural which hangs at the Ed Roberts Campus

Part 2 of the Disability Mural which hangs at the Ed Roberts Campus

Today, she takes us on a walk through the building, as she looks for the answers to her questions.  In the process, she talks to these organizations about their work:

Jesse from the California Telephone Access Program,

Josh Thelin, Communications & Development Manager of the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP),

Sally at the Center for Accessible Technology (CforAT),

Ingrid Tischer, development director of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF),

Logo for World Institute on Disability's annual fundraiser.

Logo for World Institute on Disability’s annual fundraiser.

Katherine Zigmont, Executive Projects Coordinator at the World Institute on Disability (WID),

And, Marina at the Ala Costa Center‘s Adult Transition Program.

Other organizations at the Ed Roberts Campus are
Alameda Alliance for Health
California Department of Rehabilitation
Lighthouse for the Blind
Through the Looking Glass (TLG)
Center for Independent Living (CIL)
Computer Technologies Program (CTP)

Follow the links to read more about what they do and then take your own magical mystery tour.  And, don’t forget the East Bay Center for the Blind, within easy walking distance, only two blocks to the North.

This program produced and hosted by Shelley Berman.


Posted in Community, Recommended Sites, resources, Shelley Berman | Tagged , , , , , , , , | | Leave a comment