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David Oaks

Since 1990, Eugenean David Oaks has directed Mind Freedom Support Coalition International, a UN-recognized NGO promoting human rights for mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors. "Drug companies dominate the mental health system -- that's the problem," he explains. "We're in the pro-choice camp, looking at a full range of alternatives." In 1968, at age 13, Oaks published an underground newsletter in his school on Chicago's South Side. "It was all about social change and the counterculture," he recalls. "It was censored by the principal." Later on, as a student/activist at Harvard, Oaks suffered emotional and mental crises. "I was in a psychiatric facility five times, forcibly drugged and locked up in solitary confinement," he says. "That was my recruitment room for this work." After graduation, Oaks became an organizer for peace and environmental groups. In Eugene since 1983, he worked on forest actions and a nuclear-free zone before devoting his efforts full-time to mental health issues in 1989. "We oppose forced treatment," he emphasizes. "People should be given full information and the ability to make choices." (Read more at www.MindFreedom.org.)

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 29 January 2004

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