[‘CUT-TO-THE-CHASE’ EDIT: For those of you who tried to participate in the NYU/CSC “town hall meeting” only to find that they were blocking your posts, YOUR VOICE CAN STILL BE HEARD. If you happened to save copies of your blocked posts, I would be pleased to add them to the growing list I have so far, which will be published here. If you didn’t save a copy, you may have one available soon — NYU/CSC has since promised to reply to all blocked posts by private e-mail within the next few weeks, and those e-mails will likely include a copy of your blocked post. I’ll add your post(s) to the list of silenced voices ONLY with your express permission, and if you prefer that your entry be listed anonymously, please let me know. If you would like your name/handle to link to a blog, website, or e-mail address, please provide those details as well. PLEASE SEND POSTS, permissions, and other details to me at my primary e-mail address — and please include “NYU/CSC” in the subject line so I’ll know it’s not spam. For explanation and further details of the event, see below.]
As some of you may know, New York University’s Child Study Center (creators of the recently aborted “Ransom Notes” campaign) hosted what was advertised as a “town hall meeting” on the topic of childhood mental illnesses. For weeks, they had been “inviting public participation and input,” which was to take place, supposedly, in their forum on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008.
But what you won’t likely know unless you participated in the forum is that countless posts were BLOCKED for no apparent reason — except, perhaps, that the host, Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, saw no reason for any post to appear at all unless he personally intended to respond to it. He asked no significant questions of any participant, and showed no apparent evidence that he or his organization were seeking input of any kind.
Quite the opposite, in fact…
By way of example, here are three of my own most “controversial” posts that were silenced in this “open forum”:
ME: “Dr. K., In future public service campaigns, what steps will you be taking to ensure that the language/imagery you use will not inadvertently lead to further emotional harm, inflicted on a day-to-day basis via the attitudes which propagate throughout society, upon those you wish to help?”
ME: “Dr. K., Do you believe that Autistic adults have anything useful to contribute to clinical/professional understanding of what it means to be an Autistic child? And what about other psychiatric conditions? Are the personal experiences of any such adults to be regarded as being of any potential use in understanding mental health, other than simply serving as examples of that which is disordered, and must be corrected?”
ME: “Do you feel that professionals and researchers in psychiatry are accountable for the attitudes which they themselves instill in others, attitudes which can be clearly shown to propagate throughout society and thus have a direct, daily impact on an entire class of human beings numbering in the millions?”
And even more surprising, many of the posts I’ve seen so far that were attempted by others were far more tactful than my own — and yet, they simply weren’t allowed to appear.
As a result (or perhaps by design), the forum turned out to be little more than another podium for Dr. Koplewicz himself to disseminate his own views on how children should be treated, which, almost without exception, involves plenty of medication. As evidenced by his involvement in the infamous Paxil Study 329, as well as his own heavily promoted books, Dr. Koplewicz is always adamant that children are under-medicated, and he routinely advocates using the very latest (and most profitable) of psych-meds, many of which are poorly tested even for adults, and may not be tested for children at all. Now, in some cases, such medications are well-known to be helpful, sometimes even in cases of otherwise ethically questionable “off-label” use. To a great many of us, however, the kind of treatment he advocates is nothing short of using children as guinea pigs.
But you’d never know that from reading the posts in his “town hall meeting.” While Dr. Koplewicz occasionally talks about promoting awareness and acceptance, or eliminating stigma, it often comes off as gratuitous, and is always by way of reiterating his own agenda: that psychiatric treatment is the first and only priority, and scarcely anything else is even worthy of mention. This forum was no exception to his well-worn rhetorical patterns — and even the most politely dissenting voices were not to be heard…
IS THIS ACCEPTABLE? I think not, and it would seem that I’m not alone. In discussions of what happened there, several people have shown an interest in compiling a list of those posts which were blocked by Koplewicz and/or the forum’s moderator(s). The list would then be posted online, likely with some degree of analysis and/or critique of the event, to show just how “open” the forum in question really was. That’s assuming I/we can collect enough entries such that it will have a significant impact.
SO, for those of you who participated in the “town hall meeting,” and happened to save copies of your blocked posts, I would be very interested in adding them to the short list I have so far. If you didn’t save the text of your attempted posts, but can reconstruct them with reasonable accuracy, that would be okay too. I’ll add your post(s) to the list of silenced voices ONLY with your explicit permission — bearing in mind that others may be blogging/posting the list — and if you prefer that your entry be listed anonymously, please let me know.
PLEASE SEND POSTS, permissions, and other comments to me at my primary e-mail address — and please include “NYU/CSC” in the subject line so I’ll know it’s not spam.
Thanks, and best wishes,