Inquiry Into Psychiatry 2005


April 2005

CAPA organized and convened Inquiry into Psychiatry 2005, a set of independent public hearings about psychiatry, each set lasting two days. The first set of hearings (the psychiatric drugs hearings) took place on April 2 and 3, 2005. The second set (the electroshock hearings) took place on April 9 and 10, 2005. Only people who had actually undergone these treatments were permitted to testify. We had many courageous people come forth about their experiences with psychiatric drugs and electroshock.

Each set of hearings was led by a panel of five people concerned about these issues. The psychiatric drug panel consisted of Dr. Bonnie Burstow, Leah Cohen, Dr. Ernie Lightman, Bonnie Diamond, and Dr. Shahrzad Mojab. The electroshock panel included Don Weitz, Chris Rahim, Dr. Roy Moodley, Cathy Crowe, and Catherine Dunphy. Please see below for more details about the panelists. Each panel will write a report with recommendations based on survivors’ testimonies to be submitted to the Toronto Board of Health.

The Drug Panel

Chair Dr. Bonnie Burstow: Dr Burstow is a full time faculty member in the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto and on the executive of the Transformative Learning Centre. Dr. Burstow is an academic, an activist, a psychotherapist, and a prolific writer. For decades she has fought for the rights of psychiatric survivors, people who are homeless, and prison inmates. In 2003, the city of Toronto awarded her the Constance E Hamilton Award on the Status of Women for her extensive advocacy and scholarly work on behalf of disenfranchised women. Dr. Burstow is an authority on trauma, teaches trauma at OISE/UT and has authored numerous articles on trauma. Other relevant works of hers include Radical Feminist Therapy: Working in the Context of Violence. and Shrink-Resistant, which she co-edited with Don Weitz.

Leah Cohen was the Vice Chair of The Ontario Health Professions Board under the NDP government and resigned shortly after the election of the Conservatives in 1995. During her time as Vice Chair, she heard many cases of drug misuse as it pertained to psychiatric survivors and others. Leah is a writer, public speaker and consultant who has written extensively about women and poverty. She is the co-author of Secret Oppression: Sexual Harassment of Working Women (Macmillan of Canada) and the author of Small Expectations: Society’s Betrayal of Older Women (McClelland and Stewart). She is currently in the early stages of writing a play about life on welfare and Ontario Works.

Dr. Ernie Lightman is an economist and professor of social policy in the School of Social Work at theUniversity of Toronto. In 1991-92, he was a one-person Commission of Inquiry investigating unregulated housing (care homes) for vulnerable adults in Ontario: his recommendations resulted in this housing being covered by the (then) Landlord and Tenant Act, giving residents, for the first time, security of housing tenure. Over the years he has been involved in many struggles of importance to psychiatric survivors. He has published widely and is the author of Social Policy in Canada (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2003).

Dr. Shahrzad Mojab is Associate Professor in the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology at OISE/UT, Director of the Institute for Women’s Studies and Gender Studies, University of Toronto, and President of the Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education. Her areas of research and teaching are: critical and feminist pedagogy; immigrant women and skilling; women, state, globalization and citizenship; women, war, violence and learning; and comparative analysis of lifelong learning theory and practice. She is the editor of Women of A Non-State Nation: The Kurds (2001 and second print in 2003), with Himani Bannerji and Judy Whitehead, co-edited Of Property and Propriety: The Role of Gender and Class in Imperialism and Nationalism, and co-edited with Nahla Abdo Violence in the Name of Honour: Theoretical and Political Challenges (2004). She is currently conducting SSHRC-funded research on war, diaspora, and learning; women political prisoners in the Middle East; and war and transnational women’s organizations.

Bonnie Diamond is a long-time women’s rights activist who is currently the Executive Director of the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL). Bonnie’s main areas of focus have been violence against women, the systemic criminalization of women and deepening poverty amongst women in Canada. Career highlights for Bonnie include being the executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, The Co Chair of the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women, and the Director of Research for the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women. She has been an active volunteer with women’s services in the Ottawa community including Interval House, The Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa , and Amethyst House.

Report of the Psychiatric Drugs Panel

The Electroshock Panel

Chair Don Weitz: Don Weitz is an antipsychiatry activist. He was co-editor of Shrink Resistant: The Struggle Against Psychiatry in Canada, and co-founder of the former antipsychiatry magazine Phoenix Rising. He also was a member of the Ontario Coalition to Stop Electroshock and Resistance Against Psychiatry (RAP). Currently, he is a core member of CAPA, and producer of “Antipsychiatry Radio” on CKLN (88.1FM) in Toronto.

Cathy Crowe has been a Street Nurse in downtown Toronto and has worked in the area of homelessness for over 16 years. In October she received an International Nursing Ethics Award in Amsterdam. In January,2004 she was awarded the Atkinson Charitable Foundation’s Economic Justice Award and is now based at the Sherbourne Health Centre. Along with colleagues she co-founded the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC) which in 1998 declared homelessness a National Disaster. She is currently a member of the Toronto Board of Health.

Award winning journalist, Catherine Dunphy works at the Toronto Star, where she was the first reporter in Canada assigned full time to the homeless beat. She also teaches journalism at Ryerson University and is a freelance magazine writer. She is the author of Morgentaler, A Difficult Hero, which was short listed for a Governor General’s award for non fiction in 1997. With a screenwriting partner she has written several episodes for the CBC television series Riverdale and the four-part radio mystery series “Fallaway Ridge”.

Roy Moodley, PhD., works in the department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. He teaches courses in multicultural counselling and masculinities. Research and publication interests include traditional and cultural healing; multicultural and diversity counseling; race, culture, and ethnicity in psychotherapy; and mas-culinities. Roy co-edited, Transforming Managers: Gendering Change in the Public Sector (UCL Press/ Taylor and Francis, 1999); Carl Rogers Counsels a Black Client: Race and Culture in Person-Centred Counselling (PCCS Books, 2004); and Integrating Traditional Healing Practices into Counseling and Psychotherapy (Sage: California, 2005), and Race, Culture and Psychotherapy (Routledge, 2005).

Chris Rahim has a background in Women’s Studies, Counselling, and Community Development. Chris is an activist and feminist who has been involved in the violence against women’s movement, prison abolitionist movement, queer movement, and the anti-racist movement for the past 20 years. She has worked in groups such as the South Asian Women’s Action Network, National Action Committee on the Status of Women and was a collective member of Joint Effort Vancouver (a women prisoners rights group). Since 2001 she has worked as a Resource/ Self-Help Coordinator at the Women’s Counselling Referral and Education Centre–an organization committed to working with marginalized communities. Prior to working at the centre, Chris has worked in women’s centers/shelters and with women and young people exiting the prison and psychiatric systems.

Report of the Electroshock Panel

Click on the following link for Inquiry into Psychiatry 2005 public testimony transcripts: