Friday, December 11, 2009

GUEST VIEWPOINT: Eugene recognizes mental health patients have rights, too

http://www.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/news/sevendays/23894253-35/story.csp

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Two famous authors from Lane County — Opal Whiteley and Ken Kesey — had significant interactions with the mental health system. Whiteley, who portrayed the woods around where she grew up near Cottage Grove as a fairyland, ended up in a psychiatric institution in England for more than 40 years. Kesey, whose novels are interwoven with what amount to love poems to rural Lane County, used the authoritarianism he witnessed while working inside a psychiatric institution as a metaphor for conventional society in his bestseller, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

I like to think this coincidence has something to do with our closeness to what’s left of America’s wilderness. When I swim in an Oregon mountain lake surrounded by ancient trees, I feel alive in mysterious ways that do seem “northwest of normal,” as our popular local slogan puts it. Our civic “mad pride” contributed to the recent passage by the city of Eugene of the first and only municipal resolution I know of that affirms support for human rights in mental health.

Today, the 61st anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is a good day to celebrate that resolution’s approval……

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