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Jim Gottstein

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What Would You Say Under Oath?
Surgeon General Asked



September 4, 2003

Today the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights) called upon the Surgeon General of the United States to disclose what he would testify to under oath on whether mental illnesses are biological brain diseases.  See,  On July 28th, the Surgeon General, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) were challenged by a group of psychiatric survivors and supporters to back up with scientific evidence the oft-repeated claim that mental illnesses are biologically based brain diseases.  Waiting in the wings was a panel of 14 eminent scientists ready to review whatever evidence was offered (Scientific Panel).  NAMI didn't respond substantively, but on August 12th, the APA formally responded by saying "answers to your questions are widely available in the scientific literature," but cited only a couple of textbooks, journals and the Surgeon General's 1999 report on mental health in a general way.

On August 22nd, the Scientific Panel issued its review, finding that contrary to the APA's assertions, the cited material states that no biological based brain disease has ever been found.  The Scientific Panel specifically cited 5 instances in the Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health which made clear no biological basis had ever been proven. 

In issuing the call to the Surgeon General, Jim Gottstein of PsychRights said, "It is not inconceivable that the Surgeon General would be subpoenaed to answer these questions under oath.  He should be prepared to do so and tell us what he would say."  Mr. Gottstein continued, "The answer seems pretty clear, so he ought to just respond.  The Freedom Fasters have refused solid foods for almost three weeks now waiting for a response.  It is time."

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