The Mental Health System:

Who's Crazy?

by James B. (Jim) Gottstein, Esq.

April 10, 2012
Wilda Marston Theater --
7:00 to 9:00 PM

3600 Denali St., Anchorage, AK 99503

Located in the Z.J. Loussac Library

The data shows our current mental health system is creating a huge class of chronically disabled people diagnosed with mental illness, shortening their lives by 25 years and making many of those lives miserable.  This is based upon the assumption that people diagnosed with mental illness are consigned to a lifelong of such disability.  This has not always been the case and need not be the case now.  The three films by Daniel Mackler that were screened earlier this year show specific people who have recovered and programs that have a terrific record of helping people recover.

Mr. Gottstein will present the research behind these results, discuss common myths and misunderstandings about people diagnosed with mental illness, including that people don't recover, what tends to help, what doesn't, and what tends to harm.  This talk will pull together what the research shows regarding standard and alternative treatments for people diagnosed with serious mental illness, broken into segments on children and youth as well as adults and the elderly.  Most importantly, it will go through what directions the data suggests people and policy makers should take.


About Jim Gottstein

Jim Gottstein grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, graduating from West High School in 1971.  After graduating from the University of Oregon in 1974, he attended Harvard Law School graduating in 1978.  Mr. Gottstein's law career has evolved from emphasizing business matters and public land law, with mental health representation and advocacy as an adjunct, to increasing emphasis on mental health advocacy and representation.

After briefly experiencing the mental health system from the wrong side of the locked doors at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute in 1982, Mr. Gottstein has increasingly devoted his time to improving the mental health system from the perspective of service recipients, commonly called "consumers."  This has included co-founding the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights) in 2002, whose mission is to mount a strategic litigation campaign against forced psychiatric drugging and electroshock across the United States, as well as a number of other Alaska non-profits: Mental Health Consumers of Alaska, the Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web, Peer Properties, CHOICES, Inc., and Soteria-Alaska. 

Mr. Gottstein has won four Alaska Supreme Court cases expanding the rights of people to resist unwarranted psychiatric incarceration and forced drugging, and expanding their rights to alternative approaches.  Starting, in 2004, Jim has made addressing the alarming and horrific increase in the psychiatric drugging of children and youth a high priority.  Mr. Gottstein was also one of the plaintiffs' lawyers in the Mental Health Trust Lands Litigation, recovering almost 1 million acres of land and $200 million, and the creation of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.

Mr. Gottstein is most known around the US and internationally for subpoenaing and releasing what has become known as the Zyprexa Papers in late 2006, resulting in a series of New York Times articles and an editorial calling for a Congressional investigation.   In January of 2009, Eli Lilly pled guilty and agreed to pay $1.4 Billion in civil and criminal fines for the activities revealed by the  Zyprexa Papers. 

Mr. Gottstein has served on the Alaska Mental Health Board, the statewide planning board for Alaska's mental health program, and currently serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA), and the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP), formerly known as the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP).

In addition to being recognized in Alaska numerous times, Mr. Gottstein has been recognized nationally by ICSPP with a 2005 Award "for his consistent and conspicuous legal activism and accomplishment in the field of mental health," and will be the 2012 honoree at the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis, United States Chapter (ISPS-US) Annual Meeting.

Mr. Gottstein is also the author of a number of peer reviewed articles, and has contributed chapters in three books, most recently in Drugging Our Children: How Profiteers Are Pushing Antipsychotics on Our Youngest, and What We Can Do to Stop It (2012 Praeger).