This post was written by current students, Amanda Lin, Andrea Tropea and Danielle MacLean.
Anti-Psychiatry movements have been around for decades. The Rosenhan Experiment which began in 1973 initiated a gathering of people who wanted to expose the truths within the medical field of psychiatry. Individuals who identify as anti-psychiatry activists, ex-patient/consumers/survivors and allies collectively question the validity of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), otherwise known as the Bible of psychiatry. Despite the concerns surrounding the application of the DSM, it continues to be embedded into the attitudes and practices surround our academic institutions. Recently, this movement has become centre stage with regards to the settlement of Navi Dhanota vs. York University.
Many people revere this settlement as a celebrated victory within the anti-psychiatry activists, ex-patient/consumers/survivors’ community. After reflecting on this victory it is easy to see that there is still a long road ahead. Academic institutions within Canada, specifically, Ontario, are far from accessible. One of the many ways our educational system continues to be inaccessible is through the use of labels. In order to attain support, often, the first step includes the identification and labelling of students. Otherwise, known as Identification Placement and Review Committees as outlined by The Ontario Ministry of Education. This becomes problematic when vulnerable individuals such as young children, and people with disabilities are forced to accept labels, especially when they have been excluded from the process of labelling themselves.
Labels, their associated stigma and stereotypes can become self-fulfilling prophecies. The future of this “anti-label” movement aims to educate society on the dangers associated with presuming a diagnosis is everything and the gateway to proper supports. Within an accessible education system, the focus could remain on how a disability affects the individual’s learning needs, and not the disability itself. Therefore, if you have the urge to label someone other than yourself, we suggest you find a jar.