Protesters plan Occupy the American Psychiatric Association event

As the American Psychiatric Association holds its annual meeting, a conference that draws thousands of psychiatrists to the city May 5, opponents are planning a counter-event and protest, Occupy the APA.

They are rallying against the APA’s proposed new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which psychiatrists use as a guide to classify what constellation of symptoms qualifies as a mental disorder. The DSM-5 is scheduled to be published in May 2013, and opponents say it will expand the definition of mental illness, forcing treatment on those who are not actually sick.

“This peaceful protest exposes the fact that the DSM-5 pushes the mental health industry to medicalize problems that aren’t medical, inevitably leading to over-prescription of psychiatric drugs – including for people experiencing natural human emotions, such as grief and shyness,” David Oaks, founder and director of MindFreedom International, said in a release.

The Occupy the APA event will begin with mental health experts and psychiatric advocacy speakers lecturing from 10 a.m. to noon at the Cherry Street Friends Center, followed by a 1 p.m. march to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where the APA is meeting.

“The public mental health system is creating a huge class of chronic mental patients through forcing them to take ineffective yet extremely harmful drugs. As the APA gets ready to do even more harm with its proposed expansion of what constitutes mental illness, I want to be there in person to participate in the protest,” said speakerJim Gottstein, Esq., founder of the Alaska-based Law Project for Psychiatric Rights.

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