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Human Rights and Freedoms
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Reforming the Mental Health Field

Capital Hill

Washington Report
By Rep. Steven D. Symms

 believe that psychosurgery, behavior modification, and biological psychiatry in general are posing grave threats to the personal and political liberties of Americans. Furthermore, I believe that it makes no sense for the Federal Government to fund experiments aimed at the psychiatric, psychosurgical and chemical control of American citizens for these programs undermine the very freedoms our Republic was established to protect.

      Too often today man is viewed as a biological machine, devoid of free will and moral responsibility. In this distorted view of man, a human being is seen as an object that can and should be controlled and manipulated for his own good by so-called experts. The “experts” who would control men are, of course, either part of the government itself, or designers of programs to be implemented by government bureaucracies.

Federal Funding

      My fellow members of the House of Representatives were stunned when I told them that the Center for the Study and Reduction of Violence at UCLA, now called the “Center for the Study of Life-Endangering Behavior” had actually requested funding of a project to examine methods of electrobiologically controlling an individual’s behavior by remote control computers.

      No matter what name the UCLA violence center uses, it is obvious that its thrust is toward totalitarianism. Congress and the public cannot be fooled by changing labels.

      Another federally funded physician, Jose Delgado, promotes the control of violence through brain mutilation, and advocated billion dollar federal involvement in projects for the physical control of the mind, including educational programs for children and adults aimed at preparing them for the acceptance of his methods.

      I might also point out that B.F. Skinner, who thinks that free will and moral responsibility are myths, wrote his chilling attack on liberty, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, while on a federal grant.

      It makes no sense for the American taxpayer to underwrite research programs and subsidize individuals who are dedicated to denying those same taxpayers all personal and political liberty.

      I recently sent a letter to Donald Santarelli, Administrator of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, congratulating him on his decision to stop the funding of projects that involve Skinnerian-type behavior modification, psychosurgery, and chemotherapy. I was gratified to know that Mr. Santarelli shared Congressional concern about the rights of prisoners who were being used as experimental animals in these projects, as well as the rights of all our citizens who may later be targets of control as these technologies are developed.

New Coalition

      No less than thirty-four other Congressmen and Congresswomen joined in signing my letter to Santarelli. Support for his decision came from Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, alike. Every segment of the political spectrum was represented.

      Meanwhile, bills to prohibit the federal funding of psychosurgery have been introduced by two Congressmen who have widely different views on many other subjects, yet both are united in purpose on this most important issue.

      I believe that we are witnessing an emergence of a new coalition in Congress, a coalition that will save the American people from subjugation to the whims of these psychiatric visionaries.

      The government of the United States must get back to its job of protecting individual rights. It must not become the backer of any movement directed toward the establishment of a goose-stepping totalitarian state for the American people.

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