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interview to Peter Lehmann

31 August 2019,@interviewer: Kasumi ITO@at Lehmann's house

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Kasumi Ito
Can I ask you about the movement in Germany?

Peter Lehmann
Is this about the movement of users and survivors of psychiatry?

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. When did you become involved in the movement?

Peter Lehmann
When I started to get active, there was no movement in Germany. I started in '79 and there had been some local groups not very critical towards psychiatry ? it was in '79. Before, there had been some radical and also critical organizations, mixed organizations, mostly founded from critical and social pedagogues, and they started within that the so-called '68 Movement, when people got very critical towards the history of their parents their involvement in fascism and the war especially in Germany, it started at universities in '68.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
So, then there have been some small groups and I was involved into them, but also was inspired by the women's movement and others. So when I started, there was no consciousness about the need of a patient-only or a patient-centered movement. When I started in Berlin a self-help group together with other ex-inmates, first we called ourselves "Patient Group," but within a very short time we were a very radical anti-psychiatric group and did not want to be called "patient" anymore - because the term "patient" comes from the Latin language and means "patience," and we were not patient anymore.

And then we started to gather, and also and to gather critical doctors and lawyers. The national organization started later in Germany in '92.

Kasumi Ito
In '92?

Peter Lehmann
'92, yes.

Kasumi Ito
And the self-help group, Patient Group started in '79?

Peter Lehmann
I started in '79. The first group, which we called the "Irren-Offensive," in English it would be "Lunatics Offensive," we started in 1980.

Kasumi Ito
1980?

Peter Lehmann
'80, 1 year later.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. Then it began the national movement?

Peter Lehmann
First we tried to gather an international movement, not only of former inmates, but also of critical doctors and lawyers, also in Austria and the German-speaking part of Switzerland. It was called "Forum of Anti-Psychiatric Initiatives."

Kasumi Ito
It's FAPI?

Peter Lehmann
Yes it was FAPI.

Kasumi Ito
Okay.

Peter Lehmann
But we did not succeed because of different reasons, I can explain if you want. And so, after 2 or 3 years, FAPI was dead. Now FAPI is my "Anti-Psychiatric Review Magazine," an online magazine.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah, okay.

Peter Lehmann
I guess we started with FAPI in '88 or '89 ? I do not remember ?, but after 3 years it was dead.

Kasumi Ito
What was the reason?

Peter Lehmann
Reason? The reason was, it was hard to gather lawyers and doctors and therapists, when on the other side there were people who understood the organization as "self-experience group." But why should a lawyer or doctor join such a group? They lost their interest, and as a former inmate you also cannot speak about self-experience for years and years. So FAPI went down.

Kasumi Ito
Okay. Then you became involved with the ENUSP?

Peter Lehmann
Yes.

Kasumi Ito
What was your local organization, did you have a one?

Peter Lehmann
I founded a lot of organizations at Berlin. I founded together with other people, the "Lunatics Offensive," which I left in 1990. Then, we founded the "Organization for the Protection from Psychiatric Violence" ?
this group, which founded the "Runaway-house." And after the split in 2001, we founded another organization, "In Any Case," ("Fur alle Falle") for education and for research. And after the end of "In Any Case," we founded the "Berlin Organization of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry."

Kasumi Ito
Berlin?

Peter Lehmann
Yes, in Berlin. It was maybe in 2005 or 2006 ? I don't remember.

Kasumi Ito
From 2005 or..?

Peter Lehmann
2006. You can see it on my website. I do not have the years in my head.

Kasumi Ito
Yes. How do you know the establishment of ENUSP?

Peter Lehmann
I think, while I was a founding member of the "Irren-Offensive."

Kasumi Ito
I saw your name in the first program. I want to know how the ENUSP was established.

Peter Lehmann
Okay. It was hard, because in those years there was no Internet. And it had to do with his personal connections. We met people in UK from the group MIND. And I remember that once our Berlin group, the "Lunatics Offensive" and a mixed group who supported people who complained about psychiatric treatment, we went to The Netherlands together to a conference on alternatices beyond psychiatry. In Amsterdam we visited the Runaway-houses. In those years, there were, about 10 or 11 independent runaway-houses in The Netherlands.

It this conference we met people from other countries. We had thought we were the only ones critical to psychiatry because we did not hear or knew anything from other countries. We thought we in Germany were the first. Because there was no communication or magazines, no Internet ? nothing. And people who might have known activities from former inmates abroad, never told us that there were groups in England or America. This was one reason.

The other reason was, that in the '80s members of our Berlin group, often went to Denmark. They had so-called galelejrs. This Danish name that means big meetings of lunatics ? 150 people had a very large place where they could sleep and gather self-organised, It was at the seaside and financially supported by the Danish government.

After we met all some European activists in The Netherlands, I was involved in communication through letters. For example, there was Dunya Breur, she is not alive anymore. Her mother was a survivor of the German concentration camp at Ravensbruck. Dunya has gotten crazy about the hidden history of her mother. And she was a friend of Judi Chamberlin. Via Dunya, a connection to the US-American movement was built. They had a magazine ? it was called "Madness Network News," where I could find information about what was going on in the USA.

And soon, it was around '89, there was the idea to organize at a European level. And we used meetings from Mental Health Europe, a European organisation of non-governmental and non-religious organisations in the psychosocial field.

Kasumi Ito
It was an organization of doctors?

Peter Lehmann
It was a mixed organization, and then it was a part of the World Federation of Mental Health. They also support what they called the "patient movement". We used their conferences to meet. And so we met in England in 1990 in Brighton. From there we traveled to London and had a meeting there. A meeting of about 10 European activists to plan a European organisation of users and survivors of psychiatry was held and the next steps. The next meeting was maybe 1/2 year later in Italy in the town Prato. There we decided to found the European Network.

Kasumi Ito
So it was in 1990?

Peter Lehmann
In 1990, we made this decision. In 1991, we met in The Netherlands in Zandvoort, because the Dutch government supported the founding financially. So we could meet there and we used all the personal connections to invite representatives or activists from many European countries. And that year also the iron wall fall, so we could also invite people from Eastern countries.

Kasumi Ito
How did you connect with eastern countries?

Peter Lehmann
Oh, there have always been connections basically with East Berlin. Part of my family comes from GDR. Then I was in Leipzig to meet family members and friends from my youth, I also met illegal groups there or we smuggled our magazines to them. So a connection was built. They as "early pensionists" ? former inmates which had no job any more in GDR ? were also able to cross the boarder to West-Berlin. We could travel to Eastern countries, so we had also friends in Serbia and Croatia, who invited us for lectures and meetings. In those years this countries belonged to Yugoslavia, which now does not exist anymore. But people there were also active in their critics towards psychiatry. For example, they organised conferences in Belgrad in the 1980s, where they invited David Cooper ? as far as I know.

Kasumi Ito
So you had connections to movements in Eastern Europe?

Peter Lehmann
Yeah, me and other people also. For our meeting in Zandvoort I was successful to organise and invitation for 2 women from Yugoslavia and GDR. I do not remember if there were more people from Eastern countries, but you can find the participants of that conference in the conference-documentation.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah, I can. How did you succeed to make The Netherlands government fund your first meeting?

Peter Lehmann
I don't understand.

Kasumi Ito
How did you ask The Netherlands government?

Peter Lehmann
Oh, it was the Dutch people who built this connection. They had their organization, Clientenbond, that was rather supportive then.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
The Clientenbond had these connections. Myself, I had nothing to do with funding in those years.

Kasumi Ito
The structure of the organization, I think it was changed. Firstly, it was a bottom-up structure and ?

Peter Lehmann
The European Network was an organization of independent organizations.

Kasumi Ito
Yes.

Peter Lehmann
And we had meetings every 2 years, or we should have them according to our statutes. We were always dependent form the funding for the meetings. The participants elected the board. It was a democratic organization.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. At the first meeting there were no board members and each country had their tasks ?

Peter Lehmann
Yeah. It depended on the knowledge of organizations. As I said, there was no Internet in those years. Sometimes we heard, "Oh there's a group," or "There are people," and we would ask them by letters or later on we would send faxes. But it depended on the knowledge. At the first meeting in Zandvoort, the government of The Netherlands Denmark paid translators. We had direct translation, I guess in English, German, Dutch, and eventually more languages. Mostly, the participants were individuals, because in general there were no national organisations, only small groups. So only some dedicated activists could be founders of the European Network.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
For example, in Germany there was no national organization. It was me who went to the preparation meetings and the founding meeting. And somebody from East-Berlin went to Zandvoort. Some of us were elected as board members and had to bring back the information about the European Network to our countries. In the year afterwards, a German organization was founded, not because of the input of the European Network, it was an independent meeting. But the time was ready to start here in Germany some national organization.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. And I'd like to ask you about the name of the organization. It was changed in 1997 from the "European Network for Users and (ex)-Users in Mental Health," to now "ENUSP."

Peter Lehmann
When the Dutch government supported the European Network, they gave money to the Clientenbond to employ a secretary. It was not a decision of the network, who would be their secretary. It was the decision of the Clientenbond, who should be the secretary of the network. So there was always tension between the secretary and the network because it was not the board of the network that had decided the secretary, but it was the Clientenbond who had decided.

So there was a lot of, I'd say, friendly misunderstandings. And when the statutes were brought to the court to register the Network, the secretary decided the name. And many invitations to the board of the network went to the secretary and he went there as a representative of the network. So, as I said, a lot of misunderstandings took place in that time.

Later on, the secretary changed. And we decided at a membership meeting about the new name. Of course it was a problem, because of the English language. It is not possible to express the subtle meanings of the different national terms, and for some terms there is no English expression at all. In Germany, for example, we have a term for our organizations, you cannot translate into English. Because of all these problems, the English term of "(Ex-) users and survivors of psychiatry" was an artificial name.

I do not know how they did it in other countries because I do not speak their languages. But I remember I was there when the name was changed and it was our discussion because there had been people whose parents had died at or survived concentration camps during the fascism and they said, "Oh we cannot go with "survivors" because our parents who survived the concentration camps were the real survivors and we cannot use the same term like the survivors of the concentration camps." That ones who wanted to change the name of the Network said, "You can survive a plane crash, you can survive a disease. So "survive" is not always combined with concentration camps." But a few people left the organization because of the name change.

Kasumi Ito
Really?

Peter Lehmann
Yes. They felt committed to their parents and really they did not agree with the term "survivor" in the name. It was a pity but it happened.

Kasumi Ito
These people left the network in 1987? When the name was changed, some people quit?

Peter Lehmann
Some people, a few people. Very few people.

Kasumi Ito
Uh-huh.

Peter Lehmann
Because all people carry with them their histories. I remember when we first came to the Danish Galelejr, which I mentioned already, we met people, people welcomed us with "Hello - Heil Hitler." This was absolutely annoying, because during Hitler's time, people like us had been killed. To say "Heil Hitler" to us was empty-headed. We answered, "Okay, when you bring us in connection with Nazi-Germany we will leave at once." But they all said that only some silly and empty-headed people did so, and we stayed. This was the first meeting in the '80s, when we went to Denmark. There have been a lot of fun, the problem never showed up again.

Kasumi Ito
In the '80s?

Peter Lehmann
It was maybe '82, '83.

Kasumi Ito
How about the situation when the name was changed in the World Network, how the ?

Peter Lehmann
In the World network?

Kasumi Ito
The World Network also changed their name in ?

Peter Lehmann
Did they change the name?

Kasumi Ito
Firstly, it was the "World Federation of Psychiatric Users," but later it became the "World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry."

Peter Lehmann
As far as I know, they always had the name "Users and Survivors." But I can be wrong.

Kasumi Ito
Okay.

Peter Lehmann
But I'm not 100% sure. Maybe it was rebuilt once and ? yeah I guess, some people had founded a network and called it a "World Network," but it were only a few individuals ? and may be called in the way you mentioned.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
Or you can ask, if you want to know to Maths Jesperson.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah?

Peter Lehmann
He knows everything. He knows it all.

Kasumi Ito
Okay. So when did you become involved in the World Network?

Peter Lehmann
I was one of the founders at Denmark. It was at the meeting, in Finland, in Lahti, ? yeah I was in ?

Kasumi Ito
In 1997?

Peter Lehmann
Yes, in 1997.

I was never active in the World Network because all this stuff happens in English and you have to ready so many things. People who speak English as first language or very fluid never accepted our demand to not always write long papers but to have short summaries before, in plain English, so that all people can follow. They never reflect translation problems, so you get quickly very tired and lose the trace. It is a sad experience I make since decades.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
Yes that's a catastrophe and it is one reason why they all stay so small, these networks, I'm sure. All of them are dominated by Yankees and the English people. Of course, people of the USA can be very kind and supportive. Especially when the have a history of travelling outside their country.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. There are so many papers about the network in English.

Peter Lehmann
Which, the World or the European?

Kasumi Ito
World Network.

Peter Lehmann
Yes. And people who have English as their first language, they hardly realize, they do not experience this problem with the language.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah, I think so. English is very difficult for me, so I guess so.

Peter Lehmann
Most people in Germany speak very poor English or they do not speak English. They read a little bit and when the text is complicated or has subtle contents, they do not understand ? they do not read it. They turn away, and would never join an organisation with English as communication language.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. How about other countries, which do not speak English?

Peter Lehmann
All the Southern countries ? Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal ? you can forget. Of course the younger people know, they learn English at school now. But it is a big difference to speak a little School English and to communicate with people from USA, England, or even Ireland or Scotland. You are lost.

And they have to deal with this culture of family organizations, which means, the families solves psychiatric problems. Sometimes families do this. But there seems no need for individuals to get active. The family makes it and so they stay in a passive position. This is one more reason that organizations stay very poor or small. It was different for Nordic people or in the Northwestern parts of Europe like, Denmark, Sweden, Finnland and England, they have big organizations.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
They have a protestant orientation versus a catholic, which encourage individuals to get active. Catholic ones tend to wait for God's help. This is a big problem.

Kasumi Ito
How about the language problem in the European Network? Is there any problem?

Peter Lehmann
Yes of course. For some years, I made the website of the European Network and I nearly was successful to have, for each language their own website, also in Galic language and very small languages, but with a new webmaster everything was lost, all the work ? I still have it on my safety disk, but it is a problem that the website of the European Network is only in English. As far as I remember, there were about 30 different languages.

And it is a problem that English is the communication language. I have to repeat this all the time, sorry. People do not want to go to meetings because everything is in English. Big problem, big problem. When we communicate with people from Denmark, we understand each other. We speak more or less plain English. If English people speak, only the English understand, or some exceptions. They speak so quickly, it is complicated. The define the world, they suggest the solutions of problems, their opinion is in the foreground. We might read their literature and papers, they do not read our stuff. It's an unsolved problem.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. But the European Network is not small from the first. I think that the European Network has been a big network from the start.

Peter Lehmann
Not at the beginning, but later, it was a big Network with member organisation of most European countries. I'm not a member of the board anymore. I'm only an individual member and I do not know the current state.

Kasumi Ito
But in the beginning the World Network might have been small, but the European Network ?

Peter Lehmann
The European Network was big and we had organizations in nearly all European countries, surely bigger than the World Network. This is not surprising, when you reflect the big distances in our entire world. Europe is only a part of this, the distances are smaller, so people can come together more easily. In those years when I was on the board we made some applications for funding to the European Commission. There was always a need to have many organizations and members in many European countries. So I was very keen to have organizations everywhere.

Myself, I was a founding member, I was the secretary, I was the treasurer, I was the newsletter editor, I was the Chair. When I got the secretary of the Network, the only thing I got from the leaving secretary in The Netherlands was a big box with old magazines. There was no real list of organizations and documentations At that time, I tried to get in contact with organisations to invite them for membership meetings. Some did not remember that they have been members of the European Network. I guess now the structure is clearer. On the other hand, a lot of organizations got lost also because of the definition of a user / survivor organization. For example, in Greece, there is no explicit organization of user/survivors of psychiatry. There's some mixed organization with some user/survivors. As long as there are no only user/survivor organizations, I would keep them as an organization. Of course, only user/survivors could represent them in meetings.

Kasumi Ito
You said that The Netherlands government supported the first meeting of the ENUSP.

Peter Lehmann
They paid for some years but once they said, now they've finished and another country should fund the network and it was only the Danish government ? Europe has the European Council and for every 6th month a new country leads the European Union. Every 6th month a new nation has to be active to promote different issues and topics.

So when the Danish government led the European Union, they had more money to spend for Europeans and so they funded the last meeting in Vejle, in Denmark ? it was a joint meeting of the European Network and the World Network. I guess it was in 2005

In Germany, we have a problem that we have this double structure ? we national bodies and the Bundeslander, at the country level and because the government says, "Oh you go to your region," and the region says, "Oh, you have to go to the national level," and they play this silly game and they never take responsibility for the funding for an international meeting.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. The Danish government or the national government covered the travel fee, the transportation and the ? did the government cover the travel fee of each participant?

Peter Lehmann
They paid the travel costs and accommodation.

Kasumi Ito
Really?

Peter Lehmann
Yes. We also tried to get funding from the European Commission because they support independent organizations. But all the time Mental Health Europe receives the money. The money should get directly to organisations which represent users/survivors." Mental Health Europe has their desk in Brussels, they have very good connections and we do not. So when we ask for money for a special programme, it goes to Mental Health Europe. They give us only a little bit so that we can have some small meetings, but not the money we deserve. Big problem.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. How did you do the board meetings? I found some reports of the board meetings of ENUSP.

Peter Lehmann
In former years, like, when I was a board member, we met alongside the Mental Health Europe conferences. So the other board members tried to get invited or they're members of organizations who were also involved in Mental Health Europe. This was one possibility.

The other possibility would have been, we had decided to ask some member organizations for membership fees. And the membership fee was ?0.10 for each member of an organization for 1 year. That was maybe ? Sweden had 30,000 members, it would have been ?3,000 per year. Iceland, they're a small organization but they're a rich organization and they paid a lot of money as donation to the European Network. We would have had money if all board members would have asked their organizations to pay the fees. But always there are some board members who understand their function as kind of tourists, or they are lazy.

Kasumi Ito
Tourists?

Peter Lehmann
They go to board meetings but they do bring back the information to the organizations that work on a national level and ask them to pay their fees ? it's too much work for them. I was always angry because I succeeded in Germany, the German national organization paid their membership fees.

But all the other organizations, England and the Nordic countries except Iceland, they did not pay because the representatives of support did not ask their organizations to pay the membership fees.

Kasumi Ito
Why did they not ask?

Peter Lehmann
Why? Because they were lazy. It was disappointing. There would have been money, we would not have been so dependent on the European Commission.

Kasumi Ito
So the European Commission supported the cost of the board meetings?

Peter Lehmann
The European Commission funds special programmes. For example, they fund for empowerment of user/survivor organizations. Or measures to combat discrimination. They develop a program and maybe they will give ?300,000. Probably you can make an application and you sit there and you have mostly a few days' time and you'll have to develop a whole program ? workers and fees and everything ? and then you send the application to them and they decide to fund an organisation that does not represent users/survivors of psychiatry.

Kasumi Ito
Okay.

Peter Lehmann
Mainstream oriented, it is okay, but us, psychiatric organizations they say, "Survivors of psychiatry? What don't we kill them?" It was one of the first issues I realized when we changed the name, I think it was one the commissioners who said, "You will never get money from the European Commission with such a name." We answered that the name was a compromise in English, and of course, some people survive from illness, from their craziness, from their depression and sometimes also, the psychiatric treatment is very dangerous ? effects like neuroleptic malignant syndrome or malignant hyperthermia or serotonine-syndrom, which you have to survive. In my opinion, they're not interested in a strong, independent organization of users and survivors of psychiatry.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
So sometimes, Mental Health Europe makes applications and in the application, there was money for funding of a European conference of the users and survivors of psychiatry. It was in the '90s and also until 2000. And then, the catastrophe with the Clientenbond happened.

Kasumi Ito
Sorry.

Peter Lehmann
The European Network wanted to have a conference. The Clientenbond who employed the secretary, wrote an application together with Mental Health Europe towards the European Commission.

Kasumi Ito
Okay.

Peter Lehmann
And then the conference was done. It was the task of the secretary to write a report about the content of the meeting and about the finances. At this time the secretary was not able to make a competent report. The reports he did were all rejected by the European Commission because the reports were only a folder of invoices. The secretary told the ENUSP board that everything was fine, he had done it correctly, but it was rejected because the European Commission was too silly to understand the report. Always in the board we were asking about this, but the answer was always: "Yeah, no problem. We did it, but there's a little problem with the European Commission."

And finally, there was a board meeting in Berlin of the European Network and 2 days before the Dutch board member told that they received a registered letter from the European Commission and that the report was rejected finally and that the European Commission will not discuss anymore and that the European Network has to pay back about ?30,000 ?because there was no correct report. It was Paul Fejn who was the board member from The Netherlands, sadly he passed away meanwhile, and we asked them to bring all materials to Berlin.

There was a board meeting here in my flat in the north of Berlin during the night and Gabor Gombos my wife Kerstin, me and Paul we went through all the papers and materials and we found that the European Commission had done one formal mistake, when they send a letter to an outdated address.

We had this registered letter, "No discussion anymore. Pay back," and saw a tiny chance for a new negotiation. Then it was my task because I was the Chair in the time when the conference had taken place. I had to call the European Commission and ask them to withdraw their final decision and ask them for a new discussion. I had to call in English and I succeeded. I said, "Oh, if you had sent this to the correct address everything would have been done."

They gave us a chance to write a real report. Then we asked the Clientenbond to send us all invoices because we had to prove that the spent money was really spent and not taken privately. But they did not send us the invoices. Only a few ones. I had to go to Brussels with the report and the invoices. There were five people sitting in front of me and I said, "Oh, here is the report, here are the invoices." They asked me, "But where are the other invoices?" I said, "I'm sorry, the Clientenbond did not give us the invoices."

And they said, "How silly can you be? You'll lose ?10,000-20,000." I said, "Sorry, I can't change." And so finally, the Clientenbond lost about ?20,000 because they didn't give us the invoices. For reasons we never understood, they lost a lot of money. And of course the European Network had a problem with the reputation. For some years it was a little spoilt.

And if we had not succeeded, I don't know what would have happened. And it was Gabor, Paul, Kerstin. Perhaps also Maths was also there.

Kasumi Ito
So you went to their office?

Peter Lehmann
I went to Brussels to the European Commission, I had to go over there and explain the problem, show the report, some invoices we reconstructed. They had made a lot of formally silly things, the ENUSP secretary chosen by the Clientenbond. He had invited people from countries, which have not been member of the European Union. But the European Union could only give money to people who lived in countries which belong to the European Union.

Kasumi Ito
The European Union won't support..?

Peter Lehmann
People living outside the European Union. You have to be careful and if you give money to them you will have to find a way to solve this problem.

Kasumi Ito
Wow. Where is the European Commission's office?

Peter Lehmann
Brussels, Belgium. Meanwhile these people from the Clientenbond ? as far as I know - don't live anymore. And therefore, maybe they had the opinion that the network was too radical and anti-psychiatric. Always there are these typical problems with dogmatism, reformism, etc.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. So the Clientenbond is not radical?

Peter Lehmann
I don't know. For me, the Clientenbond was a national organization of The Netherlands. I knew a lot of good people there. But I remember, once I was invited by the Clientenbond to make a lecture about the risks and dangers of neuroleptics. And when I finished this lecture I was accused that I do not bring pleasant messages. And I told them, "If you've invited me to speak about the risks and dangers I will speak about risks and dangers and you cannot be disappointed by it."

Kasumi Ito
Okay.

Peter Lehmann
Now, I don't know if they exist anymore. And, of course, all these groups change all the time.

Kasumi Ito
Okay. I'd like to know about the relationship between the disability movement and the movement of users and survivors.

Peter Lehmann
As far as I know and remember, first it was Judi Chamberlin from the USA who made this proposal to join the disability movement in a meeting, I guess it was maybe in 1999. And of course there were voices, maybe mine included, "We are not disabled. We do not want to join." But after the UN convention of the rights of people with disabilities and other positive results of the disability movement, when suddenly people with psychotic diagnoses also fell under the convention and should have equal rights, we said, "Of course, there's no problem anymore and we want the same rights. It's good and fine."


Peter Lehmann
There was this reservation against the disability movement. But it does not play a role anymore. It's more on the other side that within the disability movement people with psychiatric diagnoses are discriminated against. For example, they fight for jobs for people with physical disabilities, but not for people with so-called psychological disabilities. Do you understand what I mean?

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
The reservation is on their side, on disability of people with physical disabilities, they have problems to be put in one corner with people with psychiatric diagnoses.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. One of the corners are people with physical disabilities and another..?

Peter Lehmann
Sorry?

Kasumi Ito
Do you mean that in one of the corners there is the group of the physical..?

Peter Lehmann
They seem to have a big fear to be in the same corner as the people with psychiatric diagnoses because the latter ones are seen as dangerous or non-responsible, as crazy and silly, as ill. The ones with physical disabilities are only disabled, but not ill.

Kasumi Ito
Okay. How about opinions in the users and survivors movement against the disability movement?

Peter Lehmann
As I said, it played a bigger role years ago, but meanwhile, after the United Nation's convention of the rights of people with disabilities, it does not play a real role anymore, mainly among people who know about the convention. The convention is very well-known, I'm sure, and people who know the convention see big changes to refer to the convention and to strengthen human rights.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. You said that there was a proposal to join the disability movement.

Peter Lehmann
It came first from Judi Chamberlin. I remember it was at a meeting of the European Network to which she was invited and made a keynote lecture. We had meetings, where she made this proposal. I remember, for the first time I heard about this idea from Judi. And then, there was also a close connection between the European Network and Judi. She was a exceptional personality from the US-American movement.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. Is it but World Network?

Peter Lehmann
Judi was member of the World Network, she was a member already many organizations. It was not my decision to invite her, but I liked her always very much.

Kasumi Ito
So which conference?

Peter Lehmann
I'm sure it was a conference of the European Network where Judi had been invited to contribute with a lecture. It was in Sweden, in Helsingborg.

Kasumi Ito
How was her relationship with the German movement?

Peter Lehmann
There was no discussion about this topic. Remember the language problem.

Kasumi Ito
So the movements were separated, the disability movement and the movement of users and survivors of psychiatry?

Peter Lehmann
They've been two independent movements.

Kasumi Ito
Okay. About the World Network, how did you find members in Asia or Africa or South America?

Peter Lehmann
Only virtually. Of course, their representatives have been at this joint conference in Vejle. Vejle is an old town in Denmark, and there have been even from Japan, Mari Yamamoto had been there, also people from other Asian countries. Also people from Latin-America and Africa. There I've met them but only there.

Kasumi Ito
Thank you.

Peter Lehmann
And I remember Salam Gomez.

Kasumi Ito
Aha, yeah.

Peter Lehmann
I do not remember where I met him. He invited me to a conference in Colombia.

Kasumi Ito
Oh, did he? Yes, and I got the funding to go there and give a lecture.

Peter Lehmann
There we became friends. In the beginning of the 2000s, there was an European program against discrimination of users/survivors of psychiatry funded by the European Commission. One of the proposals, which have been the consequence of the work within the program, was to combat discrimination and to support international exchange of users/survivors of psychiatry. And there was a Berlin welfare organization who in the past supported me sometimes to go to transcontinental conferences. Such a support was unique. Think about: Why should a Berlin organization support me to go to Latin-America for a conference? But they did.

And so I was invited by Salam. I went there and met him. I also invited him to a conference in Berlin in 2017. His travel costs were paid by the World Psychiatric Association. There would have been more possibilities for international meetings for users and survivors. I remember, in 2005, there was a conference of the World Psychiatric Association in Dresden.

Kasumi Ito
The World Psychiatric Association?

Peter Lehmann
Yeah, that's the organization of psychiatrists.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
And they had a World Conference in Dresden, this town in Germany.

Kasumi Ito
Germany?

Peter Lehmann
Dresden is the town which was nearly complete destroyed during World War II.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
It's in Eastern Germany ? D-R-E-S-D-E-N.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah, Dresden.

Peter Lehmann
And the Chair of the organization's conference invited the European Network, the World Network, the German Association and Mind Freedom international to contribute to the conference. And we said, "Yes, we would like to come, but you have to pay the costs." And then the Chair of the Organization Committee said, "Yes, let's discuss about this possibility, one central person to discuss." And the organizations said it should be me. He wanted to have a German one. So he came from Dresden to Berlin and we discussed ways to involve users/survivors from all the world in their conference.

And then we finally agreed, we would have two keynote lectures. Judi, they had already decided for her. I suggested Dorothea Buck, the Honorary Chair of the German Network. She is a survivor of the psychiatric sterilization during the Nazi era and she is now 102 years old ? still alive. (Footnote: She passed away in October 2019.) And we should lead two symposia, about we decide by ourselves, and they pay all people, reduced fees for users/survivors, involvement in the press conference of the conference, spreading our material in the congress folder, free information stands and so on. It was really a very good result.

And one symposium which I led, took place with Robert Whitaker, Peter Stastny and Mary Nettle, then the Chairwoman of ENUSP. But the other symposium of people mainly of the World Network did not take place because the board of the World Network focused only on the UN Convention. It was a pity, because Bhargavi Davar from India and David Webb from Australia should come to Berlin. Finally this symposium did not take place.

Kasumi Ito
Did not?

Peter Lehmann
No. I heard that the board of the World Network did not even talk about the invitation. I could not change, but it was disgusting, very disgusting.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
And 2 years ago, there was again a conference of the WPA in Berlin. I was involved again in the organization. There have been preparation meetings. For a 2-hour preparation meeting people from all over the world would have been paid to come. Nobody came for 2 hours, this is understandable. If I had to go to Japan for a meeting of 2 hours, I don't know if I would really make it. But they also did not to make proposals for contributions for the conference. They would have been able to organize symposia and decide about the participants. Only Salam Gomez from Columbia agreed to run a symposium together with me. The topic was measures against the high rate of early death of people with serious psychiatric diagnoses and treatment with neurotoxic psychiatric drugs. People from other continents did not show up. I mean, it was ? don't ask me, ask them.

Kasumi Ito
Okay.

Peter Lehmann
It is a little disappointing if you make efforts to invite them and get the funding for their travel costs, and they do not come.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
But in your first asked question, in Vejle, it's an old emperor's town, we call him Kaiser. You have your Hashimoto, what is it called, the Kaiser?

Kasumi Ito
Kaiser?

Peter Lehmann
Kaiser from Japan ? your highest representative in Japan is?

Kasumi Ito
Yeah, is it the president?

Peter Lehmann
No. The Kaiser? It's shown here, the Kaiser. It's not important, but ? Kaiser ? emperor?

Kasumi Ito
Sorry.

Peter Lehmann
Emperor?

Kasumi Ito
Oh, okay. Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
Vejle was an old town of the Danish Emperor.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
It was very fine there in this meeting, I had a work group and we developed the "Declaration of Vejle," about the cooperation within in self-help movement. The declaration was later translated in many languages, even in Japanese. You can download it from the internet, the URL is http://bit.do/vejle-decla.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah, uh-huh.

Peter Lehmann
And it was agreed with one voice by the European Network and by the World Network and by the German organization also. Mari from Japan was a member of the group, and somebody from Russia and from France. It was absolutely inspiring to combine the different opinions coming from so different cultures of the movement. At first, when they started, I did not understand anything about what the others wanted. It was like, "What the shit do they want?" But finally, I learned it was absolutely constructive to learn from each other. In our group gladly there was the time to ask, "What do you mean?" To listen to each other, to prevent misunderstandings. Remember, we all speak in English about subtle issues, in a language which is not our own. And all those things.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
So I guess we made a brilliant declaration, I'm so proud of it. It came from a mixture of these different cultures.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. What were the cultural differences between the countries or continents?

Peter Lehmann
What were the differences? The differences came from different experiences and different consequences from these experiences due to different topics, for example, history of organisation, religion, political orientation etc. In Germany, we like to be very loud and demanding, we know what is right and what is wrong, others maybe not so. They might be more patient or little more diverse ? maybe.

Kasumi Ito
Uh-huh. Okay.

Peter Lehmann
They also can be more cooperative, these other organizations/other professional groups. In these years, in the German organization was the opinion not to need any professional support in a crisis I guess, it was Karl Bach Jensen, a long-year activist from Denmark, who influenced me that problems are so much, it is somewhat too challenging to think that we could all problems solve in self-help groups in the spare time.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. Uh-huh, okay.

Peter Lehmann
But ? yeah.

Kasumi Ito
You said that the European Commission supported international exchanges?

Peter Lehmann
No. They supported a program to identify the discrimination of people with psychiatric diagnosis in the medical field. And the proposals were brought to the Commission in a big public meeting and in a leaflet. These proposals are on the Internet in different languages, also in English. If you make an application to a national or another party, you can refer to these proposals and hope that somebody is impressed.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah, okay.

Peter Lehmann
Sometimes they have good programs, but gives the money to the wrong organizations.

Kasumi Ito
Give the money to..?

Peter Lehmann
To the wrong organizations.

Peter Lehmann
And you have to be a rich organization to get money. If you're not a rich, they will not give you the money because it's in the design of such programs that you have to co-fund and you have to have a lot of money to co-fund.

Kasumi Ito
Co-fund?

Peter Lehmann
To be also a part of the funders ? maybe 10%, 20% or 30% you have to bring your own money. And if the program costs maybe ?500,000 then you have to have ?150,000 or ?200,000 and the European Network does not have this money.

Kasumi Ito
The European Network, firstly The Netherlands government support? In the beginning, The Netherlands government supported?

Peter Lehmann
Yeah, supported.

Kasumi Ito
Then Denmark?

Peter Lehmann
Then they decided to stop.

Kasumi Ito
Uh?

Peter Lehmann
Some years later, they decided to stop.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah? Then the Danish government?

Peter Lehmann
No, no, no. The Danish government only funded some meetings.

Kasumi Ito
Uh-huh, held in Denmark? The European Network conference held in Denmark?

Peter Lehmann
They funded the conferences of the European Conference which took place in Denmark.

Kasumi Ito
Okay, yes.

Peter Lehmann
Probably, I guess they funded it three times the meetings of the network. The Danish, they have been open towards us.

Kasumi Ito
How about other countries' governments?

Peter Lehmann
About the Germans I said, "Go to this administration, go to that administration."

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
And in other countries, maybe where he user/survivor-organizations are not strong enough, they do not have good connections or the governments are not interested. Once there was a conference in Greece.

Kasumi Ito
Uh-huh.

Peter Lehmann
Yes, in Greece there was the university in Thessaloniki, I guess they got some money from the Greek government. They also paid the costs of a conference in 2009.

Kasumi Ito
Uh-huh. They supported travel costs?

Peter Lehmann
They supported, they funded the meeting inclusive of the costs of people. It was in Thessaloniki in 2009.

Kasumi Ito
Uh-huh. So for most conferences, the participants did not have to pay their travel costs?

Peter Lehmann
It was always the opinion that somebody else should pay the costs of the people because in general, people with psychiatric diagnoses do not have much money.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
I do not know how Olga Kalina, the current Chair, and the board-colleagues plan a new meeting. Generally, it should take place every 2 years, but sometimes it takes 5 years, 6 years ? until there is funding.

Kasumi Ito
Uh-huh. And how about the World Network, it is a practice that they have to cover the travel costs by themselves?

Peter Lehmann
I have no information.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. Okay, I've asked all the questions.

Peter Lehmann
Okay. I can tell you that last year, 2 years ago or last year, the board of the European Network asked me to represent them in a European initiative to force the drug companies and psychiatrists to disclose their hidden financial connections.

Kasumi Ito
Truck companies?

Peter Lehmann
To disclose their financial connections.

Kasumi Ito
Between the..?

Peter Lehmann
Between the pharmaceutical industry and the doctors ? the psychiatrists.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah.

Peter Lehmann
They asked me, because they trusted in me that I would make a good representation. I succeeded to make very good proposals.

Kasumi Ito
Yeah, yeah.

Peter Lehmann
I have written a long article, which will additionally be published with the title "Transparency first: Disclosure of conflicts of interest in the psychiatric field" in the Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy. You can download the article from http://bit.do/trans-first. We did our best to influence to the European Parliament, to make pressure for a European law that forces pharmaceutical industry and psychiatrists to disclose their connections. You understand?

Kasumi Ito
Yeah. It's a project of the European Network?

Peter Lehmann
No. No, it was an initiative of Mental Health Europe. It was a good initiative. They asked ENUSP to send a representative within this program. So we met a few times in Brussels. And finally we had this meeting in a room of the European Parliament where we could make our proposals. We made it by lectures. They are published in a booklet, which is online and given to the European Parliament. There are our proposals about maximum force on pharmaceutical industry and psychiatrists to disclose their connections.

Kasumi Ito
Yes.

Peter Lehmann
I forgot to mention, that there are some publications about the history of ENUSP for people, who want to have more information. The first publication is a diploma-work for the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Dortmund, written in the 1990s by Karin Roth, called "Geschichte und Entwicklung des European Network of (ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry". It was about the history and development of ENUSP and published in my publishing house in 1997.And in the article "Self-help, difference in opinion and user control in the age of the internet", written by Maths Jesperson an myself, you can also find a lot of information about the history of ENUSP and of the World Network WNUSP, too. The article is a chapter in the book "Alternatives beyond psychiatry", which I edited together with Peter Stastny in 2007. The book I published also in my publishing house. It highlights alternatives beyond psychiatry around the world, current possibilities for self-help for individuals experiencing madness or depression, and strategies toward implementing humane treatment. A lot of members of ENUSP and WNUSP have contributed. They all have a lot to say.

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