Judi Chamberlin upon the publication of the National Council on Disability's federal report From Privileges to Rights
October 30, 1944
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
|Died||January 16, 2010
Arlington, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
|Education||Midwood High School, Brooklyn|
|Occupation||Director of Education National Empowerment Center
|Known for||Internationally known psychiatric survivor movement activist and author|
|Notable work(s)||On Our Own: Patient Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System (1978)
From Privileges to Rights (2000)
Board member of
|Spouse(s)||Howard Cahn (divorced)
Robert Chamberlin (divorced)
Ted Chabasinski (1972–1985)
|Partner(s)||Martin Federman (2006–2011)|
|Awards||Distinguished Service Award of the President of the United States|
Ted Chabasinski and Judi Chamberlin divorced in 1985 so that he could marry his second wife. However, they separated as couple c. 1974. They remained close friends.
Judi Chamberlin (née Ross; October 30, 1944 – January 16, 2010) was an American activist, leader, organizer, public speaker and educator in the psychiatric survivors movement. Her political activism followed her involuntary confinement in a psychiatric facility in the 1960s. She was the author of On Our Own: Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System, which is a foundational text in the Mad Pride movement.
Judi Chamberlin was born Judi Ross in Brooklyn in 1944. She was the only daughter of Harold and Shirley Jaffe Ross. Her father was a factory worker when she was a child, later he worked as an executive in the advertising industry. Her mother was employed as a school secretary. Chamberlin attended Midwood High School.
|“||There are real indignities and real problems when all facets of life are controlled—when to get up, to eat, to shower—and chemicals are put inside our bodies against our will||”|
—Judi Chamberlin, New York Times, 1981
In 1966, at the age of twenty-one and recently married, Chamberlin suffered a miscarriage and, according to her own account, became severely depressed. Following psychiatric advice, she voluntarily signed herself into a psychiatric facility as an in-patient. However, after several voluntary admissions she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward in a New York state hospital for a period of five months.
As an involuntary patient, she witnessed and experienced a range of abuses. Seclusion rooms and refractory wards were used for resistive patients, even when their forms of resistance were non-violent. The psychiatric medication she was given made her feel tired and affected her memory. As an involuntary patient she was unable to leave the facility and became, she said, "a prisoner of the system". The derogation of her civil liberties that she experienced as an inmate provided the impetus for her activism as a member of the psychiatric survivor movement.
|“||Remember back in MPLF? You put up a sign on the office wall that said, 'End Psychiatric Oppression by Tuesday.' That's what I want. End psychiatric oppression by Tuesday.||”|
—Judi Chamberlin in conversation with David W. Oaks, October 2009
Following her discharge, Chamberlin became involved in the nascent psychiatric patients' rights movement. In 1971 she joined the Boston based Mental Patients Liberation Front (MPLF), and she also became associated with the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University . Her affiliation with this center facilitated her role in co-founding the Ruby Rogers Advocacy and Drop-in-Centers, which are self-help institutions staffed by former psychiatric patients. and was also a founder and later a Director of Education of the National Empowerment Center. The latter is also an ex-patient run organization that provides information, technical assistance, and support to users and survivors of the psychiatric system. Its mission statement declares its intent is to "carry a message of recovery, empowerment, hope and healing to people who have been labeled with mental illness".
She was also involved with the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy and was an influential leader in the Mad Pride movement.
Chamberlin met David Oaks in 1976, when he was the chief executive of MindFreedom International. They were both members of the Mental Patients Liberation Front. She later became a board member of MindFreedom International, an umbrella organization for approximately one hundred grass roots groups campaigning for the human rights of people labeled "mentally ill."
In 1978, her book On Our Own: Patient Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System was published. It became the standard text of the psychiatric survivor movement, and in it Chamberlain coined the word "mentalism." 
She was a major informant for and assisted in the drafting of the National Council on Disability's federal report From Privileges to Rights: People Labeled with Psychiatric Disabilities Speak for Themselves, which was published in 2000. The report argued that psychiatric patients should enjoy the same basic human rights as other citizens and that patient privileges contingent on good behavior within the psychiatric system, such as the ability to wear their own clothes, leave the confines of a psychiatric facility, or receive visitors, should instead be regarded as basic rights.
Chamberlin was elected as co-chair of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP) at the launching conference and General Assembly in Vancouver, Canada in 2001, and served in this capacity until the next General Assembly in 2004. During this period she also served on the Panel of Experts advising the United Nations special rapporteur on disability, on behalf of WNUSP in its role as a Non-governmental organization, representing psychiatric survivors.
Her marriages to Howard Cahn and then Robert Chamberlin both ended in divorce. Her third marriage in 1972 was to Ted Chabasinski, also a psychiatric survivor movement activist, whom she met at the Mental Patients Liberation Project in 1971. They married in 1972 and separated two years later. They remained close friends following this and only divorced in 1985 when Chabasinski wanted to marry another woman. Since 2006, Chamberlin's partner was Martin Federman. She had one daughter, Julie Chamberlin, and three grandchildren.
- Chamberlin, Judi (1978). On Our Own: Patient Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System. New York: Haworth Press. ISBN 080155523X. Chapter Five: When People Go Crazy.
- Chamberlin, Judi (1990). "The Ex-Patients Movement: where we've been and where we're going'". The Journal of Mind and Behaviour 11 (3&4): 323–336. Archived from the original on June 27, 2011.
- Chamberlin, Judi (1993). 'Erfahrungen und Zielsetzungen der nordamerikanischen Selbsthilfebewegung' (pp. 300–317). In: Kerstin Kempker / Peter Lehmann (Eds.), Statt Psychiatrie. Berlin: Antipsychiatrieverlag. ISBN 3-925931-07-4
- Chamberlin, Judi (1995). 'Mental health: choice and dignity'. The Magazine of the World Health Organization. 48(5): 16-17.
- Chamberlin, Judi; Rogers, E. Sally; Ellison, Marsha Langer (1996). "Self-help programs: a description of their characteristics and their members". Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 19 (3): 33–34. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012.
- Chamberlin, Judi (1997). "A working definition of empowerment". Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 20 (4): 43–46. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012.
- Rogers, E. Sally; Chamberlin, Judi; Ellison, Marsha Langer; Crean, Tim (1997). "A consumer-constructed scale to measure empowerment among users of mental health services". Psychiatric Services 48 (8): 1042–1047. Archived from the original on June 28, 2012.
- Chamberlin, Judi (1998). "Confessions of a noncompliant patient". Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services 36 (4): 49–52. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012.
- Chamberlin, Judi (1998). "Citizenship rights and psychiatric disability". Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 21: 405–408. doi:10.1037/h0095282. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012.
- Chamberlin, Judi (2004). Preface to: Peter Lehmann (ed.), Coming off Psychiatric Drugs: Successful withdrawal from neuroleptics, antidepressants, lithium, carbamazepine and tranquilizers (pp. 11–13). Berlin / Eugene / Shrewsbury: Peter Lehmann Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9545428-0-1 (UK), ISBN 978-0-9788399-0-1 (USA).
- 1992: Distinguished Service Award of the President of the United States, National Council on Disability
- 1992: David J. Vail National Advocacy Award, Mental Health Association of Minnesota
- 1995: N. Neal Pike Prize for Services to People with Disabilities, Boston University School of Law
- MindFreedom International
- Psychiatric survivors movement
- World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry
- National Council on Disability
- National Empowerment Center
- Psychiatric survivors movement
- Involuntary commitment
- Biopsychiatry controversy
- Involuntary treatment
- Hevesi, Denis (30 January 2010). "Judi Chamberlin, 65, Advocate for Mental Health Patients". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 March 2011.
- Madness Radio (8 February 2006). "Interview: Judi Chamberlin interviewed by Will Hall and Cheryl Alexander" (Flash Player). Retrieved 3 March 2011.
- Lawrence, J.M. (20 January 2010). "Judi Chamberlin, writings took on mental health care". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
- Shorter, Edward; David Healy (2007). Shock therapy : a history of electroconvulsive treatment in mental illness (1. publ. ed.). New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-8135-4169-3.
- Anon (21 January 2010). "Obituary: Judy Chamberlin Disability Rights Advocate". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
- J.M. Lawrence states that she was involuntarily committed for a period of two months.Lawrence, J.M. (20 January 2010). "Judi Chamberlin, writings took on mental health care". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
- National Empowerment Center. "Our Mission". Retrieved 3 March 2011.
- United States District Court Eastern District of New York. "Zyprexia Litigation No. 07-C5-0504 (JBW)" (pdf). p. 9. Retrieved 1 March 2011.
- Oaks, David W. "Message from David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International". Judi Chamberlin: 30 October 1944 to 16 January 2010. MindFreedom International. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
- "About US". MFI Portal.
- "Disability History Timeline". Rehabilitation Research & Training Center on Independent Living Management. Temple University. 2002.
- Kalinowski, C.; Risser, P. (2005). "Identifying and Overcoming Mentalism". InforMed Health Publishing and Training.
- Reaume G. (2002) Lunatic from patient to person: nomenclature in psychiatric history and the influence of patients' activism in North America. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. Jul-Aug;25(4):405-26. PMID 12613052 doi:10.1016/S0160-2527(02)00130-9
- Weller, Penelope (2012). New Law and Ethics in Mental Health Advance Directives: The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Right to Choose. Routledge. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-136-15956-5.
- National Council on Disability (January 20, 2000). From Privileges to Rights: People Labeled with Psychiatric Disabilities Speak for Themselves. Washington: NCD.
- Hevesi, Dennis (January 30, 2010). "Judi Chamberlin, 65, Advocate for Mental Health Patients". New York Times.
- Shapiro, J. (2010): Advocate for people with mental illnesses dies National Public Radio (January 19, 2010). Retrieved on January 20, 2010.
- "Obituaries: Judi Chamberlin Disability Rights Advocate". Washington Post. January 21, 2010.
- Lawrence, J.M. (January 20, 2010). "Judi Chamberlin, writings took on mental health care". Boston Globe.
- National Empowerment Center
- Judi Chamberlin's virtual memorial
- MindFreedom International: Tribute to Judi Chamberlin (David Oaks)
- Judi's Tribute Book