Declaration of the Freedom of Mind
This statement originated from a meeting with citizen organizers in New York City on President’s Day, February 17, 2020, when we noted a public not lacking in resources or will but gripped with disappointment, demoralization, and despair at a government’s unconcern for its citizens. Its failure to grasp a problem of mental health had resulted in its failure even of a political process (impeachment and removal), and the psychological oppression of a populace was proving to be the most pernicious form of oppression of all. The phenomenon of oppression is no different from what our Founders experienced at the time of the Revolutionary War, but our understanding of it needs updating, taking into account the psychological weapons that have developed over the centuries and the psychological warfare that is now being waged. To help protect the most sacred right to freedom of mind, along with the nurturance and societal support that make it possible, we offer a tool for citizen groups to identify correctly and target precisely the problem, by drafting the following.
We at the World Mental Health Coalition believe that freedom of mind is a basic human right. It is at the core of all other freedoms and is fundamental to a working democracy. It is a primary sign of a healthy society, without which all rational systems break down. It is a right that is derived from the Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). We declare that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the human right to freedom of mind are the principal cause and product of public disempowerment and oppression by governments. People denied of agency become easy tools of those intent on ruling, rather than serving, them. When this happens, police and prisons are no longer necessary: people themselves enthusiastically enlist their own servitude.
We recognize that society, as a whole, is far from perfect in mental health and that a healing process is necessary for even the awareness of mental health matters to grow. This right, therefore, is provision as well as a striving. We aspire toward continually awakening in people their natural, unalienable, and sacred human right to freedom of mind, that political bodies should not abuse or suppress it. Social systems ought to protect and nurture it, while experts on the human mind may educate about applying the knowledge we have gained on human cognitive and emotional development. With this awareness, we believe that the people, based on the simple laws of nature, will be empowered to live out their full potential to the happiness of all.
Therefore the World Mental Health Coalition recognizes and upholds the following human right to freedom of mind:
1. As stated in the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, endowed with the potential for reason and conscience and the obligation to act toward one another in a humane spirit.
2. Everyone is entitled to make informed decisions for themselves. This means that the people shall have access to information and the best available knowledge, including expertise, so that they can make informed choices about health care, education, distribution of wealth, and organization of power or other decisions that affect them. Full access to information and knowledge also means the opportunity to develop psychologically and to actualize their critical thinking skills through education, nurturance, a knowledge-valuing environment, and secure conditions, free from encumbrance by misinformation, propaganda, thought reform, and other toxic substances to the mind.
3. No one shall be held in mental slavery or servitude. When disinformation campaigns, mass manipulation through lying, and thought control poison the environment, mass hysteria and cults of personality can result. There shall be no abridging of speech, of the press, or of access to expertise when the people desire peaceably to assemble around matters that affect their mental health. Mental freedom also means that the people’s agency over their own minds and situations are not only protected but given a wholesome environment that nurtures and develops their capacity for making reasoned and autonomous decisions for themselves.
4. Law is an expression of the general will. The people have a right to participate personally, or through a representative, in shaping laws that protect freedom of mind and prevent its slavery. Information from journalists, professionals, intellectuals, and whistleblowers increases freedom of mind and needs to be protected. Propaganda, mind control, and psychological abuse at large scale should be identified and curtailed, just as other forms of violence and abuse are punishable by law — especially as these deprivations are difficult to notice when many or a whole society is subject to them at the same time. Laws may also be put in place to foster children’s and adults’ ability to reach their full mental potential, proactively, with input from mental health professionals regarding conditions that foster rather than harm mental health.
5. Since freedom of mind is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived of it, actively or passively. Children shall be protected for healthy psychological development, safety and stability, and supportive education so that they may build mental capacity and self-reliance. Adults shall be treated with dignity, whereby no locus of control shall be external rather than internal, whether coerced or engineered.
Recommendation: Precisely at a time when the president is using his power to conceal Russian schemes to reelect him, and to muzzle health officials before an impending pandemic, this statement is all the more relevant. Use it to claim your rights! While we are seeking a governmental body or international organization to adopt it, it is our official interpretation, as a professional organization of mental health experts, of your psychological rights.