The history of the PatVerfü

Speech as introduction to the première of the cinema commercial for the PatVerfue on 31st January 2012 in the cinema Moviemento in Berlin.

PatVerfü Overview


René Talbot hält die Einführungsrede

Dear Guests, Welcome to the premiere of the cinema commercial PatVerfü!

My name is René Talbot and I will accompany you along with Alice Halmi at this event.

Today we present a new dimension of advertising the PatVerfü and so I want to  tell you a story, the history of the PatVerfü. It is intended primarily to understand what this clever living will is all about: self-determination.

Since 62 years there is the constitutional right, but only in the last year the Federal Supreme Court recognized that the torture of the victims who  experience compulsory treatment in  psychiatry is a violation of these constitutional rights – which are themselves human rights – and the law permitting this violation is inconsistent with these constitutional rights.  The assault committed by the medical staff was always a crime. This is juridical progress and that one also is able to protect oneself against psychiatric imprisonment with a special PAD, just the PatVerfü, had an historical precursor:

In July 1982, Thomas Szasz published in the journal American Psychologist the text “The Psychiatric Will: A New Mechanism for Protecting Persons Against “Psychosis” and Psychiatry”. The term Psychiatric Will, which was later adopted by the Lunatic-Offensive, translated a bit askew  as “Psychiatrisches Testament”, received its inspiration from the so-called “Living Will”. The first Living Will was published in 1967 in a lecture by Luis Kutner, a lawyer in Chicago, who stood also extensively for human rights, and published it in writing in the Indiana Law Journal 1969.

Once a person had lost his/her status as a legal entity by the diagnosis of an alleged “mental illness”, doctors in psychiatry always could do just about anything they wanted, even against the will of those affected. In the 60s, medicine made such progress that in life-threatening situations success has been achieved, which enabled survival. However, this was felt especially by familiy members as undignified. Outside the walls of a psychiatric ward, anxiety arose from the medical possibilities, particularly those in intensive care.
The desire not to “remain connected to tubes”, was formulated and found its limits in the legislation on forced psychiatry.

Contrary to the right on one’s own body, since more than 150 years physicians have been in a position of power over the human body, because the intention to commit suicide was defined as a disease and medicinalized. Thomas Szasz recognized early that the punishment for suicide attempts is the root of psychiatry and so his proposal in 1982 was only logical. With the Psychiatric Will the attempt was made to ban in advance in writing psychiatric treatment, particularly incarceration and forced treatment similar to prohibiting medical intensive care at the end of life.

In both fields of use the judges faced the difficulty in getting two conflicting laws under one roof: on the one hand the self-determination as freedom in Article 2 of the German constitution (or the Constitution of the United States) and on the other hand psychiatric special laws to punish the suicide attempts, or at least to force illness insight by psychiatric confinement and forced drugging.

The conflict of two, contradictory, laws can only be solved by the legislature passing a new law, which explicitly has to give the priority to self-determination of an adult over his own body, not just implicity.

This happened in the U.S. for the Living-Will for the dying phase for the first time in 1976 in California. Up to 1990 all U.S. states followed. However, nowhere in the world had the same claim for psychiatry been recognized by law. So for example the Lunatic-Offensive brought out  the translation of the Psychiatric Will of Thomas Szasz  as a special edition No. 1 in October 1987, but had no legal effect, as it was not accepted by judges at all or only randomly from time to time. But in legal terms there was one tiny progress in Germany in 1992, when for the first time the law for guardianship was softened and for the first time incapacitated people  were able to effectively authorize a lawyer themselves.

In 1999 by an amendment to the law this permission to authorize was extended explicitly to all adults (repesentation agreement). This ammendment to the law ensured the primacy of those pre-authorizations over the court appointed guardian also for the so-called “highly personal affairs” of health care, that is for the approval or rejection of medical examinations and treatments.

Of course, we immediately took advantage of this loophole so that our lawyer Thomas Saschenbrecker specially wrote for us a special power of attorney, called the “Vo-Vo”. The judiciary, as always, when it came to psychiatry tried their utmost to deny psychiatric victims their basic rights and to retain control over decisions of such previous authorized representatives. So the legislature had to settle things once more explicitly.

And it did:
On 18.6.2009 with a large majority  the living will law passed in parliament. By law not only regulated specifically who may be authorized to take precedence over a court decision, but also what decisions one may make: for all diseases in all stages, from an initial examination to the grave and adults could now ban all medical affairs in advance for the time being deemed/diagnosed  as incapacitated. We had longed for this progress in change of the law so much, and actively supported it especially with the help of Prof. Wolf-Dieter Narr. Well prepared for this moment, we were able to publish instantly at the proclamation of a majority in the Bundestag our special PAD with a built-in power of attorney with our new domain on the internet.

The PatVerfue uses the expressly provided opportunity in the law to prohibit medical examinations in advance. The prevention of unwanted psychiatric diagnoses is at the heart of PatVerfue, because that closes by law the trapdoor to the psychiatric disenfranchisement and disempowerment, humiliation and abuse .

Much easier than with the previous model, the Vo-Vo, because now everybody can at any time defend himself by presenting this unilateral one page declaration of his will by carrying it in his/her purse. This direct effect is recognized in the statements of both the Federal Minister of Justice as well as the Federal Council of medical Doctors. Persons authorized by the built-in representation agreement are only a second line of defense, but their existence on paper destroys the hope of doctors or relatives that a judge could still install a custodianship and help the medical power to prevail.

More people should know that this revolutionary opportunity now exists! That is the purpose of our campaign and it looks like this: roll the film!