In most of the world, at least the industrialized parts of it, Jim Crow laws and Apartheid are things of the past. Though people may at some point have faced segregation and discrimination during historic times, this is not true in today’s world. Sweden differs tremendously in this regard, in that people without medical examination or very much evidence pointing to any actual disability are given stigmatizing psychiatric labels that set them apart from the rest of society. Even if psychiatry is highly active in all of the western world in diagnosing children with disorders, no other country to this writer’s knowledge changes the legal status of these individuals based on the labels they receive.
If this sounds hard to believe, let me refer the reader to one of the forms that you have to send in in order to apply for a driving license in Sweden. On the form “health declaration,” a number of potential risk factors are listed, such as a history of alcoholism, epilepsy, narcolepsy and so on.. as well as “ADHD, DAMP, Asperger’s syndrome” and similar labels. You’re legally required to check this box if you at some point in your life have been diagnosed with any of these labels, and if so, you have to provide an up-to-date doctor’s statement on how serious your condition is, to be cleared for a license.
So if physicians or perhaps even teachers or social workers at some time in your life have given you any of these labels, you now have to get the approval of a specialist doctor to be able to drive a car legally. One would think that completing the driving examination would be enough. Getting such an appointment is a real hassle in that the time waiting in line can easily reach a whole year, and if the government has taken a disliking to you as a person, it’s not unheard of that this doctor is called on as the one to deny you a license; government employees tend to run each other’s errands.
This is of course not the only type of discrimination a diagnosed person faces. For the rest of this article, I will refer to this group of people as The Oppressed Minority (TOM).
Members of TOM are when discovered in a school setting routinely separated from mainstream society into special education, even if their own academic proficiency would rather make gifted education a better choice. In Sweden there is no such thing, however, for ideological reasons – no one is allowed to get ahead.
Members of TOM also face oppression at the hands of the social services, as the Swedish government carefully monitors the growing generation for any signs of them developing in an unexpected way. This goes far beyond actual juvenile delinquency – such things as social isolation are also considered valid reasons for intervention by the government. Though not very extensively covered by mass media, this has resulted in a significant number of children being sent off to institution care in spite of not committing a crime or causing any trouble. Such an event occurred as late as October of this year, when a roughly ten year old boy, living with his father, was dragged off to an institution (called an HVB home) by four police officers and two social workers, when he hadn’t showed up for school that Wednesday morning.
No advance warning was given for this intervention, and when they arrived at 9 in the morning, the boy was still in his bed. The very same day the boy is put in the institution, he attempts to escape, jumping out through the window onto the ground some six meters below and fractures his foot. A number of families that have suffered the same sort of home invasions the last couple of years under similar circumstances have filed complaints against the government with varying degrees of success. Though the first administrative court approved of this boy’s residential placement, the appeals court revoked the care decision and let him return to his dad.
It’s pretty ironic that Sweden in its penal code states that no one under the age of 15 can suffer any legal sanction for crimes committed, yet this didn’t stop the social services from deciding that 10 year old boy was “in need of care” and deprived of his liberty.
As adults, members of TOM suffer discrimination at the employment office in that the government doesn’t expect them to be able to manage real jobs, and they’re whisked off to supported employment under humiliating conditions. If they dare to have children, the social services is all over them, monitoring the development of their offspring and often taking these into foster care; sometimes they plan these decisions before the young ones are even born. Though a decision on LVU (the child removal law) can’t be made before a child is born, this doesn’t stop the social services from coordinating interventions with the health care system “if it’s necessary for a required intervention in protection of the expected child,” to quote SOSFS 1997:15.
Members of TOM are sometimes assigned “interpreters” during meetings with other government employees, as they’re not expected to understand their own native language, but are treated as adult children. When dealing with the justice system, members of TOM are said to be “rättshaverister,” a Swedish word denigrating people who just don’t give up legal fights, insinuating that they don’t understand when they’re in the wrong. A small number of psychiatrists such as Christopher Gillberg, Susanne Bejerot and Björn Kadesjö have on their own as non-elected academic researchers been able to establish what has to be considered modern Jim Crow laws in today’s Sweden.
Though I would say that my childhood was pretty normal and none of my behaviour ever caused any concern, the government did however intervene in my life as I was entering adulthood, as my mother’s home had become a bum nest. Then they wanted to provide me with all sorts of care – it would appear as if someone at the social services had written in my journal that I was terribly disabled and couldn’t look after myself. I strongly believe that these psychiatrists are to blame, and that without them, I would simply have been left alone the way I wanted.
It’s unbelievable that today in a Western “democracy,” people are still given special (for the worse) treatment based on genetic characteristics.
For a video clip I made with quotes from some of these psychiatrists and their condescending attitudes, see below, with the part on what I’ve here called TOM starting at 1:15: