Celebrating life stories...



Memorial created 01-18-2010 by
National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery
Judi Chamberlin
October 30 1944 - January 16 2010

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01-21-2010 7:58 AM -- By: David Webster,  From: Boston  

Love you, Judi

01-21-2010 2:50 AM -- By: Dianne Walker,  From: Baton Rouge  

in sympathy

01-21-2010 2:11 AM -- By: Laura Van Tosh,  From: Oregon  

Judi meant the world to so many people and as a younger person in the 1980's, I had the chance to meet her and begin to learn what 'recovery' really means. Thank you, Judi, for your leadership and example of survival and the numerous lessons of how to use bravery in all the right ways. I am indebted to you. You flame is burning strong. Love, Laura 

01-20-2010 10:55 PM -- By: Fancher Larson,  From: San Francisco, CA  

Dearest Sister, Friend, Beacon of Hope, Bearer of Clarity and Truth, You, Vibrant Woman Who held Our Honor High to Light Our Path...Nurturer of Our Flame… Radiant Soul…We Loved You so.

01-20-2010 10:46 PM -- By: Sue Clark-Wittenberg,  From: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  

I met Judi in Toronto in the late 90s at the Ontario Psychiatric Survivors Alliance (OPSA)  conference that was held in Toronto, Canada. She was such a nice person and so down to earth.  She really listened to what you had to say. I admired her courage and her leadership. She is one of my heroes, will truly be missed.

01-20-2010 8:48 PM -- By: Jonathan Dosick,  From: West Boylston, MA  

I've known Judi for a while; and I must admit I was a bit intimidated by her outspokenness and zeal. I believed she was "too outspoken" and her ideas unreasonable. How wrong I was! As I learned how to be an advocate and activist for our movement, I realized her tremendous courage, persistence and dedication in the face of the myriad frustrations which are part of 'going against the grain.' Judi's dream WAS possible, and we see it  come to life with the flowering of peer-based services and a continuing fight for equality. Her dedication is a model for all of us.  and we all owe her a tremendous debt. The world is a better place for all because of Judi, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to express this to her. Jonathan Dosick 

01-20-2010 6:22 PM -- By: Paolo del Vecchio,  From: SAMHSA  

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) joins with others in expressing our sorrow over the loss of mental health champion Judi Chamberlin.  Her legacy will live on in the work of the individuals that she inspired to stand up and speak out to bring needed change to mental health systems around the nation and the world.


Through her writings, speeches, and personal advocacy, Judi Chamberlin was tireless in promoting the tenets of mental illness recovery: self determination, respect, peer support, and most importantly, hope.  Her message of hopefulness was that through individual and collective action, people can overcome the challenges that face them.


Judi Chamberlin rightfully challenged everyone – individuals, providers, and care systems, including SAMHSA, to foster greater consumer/survivor choice and voice.  She was unflinching in her efforts to ensure that “Nothing About Us, Without us” was not just a mere slogan, but was ultimately the standard policy and practice.


Like Dr. King and other civil rights leaders, Judi Chamberlin provided us with a vision for the future – a future in which a particular diagnosis or label does not define the worth of an individual.  It is incumbent on us to honor her life and legacy by redoubling our efforts and strengthening our commitment to ensuring that this vision becomes a reality.


-The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

01-20-2010 3:42 PM -- By: Mary Ann Beall,  From: Falls Church, Virginia  

 Judi was a wonderful courageous woman.  I first met her in the 1980's.  She keynoted our first state wide consumer conference in Virginia and she set our hearts on Fire!  Our paths crossed many times and I counted her as a friend.  We all miss her but she accomplished so very much and this world is so much richer for her very being and her always brave heart! In Peace & Grief Mary Ann Beall

01-20-2010 3:20 PM -- By: Jim Gottstein,  From: Anchorage, Alaska USA  

It was an honor to know Judi a bit. She was one of the people I admired the most in the whole world. She was always a straight thinker and completely consistent in advocating for the rights of those labeled with mental illness. Whenever people strayed, she brought us back.

She did this all with complete class, in a nice way, but also with a stern determination made of tempered steel.

Judi brought her same amazing character to her process of dying where she used the occasion of her inevitable death as a teaching tool. How extraordinary is that?

I will always look to Judi for guidance because the way she conducted her life is a beacon for us all to follow.

Marty, I hope you are okay. My experience is that as much as Judi's death was expected and you may have felt it would be a relief to see her suffering end, that it is still very hard for her to be gone. It is even for me, and I was way peripheral to her life. So, it is okay--even good-- to grief and please let me know how I might help.

Love, Jim

01-20-2010 3:07 PM -- By: Maureen Drouin,  From: Newburyport, MA  

I was working as a client advocate for the Ohio Legal Rights Service when I first heard about Judi Chamberlain. At OLRS, I was lucky enough to see Judi's philosophy in action every day.  Her fierce, tenacious spirit inspired countless people to listen to and respect the voices and choices of people with mental illness - and we are all better because of it.  The recovery movement owes her (and a few others) a great debt - I'm sure Judi would want us all to "pay it forward."  I'll do me best!  Rest in peace, Judi.

01-20-2010 3:05 PM -- By: Carole Hayes Collier,  From: Syracuse, NY  

Judi is a beacon of hope in challenging the systems that dehumanize and depersonalize us and I join in celebrating her life both as a psychiatric survivor and hospice guide!  Peace and hope forever,,,,,Carole

01-20-2010 2:27 PM -- By: Robin Weiss,  From: New Jersey  

After hearing so much about how Judy has contributed to the consumer movement; I was honored to have been at Alternatives in Omaha where she may have made her last major appearance. She was truly an inspiration to all of us!

01-20-2010 1:21 PM -- By: linda farquhar kogut,  From: mission hill and roslindale (boston, ma)  

Thank you Judi for all you did for me and many others.  I was diagnosed bipolar (but we called it manic depression in those days) in 1967.  Because of your hard work on our behalf, I had some civil rights when I was a patient in psych hospitals (both state and private).

Rest in Peace, Judi. 

May angels sing you to your rest.

Nobody has mental illness in heaven.  That's why we call it heaven.

01-20-2010 1:08 PM -- By: Peter Ashenden,  From: DBSA  

We will never forget Judi Chamberlin.  At a time when we would have been dismissed as simply being “crazy,” Judi fought for the rights and dignities of all of us living with a psychiatric disability.  Judi helped give us the ability to be active participants in our treatment plans – participation that has made recovery possible.

Judi was a genius and irreverent.  But most importantly, she was brave.  She took on a world that looked the other way and was afraid of mental illness. It was Judi that wanted to make it clear that it was okay to be described as “mad.”  Beginning with her work in the 1960s, she was tireless in her efforts as traveled the world as a mental health advocate even in the months leading up to her death.

Judi, we hope you can hear all of us when we tell you – we will never forget you.  You will be in our hearts and minds forever.

 Peter Ashenden, President

The Depression and Bipolar Alliance

01-20-2010 1:04 PM -- By: Kathy C.,  From: Boston MA  

What an amazing woman!  My sympathies to her friends and family.  May she rest in peace. 

01-20-2010 12:50 PM -- By: Carol Patterson,  From: California  

Judi's book made a huge impact on me and shaped my involvement with the consumer movement.  I would see her from time to time at conferences and was impressed with her tenancity.  It's hard believe I won't see her at the next one. Her passing means we have to carry on what she started.  I will miss her.

01-20-2010 12:25 PM -- By: Judy Turner-Crowson,  From: London, England  

I first met Judi in the late 70s, when she began participating in the CSP conferences at the NIMH where I was then working. I have been aware of her positive, liberating influence on the mental health field ever since.  Later, when I was living in London, Judi agreed to speak at our conferences on recovery on two different occasions, and I got to know her better.  Her talks had a wonderful impact on the recovery and empowerment agendas here, and are still listened to and referred to.  She spoke with great authority, clarity, compassion and commitment to the best for every person. And as we went around London together, I experienced her zest for life and her capacity to enjoy the moment.  She has made an amazing positive difference in so many lives, in the US, Britain and other countries.  Already, she is greatly missed.  But her spirit lives on as a continued inspiration.  I feel privileged to have known her.

01-20-2010 12:01 PM -- By: Eric Rosenthal,  From: MDRI  


I miss you.  It's been more than twenty years since we first met at the first P&A conference in St. Louis.  You were wearing combat boots and ready to fight the power.  We always had a great time working (and eating!) our way through Budapest, Prague, and a hundred other places around the world.  You were there for the very bumpy days in the beginning when we founded MDRI.  I remember how you helped keep perspective when it looked like the advocacy movement was going to eat itself up with internal conflict.  Where would I be if you hadn't helped rise above it time and time again? I owe you so much. 



01-20-2010 10:14 AM -- By: Myra Kovary,  From: Ithaca, NY USA  

Judi, it's been heartening to know that you have been there for all these years fighting for the human rights of psychiatric survivors and fighting to prevent more deaths that result from the torment inflicted by forced psychiatry.  Your death is a huge loss to the mad movement and to all the people in the world who don't yet understand our struggle.  Thank you for what you have done to make the world a better place.  We will carry on!  Farewell, Judi.

01-20-2010 10:14 AM -- By: Jack Guastaferro,  From: Buffalo, NY  

You will never be gone or forgotten Judi.  Thank you for your leadership, guidance and inspiration.

01-20-2010 10:06 AM -- By: Diana (DEE-anna) Lopez,  From: Cambridge, MA  

Being a (sometimes) Private Care Attendant to Judi in the last year of her life was a joy.  Even though she was slowly slipping away,  I loved watching Jeopardy with her as she seemed to know all the answers!  If she had been on the show, she would have won a lot of money.  We often spoke of mental health issues and I am so grateful for all the work she's done around the world.  Judi, I know you know you are loved, and missed by me.

01-20-2010 9:37 AM -- By: Gayle Bluebird,  From:  

Many memories dating back to 1974 when Judi and others decided only ex-patients could attend a small conference in SF (Network Against Psychiatric Assault), letting all non-ex-patients know they were not welcome; that ex-patients needed to speak for themselves. That decision may have been the beginning of our autonomy, our self-run organizations and programs, up to today, when we have many opportunities AS survivors.  Judi was known for her quick responses to speakers when she felt they mis-represented us or their language was not politically correct.  One of my favorite images was watching her knitting in her chair equally attentive to both speaker and the sweater she was knitting; she was also quick with her hands. After her book, On Our Own was published, she was proud of the drop-in center that formed in Boston, the Ruby Rogers Center, always using that as one of the examples of successful self-run organizations.  I liked Judi for the person she was, the mother and grandmother she was, the gatherer of trivia, (she was once on Jeopardy).  She lived life to the fullest and I will admire her, not just for the legacy she left us but for her courage in the WAY she left us; writing in her blog, telling us about  the value of Hospice Care.  She was a true independent spirit to the end and she will be an inspiration to me and to all of us as we carry on her work.

01-20-2010 9:37 AM -- By: Sally Clay,  From: Lake Placid, FL  

I first Judi in 1980 when the Portland Coalition for the Psychiatrically Labelled conducted our first march and protest against the treatment of persons with mental illness at the ER at Maine Medical Center. I called her in Boston to ask for her support, and she immediately agreed to come up to Portland to join our march. With her friendship and support the Portland Coalition became a strong force for human rights in Maine for many years. Goodbye, Judi, and thanks, with love from Sally Clay

01-20-2010 9:31 AM -- By: Steve Fry,  From: CT  

We have lost a great leader, person, and source of inspiration. Let's honor her by carrying on the torch.

01-20-2010 9:04 AM -- By: Deborah Delman,  From: Massachusetts  

I read "On Our Own" in 1987 and learned for the first time that there was a movement full of people who wanted what I wanted; felt what I felt.  I read, with great relief, joy, in Judi's book about her experience at Vancouver Emotional Emergency Center and how people there, including Judi, had the opportunity for support through extremely difficult times. Judi's work helped me turn anger and depression to indignation and hope.  When I think of Judi, I think of the lively spirited way in which she spoke the message, over and over and over and over again, about us, the human community and how we can and do treat ourselves and each other when we are being human. 

01-20-2010 8:32 AM -- By: Hugh Massengill,  From: Eugene Oregon  

 It became obvious to me years ago that the true liberation of those of us once labeled "mentally ill" would have to come from the courage and efforts of consumer/advocates like Judi. I am grateful she took the time to come to Eugene several years ago and keynote our Consumer/Alternatives conference. I hope many others will take heart from her work and keep up the fight.


01-20-2010 4:48 AM -- By: Wilma Boevink,  From: The Netherlands  

These are dark days now that Judi has gone. Although she wanted her suffering to stop and it was heartbreaking to read her weblog, I am very sad. Judi was my role model. When reading her book many years ago I became so very angry about my life in psychiatry that I got enough energy to become an activist myself. The user movement will never be the same again for me.

01-19-2010 11:27 PM -- By: Sybil Paris Noble,  From: Kansas City, MO  

I was so sad to hear of the passing of Judi. She was a true inspiration to me and a dear friend. I hope that through her work for the rights of people labeled mentally ill that we can develop young leaders who can change the system for the better in the years to come. I met Judi when I was 19  and I looked up to her and I was fortunate to call her "friend". peace and love, Sybil

01-19-2010 10:59 PM -- By: Cindy Peterson-Dana,  From: Congers, New York  

Judi will always be a part of us  - we who struggle for human rights.  I wish her family and friends, especially Marty and Julie and family, strength and peace.  You have each been through a very long, heroic and painful struggle.

I will remember Judi's work for the rest of my life.  I expect that her courage as she faced the end of her life will inspire me to live my life more fully.  When my time comes to face the end of my life, I will also remember what she shared with all of us.

Rest in Peace Judi,


01-19-2010 10:42 PM -- By: Mary Elizabeth Van Pelt,  From: Alamosa, Colorado  

With gratitude to Judi for her lifetime of work dedicated to social change and human rights for psychiatric survivors.

Mary Van Pelt

Alamosa, CO


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