About This Website
This website is maintained by Tristano Ajmone as a tribute to Ron Leifer for his longstanding battle against psychiatric coercion and for a compassionate approach to existential problems. The website is run as a free service and has no commercial purpose and, even though it promotes the books written by Ron Leifer, which can be purchased online, no profits nor commercial transactions are involved directly or indirectly.
My name is Tristano Jonathan Ajmone, I was born in the UK (1971) but grew up and lived most of my life in Italy — I am Italian. I a computer programmer, amd a graphic and web designer. On the right, you can see a photograph of me and Mr. Nicky, my faithful dog.
I am a psychiatric surivor. Having spent over 5 years in a row in forensic psychiatry, I have seen the very bottom of psychiatric cruelty and violence. But my joruney into psychiatry began much earlier, in my adolescence, when the psychiatric system intruded into my life and separated me from my parents, moving me into the care of a half-way house. The reason? The jouvenile court regarded my adolescence turbulences as a problem of «psychiatric medical nature», rather then the results of growing up in a degraded area in the suburbs of an industrial city.
My mother, who was English, was also the object of psychiatric «attentions» for most of her life — her first forced hospitalization and electroshocks began when she was only 13. Hoping to escape the fatal grip of psychiatry by moving to Italy, she only found the same type of psychiatry in a different country. Eventually, when I was 21, she grew tired of a life of repression, emargination and stigma, and opted to self-end her life.
The creation and management of this website is part of my dedication to the battle against coercive psychiatry. I became aware of Thomas Szasz's illuminating work while I was still imprisoned in a psychiatric institute for «mental insane criminals». Through the writings of Thomas Szasz I undestood the situation I was stuck into, the social control nature of the psychiatric system and, most of all, the value of freedom and libertarianism.
For me it was a most vital discovery. Afflicted as I was — I didn't have a definitive term of imprisonment, I was to be ketp incarcerated «until cured» — I had almost lost hope and the will to regain freedom and survive. The idea that some people, of special social and academic status, were speaking out against psychiatric tyranny gave me strength and hope that things could one day change.
When I was finally set free from the psychiatric system (2003), I took on fervently the presidency of an association dedicated to the critique of psychiatry: OISM (Italian Observatory on Mental Health). In the course of the time I gathered the support of many academic critics of psychiatry, who accepted becoming honorary members of OISM:
- Thomas Szasz, Professor Emeritus (1921-2013)
- Fred Baughman, MD
- Giorgio Antonucci. MD
- Loren Mosher, MD (1933-2004)
- Mariano Loiacono, MD
- Claudio Ajmone, Dr
One of the first tasks I took on while president of OISM was to translate into Italian the video of «The Foucault Tribunal on The State of Psychiatry». It was on this occasion that I first came across Ron Leifer: there he was, roaring like a lion against the psychiatric system and in defence of its victims. I was struck by his passion and clarity of vision, by the way he addressed the question of psychiatry by going directly to the heart of the matter, without esitations.
It's difficoult to express how grateful I am to all those people who courageously stood up against the psychiatric system, especially those withing the psychiatric profession — who had to face a stern opposition from their colleagues, to say the least. It is out of this gratitude that I decided to create this website as a tribute to Ron Leifer outstanding life against psychiatric repressione and promoting a compassionate approach to existential sufferance, thus showing the way out for those people who are stuck into the psychiatric system and/or their personal sufferance.
I was a friend of Thomas Szasz till the very end of his life. We kept in touch, and the least I can say about him is that he, like Leifer, was a person coherent withe the values he promoted — he did not snub psychiatric survivors, unlike many «goodthinking» people of our Orwellian society. Thomas Szasz and Ron Leifer are amongst the most amazing human beings I have come across in my life: few people valued liberty and freedom, individual autonomy, and justice amongst human beings like they did. They lives are living examples of how intelectually honest academics can — if they wish to, if they are ready to renounce to the gratification of the mainstream in exchange for the pursue of truth and justice — devote their whole lives to speaking out against the uncomfortable truths that lye hidden in plain sight.
Ron Leifer has devoted over fifty years of his life to the cause of liberty, freedom and justice — that is over half a century.
By creating this website, I've fulfilled just a tiny part of my duty of thankfulness toward Ron. His life and works should be promoted and diffused as much as possible, so that the impetuos tides and ebbs of our materialistic society might no condemn them to oblivion. Living a life upstream is not an easy task, and Dr. Leifer has been boycotted for many years by mainstream psychiatry, his life and career jeopardized by a selfish academic world who dared not to confront his ideas and could only react by discreting his person.
Even though the OISM website has been closed for a number of years now — managing it was becoming a too burdening and time consuming task for me —, I can't turn my back on the people I owe having found again hope when hope was dim and life miserable. If it wasn't for people like Szasz and Leifer, I might have not survived psychiatry.
Thanks Ron, with all my heart,
Tristano Jonathan Ajmone,
Turin, 19th June 2013.
You can contact Tristano Ajmone at this email address: <click-me-4-email>