National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

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 Forty Years Later:  My Evolving Beliefs

Ron Bassman, Ph.D.


To look and act differently than expected, to persist in our attempts to integrate our specialness in our own ways, makes us vulnerable to being treated professionally and in the community as less than, and therefore subject to ‘special’ laws that limit our rights. Difference makes one vulnerable to being objectified. I will share what I have learned about breaking through barriers to community inclusion.  I believe that differences in the way we look, act, think and feel do not have to be an irreversible disadvantage as long as we are not forced to sacrifice our essential ‘being’ for the illusion of normalcy.


I.   Introduction of myself, the journey from mental patient to self-definition

II.  The Major barriers to living out your potential

III. Tips on navigating the barriers

IV. How to look at your unique experience and learn from it

V.  The importance of educating oneself and how to go about becoming better informed

VI. Making “difference” work for you

Learning Objectives

To understand what may be helpful and what may be harmful when dealing with extreme and possibly overwhelming emotional states.

To find ways to value your and others’ “difference” and use it in positive ways