James Barry "Jim" Gottstein is an Alaska based lawyer who specializes in business matters and public land law, and is well known as an attorney advocate for people diagnosed with serious mental illness. Gottstein has sought to check the growth in the administration of psychotropics, particularly to children.
Gottstein is also trying to make alternatives to psychiatric drugs available in Alaska, through organizations he has founded or helped lead, including Soteria-Alaska and CHOICES, Inc.
In 2002, Gottstein co-founded the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights), and currently serves as its president. He is also a member of the board of directors of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP).
Education and early career
Gottstein grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and graduated in 1971 from West Anchorage High School. In 1974, he earned his bachelor of science degree, with honors in finance, from the University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon. Gottstein completed his legal studies in 1978, at Harvard Law School. After graduating from Harvard, from 1978 to 1980, Gottstein returned to Alaska, where he launched his legal career at the law firm of Robert M. Goldberg & Associates.
Since 1985, Gottstein has practiced law independently, conducting business as the Law Offices of James B. Gottstein. Between 1986 and 1997, Gottstein represented Alaskans with mental disorders in the Mental Health Trust Land Litigation, which resulted in a settlement valued at approximately $1 billion. State agencies in Alaska had misappropriated funds generated by a one million acre (4,000 km²) land trust, granted specifically for generating funds to operate the state's mental health program.
From 1998 to 2004, he was a member of the Alaska Mental Health Board (AMHB), where he served as committee chair for the program evaluation and budget committees.
In June, 2006, in a case that Gottstein argued before the Alaska Supreme Court, Myers v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, the court ruled that Alaska's forced drugging procedures were unconstitutional.
PsychRights and consumer advocacy
The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, aka PsychRights, is a non-profit organization founded by Gottstein to organize a serious, coordinated legal effort against forced psychiatric medication. Its mission is to bring fairness and reason into the administration of legal aspects of the mental health system, particularly unwarranted court ordered psychiatric drugging and electroshock.
In addition to co-founding PsychRights, Gottstein has co-founded several organizations, including:
- The Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web (with Katsumi Kenaston), which provides peer-support and a drop in center for mental health consumers in Anchorage;
- CHOICES, Inc. (Consumers Having Ownership in Creating Effective Services), which provides peer-run, alternative services, especially the right to choose not to take psychiatric drugs;
- Mental Health Consumers of Alaska (with Andrea Schmook and Barbara Greene), for which he served as a board member for ten years;
- Peer Properties, Inc., which is strictly an owner and operator of real estate, provides peer (mental health consumer) run housing for people diagnosed with serious mental illness who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or living in bad situations; and
- Soteria-Alaska, Inc., where he now serves as president, is dedicated to providing a non-coercive and mainly non-drug alternative to psychiatric hospitalization, under the principles established by the late Dr. Loren Mosher.
The Zyprexa Papers
In 2006, James Gottstein gave documents now known as the Zyprexa Papers to The New York Times showing that Eli Lilly and Company executives kept important information from doctors about Zyprexa’s links to obesity and its tendency to cause diabetes and other life-shortening metabolic problems. According to a New York Times article published on December 17, 2006, the Zyprexa Papers showed "Eli Lilly engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa, its best-selling medication for schizophrenia." In a December 18, 2006 article, The New York Times reported Eli Lilly illegally marketed Zyprexa for use on children and the elderly.
In 2005 and 2007 Eli Lilly settled lawsuits by 28,500 people who took Zyprexa and developed diabetes or other diseases for at least $1.2 billion. In addition, in early 2009, Eli Lilly paid $1.415 Billion to the United States Government in False Claims Act (whistleblower) lawsuits over its illegal marketing of Zyprexa. In January, 2020, Gottstein published a book titled The Zyprexa Papers giving his first-hand account of how he obtained the Zyprexa papers, including about how a small group of psychiatric survivors spread the Zyprexa Papers on the Internet untraceably and his battles on behalf of Bill Bigley, the psychiatric patient whose ordeal made possible the exposure of the Zyprexa Papers.
About 20 million people worldwide have taken Zyprexa since its introduction in 1996.
- Gottstein, James B. (2007). 'Geld, Rechte und Alternativen. Einforderung gesetzlicher Rechte als Mittel zur Verbreitung von nichtmedizinischen Alternativen'. In Peter Lehmann & Peter Stastny (Eds.), Statt Psychiatrie 2 (pp. 321–331). Berlin / Eugene / Shrewsbury: Antipsychiatrieverlag. ISBN 978-3-925931-38-3. (E-Book 2018)
- Gottstein, James B. (2007). 'Money, Rights and Alternatives: Enforcing Legal Rights as a Mechanism for Creating Non-medical Model Alternatives'. In Peter Stastny & Peter Lehmann (Eds.), Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry (pp. 308–317). Berlin / Eugene / Shrewsbury: Peter Lehmann Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9545428-1-8 (UK), ISBN 978-0-9788399-1-8 (USA). (E-Book 2018)