With obvious restrictions on movement and social contact, our annual report for the past year will be correspondingly truncated. Nevertheless, there was some activity to report, much of it in the form of creative alternatives.
For example, our longstanding annual shock protest usually held on The Grand Parade in Cork in May was confined to a virtual event held in our back garden which was festooned with our familiar banners and placards. It was filmed and put online to link up with other similar worldwide protests, it being vitally important to always maintain our opposition to a still widespread dehumanising and often torturous outdated psychiatric practice which continues to be received globally by vulnerable elderly women!
Equally creative, Dr Karen McNulty, Assistant Professor at the Dominican University of California organised a Zoom get-together to replace the reality ‘Emerald Asylum - Critical Perspectives on Mental Health in Ireland’ trip with 25 of her students she had planned to make in June, replicating a similar trip in 2019. All students of occupational therapy, the idea is for them to hear the voices and thoughts of people with first-hand knowledge of the failings and inadequacies of the current Irish system. At this end, Miriam, Mary, Richard, Patrice and Jim all provided contributions encouraging the students to be true to themselves in their own innate humanity in the course of their future careers while being aware of the many shortcomings of psychiatry’s medical model.
Central to the work of MindFreedom Ireland (MFI) is the concept of Mutual Support and while our weekly Stand by Me group had to cancel its meetings, continued individual support was more important than ever in being available for each other by phone and global social media.
MindFreedom Ireland continued to interact with many other fellow campaigners throughout the year. These included Richard Patterson and Gavin Bushe in Ireland as well as new member Jeroen Holtkamp a qualified Dutch homoeopath now living in Ireland who travelled to Cork to link up and in turn, subsequently linked up with the above mentioned Richard and Gavin while we all supported Richard’s new Facebook group Anti-psychiatry Ireland. As we are a longterm proud affiliate of MindFreedom International, we continue to keep close contact with survivors of psychiatry both at home and abroad. While the power imbalance between survivors of psychiatry and the psychiatric establishment is still very extreme despite all the courageous action taken by survivors, yet we hope that just as other survivors of coercion have received some justice that we will also be heard and find that our efforts were not in vain. We still live in hope. We are also very thankful that we have allies who have not experienced coercive psychiatry themselves but support us nonetheless!
We were very proud to support Alaskan lawyer and survivor Jim Gottstein’s outstanding new book ‘The Zyprexa Papers’ which was published this year. ’https://www.mhselfhelp.org/.../heroes-and-villains...
Drop the Disorder and Critical Voices Network Ireland were two other organisations we continued to support though the latter was forced to confine its annual 2-day conference to a single online event this year.
It is with great sadness that we report the death during the year of another comrade campaigner, the unparalleled Dr Bonnie Burstow of the University of Toronto. Her first anniversary occurs on January 4th. MFI had first encountered her at the Psychout Conference organised by herself and others including Don Weitz in 2010.
Despite all the restrictions in 2020, we did succeed in holding a small Christmas party in December, greatly appreciated by all. Special thanks to Miriam for all her organisational effort, to Colette for her Christmas prizes for the raffle and to Donna for her donation of three of her beautiful paintings as special prizes. It is the continuing and enduring support of such stalwart members that enables MFI to continue its ongoing work as we look forward to a brighter and better 2021.
1st January 2021.
With obvious restrictions on movement and social contact, our annual report for the past year will be correspondingly truncated. Nevertheless, there was some activity to report, much of it in the form of creative alternatives.
For example, our longstanding annual shock protest usually held on The Grand Parade in Cork in May was confined to a virtual event held in our back garden which was festooned with our familiar banners and placards. It was filmed and put online to link up with other similar worldwide protests, it being vitally important to always maintain our opposition to a still widespread dehumanising and often torturous outdated psychiatric practice which continues to be received globally by vulnerable elderly women!
Equally creative, Dr Karen McNulty, Assistant Professor at the Dominican University of California organised a Zoom get-together to replace the reality ‘Emerald Asylum - Critical Perspectives on Mental Health in Ireland’ trip with 25 of her students she had planned to make in June, replicating a similar trip in 2019. All students of occupational therapy, the idea is for them to hear the voices and thoughts of people with first-hand knowledge of the failings and inadequacies of the current Irish system. At this end, Miriam, Mary, Richard, Patrice and Jim all provided contributions encouraging the students to be true to themselves in their own innate humanity in the course of their future careers while being aware of the many shortcomings of psychiatry’s medical model.
Central to the work of MindFreedom Ireland (MFI) is the concept of Mutual Support and while our weekly Stand by Me group had to cancel its meetings, continued individual support was more important than ever in being available for each other by phone and global social media.
MindFreedom Ireland continued to interact with many other fellow campaigners throughout the year. These included Richard Patterson and Gavin Bushe in Ireland as well as new member Jeroen Holtkamp a qualified Dutch homoeopath now living in Ireland who travelled to Cork to link up and in turn, subsequently linked up with the above mentioned Richard and Gavin while we all supported Richard’s new Facebook group Anti-psychiatry Ireland. As we are a longterm proud affiliate of MindFreedom International, we continue to keep close contact with survivors of psychiatry both at home and abroad. While the power imbalance between survivors of psychiatry and the psychiatric establishment is still very extreme despite all the courageous action taken by survivors, yet we hope that just as other survivors of coercion have received some justice that we will also be heard and find that our efforts were not in vain. We still live in hope. We are also very thankful that we have allies who have not experienced coercive psychiatry themselves but support us nonetheless!
We were very proud to support Alaskan lawyer and survivor Jim Gottstein’s outstanding new book ‘The Zyprexa Papers’ which was published this year. ’https://www.mhselfhelp.org/.../heroes-and-villains...
Drop the Disorder and Critical Voices Network Ireland were two other organisations we continued to support though the latter was forced to confine its annual 2-day conference to a single online event this year.
It is with great sadness that we report the death during the year of another comrade campaigner, the unparalleled Dr Bonnie Burstow of the University of Toronto. Her first anniversary occurs on January 4th. MFI had first encountered her at the Psychout Conference organised by herself and others including Don Weitz in 2010.
Despite all the restrictions in 2020, we did succeed in holding a small Christmas party in December, greatly appreciated by all. Special thanks to Miriam for all her organisational effort, to Colette for her Christmas prizes for the raffle and to Donna for her donation of three of her beautiful paintings as special prizes. It is the continuing and enduring support of such stalwart members that enables MFI to continue its ongoing work as we look forward to a brighter and better 2021.
1st January 2021.

We sometimes like to see MindFreedom Ireland (MFI) as a candle, shining and flickering in the darkness and always a symbol of light and hope.  The past year has been a trying one for us having had to face and overcome many obstacles, including the passing of some of our staunchest members.  But the flame still flickers and, as we enter the 20's, it is timely that we re-dedicate our efforts to ensure that it will never be extinguished.

 

Due to circumstances, our Stand by Me group was forced to curtail its weekly schedule back to a monthly one.  It still continues to meet in Costas, Douglas, Cork on the first Wednesday of every month at 4 pm.  Its guiding principle of mutual support was well exercised during the year with the provision of moral and practical sustenance.

 

MFI was privileged to make personal contact with the indefatigable John Read on his visit to Cork in February.  John, who is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of East London, is an outspoken opponent of electroshock and his prominent endorsement of our campaign was greatly appreciated and further fired us in organising our annual Shock Protest which went ahead as usual in May.  Held on our now traditional spot on The Grand Parade, Cork, this year (for a change) we had the benefit of a lovely summer's day which facilitated our message reaching a wider audience among the passing public who were addressed by members giving their personal testimonies of the still utilised inhuman, traumatic and outdated procedure.  Media coverage of the event was given by The Cork Independent and also by two journalists from a Swedish publication who, in addition, did personal interviews with members the following day.  Further accounts of the day were provided on social media while in September, a Hot Press journalist did a feature on our activities.

 

In June, MFI was delighted to welcome Karen McCarthy and 15 of her occupational therapy students from California.  Karen had been a close associate of MFI from her days as an occupational therapist lecturer in UCC and a most successful morning's work was achieved to the extent that a similar visit is already planned for next June.

 

In September, Mary Maddock was invited, as a survivor of psychiatry, to speak at a conference entitled 'Productive Justice - Gender and Disability Perspectives' in Dublin organised by Eilionior Flynn of University College Galway law department.  The following month, MFI was happy, if only in a small way, to cooperate in Dylan Tighe's project Passolini's Salo Redubbed as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival and shown in the Peacock Theatre, Dublin.  MFI had previously worked with Dylan in his Record project during the Cork Midsummer Festival some years ago.  In his latest project, Dylan used evidence provided by the late Helena King, one of our founder members in his shocking exposure of the brutal exercise of power and control in Irish state-run institutions, including psychiatric 'hospitals' in the years since independence.

 

In November, MFI presented a workshop at the annual Critical Voices Network Ireland conference in UCC, the theme of which this year was 'Challenging mental health systems - critical perspectives from inside out and outside in'. Among the audience were Mary and Carlo from Mullingar and Robert Whittaker from Mad in America.

 

Two further initiatives were the launching of a petition campaign by MFI member Gavin Bushe calling on Minister Jim Daly to repeal the coercive powers enshrined in Sections 3 and 9 of the Mental Health Act and a collaboration with Jo Watson of A Disorder4Everyone in contributing a joint chapter for her upcoming book 'Drop the Disorder - Challenging the culture of psychiatric diagnosis.'  

 

Sad to report, the year was marked by a number of deaths.  There was the passing of Gerry Hamilton, husband of Joan with whom we had collaborated in the early days of Sli Eile in Charleville.  Abroad, we learned of the death of Janet Foner, a former board member of MindFreedom International and inspirational activist who we had first met at the historic Wisdom House conference in Connecticut in 2007.  We would also like to extend our sympathy to another member who lost her father and to Patrice, a longstanding and fervent member of MFI, on the passing of her beloved mother and to Richard, our tireless campaigner and voice in the west on the death of his brother-in-law.   Two other MFI stalwarts also departed during the year - Tim Nyhan in February and Greg White in April.  Tim had been a very active campaigner, speaking publicly at seminars in UCC and playing his violin at our Little Help from my Friends musical group.  Greg was an inspirational founder member of MFI back in 2003.  It was he who first introduced us to David Oaks and MFInternational.  Wise and philosophical, he was also an empathetic psychotherapist and by his words, actions and practical initiatives, did so much to spread our message, not least of which was to rise from his sickbed in 2013 to give a keynote address at our 10th Anniversary conference in Cork. In 2006, he was part of a MFI group which presented evidence to the Oireachtas Committee on Health which resulted in the publication of its Report on the Adverse Effect of Pharmaceuticals.  May they all rest in peace.

 

On a happier note, the year concluded with our Christmas get-together in the Quay Co-op where all enjoyed a relaxed and entertaining evening.

 

So as the curtain falls on another year, we are glad to report that MFI is still standing, still active and still educating the public with our message on forced treatment, choice and the abuse of human rights.  Let us keep the flame burning and someday, though later rather than sooner, the darkness will become light.

 

Jim Maddock,

31st December 2019.

 

 



As we complete our 15th year of activity since our foundation in 2003, MindFreedom Ireland (MFIrl) can now take the opportunity to assess where it is, what it has achieved and where it is going. Our core objectives remain as they always have, namely to abolish forced ‘treatment’, to achieve human rights for all without discrimination and to do all we can to bring about a non-violent revolution in the current power driven, psychiatric medical model.

 

Central to this is our media presence.  In the past, we had placed too much trust in the established media to take on board our vision, not realising that it is as much part of the establishment as the psychiatric/pharmaceutical complex itself.  Yes, it may and has given expression to our point of view but in the interests of ‘balance’ (or more accurately, we would claim, ‘imbalance’) it will still always come down on the side of the College of Psychiatry. Fortunately, this is where ‘social media’ can prove more than useful to us where we can be. in effect, our own media.  Our Facebook pages ‘MindFreedom Ireland’, ‘Cork Stand by Me’ and ‘No More Electroshock’ link us to a wide audience while our website

http://www.mindfreedomireland.com

is a vital gateway for people new to the psychiatric experience to access information and alternative means of help.  Strong and lasting links have been forged both at home and abroad with groups such as The Critical Voices Network Ireland, Drop the Disorder in the UK, The Campaign Against Psychiatric Assault in Canada and of course MindFreedom International itself to name but a few.

http://www.adisorder4everyone.com/

http://www.cvni

http://www.capa

http://www.mindfreedom.org





MIndFreedom International appointed a new Director in 2018 in the person of  psychologist and survivor Ron Bassman, author of ‘A Fight to Be’ to carry on the work of the indefatigable pair of David Oaks and.Celia Brown.  It also embarked on a new project steered by Sarah Smith to utilise ‘old hands’ to train and monitor and offer practical support and advice to its oversubscribed call for new young activists.  Prominent among these is Jim Flannery who offered his technical and computer skills to host many online meetings and also produced a series of interviews central to the aims of the project. MFIrl was happy to host Jim while on a visit to Ireland in June where he also linked up with Richard Patterson from Leitrim who has become a mentor in the initiative.  MFIrl also hosted Emily Cuttler, another young American activist who was in Cork to present a workshop at the CVNI conference in November.

 

MFIrl members too had a presence at the CVNI conference.  Mary Maddock and Deirdre Gibbons gave a workshop presentation and were supported by Dorothee and Miriam, the latter who compiled a photographic record of the event.

 

Mutual Support in all its aspects is central to our philosophy.  At a local level, the ‘Cork Stand by Me’ group continued its weekly Costa meetings throughout the year with a core presence of regular attendees and the welcome addition of some new faces.  We were sorry to lose the support of the steadfast Susan who returned to her native Wales in the summer. We were delighted to welcome her back for a short visit in November. MFIrl was also able to act in an advocacy capacity for fellow members on a number of occasions and to continue to offer support and information to an ongoing string of requests from around the country made by phone or through social media.

 

MFIrl was more than happy to contribute to an initiative undertaken by our long-term friend and ally Dr. Terry Lynch who in December submitted his Petition to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar for radical overhaul of the current psychiatric system.  We are also delighted to report that Terry’s book ‘Depression Delusion’ has recently been translated into Portuguese in Brazil. MFIrl had hosted a Cork launch of the book when it was first published in 2015.

 

In May we held our annual public protest against the still utilised practice of electroshock.  Speakers highlighted the fact that two-thirds of the recipients in Ireland are women, in keeping with the figures worldwide.  We would also like to acknowledge the practical support of Fiona towards our protest which was held to coincide with a First Do No Harm protest against the American Psychiatric Association held in New York and the worldwide International Protest to Ban Shock Treatment held simultaneously on May 12th.  We are also happy to report further progress in the long-standing campaign of Dr. Peter Breggin in America to ban the practice. This stems from a crucial recent U.S. legal judgement against electroshock device manufacturers for their failure to warn of known risks of brain-damage, thereby opening the way for justice to be achieved by further shock recipients.

 

So at year’s end, we can report that the work of MFIrl continues. As always, we remember our departed friends Helena and Carmel and many others who are no longer with us.  We stand in support of many who are still struggling in the system, a system dominated by a discriminatory Mental Health Act and a system that you or any one of us could find ourselves being sucked into.  We continue to be inspired and encouraged by our friends and supporters at home and abroad and sustained by the infusion of young blood. We continue to operate on a shoestring budget but pride ourselves on our total and authentic independence knowing that there are some things that money just can’t buy.

 

JIm Maddock,

31st December, 2018.

 

www.mindfreedomireland.com

 

MindFreedom Ireland Annual Report 2017

Like the flame at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier, the flickering flame of MindFreedom Ireland (MFI) has been burning non-stop now for 14 years. Sometimes it has burned brightly, sometimes not so brightly, but it has never been extinguished. The reason for that is the selfless work of a relatively small number of loyal and true supporters over the years, inspired by their desire to someday achieve MFI’s goal of a non-violent revolution that will ultimately see a humane approach to people experiencing emotional distress, fully rooted in a bedrock of genuine human rights and offering a non-coercive and empathetic alternative.

In furtherance of this, MFI was delighted to welcome Tina Minkowitz to Cork in January where, in addition to being interviewed on Cork 96FM, she also spoke to an audience in Bru Columbanus on her work with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). Tina is a founder of The Centre for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, a survivor run organisation which is currently running an ‘Absolute Prohibition Campaign’ which calls for a total ban on involuntary detention and forced treatment. We would also like to acknowledge the trojan work of Fiona Walsh in this area and were happy to cooperate with her, Recovery Experts by Experience and Our Voice, Our Rights in making a joint submission for Review of Ireland’s Adherence to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment which took place in Geneva in June.
http://www.chrusp.org/

‘Mutual Support Keeps Us Afloat’ is the thinking behind our ‘Stand By Me’ group which met regularly throughout the year. Meetings take place in a warm and welcoming atmosphere in Costas in Douglas every Wednesday at 3pm. Members of the group provided practical and emotional support to friends going through hard times.
https://www.facebook.com/MADDOCK44/photos/a.232535966944014.1073741825.232534856944125/720896651441274/?type=1&theater

Our annual public electroshock protest took place in May. Like the previous year, we were once again hit by bad weather but it did not dampen in any way the strong message sent out by the speakers on the day, all of whom gave personal testimony of an outdated and dehumanising practice.
https://www.facebook.com/NoMoreElectroshock/photos/a.309906559041865.79324.309906472375207/1576668879032287/?type=1&theater

MFI continued to operate its website and Facebook pages. Members of the public, unhappy with their experience of the current system, contacted MFI where they were given a listening ear and pointed in the direction of people and places in line with our own aims and philosophy. Dorothee Krien had a number of campaigning letters published in The Irish Examiner.

MFI members Miriam O’Shea and Mary Maddock presented workshops at the Critical Voices Network Ireland two day conference in University College, Cork in November and we acknowledge the great work done by Lydia Sapouna and Harry Gijbels in putting the conference together every year. MFI members also attended two other human rights conferences in solidarity with Tehmina Kazi and Cork Equal and Sustainable Communities Alliance (CESCA). http://www.cvni.ie/

In October, Mary and Jim Maddock accepted an invitation to speak at the World Psychiatric Congress in Berlin along with Peter Lehmann, publisher and editor of ‘Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs’. Like Yeats’s ‘peace’, ‘change’ comes dropping slow but nonetheless, MFI is proud to be part of the ever-expanding and challenging international movement. We will also be involved with a new initiative being launched by MindFreedom International in the new year. Co-ordinated by Sarah Smith, it is designed to solicit information from MFInternational members, most of whom identify as psychiatric survivors and will use the information to develop two webinar trainings, a series of organising videos and a pocket sized handbook for activists.
http://www.mindfreedom.org

We also maintain close links with Mad in America and the excellent work they do and will also support Laura Delano and her forthcoming Inner Compass Initiative, an organisation which will focus on supporting people who want to leave, bypass or build community within and beyond the mental health system. MFI had hosted both Laura and Robert Whittaker at events in Cork a few years ago. We have links too with the ‘Drop the Disorder’ group and their A Disorder for Everyone (AD4E ) campaign which explores the current culture of ‘diagnosis and disorder’. Having already organised events in a number of UK cities, they will hold a one day event in UCC on June 1st, their first in Ireland and a testimony to Cork’s standing in the movement. Mary Maddock and another close associate of MFI Terry Lynch, have been invited to join the panel of speakers on the day. At home, we are ever grateful for the unstinting support of activists like Patrice Campion, Richard Patterson, Aine Nibhern, the indomitable Greg White and recently, Martin McManus, one time worker with the Simon Community.
http://www.adisorder4everyone.com/

Operating as we do on a shoestring, MFI was delighted to receive a generous donation in April which we used to purchase some new weatherproof signs and banners and which, we are glad to say, passed the test on their inaugural outing at our rain-drenched electroshock protest.

It was with great sadness that we learned of the untimely death of our good friend Carmel Delaney in January. Carmel was ultimately a victim of all that we are campaigning against and unable to attend her funeral, we were later able to visit her grave and lay a wreath on behalf of MFI. We are also mindful every January of the anniversary of one of our founder members Helena King whose spirit continues to inspire us.

On a happier note, the year concluded with our annual Christmas party, attended by members old and new. Thanks to Helena and Miriam for helping to organise it and to Susan for her festive season singing.

As 2018 dawns, MFI will hopefully continue to be deeply involved in the ever-growing movement that is challenging bio-psychiatry, both nationally and internationally. As the song says ‘Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone’!

 

JIm Maddock,
January 2nd, 2018.