MindFreedom Ireland believes in recovery and transformation.
We seek and promote alternatives to the coercive, medical, psychiatric model. We believe that the problems we experienced are part of the human condition.
Many of us have recovered from our peace of mind problems using non-psychiatric methods. Music and art therapy, wellness approaches and talk-therapies such as counselling and psychotherapy. Wellness Recovery Action Plans are now fairly common place.
In Ireland the Vision For Change document demonstrated that so called' psychiatric patients' felt that they were not listened to and that their dignity had not been respected by the' Mental Health System'. That document marked a beginning in the revolt of the' patients' and a change in government policy with regard to 'Mental Health'. We are slowly but surely taking over the asylum to transform it to a place of healing and learning.
Psychiatry is under threat by these changes. some of it's proponents know this and are desperately clinging on to the diminishing power it currently has in the 'Mental Health System'. It is trying to remain relevant by shifting into other fields of study such psychotherapy.
Recovery and transformation are possible!
Beyond Psychiatry by Jim Maddock
Apparently unconcerned, today orthodox psychiatry seems to have adopted an ostrich
like approach to an ever increasing worldwide movement interested in developing
more respectful, holistic and effective alternative methods of dealing with emotional
distress. Completely disillusioned with personal experiences of the system that
is, this movement is essentially moving on, leaving orthodox psychiatry in its wake.
Psychiatry is frequently described as a ‘religion’. Despite its claims
to be scientific, many today would say otherwise, there being no valid scientific
medical tests to prove the existence of any diagnosis. The ‘priests’ of
psychiatry, the psychiatrists themselves, bow to their recently updated and expanded
bible, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5, which contains hundreds of ‘mental
disorders and illnesses’ including the familiar ones of bipolar, ADHD and, the most
wounding of all, schizophrenia but, to the best of my knowledge, excludes Delusional
Scientific Diagnosing Disorder! Their belief in the DSM is as fundamental and
dogmatic as the most rigid Vatican teaching. In a sentence, they proclaim a
reductionist, biological medical model – that is, that all the diagnoses of the DSM are
‘mental illnesses’, the result of a ‘broken brain’ or a ‘chemical imbalance’ to be
primarily treated with the panacea provided by the pharmaceutical industry - drugs.
But for the past quarter of a century, a growing coalition of voices and movements
have dared to challenge the dogma of orthodox psychiatry. This is a truly brave action
to take, particularly for an individual, as it could and has led to charges of ‘lacking
insight’ and ‘paranoia’ and be an excuse to re-incarcerate the outspoken voice.
One of the first was Ted Chabasinski, an American lawyer who, at the age of six,
received electroshock in Belle View Psychiatric Hospital in New York. Along with
the late Judi Chamberlin, another psychiatric survivor, they spoke out as members of
The Patients’ Liberation Front in the 1970’s. Amazingly, their views were supported
by two psychiatrists, Dr. Leon Mosher and Dr. Peter Breggin, who in time,
spearheaded the revolt. Dr. Mosher had established his Soteria Project, a house in
San Francisco where emotionally disturbed people were treated with dignity and
respect in a non-medical fashion before he himself resigned from the Psychiatric
Association, citing his disillusionment with what it stood for. Allying himself with Dr.
Mosher, Dr. Breggin published his book ‘Toxic Psychiatry’ in 1991 which, in its own
way, was to become the ‘bible’ of unorthodoxy as opposition in the US and Canada
gathered pace with the voices of survivors like Leonard Roy Frank, David Oaks, Tina
Minkowitz, Don Weitz and Jim Gottstein all critical of standard psychiatry and
Calling for alternative approaches. ‘Toxic Psychiatry’ was followed in 1994 by
Dr.Breggin’s second book ‘Talking Back to Prozac’ which challenged the supposed
benefits of the new wonder drug which had been developed by Eli Lilly in the 1980’s.
The word was spreading. In 2001, Dr.Terry Lynch from Limerick published ‘Beyond
Prozac’, putting Dr. Breggin’s message into a specific Irish context. The following
year saw the first meeting of the newly formed Mental Health Alliance, chaired by
Vincent Browne, in Tullamore. This was an attempt by interested parties,
professionals, academics and concerned members of the public to organise and
campaign for "the provision of a choice of mental health treatments and therapies", a
better way or as Joan Hamilton from Charleville, Co. Cork might have put it –
‘Another Way – Sli Eile’. Other people like Paddy McGowan from Derry had
founded The Irish Advocacy Network which in turn had led to the establishment of
The Cork Advocacy Network, out of which Joan Hamilton went on to establish Sli
Eile, her social housing project for people who had been through psychiatry’s
‘revolving door’ and which today is continuing to thrive and expand.
‘Rebel’ Cork was to feature prominently in the new movement. In 2003,
MindFreedom Ireland, an affiliate of MindFreedom International, was established and
began to campaign against the lack of human rights in the form of forced drugging
and forced electroshock that continued on a daily basis in the psychiatric system. In
2007, it organised Ireland’s first ever public protest against electroshock in Daunt
Square, an event attended by politicians Kathy Sinnott and Dan Boyle. Beginning in
2004, a series of one-day mental health forums organised by Lydia Sapouna of the
Department of Applied Social Science in UCC provided further opportunities for the
voices of criticism to be heard, particularly the voices of those people who, like
Mary Maddock. Tim Nyhan and Kieran Crowe, had been through the system and also
become disillusioned with it. In addition to Dr. Terry Lynch, Dr. Aine Tubridy and
three other Irish doctors, psychiatrists Michael Corry, Ivor Browne and Pat Bracken,
added their weighty voices.
Disappointingly, the much vaunted 2006 Vision for Change still predominantly
endorsed established psychiatry only paying lip service to the call of people with
personal experience for alternative approaches. In the same year, Dr Corry organised
a major conference on depression in The Burlington Hotel in Dublin during which a
documentary film ‘Soul Interrupted’, featuring the testimony of many psychiatric
survivors, was shown. The main speaker on the day was Dr. Peter Breggin. His
morning talk asked the question ‘Was psychiatry doing more harm than good?’ while
in the afternoon, he spoke on the topic ‘Healing Depression Without Resort to
Psychiatric Drugs or' ECT’.
Everywhere, orthodox psychiatry was being challenged. On the continent, the
European Network of ex-Users and Survivors of Psychiatry was increasingly active.
A Dutch psychiatrist, Professor Marius Romme of Maastricht University founded the
Hearing Voices Movement which completely challenged psychiatry’s view of
'schizophrenia' and promoted an approach which saw voice hearing as a meaningful
response to life trauma to be engaged with rather than flatly suppressed by the
administration of powerful drugs. Hearing Voices groups are firmly based on an
ethos of self-help, mutual respect and empathy. There is no assumption of illness.
Last November in Cork, two voice hearers, Jacqui Dillon and Eleanor
Longden rendered moving and powerful testimony of how the Hearing Voices
approach had been so successful for them. Also in Ireland, Cork’s John McCarthy
founded the Mad Pride movement and blitzed the media with his call for change.
Organisations like WRAP, Renew and the Wellbeing Foundation advocated new
approaches. MindFreedom Ireland attracted new, young, vital and vocal voices such
as Patrice Campion, Richard Patterson and Gordon Lucas. Colette Ni Dhuinneacha’s
powerful voice debated the issue of electroshock on TV3 with a representative of The Irish College of Psychiatry.
Dublin actor Dylan Tighe staged his critical production
Record at the Cork Midsummer Festival. I would hope that the book ‘Soul Survivor
- A Personal Encounter with Psychiatry’ by my wife Mary and myself also had a
contribution to make..
A culmination of all of this dissatisfaction with orthodox psychiatry’s
current handling of emotional distress was the foundation in 2010 of the Critical
Voices Network Ireland (CVNI). Evolving from a series of conferences in UCC
organised by Lydia Sapouna and Dr. Harry Gibjels of the School of Nursing,
CVNI describes itself as "a coalition of people interested in considering and
developing responses to human distress which are creative, enabling, respectful and
firmly grounded in human rights". For the past three years, they have held a two-day
conference every November in Cork which has been a stimulating, sustaining and
challenging get-together for people from all over Ireland and abroad. In 2011, CVNI
in association with MindFreedom Ireland and the Wellbeing Foundation organised a
nation-wide tour by American medical journalist Robert Whittaker, author of Mad in
America and his latest best-selling book Anatomy of an Epidemic – Magic Bullets,
Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. It was also
at the CVNI conference that the above mentioned Jacqui Dillon and Eleanor Longden
were keynote speakers.
The international mutuality of the ever-growing revolt against orthodox psychiatry
and the call for new and alternatve approaches to the question of emotional distress
was reflected by the appearance of Cork based Mary Maddock as a keynote
speaker at the third Empathetic Therapy Conference organised by Dr. Peter Breggin
which was held in Syracuse, New York at the end of April. As a person with over
twenty years experience of bio-medical psychiatry, Ms. Maddock spoke on the
alternative approaches and methods which transformed her from an overweight, half-
functioning, electroshocked, drugged psychiatric ‘patient’ to a rejuvenated, musically
creative, physically fit and active campaigner who has been drug free since 2001.
Distinguishing itself from orthodox psychiatry, Dr. Breggin describes Empathic
Therapy as promoting empowerment, responsibility and engagement rather than
psychiatric drugs and shock treatment. It does not reduce others to diagnostic
categories or labels – a process that diminishes personal identity, oversimplifies life,
nstils dependency on authority and impedes post-traumatic growth. Dr. Breggin’s
approach is the future, not this week’s new, expanded DSM 5.
WARNING: NEVER SUDDENLY WITHDRAW FROM PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS. ANY WITHDRAWAL SHOULD ONLY BE ATTEMPTED UNDER INFORMED MEDICAL SUPERVISION.