The World Psychiatric Association XV11 World Congress of Psychiatry was held in Berlin from 8 - 12 October  2017.  Due to the good offices of German psychiatric survivor, author and publisher Peter Lehmann, we were invited to speak at the Congress in the Author’s Reading Section.  In his book ‘Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs’, Peter had featured Mary’s story of weaning herself off all drugs having been given a Bipolar diagnosis 18 years earlier in 1983.  She has now been drug free for a further 18 years. In addition to relating our story in our own book ‘Soul Survivor - A Personal Encounter with Psychiatry’, we were now to give living evidence and personal testimony as outlined in Peter’s book

We were under no illusions as to what we were undertaking.  We were aware we were entering the lion’s den and were warned about supping with the devil!  But two main reasons determined why we went.  Firstly for Mary herself to stand face to face with the profession of psychiatry who had visited so much harm on her and on our family for over 20 years and secondly to speak our truth and our learned experience from our association with medical bio-psychiatry.  Would anybody be willing to listen or was our invitation just a window dressing exercise?  We would see.


The Congress was held in the enormous Messe Berlin centre and was attended by 10,000 people from all over the world.  Security was extremely tight as we arrived on the morning of Tuesday October 10.  Unfortunately we had left out laptop and prepared documents in the taxi from the airport the night before but luckily had a backup which we now hurriedly had to photocopy and prepare again for our talk. Our gratitude is due to the helpful lady in the Business Centre which we eventually located after quite an exhausting search.


The conference began each day at 8am and went on until 7pm.  There were numerous keynote speakers addressing large audiences in large halls while simultaneously, numerous symposia were being held in smaller rooms throughout the complex. There were also poster exhibitions on Psychiatry in The Third Reich, photographic exhibitions on Psychiatry in West Africa, book stalls, various ‘service user/carer’ tables and of course a huge section for numerous pharmaceutical companies to display their latest products which included a drug that could be taken by inhalation.


We commenced our presentation at 12 noon at which point, we had 14 people in our audience, 10 women and 4 men.  Subsequently we only had the opportunity to speak to a few of the women who turned out to be psychologists and psychotherapists.  None of the men approached us or had anything to say about our presentation.  In fact, two of them walked out halfway through!  The women were very encouraging and receptive.


We had decided to simply dispense copies of the chapter from Peter Lehmann’s book to everybody and avail of the opportunity to put our specific points across as to what we challenged in psychiatry in relation to labelling, human rights violations and forced treatment while also relating our journey from blind participants who originally went along with the system to the active dissidents we are today.  We also dispensed free copies of our own book Soul Survivor.  Our allocated hour was to be shared with another presenter from America but we both felt we said all we wanted to in the 35 minutes we utilised.





A public protest against the psychiatric procedure of electroshock took  place in Cork on Saturday.


A number of speakers referred to the fact that, following a decline in the 1980's  and 90's, electroshock is now on the increase again.  Apart from causing cellular brain injury it is also, in a ratio of 2 to 1, used more on women than men.  Many of the women are elderly including, recently, a woman of 92.


Grandmother and shock recipient Mary Maddock (69) spoke of a power imbalance faced by the victims of an outdated procedure which she described as a human rights violation.


Other speakers placed the procedure in the context of present day overall forced psychiatric practice which also sees people drugged against their will with no alternatives available.


The protest was organized by MindFreedom Ireland, a Cork based psychiatric survivor movement and marked their 10th anniversary of what was the first ever public electroshock protest in Ireland in 2007.  Similar protests have been taking place worldwide for almost three decades.


MindFreedom Ireland. Cork, May 14th, 2017.


A Crime Against Humanity

It is our right to Be Human!

We call ourselves human because we have human complex brains. We have freedom of choice and are privileged to have the power to create. Therefore to deliberately damage the human brain is a crime against humanity. The function of electroshock is to cause cellular brain damage . It is used by 'doctors' to deliberately cause a grand mal seizure which of course causes brain damage. Therefore, we MindFreedom Ireland, are protesting again this May 13th at 2.PM outside the Peace Park, Grand Parade, Cork in solidarity with our sisters and brothers globally.

The 3 years between 2000 and 2003 were a period of new stirrings in Ireland. Established medical model psychiatry was beginning to be challenged.  In 2001 Dr. Terry Lynch published his book ‘Beyond Prozac’. Paddy McGowan established The Irish Advocacy Network and soon afterwards The Cork Advocacy Network came into existence thanks to the work of Joan Hamilton and others.  Their first conference in Jury’s Hotel in 2001 attracted an audience of over 600.
In September 2002 a national conference was held in Tullamore where a mental health Reform Alliance was established.  People like Helena King, Mary Maddock and John McCarthy were beginning to give a voice to the voiceless.  Amnesty Ireland started a campaign for human rights in mental health.  TV3 screened a programme ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’.  The seminal ‘Toxic Psychiatry’ by US dissident psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin was beginning to gain currency in Ireland.  West Cork psychotherapist Greg White introduced Mary Maddock to David Oaks, Director of MindFreedom International.  Dr. Michael Corry of the Wellbeing Foundation and Dr. Pat Bracken of West Cork Mental Health Services were speaking out.
It was out of this febrile milieu that MindFreedom Ireland (MFI) had its genesis in December 2003.
Having become more educated in the area ourselves, we now set about the task of extending that education to the general public.  One of MFI’s early actions in 2004 was to engage with Nuria O’Mahony and her campaign entitled ‘We Deserve to Know the Truth about the Safety of our Prescription Drugs’.
We had first encountered Lydia Sapouna at the Tullamore conference and now participated in the Inaugural Mental Health Forum in UCC organised by her and Fred Powell.
Mutual support and encouragement was gained from many like-minded people abroad through the internet.  In June we attended the joint conference of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry and the European Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry in Denmark, encountering and learning from veteran campaigners like Judi Chamberlain, Tina Minkowitz, Gabor Gambos, Maths Jesperson and Peter Lehman who had just then published his book ‘Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs’.  In the autumn of that year, Greg White organised a public talk entitled ‘Thou Shalt Not Be Aware - A Cork Couple’s Harrowing Experience of the Psychiatric Establishment’ for a responsive audience.
Using our international contacts, MFI was instrumental in bringing David Oaks and Hannelore Klafki to be keynote speakers at a major CAN conference in UCC in February 2005.  Hannalore was a founder-member of the German Hearing Voices Network which was following up on the work of Dr. Marius Romme in adopting a revolutionary approach to voice hearing.
In December 2005, MFI participated in the International Network Towards Alternatives and Recovery (INTAR) conference in Killarney, organised by Paddy McGowan and the late Kieran Crowe.  It was inspiring to meet so many stalwarts from around the world including Judy, wife of the late Dr. Leon Mosher, the man behind Soteria. Also present was Terry McLoughlin from Asylum Associates in the UK who encouraged us to write and publish our experiences.  At this time we were also deeply involved with Sli Eile, the revolutionary housing project in Charleville driven by Joan Hamilton with help from Harry Gijbels and Lydia Sapouna and which today, is now well up and running.
In 2006. MFI linked up with outspoken Irish psychiatrist Dr. Michael Corry with a number of our members featuring in his especially commissioned documentary ‘Soul Interrupted’ which was screened at a major conference hosted by him at the Burlington Hotel, Dublin in October. Dr. Peter Breggin and Dr. Pat Bracken were two of the keynote speakers to a sell-out audience.
In November 2006 in co-operation with Terry McLoughlin and Asylum, our book ‘Soul Survivor: A personal Encounter with Psychiatry’ was published.  With endorsements from many of our supporters both in Ireland and abroad, this was a major act of resistance against bio-psychiatry and received a considerable amount of national publicity.
Another act of resistance that year was the evidence given by Nuria O’Mahony, Mary Maddock, Orla O’Donovan, Greg White, John McCarthy and Michael Corry to the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Health which resulted in the publication of a Report entitled ‘The Adverse Effect of Pharmaceuticals’.
In the Metropole Hotel Cork in 2007, MFI hosted the inaugural meeting of The Irish Hearing Voices Network founded by Brian Hartnett and attended by Terry Lynch and Michael Corry. Also in 2007, we were delighted to be present at a conference in Dublin City University to support the legendary revolutionary Dr. Thomas Szasz and were proud to receive his written endorsement for the second printing of ’Soul Survivor’.  What was an historic act of resistance took place in May, 2007 when our first electroshock protest was held in Cork, the first time we believe, such a protest had ever been held in Ireland.  With support from then MEP Kathy Sinnott and Green Party TD Dan Boyle, our shock protest has since gone on to become an annual event and a focal point of resistance, attracting support from across the country.  We were an integral part of the ‘Delete 59b Campaign’ and staged another public protest outside the gates of Leinster House on the day the issue was being debated in the Senate in 2008.
2009 saw the first of what was to become the CVNI two day conferences organised by Lydia Sapouna and Harry Gijbels and which have since been held every year in mid November.  MindFreedom members participated in and presented many workshops over the years and are appreciative of the opportunity to record our 13 years of resistance here today.
In 2010 MFI was represented at the Campaign Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) conference in Toronto where we presented a workshop and participated in a further electroshock protest outside the legislative building and forged links with veteran campaigners Don Weitz and Bonnie Burstow.
Back home, we established our own website with help from Ayman Hafez and later Gordon Lucas and along with our Facebook page, now have additional valuable methods of spreading news of our call for a peaceful revolution.
A new international voice for that message was that of journalist Robert Whittaker, author of ‘Mad in America’ and ‘Anatomy of an Epidemic’ and now Director of the very influential and informative Mad in America website.  We were proud to host Robert at a public talk in Carrigaline in 2011 chaired by Martin Hynes along with lawyer Ted Chabasinski, another veteran of the campaign in the US and the man who, in 1982, had succeeded in having a ban on electroshock in Herrick Hospital, California which lasted for 41 days before being overturned by the American Psychiatric Association
2011 also saw the setting up of our Stand by Me peer support group which ever since continues to meet at 3pm every Wednesday in Costas, Douglas, Cork.
In another brave act of resistance in 2012, long standing MFI member Colette Ni Dhuinneacha went head to head with Dr. Anne Jeffers from the College of Psychiatry in a debate on electroshock on TV3’s Morning Show.  Terry Lynch’s second book ‘Selfhood’ was also published that year and MFI hosted a Cork launch for it which was attended by the then Minister for Mental Health Cathleen Lynch.
Terry Lynch has been an ever loyal supporter of MFI always willing to give his services for free, an important consideration to us who operate on a shoestring without any state or commercial assistance, which we are more than glad to do. Terry along with dissident English psychiatrist Dr. Bob Johnson were two of the keynote speakers at our 10th Anniversary Conference in September 2013 where powerful presentations were also made by Gordon Lucas, Leonie Fennell and Sinead Nolan.
Earlier in 2013, Mary Maddock had been invited to join the Advisory Council for The Centre for the Study of Empathic Therapy and to address their conference in Syracuse New York by Peter and Ginger Breggin.  Dr. Breggin has been called ‘The Conscience of Psychiatry’ for his many decades of successful efforts to reform the mental health field.  His scientific and educational work has provided the foundation for modern criticism of psychiatric drugs and electroshock and leads the way in providing more caring and effective therapies.
2014 saw the launch of The Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry (CEP) in London and MFI was afforded the opportunity to collaborate with them in the making of their series of films on recovery which they screen during their own conferences.  The same year we commissioned our own documentary on our work and achievements which was filmed and produced by Jerry O’Mullane.  We were honoured to have Laura Delano, psychiatric survivor, activist, writer and community organiser present to speak at the first public screening in June.  The film at the beginning of this talk was a 5 minute extract from it.  The year concluded with a special  electroshock edition of Asylum magazine being published and we were proud that 3 of our supporters featured on the front page cover photograph taken at our electroshock protest the previous May.
In 2015 we hosted another event ‘An Evening with Dr. Terry Lynch’ in which Patrice Campion interviewed Terry on his new book ‘Depression Delusion: The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance’ while MFI also participated in the London launch of Dr. Bonnie Burstow’s revolutionary book ‘Psychiatry and the Business of Madness’.  Continuing our support for unorthodox views, MFI members were present to endorse Dr. Peter Gotzsche when he spoke in Maynooth about his book ‘Deadly Medicine and Organized Crime; How Big Pharma has Corrupted Health Care’.
And finally after another year of campaigning, submissions, protests, media appearances and ongoing struggle but sustained by the loyal and supportive work of people like Richard Patterson, Deirdre Gibbons, Margaret Curran, Aine Nibhern, Fiona Walsh, Jim Gottstein, Peter Lehman, Celia Brown and our steadfast Stand by Me peer support group of Susan Mendez, Maria O’Mahony, Miriam O’Shea, Dorothee Krien, Colette Ni Dhuinneacha, Eileen Aherne, Helena O’Callaghan and many others who support us in any way, here we are at the end of 2016 listing our record for you after 13 years in existence.  And that word ‘record’ is important.  Now our resistance to bio-psychiatry is on the record.  When, at whatever date in the future, it will come to be seen for what it is - a tyranny of goodwill - and the revolution is complete, MFI can say “We told you”.
 2016 saw MindFreedom Ireland (MFIrl) continue its work of peer support, activism, campaigning for alternatives and putting forward the voices of those of us unhappy with conventional medical model bio-psychiatry.
STAND BY ME.  This peer support group continued to meet every Wednesday at 3pm in Costa’s in Douglas, Cork.  With a steadfast and loyal backbone of regular attendees, the group provides a warm and welcoming opportunity for all concerned to chat, discuss issues and enjoy themselves.  As one person put it “It’s nice to spend some time with people where I don’t have to lie about my feelings about things.”  In addition MFIrl members supported  friends who found themselves caught in the system.  The ‘Little Help from my Friends’ music group was active early in the year but logistical problems meant that it stopped for a period though we hope to resume its activities in the new year.  New members are always welcome.

ELECTROSHOCK PROTEST.  Our annual shock protest took place as usual in May.  There was a turnout of more than 20 supporters, some travelling from Dublin and Leitrim.  Leaflets were distributed, slogans chanted, music played and testimonies given by people who had first hand experience of electroshock.  Undeterred by incessant rain, we were proud to stage what was our 8th protest and importantly, to garner publicity for our cause from The Cork Independent and also a comprehensive report along with a photograph which was carried in The Irish Times.  In addition on the subject of electroshock, in May Richard Patterson responded to a pro-shock interview in the Irish Times with Professor Declan McLoughlin of St. Patrick’s Hospital and Trinity College while also exchanging correspondence with Minister for Mental Health Helen McEntee on the issue.

MEDIA.  While the above publicity was welcome, it has to be said that it is quite difficult to have our voices heard on mainstream media. Dorothee Krien did succeed in having a very informative letter under the heading ‘Metabolism an unappreciated factor in drug effectiveness’ published in The Irish Examiner.  As a follow-up to our shock protest, there was an interview with Jonathan Healy on Newstalk and MFIrl was also contacted by the popular radio programme Liveline to appear on the show but was left ‘hanging on’ without being interviewed.  Increasingly it points to the need, as former MindFreedom International Director David Oaks always maintained, to be ‘our own media’ and get our message out to the public through the likes of Facebook, You Tube and Twitter as well as our own MFIrl website. Our thanks to Richard Patterson and Susan Mendez who do this in a creative and humorous manner.
CRITICAL VOICES NETWORK IRELAND CONFERENCE.  MFIrl was appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the by now well established CVNI two day conference in University College Cork in November.  The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Critical Perspectives on and beyond Activism and Acts of Resistance‘.  MFIrl supporters solicitor Deirdre Gibbons and artist Margaret Curran presented a workshop on ‘The Dominant System versus The Resistance Movement; Two Perspectives’ while Miriam O’Shea, Susan Mendez, Dorothee Krien and Jim Maddock also did a workshop presentation on ‘13 Years of Peaceful Revolution and Resistance from MindFreedom Ireland’ where we also had the opportunity to put on show our new recently donated publicity banner. In the final keynote presentation Mary Maddock joined activists Joan Hamilton, Rory Doody and Dr. Pat Bracken in a question and answer panel session on issues inspired by the conference.   MFIrl would like to congratulate Lydia Sapouna and Harry Gijbels on their continuing excellent work in organising the conference every year and we wish Harry all the best for a happy and healthy retirement from his position as Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing while confident he will continue to provide his leadership and experience for forthcoming conferences.  We would also like to send good wishes to Pat Bracken on his retirement from his position as Director of West Cork Mental Health Services and are equally confident that he will continue to provide his powerful voice to the work for change.  

CONNECTIONS.  We maintained our strong links with MindFreedom International and its Director Celia Brown who replaced David Oaks following his life-changing accident in 2012.  Kermit Cole and Louisa Putman of Mad-in-America paid us a visit in September while our close connection with and support for the work of Dr. Bonnie Burstow, Don Weitz and the Campaign Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) in Toronto and The Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry in London also continued. We were sorry to see the departure of Dr. Karen McCarthy from the Occupational Therapy section of the School of Nursing in UCC where she had forged strong links with us but equally, we were glad to see those links maintained by her successor Eoin Gorman in extending an invitation to MFIrl to address his students in November.  We continued our support for Tallaght Trialogues in Dublin while a  new connection was established with Themina Kazi and the Cork Equal and Sustainable Communities Alliance (CESCA) with MFIrl being represented by Miriam O’Shea and Deirdre Gibbons  at their Standing Up for Equality and Human Rights conference, also in November. We are also appreciative of the strong and constant support we receive from stalwart members dotted around the country including Patrice Campion in Newry, Barbara Barrett in Dublin, Aine Ni Nibhern in the midlands, Greg White in Bandon, Angela McManus in London and Colette Ni Dhuinneacha in Cork. In addition to his campaigning on electroshock, Richard Patterson kept the MFIrl flag flying at the St. Patrick's Day parade in Carrick-on-Shannon and was also very instrumental in formulating MFIrl’s submission to the House of Commons Select Health Committee Inquiry on suicide prevention in September.  Our year concluded with an enjoyable Christmas party and thanks to Helena O’Callaghan for organising the venue and Miriam O’Shea for providing the Christmas crackers.

CONCLUSION. As we remember the 10th anniversary of one of our founder members Helena King in December, we can look back at another year of achievement.  Working on a shoestring budget but rich in the time, effort and commitment provided by our limited numbers, MFIrl can be proud of our work and proud to be part of the wider international movement of like minded people  At a time when Ireland is seeing an increasing rise in the incidence of suicide and at a time when more and more people are experiencing emotional issues in their lives, there has been an explosion of well-intentioned grass-root groups eager to ‘do something‘. Unfortunately almost all of these groups accept and promote a medical model approach which in turn makes it all the more important that the voice of MindFreedom Ireland is put forward. The following recently received quotation from Graham Bacque of CAPA encapsulates precisely what is required:
"It's unfortunate that society takes no responsibility for creating an environment where violence and trauma can flourish, instead choosing to de-contextualize peoples' natural responses to such violations by pathologizing them.


The onus is on all of us to challenge the ongoing systemic and individual acts of abuse and oppression that result in people suffering such grievous wounds (notice I'm not saying 'illnesses') rather than on those directly affected to submit to interventions that will likely prove unhelpful at best; and harmful at worst.

Unfortunately this cannot happen as long as we continue to view peoples' responses to oppression exclusively through a medical lens (which in itself opens a Pandora's box of human rights issues).

This is one human undertaking where more than any other we need a complete revolution in how we view and respond. It's time to stop demonizing and punishing people for responding in a human way to what we as a society are doing to them!" 

Jim Maddock,
31st December 2016.



Mind Freedom Ireland's Annual Reports

Mindfreedom Ireland Press Releases