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not dampen in any way the strong message sent out by the speakers on the day, all of whom gave personal testimony of an outdated and dehumanising practice.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.

 

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.

 

 

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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”.

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