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.


Stand By Me

( a poem by one of our loyal regulars) Anne O Dwyer

Your spoken suggestions about what went wrong
Things I darn't say nowadays - let them off
Listening to me, listen to you 
in a gentle incision of anger
You become angry with one another 
often enough for me to pick up its alright
When nowadays something goes right, 
a celebration- I listen
How everyone I know a little or a lot
congratulates profusely for a poem in the paper
friends for life
A springboard to the future
Everyone was there to talk with
at my challenge
Lips held more against worry,
shapes for you to see -

More Harm Than Good


I was baptised and brought up in the Catholic faith.  I joined the Ursuline order of nuns when I finished secondary school as I naively thought that I would become a better person and also help others.  At that time, the church was self critical and seemed to want to renew itself. This inspired me to stay within the church as a Catholic nun and be part of a system which I thought would do more good than harm.   Change happened very quickly because it was led from the top down.  I was very excited at first but as the years went on I became more and more disillusioned because changing external things was not changing the core of Christianity and the Catholic church in particular.



Because of Christianity’s belief in original sin, it views every human being as flawed and in need of redemption. That is why its doctrine is firmly based on the belief that Jesus Christ is both God and man and He redeemed all of us by dying and rising again.  It is then necessary for all of us to depend on our redeemer in order to be saved before we enter the heavenly gates.  All forms of Christianity are united in this belief.  We cannot be saved if we do not believe we are in need of redemption.  When Christianity is self critical, it is not critical of this core belief.  


There were many reasons why I found it more difficult to continue being a nun, a Roman Catholic or a Christian.  I had no issues with the basic idea of loving your neighbour as yourself but I had many issues about how this was interpreted and put into practice. The religious institutional system was and still is more interested in protecting itself than practicing love and compassion. It claims to follow a poor, humble, cross bearing Christ. At the same time it is extremely wealthy and uses its power to control others while aligning itself with other rich, powerful institutions.  The institutional churches do not know the meaning of poverty. They are very poor in spirit and understanding.


Inequality, lack of understanding, poverty and differences in religious doctrines have been the root of many wars fought over the centuries.  Religion often continues to divide more that it unites.  In Ireland we were ruled by the Catholic church with its cannon laws much more successfully than we were by British rule.  Because the church ruled over the people, it is understandable that many of its clergymen abused our children.  It was not until these children grew up that some of them were believed and that many others began to see how the church misinformed people and kept them under control.  Many Irish people have lost faith in the Catholic church since I was a young girl.  I could say that even though I set out to be a Catholic nun as a teenager, I was at the forefront of the critical church movement!


Now I consider myself to be at the forefront of another critical movement, one that challenges deceptive, oppressive, institutional psychiatry.  While Christianity claims to be faith based, psychiatry is faith based and yet claims to be scientific.  It is based on what is referred to as the ‘medical model’.


“ The medical model…….is not based upon any reality, nor is it medical, though it uses the prestige of physical medicine and the reality of physical disease to mystify us and to command a general social consent, lay or legal.  Ultimately it is a communal mythology, which conveys enormous powers both to the state and to psychiatry through the commitment process. Very few countries have not enlisted their complete faith --formally and informally, officially and privately--in the notion of mental illness and its corollary, mental health.  Mental illness is a government commodity, a ministry, a department, a branch of every bureaucracy at the federal, municipal, provincial, state and local level.” (Kate Millet: The Illusion of Mental Illness  Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry  Peter Stastny Peter Lehmann (eds.)


I was misunderstood as being ‘mentally ill’ when I gave birth to my first born in St Finbarr’s maternity hospital.  It was 1976 and just 4 years after I had left the convent.  I was very fortunate to have met someone I loved. We both wanted to have children.   We were very excited when I became pregnant soon after we married and settled down in Cork on the banks of the Lee. We did what we thought would be good for us to have a healthy baby.  I attended a local GP and soon afterwards a gynaecologist.  For the first 4 months I was frequently physically sick.  My GP knew this but he did nothing to help me.  He knew nothing about nutrition and I too was ignorant.  I had very little energy and often felt weak. Thankfully I improved with time but because my body lacked vital vitamins and minerals, it is no wonder I was underweight and my pregnancy was very difficult.  However, because we were both so excited at the prospect of being parents and I knew my ill health would only last a few more months, I got through it in good spirits. At the end of January 1976 I went into labour and then the real horror story began.  What should have been the best moments of my life turned into a nightmare. To bring forth children should be the most natural and beautiful experience in the world but because of the medicalization and the institutionalization of motherhood, I and many other mothers, had a different experience. 


After I arrived at the hospital the over-riding memory I still have is of being a cog in a wheel. Everyone was buzzing around me as if I wasn’t there, as if how I felt did not matter. It was a busy hospital and it needed to work like a factory. It was necessary to produce the goods. There were no epidurals then so when I was in severe pain they had nitrous oxide to help out. I could have as much as I wanted for the long labour I endured until the busy gynaecologist finally arrived to deliver our baby. The nitrous oxide did not relieve the pain but it did send me into an altered state and complicated an already horrific experience. Then they had Sparine, the first neuroleptic I was given, to counteract the effects of the nitrous oxide.   The long tale of medical induced harm became a reality and lasted for almost 3 decades.  ‘First do no harm’ continues to be an illusion for many.



For the medical establishment, drugs and physical treatments play a major role.   It is no wonder then that when the Sparine didn’t work that more drugs were again the first choice. When they didn’t work I was viewed as a ‘mental case’ in need of more medical intervention. I was transferred to a ‘psychiatric hospital’ where I was started on 13 sessions of electroshock just 3 days after childbirth.   But of course because I was now their guinea pig, many neuroleptics were forcefully applied by injection to my already feeble body.  Due to the effects of the brain damaging electroshock and the toxic drugs I endured, I do not remember many details around this time but the memories of the torture I experienced have not been wiped out.  I even tried unsuccessfully to run home.


Because I was misunderstood by the medical profession, it is no surprise that I was even more misunderstood by a branch of medicine that feigns to be medical namely, psychiatry!


Ever since its conception, it has tried to present itself and its ‘treatments’ as medical.  Over the centuries all its interventions have been exposed as being harmful, often tortuous but to this day, it continues to thrive on deception.  It just changes the so called ‘cure’, based on yet another theory or opinion and carries on to harm people in the name of help.  It even has the legal capacity to force people who do not want its ‘help’ to receive it because it believes it is for their good.  It is backed up by states and all who hold the chains of power globally.  The most powerless - the poor, women, children, the elderly, blacks, disabled, gays/lesbians etc are their victims.  Like Christianity, psychiatry believes those it ‘diagnoses’ are flawed human beings in need  of its assistance.  It defines those it labels as ‘non persons’ or ‘sub human‘.  It considers them to be unable to make good decisions for themselves and in need of guardianship.  It has been given the Godly power to redefine adults as children.


If we care about ourselves and others we will want to know ourselves and others. We will want to be more authentic. We will want to be real. Western society in general has convinced itself that to be fake is better than to be authentic.  Is it any wonder then that psychiatry which is built on falsehood, the emperor who has no clothes, has fooled us and become so popular. It is doing all it can to spread its deceptive message and unfortunately, is being very successful.


It is by being aware of our experiences that we can acquire true knowledge of our selves, others and the world around us.  Everyone has the power to be themselves.  This is real power which can enlighten and help protect us from powerful forces which can destroy us if we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The generous spirit of understanding and compassion is much stronger than the ugly spirit of death and destruction. 


I have experienced psychiatric oppression and destruction like many others.   As my fellow psychiatric survivor Kate wrote so beautifully from her loving heart:


“We are also survivors of one of the meanest systems of oppression ever developed, and its victims and its critics.  We are the ones to tell the truth, to say that mental illness is an illusion, intellectually and scientifically,  but also a system of social control of unprecedented thoroughness and pervasiveness.   It is our role to expose this illusion and to free us all - for we are all constrained, oppressed, limited, intimidated by the phantom of mental illness.   We stand with reason against error and superstition, with imagination against conformity and oppression.  What good fortune to be part of such a struggle for freedom and human rights.”   Kate Millet: The Illusion of Mental Illness


It is my good fortune to be with Kate Millet and all my fellow survivors of psychiatry in this powerful struggle for freedom and human rights.


Mary Maddock, MindFreedom Ireland.


It is because psychiatry is a belief system with the power to force people who do not want to practice its form of religion that many of its victims are left to sink or swim.
The survivor movement  is learning to swim against the tide but the power of this oppressive belief system continues to gather momentum even as it claims to be scientific but having no factual basis.   It is a house of cards which still stands as corrupt and deceptive as ever  for centuries.
The role psychiatry has been given by society is to convert human behaviour into ‘mental illnesses’ with the magic wand of lies and then force the people who do not want its help to receive it.  It does this very successfully with the aid of its bible the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) which now covers most negative human behaviour. Another major  weapon in its armoury  is its so called ’mental health’ law/laws. It is these oppressive man made laws which give judges the  power to sentence innocent people, who never committed any crime, to  psychiatric incarceration, forced drugging and electroshock.  Today, the words written by C.S. Lewis when applied to the role played out by institutional psychiatry are so sadly true. 
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”
It is said that people  believe lies more readily than facts and when it come to psychiatry this is clearly very true.   It is because the public has given psychiatry the role it plays so well in society that it remains firm, lucrative and strong.  Qui bono? ( Who benefits?)  It has to be all those who take part in this Big Lie.
Imagine people who claim to practice medicine continue to diagnose people with no biological test for pseudo diseases and disorders, while being paid enormous salaries and then get away with it!  Imagine the people they feign to help are more often than not further disabled by their intervention than they were when they encountered these pseudo doctors in the first place.   Imagine that the family and friends of their victims are  in more danger of disconnection and discrimination because of the myth of so called ‘mental illness’ which is psychiatry's sacred grail!
Of course pseudo psychiatry’s biggest , richest and most deceptive ally is the pharmaceutical industry.  Without this it would be much easier and possible to swim against the tide.   Almost all  psychiatric drugs concocted by Big Pharma are very addictive and long-term, cause more harm than good. (Goetsche)  Most people who encounter psychiatry do not have the information to make an informed decision.   When you consider that most psychiatric drugs prescribed today are the result of false drug trials, that there are so many different ways legally acceptable to distort and manipulate these trails, that many of the FDA members, so called watch dogs,  are often paid millions of dollars by Big Pharma ,  that even medical journals are not reliable and that KOL (Key Opinion Leaders)  such as Joseph Biederman, who is responsible for labelling children with the pseudo ‘Bi-Polar’ tag have benefited so handsomely, then it would be very difficult to find anyone who would consent with full knowledge to agree to consume any psychiatric drug.
All drugs are poisons.  Of course poison should be taken with great care.   It should be avoided if at all possible.   It always damages.   It is common sense if it is taken in large doses or with many other poisons or even in smaller doses long term, it can kill!
The psychiatric drugs most commonly consumed today are the most profitable SSRI  antidepressants and atypical neuroleptics.   It is common to be on both these type of drugs at the same time.  It is common to be on many of these drugs at the same time.   The sky is the limit for some.   Many die early because of this kind of prescribing and many others continue to endure what we as survivors describe as a living death!
SSRIs are mostly thought to be taken by choice but when you consider the matter of true information then it is a very different story!   Neuroleptics on the other  hand are clearly often force treated on unwilling clients.  In some countries like the UK, it is legal to coercfully treat people in the community with drugs.     The first neuroleptic called chlorpromazine  was discovered by French researches in the early 1950's.   They observed that the drug caused indifference and apathy.  The word neuroleptic actually comes from the Greek word leptos which means small or fine.   'Neuroleptics' then describes  this class of drugs very accurately meaning reduced nervous or mental energy.   Imagine then that these drugs are used to dampen the most evolutionary and progressive  organ  nature has ever produced!   Imagine also that it is becoming more common to use them on little children and elderly people!  They are capable of causing a chemical lobotomy which deny those who are unfortunate enough to receive them, in any form, their very humanity.   They damage especially our frontal lobes and thus stop the psychic flow of energy which is essential to be able to be and act as a human being.  Only human beings can grow in freedom, love, insight, creativity and understanding. 
 " The highest function of the human brain, the self-reflective function centered in the prefrontal brain----which gives us an inner world, an inner light, and power over ourselves-----is activated in the interaction with another human being.  So love and hope must have a central place in a human brain science."   (Deprived of Our Humanity - The Case against Neuroleptic Drugs.   Lars Martensson, M.D.) 
Those who receive these drugs as they are prescribed today by most  'doctors' are not only deprived of their right to be human, the people who prescribe them like smarties also deprive themselves of their own humanity!  Dr Martensson himself wrote an excellent paper entitled  'Should Neuroleptic Drugs Be Banned?' in 1985. 
 I was put on my first of many neuroleptics in 1976 and from 1983 to 1999 I was on the neuroleptic chlorpomazine more commonly referred to as Largactil.  I know from personal experience that these drugs cause a chemical lobotomy.   I know they deprived me of my right to be human while causing me terrible physical, spiritual, emotional and unnecessary mental suffering.
Mary Maddock







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