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
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.
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.
31st December, 2018.