With obvious restrictions on movement and social contact, our annual report for the past year will be correspondingly truncated. Nevertheless, there was some activity to report, much of it in the form of creative alternatives.
For example, our longstanding annual shock protest usually held on The Grand Parade in Cork in May was confined to a virtual event held in our back garden which was festooned with our familiar banners and placards. It was filmed and put online to link up with other similar worldwide protests, it being vitally important to always maintain our opposition to a still widespread dehumanising and often torturous outdated psychiatric practice which continues to be received globally by vulnerable elderly women!
Equally creative, Dr Karen McNulty, Assistant Professor at the Dominican University of California organised a Zoom get-together to replace the reality ‘Emerald Asylum – Critical Perspectives on Mental Health in Ireland’ trip with 25 of her students she had planned to make in June, replicating a similar trip in 2019. All students of occupational therapy, the idea is for them to hear the voices and thoughts of people with first-hand knowledge of the failings and inadequacies of the current Irish system. At this end, Miriam, Mary, Richard, Patrice and Jim all provided contributions encouraging the students to be true to themselves in their own innate humanity in the course of their future careers while being aware of the many shortcomings of psychiatry’s medical model.
Central to the work of MindFreedom Ireland (MFI) is the concept of Mutual Support and while our weekly Stand by Me group had to cancel its meetings, continued individual support was more important than ever in being available for each other by phone and global social media.
MindFreedom Ireland continued to interact with many other fellow campaigners throughout the year. These included Richard Patterson and Gavin Bushe in Ireland as well as new member Jeroen Holtkamp a qualified Dutch homoeopath now living in Ireland who travelled to Cork to link up and in turn, subsequently linked up with the above mentioned Richard and Gavin while we all supported Richard’s new Facebook group Anti-psychiatry Ireland. As we are a longterm proud affiliate of MindFreedom International, we continue to keep close contact with survivors of psychiatry both at home and abroad. While the power imbalance between survivors of psychiatry and the psychiatric establishment is still very extreme despite all the courageous action taken by survivors, yet we hope that just as other survivors of coercion have received some justice that we will also be heard and find that our efforts were not in vain. We still live in hope. We are also very thankful that we have allies who have not experienced coercive psychiatry themselves but support us nonetheless!
We were very proud to support Alaskan lawyer and survivor Jim Gottstein’s outstanding new book ‘The Zyprexa Papers’ which was published this year. ’https://www.mhselfhelp.org/…/heroes-and-villains…
Drop the Disorder and Critical Voices Network Ireland were two other organisations we continued to support though the latter was forced to confine its annual 2-day conference to a single online event this year.
It is with great sadness that we report the death during the year of another comrade campaigner, the unparalleled Dr Bonnie Burstow of the University of Toronto. Her first anniversary occurs on January 4th. MFI had first encountered her at the Psychout Conference organized by herself and others including Don Weitz in 2010.
Despite all the restrictions in 2020, we did succeed in holding a small Christmas party in December, greatly appreciated by all. Special thanks to Miriam for all her organizational effort, to Colette for her Christmas prizes for the raffle, and to Donna for her donation of three of her beautiful paintings as special prizes. It is the continuing and enduring support of such stalwart members that enables MFI to continue its ongoing work as we look forward to a brighter and better 2021.
1st January 2021.