As the sands of 2023 run out and we are all a year older and wiser, it is time once again to report on the activities of MindFreedom Ireland as we conclude the 20th year of our existence.
Over those years we have evolved from the innocent days when we naively thought we might in some way influence the revolutionary changes we deemed necessary in established psychiatry. These had been hinted at in the government plan entitled Vision for Change which was launched with great fanfare in 2006 and went the way of all such plans in only tinkering at the edges and leaving a sanitised, institutionalised, psychiatrist-dominated medical model still in place. We concluded that to be true to our ideals, we had to accept the fact that we were mostly a voice crying in the wilderness and that our vision of a non-coercive, human rights-based model not dominated by the financial interests of globalised Big Pharma, would remain just that – a vision.
But not despairing, it is a vision shared by more and more people throughout the world. We see it in the constant stream of people who contact MindFreedom Ireland, frustrated with what they experienced with bio-psychiatry which they felt had never fully informed them of the adverse effects of the drug cocktail they had been prescribed. They are pleased to learn that other people using alternative methods have succeeded in greatly reducing their drug regime and in many cases, have successfully weaned themselves off drugs completely. With this feeling of mutual support and the voices of psychiatric survivors, we are inspired to continue with our work. MindFreedom Ireland is a small organisation that kept going with the support and goodwill of a small number of committed members and with minimal financial resources. It has been ever thus and has survived for 20 years.
As stated, one of our guiding principles is Mutual Support and that is what we continue to provide year after year. For a long period, it was expressed in the weekly meetings of our Stand by Me group and though for various reasons, not least the Covid lockdown, it no longer functions, MFI still, through both personal contact by phone and on the ground, responds to the many people who reach out to it for support from all parts of Ireland. Just this week, we were further encouraged by two other people who contacted MFI. One had seen our website and had already commenced her journey of reducing her drug regime while the second person sought to reconnect with MFI, having been a member of Stand by Me many years ago.
Laura Delano, who as a young teenager was a victim of biopsychiatry, visited us many years ago. She was present at the launch of our documentary and later set up an excellent organization called ‘The Inner Compass’ for those coming off psychotropic drugs.https://www.theinnercompass.org/ Many other survivors of toxic drugs have done likewise. Those who have succeeded are well-equipped to help others.
Another important aspect of this is the MindFreedom Ireland Zoom group hosted by Jeroen Holkamp and based in Mullingar. With its regular monthly meetings, Jeroen co-ordinates practical on-the-ground support as well as this year staging an electroshock protest in May outside the historic General Post Office in Dublin, the scene of the revolutionary 1916 Easter Rising for Irish independence from Britain. Jeroen has also written a book called “Psychiatry and the Joy of Living Together”. He hopes to launch it sometime in 2024.
That day, May 28th, coincided with similar electroshock protests around the world and this year, was also the day we in Cork held an event to celebrate our 20th Anniversary since our foundation in 2003. The event was held in Fitzgerald’s Park with psychiatric survivors and their loved ones, centre stage. Testimonials were given of harrowing experiences, locked wards, forced drugging, forced electroshock and human rights breaches with further testimonials from affected family members. Among the attendees was Dr Karen McCarthy of the Dominican University of California and her 20 Occupational Therapy students. On what was also an event of celebration, music was provided by The Nonis Choir under the direction of Charlise Jones to whom we offer our sincere gratitude. A message of solidarity by American activist and lawyer Jim Gottstein, author of The Zyprexa Papers, was also read out. It stated “MindFreedom Ireland has been steadfast in opposing forced psychiatric intervention and exposing its lies. It is a model for other MindFreedom affiliates and other groups opposing psychiatric abuse.” The spirit on the day was most definitely Mutual Support at its finest and a candlelighting ceremony was also held in memory of more than 20 named people.
Of particular concern to MFI is the fact that electroshock continues to be administered to twice as many women as men, many of them elderly while MFI is also very disturbed that young children today are being increasingly administered damaging psychotropic drugs. We feel the stone wall we are unable to pierce is the tyranny of force. Legally, innocent people can be injected with neuroleptics – the most toxic, lobotomising drugs administered to many people labelled by psychiatry. Many more organizations such as the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry http://cepuk.org/ have given evidence that psychiatry is a pseudo-science. Yet in Ireland and globally, it has the legal power to assault and batter many labelled people.
At this time of year, we also remember the anniversary of the death of Helena King, one of our founder members, whose pioneering work in the late 20th century continues to inspire us. We also remember the passing during the year of Donna Clayton from Cork and Fiona Morrisey of University College Galway, two other loyal supporters. May they rest in peace.
So as we face into our third decade, MindFreedom Ireland will continue with its work.
“ The harshest tyranny is that which acts under the protection of legality and the banner of justice.”
I am very thankful that every year since the turn of the millennium has been another year free from prescription drugs.
I am fortunate that I knew enough to keep myself safe. Not only did I find out the dangers of psychotropic drugs but I got to know many ways to lead a more fulfilled and peaceful life. I found out that many people labelled by coercive psychiatry have also succeeded and shared and continue to give their knowledge and support to others. However, because of the propaganda, there is a pill for every ill, the tyranny of ‘goodwill’ legal tyranny and the terrible struggle to withdraw from most psychotropic drugs many live between a rock and a hard place or die at a young age.
We hope that the power of love will overcome the love of power.
Love and peace,