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”.