I remember the day well when I met Karen Mc Carthy for the first time.  Dylan Tighe was in Cork working on his project called Record.  He asked a group from MindFreedom Ireland to speak with him about our personal experiences as survivors of psychiatry.  Karen was in the audience.  She felt on the same page as us and we had a small chat that day.  Shortly afterwards we met again.  This time we had a long chat. She was an occupational therapist lecturer at Cork University College. We wanted no labels and she was in agreement.  This was manna from heaven for me and other members of MindFreedom Ireland  who also  got to know her better.  We all had received some discriminating, nonscientific labels and some even more than one.  She believed our true stories and wanted to help us to share them with many others.

At that time we had organised a  musical group we called ‘A little help from my friends’.  We held regular sessions at my home in Cork.  I had a piano which made it easier to sing and play together.  Some people learned the tin whistle from scratch and others knew how to play other instruments already.  It was more than a musical session as sometimes we would share our personal experiences of controlling psychiatry with each other.  I told Karen about this and afterwards she invited us to play, sing and share our experiences with her students before Christmas.   We also explained the common sense that music is natural occupational therapy and much more.  It was lovely to be there.  Each time it was different as everytime  her students were unique.  They were all very alive as they had ,in my opinion, a very outstanding, interesting lecturer.  One I would have liked when I was in university.  She was original with a great sense of humour and you could see her students loved her.  I remember the first time very especially.  Even though they were all good singers themselves in the first group there was one young woman who had a very special  singing voice.  Karen told me she sang at her wedding afterwards.  I hope she continues to sing and lift up people’s hearts.

Now Karen works in the Dominican University of California for many years.   She still keeps strong links with us and has even traveled to Cork twice already.  We were delighted to have her and her students at our home.  Again we played and sang together and we informed her students about our lived experience of psychiatry and its pitfalls.   When we were not free to do this for the past 3 years we had Zoom meetings.  Again we played some music.   Jim, who had learned to play the piano during the lockdown accompanied me on the violin as we enjoyed playing ‘Sailing’ by Rod Stewert while others sang it together. 

We are sailing, we are sailing

Home again

‘Cross the sea

We are sailing

Stormy waters

To be near you

To be free

The lyrics and melody of this song strike a chord in everyone who believes in freedom, especially survivors of psychiatry.

Tim Nyhan, a brave psychiatric survivor, had played both piano and violin.  Many times he played ‘Sailing’ with us.  It is with bitter tears I write this as at the young age of 45 he passed on.  He and another member of our group both played the violin, went to UCC and had a degree in science. They know that psychiatric labels have no scientific validation but as most psychiatrists believe in the myth of so-called ‘mental illness’ they were both sectioned and forced to receive psychiatric mind altering, toxic drugs many times.  This is a crime against humanity.  One one occasion while Tim was in the locked unit he almost lost his life because of the adverse, real effects of these drugs.   He was removed to intensive care.  He told me he would not have known this himself if a friend who worked in the hospital did not notice he was there.  Another time he was a keynote speaker at Cork University and he explained  that hearing voices had meaning and we could learn from them instead of trying to wipe them out.  He was one of the first Irish survivors who was deeply spiritual and scientific at the same time who shared his profound insights publicly with others.   No wonder he  was misunderstood by biological, coercive psychiatry.  Dr Michael Corry knew that Tim was a very special person. He publicly stated that he wanted to put a stake through the heart of psychiatry. He knew that Tim’s words were true.  Unfortunately, he was also persecuted by power driven, one size fits all  psychiatry.  He and his wife Aine Tubridy passed on much too early at the ages of 60 and 54.  I enjoyed many hours of playing ‘Sailing’ with Tim and he will always remain in my heart.

Hopefully, Karen and her students will be with us again this year with her students.  Hopefully, MindFreedom Ireland will continue to work with her for years to come!

“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.”

John Steinbeck, East of Eden



Those who profit financially from the sale of prescription drugs and electroshock have tremendous power and continue to have a much more dominant voice to distort the truth.

Those who are imprisoned, drugged/electroshocked with bogus labels and persecuted by psychiatry continue to be silenced.   If the public carries on to believe psychiatry as we know it is the solution, we  will have no choice, no answer or way out.  If you really want to listen to people with psychosocial difficulties who in reality have often received iatrogenic harm you will listen to those with lived experience, that is if we even get a chance to raise our voices.

“ Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”  C.S. Lewis

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