Human Rights and Mental Health University College Cork Conference
World Mental Health Day Oct. 8th 2010:
I’m tired to my soul listening to the ignorance and stupidity of those who purport to speak on my behalf.
I’m tied to my soul listening to those who believe I am inferior in this society and reinforce that belief every time they speak on my behalf and in protection of me.
I’m tired to my soul of watching and listening to speaker after speaker who go to conference after conference and buy into the system that treats us as inferiors.
They sit at the table of convention because they do not have the moral courage to walk away from funding that they so desperately crave.
I’m tired of those who whisper in my ear you are right John and then sit and sup in the limelight, next to the minister, the CEO, the money.
I’m tired but I am not out, to my last breath I will challenge that ignorance and stupidity.
I’m tired of the civil servants who whisper we agree with you John but we are constrained by our job. They are not constrained by the job. They lack the moral fortitude to stand apart from the system that feeds them and their families from the misery that locks up citizens of this country and forces treatment on them in the name of medical science.
I’m tired of a medical profession that mocks psychiatry as those that fail to qualify as real consultants over pints but look in askance when you challenge them to state that fact in the public domain.
I’m tired of the cautious media that is refusing to expose the cruelty of the mental health system in this country.
With honourable exceptions!
Martin Luther King
“All progress is precarious and the solution of one problem brings us face
to face with another problem”
Allow me to paraphrase Mr King:
The resolution of the issue of force as a treatment is a progressive one and the very resolution will bring problems.
To paraphrase King again
Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at the Mad community in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.
Article 2 of the Mental Health Act 2001 defines my capacity my role and my place in society in Ireland
“A person with a mental disorder is a person with Severe Dementia Intellectual Disability, or Mental Illness”
Those who wrote that legal definition came from the same thinking of those who wrote the law that made being Gay a crime, being Black a crime.
They were good ordinary misguided people who were educated into a belief system that taught those Gays and Blacks needed the kindness and protection of special laws to protect them outside the common law.
They were not members of the KKK they were the status quo of the day
Being legal does not mean it is morally right.
They also believed that you could cure being Gay with Electric shock, and they used it on young men across the world.
Eugenics was a taught science across the western world; you could tell the worth and place in society of a citizen by the shape of his head. Don’t laugh that is a fact you had professors of Eugenics across America and Europe defining the quality of human beings by the shape of their heads. It might still be a science if the Nazi regime had not exposed it as a false science when they abused it to carry out the extermination of the Jews.
The point is that Psychiatry like Eugenics is based solely on opinion being taught as science.
You specialized in Eugenics a respectable science that could tell the worth of a human being by looking at the distance between eye and nose. It sounds so ridiculous now.
Assessing the work of Charles Darwin, and pondering the experience of animal breeders and horticulturists, Francis Galton wondered if the human genetic make-up could be improved: “The question was then forced upon me – Could not the race of men be similarly improved? Could not the undesirables be got rid of and the desirables multiplied?” This concept of eugenics – a term he introduced – soon won many adherents, notably in North America and England. First practical steps were taken in the United States of America. The government under Theodore Roosevelt created a national Heredity Commission that was charged to investigate the genetic heritage of the country and to “(encourage) the increase of families of good blood and (discourage) the vicious elements in the cross-bred American civilization”. Charles Davenport supported by the Carnegie Institution established the Eugenics Record Office. Further significant funding for the eugenics movement came from E. H. Harriman and Vernon Kellogg. In an effort to eradicate unfit offspring sterilization laws were passed, the first one in Indiana (1907), then in other states, many strictly for eugenic reasons, “to better the race,” allowing for compulsory sterilization. Other eugenic laws limited the right to marry.
But we have Doctors in this very University UCC who are being taught that they can tell me that I have a disease in the most complicated organ in my body my brain, they can further state that I have a chemical imbalance in my hippocampus or my frontal lobes and they can then stamp me for life with a diagnosis that they randomly choose from, I think it is now 600 in the New DSM.
They do this by sitting four feet away from me looking at me and talking to me.
The reason they sit so far away is that the education they receive tell them that getting close the patient either psychically or emotionally is a dangerous thing not for the patient mind you but the doctor.
So from four feet across a desk or looking at a fellow human being strapped to a bed this medical science decides a course of treatment that will alter the patient’s brain forever.
These psychiatrists never touch you, they have no need or purpose in doing so. They get the other trained personnel in this belief system to do the dirty work.
When force becomes necessary the nurses are convinced by education that they are angels of mercy and are doing the right thing for those poor souls the Negros the Gays and The Mad.
All inferior in law.
“Injustice anywhere is a thread of injustice everywhere”
Martin Luther King.
The challenge we of the Mad community always face is that this debate always goes to the crisis mode to defend the abuse.
“What do you do with the person who is a danger to themselves and others”
I would refer you to a documentary it took me two years to put together.
It is the story of a 17 year old young woman raped, her behaviour became odd so her family locked her up. She is still there at 78 never came out. It took two years because her brother told me he was afraid of what the staff might do his sister ,NOW TODAY.
She has been beaten by staff who lost their patience when she protested and wanted her freedom. Legally forced fed by staff, legally force injected by staff, legally tied up by staff trained in this institution in how to safely legally restrain, forced to take ECT by staff, force treated by staff, her entire life, her freedom legally taken by staff for her own good.
Psychiatry claims the right to treat and a duty of care, honourable objectives, they like other branches of medicine do not have the moral right to force.
Larry the rapist was freed he had to be by law. “For good behaviour”
Stunning that nobody diagnosed Larry with “Mental Illness” based on his behaviour They could not. Larry the rapist the criminal had the protection of the common law.
There is a grave ongoing question to be answered here.
When a patient resists legal force by the staff, that resistance is then recorded as an assault on the staff by the very staff who initiated the legal assault on the patient.
Furthermore that resistance by the patient to legal force of the staff is then subsequently used as justification during tribunal hearings where the over drugged patient is expected to instruct a solicitor already trained to believe that there is nothing else to done for this zombie he is defending.
In tribunals over 90% of psychiatric opinion is upheld by the panel!
I was visiting Josie recently ( her brother insisted we disguise her identity through fear; real or imagined) she asked me for cigarettes I don’t smoke she asked me for money, and became agitated “you won’t tell the nurse will ye she would kill me if she knew I asked you for money”
She is 78!
All in the name of care!
And we on the inside looking out and we on the outside looking in, simply do not understand that all this cruelty is for our own good.
Educated ignorance is a stupid and arrogant thing.
You can be trained to believe and do anything how many people in this room have been educated to believe that a priest on a Sunday can actually turn Bread and wine into flesh and blood.
Nursing staff are trained here in UCC on how to force treat their patients they are trained to believe that this is not only the right but the moral thing to do.
Blacks, gays and the Mad are after all inferior and we must force our goodwill on them!
When these nurses go to work in the system, they quickly learn, it is a dangerous thing to challenge what they see even if it upsets their moral compass.
Moral courage in the face of economics will quickly progress from seeing and feeling to compliance and participation and soon after to indignation when the moral courage they lack is challenged.
So a question we all know horror stories from Psychiatric units where are the whistle blowers?
The Murphy and Ryan reports have already warned that when you grant total control of one segment of society over another abuse is bound to follow.
It is illogical for us to believe that we do not have a level of abuse in Psychiatric units considering the legal power we have given those who work in them.
Why does GF psychiatric unit in the regional hospital Cork, not come under the remit of the management of the hospital?
I tried to complain GF to the central office not possible, separate management. Why?
It is the same in all general hospitals. Why?
It so hard and expensive to access our records. Why?
What is in those records that the system fears?
The freedom of information act does not apply in the same way to the mad community as it does to all others in society. Why?
There is a public perception of fear re psychiatric units Why?
There a dearth of visitors from the general public to psychiatric units. Why?
There is a sign on the corridor of GF that states no visitors beyond this point. WHY?
That sign does not hang in any other corridor except intensive care, it hangs there to prevent the spread of contagion.
Why do we have to go through two security checks to go to St Michaels?
I cannot visit John The Painter in Carrig Mor. Why?
That gift of access I am told by the staff is completely in the hands of his treating psychiatrist.
He is an artist displayed in the national gallery he began painting while locked up.
He is on the upper level of Carrig Mor I as a member of the public cannot get up that stairs in a public hospital WHY?
The door of the basement club run by Schizophrenia Ireland rebranded Shine locked to the public. Why?
When you enquire you will be informed it is to protect the patient how clever is that.
I could go on with so many examples of creating fear within a system that demands secrecy as its core treatment methodology.
And we wonder why we have stigma!
I was verbally abused by a psychiatrist I not only never met/saw but I had never spoken to while a visitor to a lock up ward. Threatened in front of witnesses with physical eviction by the staff on the order of this obviously emotionally disturbed psychiatrist who was shouting at me?
I wish to put it on the record that I am not arrogant enough to state that this individual psychiatrist was “mentally ill” suffering from delusions of power or grandeur.
Suffice to say the HSE have stated in writing that I was wronged on the occasion, but to date the psychiatrist has refused apology, despite the HSE’s request to do so.
That psychiatrist immune from censure by the power granted. Ongoing two years now.
I wonder had I abused a psychiatrist I never met in a lock up ward shouting at them would the staff have taken action.
Though I am not qualified to do so, I did recommend to the staff member who approached immediately after this verbal assault, a nurse and a friend that this psychiatrist be restrained by staff and forced medicated.
Funny how I have so much goodwill from nursing staff despite what I say in public and such animosity from psychiatry because of what I say.
The HSE is powerless to resolve my complaint. It is ongoing.
The real thought here must go to the members of society who we have legally placed under the complete control of this very human being a psychiatrist who simply lost control of their emotions in a moment of stress.
Or was it Paranoia psychosis I honestly don’t have a clue.
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere and conscientious stupidity”
Martin Luther King
“Any law that degrades human personality is unjust”
Martin Luther King.
We have in this country a Mental Health Commission that is designed to protect us, and we are seen to be ungrateful if we as members of the mad community criticize this insane institution.
We are judged by a tribunal consisting of people who are trained by the very belief system that is abusing us, that abusive belief system designed the criteria on how to judge us.
They are held in secret. Why?
Friend’s family advocates can and are excluded by these tribunals. Why?
I know some who designed the Mental Health Commission some are in this very room and they will state in their defence.
“it is an improvement on what was there”
It is that type of equivocating thinking, that lack of moral fortitude, accepting compromise as real progress, that is the real ruination of the mad community.
…………………… I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
Martin Luther King. Birmingham jail in a letter to White moderate pastors!
Larry Murphy the rapist had the legal right and he exercised that right to refuse treatment/medication in jail.
Victims of rape have no such right of refusal in hospital.
Justice in Ireland 2010.
We have given the power to lock away our loved ones for the rest of their lives based on nothing more than opinion.
I visit lock up wards I have friends dizzy from the revolving door of failure in these places.
I went to see a friend on a Tuesday I had a pint with him the day before hand as steady as a rock.
Within 24 hours he was shaking like a leaf Tardive dyskinesia and he could not sit still akathesia, common side effects of prescribed legally forced medications.
In one day in hospital, he could not put a sentence together, a zombie.
What was really interesting for me was the staff. They walked about wrote their notes behind the desk oblivious of the abuse of this victim who was their patient.
It was another working day.
His family trained at the first sign of any emotional tension, evoke the Mental Health Act of Ireland 2001. It is safer for you and for the patient.
Sign them in lock them up, force treat them, it is after all for their own good,
Family members constantly challenge me;
“besides it is easy for you to talk what else can we do there is nothing else out there, where can we turn to”
And for relatives that is the cruel reality. I will never know where my beautiful wife found the love and courage not to throw me out and/or lock me up as was the advice of one of my doctors.
But I do know this had she done so, locked me away when I became without any right whatsoever to be verbally abusive and angry towards her, I would never had gotten over that loss of my dignity as a human being and a citizen of Ireland.
Her courage and love I will be eternally grateful for.
At every crisis in one’s life, it is absolute salvation to have some sympathetic friend to whom you can think aloud without restraint or misgiving.
Those that went to work in institutions that abused children also got on with their normal working day they saw too many children crying they got used to it. They were trained to accept the abuse or at least not question the authority behind the abuse to closely you might lose your job. It is documented in the above mentioned in the Murphy and Ryan reports.
Amnesty Ireland are making a big hoopla re Mental health law we are supposed to congratulate them, they are great rather than stop legal force they are going to make it harder to implement legal force!!
You cannot be a little in favour of force outside the common law, the Mental Health Act is written to protect the doctors, and allow the abuse of patients with impunity. It would be total anathema in any other branch of medicine.
Remember while all that abuse was going on in the church and in institutions we had voluntary agencies who supported the abusers by silence or compliance much like we do today.
Our own representative body the National Service Users Executive stood beside the College of psychiatry in The Oireachtas and supported the retention of the use of forced ECT. Arguing that the deletion of the word “unwilling”, from article 59b while retaining the word “unable” was sufficient protection.
The CEO quoting selective human rights law that are outmoded and outdated by the new Convention on the Rights of the Disabled.
80% of all forced ECT in 2008 was signed off based on the patient being unable to make a decision.
50% of all forced ECT was given to Old Aged Pensioners.
And we have the major voice of the User movement a government established representative body defending that in the Oireachtas.
I am going to lose more friends now, so be it.
We are in the middle of a financial crisis. We are looking back at the guangos who sucked us dry with bad financial advice.
It appears that those who refused to rock the boat were given all the appointments to the various boards.
How many boards do John Saunders, John Redican, Tony Bates, Diarmud Ring, and so many others sit on. We wonder why we have no change.
Caution is the confidential agent of selfishness.
Amnesty, SOS, Shine, Grow, Headstrong, IAN, all of them do not have the insight or foresight to know we cannot have real change until we have equality and justice for those of us who are excluded from society by the law.
We need the protection of the law not to be excluded by it. Some of them do know but will not risk their position/consequence of speaking out.
We must turn to organizations like Mindfreedon, and the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry for new leadership in this battle for human rights.
Organizations that celebrate difference, challenge the status quo without fear of being in debt to that same status quo.
We must give good men in the system like Martin Rogan of the HSE, Hugh Kane and Patricia Gilhooley in the Mental Health Commission, Dr Pat Bracken/Michael Bambrick West Cork Mental Health services our support. We must urge Minister John Moloney to act from his heart and ignore the advice from those who avow force.
If Martin Rogan is to be effective then he must control a budget.
We must walk away from the mindset that believes we the mad community are inferior.
We must walk away from fear, and all that implies.
We must walk away from failure.
We discovered a cure/vaccine for TB and Tb left our lives, we discovered a cure/vaccine for polio and polio left our lives.
We discovered a cure for “mental illness” the magic bullet/ the anti depressant, the anti psychotic and the rates of suicide are now higher then road deaths, admissions to psychiatric units at record levels.
As a rational man there is a question to be asked here and an answer demanded!
There is no great conspiracy here. When you are reared and educated in a belief system that holds at its heart an injustice, then you are by inference blind to that injustice. When you believe that God is a Christian then the Jew and the Pagan are condemned to Limbo.
I have a real problem in my brain now I have Motor Neuron Disease I am dying and there is not a neurologist in the country who will treat me.
They honestly state they do not have the knowledge, the equipment or the test to establish what is causing my brain to stop communicating with my body. I know and they know I have it,
They can give me a diagnose because they see I cannot walk.
I have volunteered for deep brain scans in aid of research, psychological tests re demensia for research, x-rays, blood tests for reserch.
Neurology admits it neither knows the cause or the cure, or indeed any treatment so it will prescribe none that is so honest.
I know and psychiatry knows I have madness.
I had a real problem with my spirit and it stopped communicating with my body and my body ceased to function.
Arrogant modern psychiatry and the whole medical model and all that implies from a moral, financial, standpoint diagnosed me and purported to cure me yet never took my pulse.
So back to the question what do we do.
We have developed out of our educated ignorance a system that depends on the crisis in order to galvanize that system into action.
They are very happy to continue with that system of crisis as it justifies all of the cruelty and force that follows.
Life overwhelmed me in my mid forties I discovered I was never granted the ability to love me. When I hit a crisis in my career I fell into a place of despair and they told that my life’s circumstances and my reaction to them was a disease of the brain.
The absolutely arrogant fools.
I have learned to love me now and to recognise the gifts madness has now granted.
Learned to be at peace with who I am, thereby at peace with my madness.
A huge gift now a new crisis is upon me, I need peace in my spirit now and madness has granted me that.
But when I was fighting madness it fought back and very often anger came that also very often turned into aggression. I or any member of the mad community have NO right to be aggressive.
Neither do I have the right to hide behind the innocence by reasons of insanity law.
If we the mad community demand equality before the law then we must also be willing to be subject to the wrath of the law if we break the law.
We cannot have it both ways!
You can so quickly become addicted to being helpless and hopeless.
I very nearly did. Conviently excusing my lack of control, my aggression, behind the excuse of “mental illness”.
We the normally mad have no right to break the law, and as long as we hide our responsibility for our own actions within the law then we have no right to equal protection before the law.
So what if we turned the system on its head took away the legal right to use force. Would we then have a system that had to depend on early intervention?
A system that would hold the person?
A system that would listen?
A system where love and understanding replaced force and fear?
A system that taught at its core that we of the Mad community had a total right to access and the protection of the common law!
A system that taught exclusion from the law, as is currently expounded upon by well meaning moderates who protect abuse under their umbrella the well meaning educated ignorance.
A system that taught at it’s core as Martin Luther King sought, stated black is equal to white, a huge ask in its day to accept that right of equality after centuries of educated ignorance had taught black is inferior to white
A system that progressed beyond imagining when gay was legally proclaimed equal to straight.
That is the immensity of the leap we require now, to decriminalise human emotions that sit at the edge.
A system that asked why is this human being, reacting to life in the manner they are.
A system that required understanding of the broken spirit.
If I made that statement in 1966 in the departments of psychiatry and Law in the university of Birmingham Alabama I would be locked away as delusional at best , and a danger to so society at worst.
I am not so sure if I will get out of here today!
“Any law that degrades human personality is unjust”
Martin Luther King.
The only thing new in this world is the history you don’t know.
It is time to open a new chapter one of hope.