Jump to content
Mental Support Community

The Campaign to Free John

Recommended Posts

Before I came here, I was hanging out here for a while...

Please help to Free John...

Background (Preamble): John Hunt is a trauma survivor with a diagnosis of 'paranoid schizophrenia'. He has spent over four years locked up in Carraig Mor psychiatric treatment centre in Cork city, Ireland.

He has been over-medicated on an array of psychotropic medications with dangerous adverse effects. He has had tardive dyskinesia, akathasia and has developed incontinence. His physical/ mental/ emotional/ spiritual health has been severely neglected and has deteriorated since being in Carraig Mor.

He has had no access to a rehabilitation team or psychotherapist and no day release in two years. There are no plans to rehabilitate John and return him to the community where he belongs. He is merely maintained and contained. John and his family have no voice in relation to his future. We are afraid that John's physical health is being damaged considerably. We cannot stand by and watch this happen any longer.

Source: Free John Petition

~ John is 28. He has spent the last 4 years in Carraig Mor high-security psychiatric unit under section in Cork city. He has a diagnosis of so-called drug-induced paranoid schizophrenia and has experienced terrifying psychotic episodes. He is on major neuroleptics/ psychotropic/ anti-psychotic medication with adverse effects (involuntary movements, extreme restlessness, lethargy, dizziness, vomiting, hallucinations, jaundice, diabetes, Parkinsonism, tooth decay, grey pallor, to name a few). ... Life in Carraig Mor is soul-destroying and the long-term use of toxic heavy medication is taking it's toll on John. He is 'maintained and contained' with barely any fresh air. He paces up and down the corridors, smoking.

Grainne Humphreys

~ John has committed no crime, those closest to him state that he is not dangerous and yet he has been incarcerated for more than 4 years against the wishes of himself and his family. There are no current plans to return him to his loved ones despite his immediate family offering total support and a planned package of care through EleMental with a psychiatric nurse and experts by experience willing to voluntarily be with and care for John.

Marion Aslan

The Mental Health Act of Ireland 2001 has given complete power to a treating consultant psychiatrist over John's life, he has the right to lock John up for the rest of his life. ... This law also gives the right to a treating psychiatrist to administer by force any or all medication they see fit, up to and including forced ECT and it is all legal under the Mental Health Act of Ireland. ...

His only semblance of a quasi court he has under this act is The Tribunals set up by the Mental Health Commission. These tribunals are held in secret, behind closed doors, they have the right to exclude all witnesses moral support up to and including the patients family. ... The patient/victim is brought before this tribunal in a highly drugged state, and expected to mount a defence.

John McCarthy

~ He has not seen the outside of the centre in over four years when he attended the christening of his now four-year-old son. The frustrated 29-year-old, who is a talented writer and artist, told the Cork Independent this week that he feels beaten: "The energy has been bullied out of me."

Christine Allen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 64
  • Created
  • Last Reply

John's partner, Grainne, had created a video to help raise awareness about his situation...

In the past several weeks, Grainne initiated an online petition. The petition received over 600 signatures but it also produced something that Grainne hadn't been able to produce on her own in over two years. John was given a pass to leave Carraig Mor and spend time with Grainne and their son Josh. There were some people who were very concerned. They thought that because John has a diagnosis of schizophrenia that meant he was dangerous and might hurt people. John did no such thing of course.

A few weeks ago, Grainne made another video -- this one of John on the occasion of his 30th birthday, on a pass from the hospital...

The hospital has decided that John should be allowed passes on a regular basis now. Grainne has been fighting for John for over four years. Meantime, John's son is now four years old himself and most of his relationship with his father has unfolded within the boundaries of a small, locked visitor's lounge. He will soon be off to school and nothing will bring back those precious years of his childhood.

Grainne is trying to get John transferred to a hospital closer to her and Josh so they can see him more often. (Carraig Mor is almost two hours away, rendering family visits through the week an impossibility.) The lead psychiatrist at that hospital is a fellow by the name of Pat Bracken. Dr. Bracken is one of the founders of the Critical Psychiatry Movement -- a group comprised of professionals who are deeply questioning some of the belief systems and actions their profession has adopted. Grainne is hopeful that he will be someone that can help John in the way he needs to be helped.

John and Grainne have endured for a very long time. I sincerely hope their situation changes for the better now. They are just two examples of the many remarkable and beautiful people I've met over the past several years.

Meantime, if anyone would like to sign John's petition, he could probably still use some help.

See also:

- Irish Examiner: System Fails John as Cry for Freedom Falls on Deaf Ears

- Irish Examiner: Pat Bracken - Act Gives Too Much Power to Psychiatrists

- Mental Help Net: Interview with Dr. Pat Bracken

- The Petition to Free John

- The Incarceration of John

[To clarify: Dr. Bracken is not John's current psychiatrist. Rather, he is the lead psychiatrist at the hospital Grainne hopes John can transfer to, the one that is closest to her and their son.]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Elsewhere, I had commented that John's current treatment looked like a page from a chapter written in the 1950's, from the assumption of hopelessness right down to the shuffle as a result of the Thorazine -- one of the three anti-psychotics he is given along with several other drugs.

Then, I run across psychiatrists like Pat Bracken, who -- it is hoped -- will be John's next psychiatrist. I ran across this too, in Robert Whitaker's book. This fellow also practices in Ireland...

David Healy is a professor of psychiatry at Cardiff University and tends to psychiatric patients at the District General Hospital in North Wales where he has been since 1990. ... He has authored more than a dozen books and published more than 120 articles, with much of his writing focussing on the history of psychiatry and the psychopharmacology era. ...

His thoughts on how psychiatric drugs should be used (and what they really do) have been deeply influenced both by his writings on the history of psychiatry and by a study he had conducted that compares outcomes of the mentally ill in North Wales a century ago with outcomes in the region today.

The population hasn't changed in this period, with around 240,000 in the area, and whereas all the seriously mentally ill were treated at the North Wales Asylum in Denbigh a century ago, today all psychiatric patients are treated at the District General Hospital in Bangor. By poring over records of the two institutions, Healy and his assistants have been able to determine the number of people who were treated back then and the number treated today, as well as the frequency of their hospitalizations.

The common belief, Healy notes, is that the old asylums were bulging with lunatics. Yet, from 1894 to 1896, there were only 45 people per year admitted to the North Wales Asylum. Furthermore, as long as the patients didn't succumb to tuberculosis or some other infectious disease, they regularly got better over the course of three months to a year and went home. Fifty percent were discharged as "recovered" and another 30 percent as "relieved". In addition, the overwhelming majority of patients admitted for a first episode of illness were discharged and never again rehospitalized, and that was true even for psychotic patients. This latter group averaged on 1.23 hospitalizations in a ten-year period (that number includes the initial hospitalization).

Today, the assumption is that patients fare much better than they used to thanks to psychiatric medications. However, in 1996 there were 522 people admitted to the psychiatric ward at District General Hospital in Bangor -- nearly twelve times the number admitted to Denbigh asylum a century earlier. Seventy-six percent of the 522 patients had been there before, part of a large group of patients in North Wales that regularly cycle through the hospital.

Although the patients spent a shorter time in the hospital than they did in 1896, only 36 percent were discharged as recovered. Finally, the patients admitted for a first episode of psychosis in the 1990's averaged 3.96 hospitalizations over the course of ten years--more than three times the number a century earlier. Patients today are clearly more chronically ill than they were a century ago, with modern treatments apparently having set up a revolving door. ...

Their study sends a fairly clear message about how and when psychiatric medications should be used. "A bunch of people used to recover," Healy explained, but if you immediately put all patients on medications you run the risk of "giving them a chronic problem they wouldn't have had in the old days." Healy now tries to watch and wait before giving psychiatric drugs to first-episode patients, he wants to see if this type of natural recovery can take hold. "I try to use the drugs cautiously in reasonably low doses and I tell the patient, 'If the drug isn't doing what we want it to do we are going to halt it,' " he said. If psychiatrists listened to their patients about how the drugs were affecting them, he concluded, "we would have only a few patients on them long-term."

Once a physician realizes that many people who experience a bout of psychosis or a deep depression can recover naturally, and that long term use of psychotropics is associated with increased chronicity, it becomes apparent that the drugs need to be used in a selective, limited manner. Healy has seen this approach work with his patients, many of whom initially insist that they need the drugs. "I say to them, 'We can do more harm than good,'" he said. 'They don't realize just how much harm we can do."

Source: Robert Whitaker: Anatomy of an Epidemic

See also:

- Studies: Antipsychotics, Relapse and Recovery

- Cambridge Journal - Psychiatric Bed Utilization

- Sage Journals - History of Psychiatry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some choice words from Dr. Bracken regarding trauma and recovery...

... If I could narrow it down, David, my insight was that people recovered from terrible violence to the extent that their social world recovered, and sometimes you could do them more harm by focusing on their own individual ideas, cognitions and emotions in isolation from that social world, and this was particularly the case, I felt, in a very social society, a very socially orientated society like I encountered in rural Africa. ...

I saw people arriving and never having been in an African country before and starting to teach people about psychology in a two-week course and then disappearing off again and feeling that they'd done some good. And my sense of that was that this actually could be profoundly undermining of local traditions of healing and support and that, which were not focused on an individualized PTSD orientated approach, but were deeply bound up with religious, cultural, social, family dynamics and discourses.

So, I guess I've become a bit skeptical of the great move, sometimes done with very, very laudable motives, but it's the move to bring, if you like, the benefits of Western psychology to people in the developing world without any great thought being put into how that will articulate with their whole cultural way of dealing with life and its difficulties.

When someone experiences a very traumatic event, it can have the effect of shaking that person's world to the core, to the point that they actually start to wonder what it's all about, what is the point of engaging with this world if a world can throw up such horror for you personally or for your loved ones. You know, what is the point of it? And Ronnie Janoff-Bulman, in particular, has foregrounded this issue of meaningfulness and the shattering of what she calls fundamental assumptions about the nature of the world after a traumatic experience.

Now, that brings in the question of meaning. How is a world meaningful for us? Where do we get a sense of order and purpose and coherence in the world in the first place that it can be shattered? Now, the traditional cognitivist's answer to that is to start talking in terms of schemas of some sort, that we have different layers of schemas. We have different kind of programs running in the back of our mind which bring that sense of order to us. Now, I'm doubtful about that, and I became interested in a more phenomenological approach to meaning and the meaningfulness of the world.

And I became interested in the work of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who talked about this whole area of meaning from a very, very different approach. And he argued that the way in which the world shows up for us as meaningful and coherent is not something that can actually be grasped as a thing at all. It's a sense of coherence that emerges in some complex way from the nature of our embodiment, our physical embodiment as creatures and our culture and our cultural history. That somehow, that coming together and our practical involvement with a world of things and objects and places and people somehow or another, through that, we live in a world that has a sense of coherence, order, and meaning.

And that's the background against which any particular object or individual or idea or whatever shows up. Any particular object, any particular thing in the world, is always showing up as meaningful in relation to some background sense of order. And what Heidegger was getting at was that that background sense of order is not a thing in itself at all. If I could use an analogy here, it's a bit like if you think of a game of chess, and you've got all your pieces on the board - the knights, the kings, queens, the pawns, etc., they all have their roles and functions and relationships - but all of that only makes sense in relation to the checkered board that lies underneath them. And if you were to take away that checkered board, then the coherence of the pieces and their functions all falls apart...

It is his insights into trauma and recovery that might make Pat Bracken the better doctor for John. Then again, such attitudes might make Pat Bracken the better doctor for many people. Meantime, John is already improving simply be being allowed time with his family. That's where his meaning and purpose can be found, within the matrix of his social relationships.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I noted when I joined that, because of my experience, I have a different voice, finding my way. I suspect that if I had ended up in a hospital I probably would have learned to speak the language that many others learn to speak and to frame my perspective from within those parameters but that didn't happen for me so as I went searching for my own answers... if something resonated for me, I hung out with it. Sometimes, it was almost uncanny how those points of connection would be made.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest ASchwartz


I have a question. Why have you brought an unknown person to us, this individual named, John, and spent enormous amounts of space, here, about him, instead of talking about yourself and about our other members, the people who are Here and Now???

Sorry, but, in my opinion, this is not very helpful.

What do others think???


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Allan: Why have you brought an unknown person to us, this individual named, John

John is someone diagnosed with schizophrenia Allan. This is the schizophrenia topic. What's more, he's someone diagnosed with schizophrenia who has required the help of others. It took two years, a media blitz, and an international campaign to secure the man the basic right to passes outside of the hospital so he could begin building relationships with his wife, son, friends and family outside of the hospital.

... and spent enormous amounts of space...

Hmmm. It hadn't occurred to me that this thread -- 7 replies in total, including this one --was taking up an enormous amount of space. The last conversation I took part in regarding John ran to more than 450 replies, 45 pages and had more than 8800 readers. My experience was that the topic was of keen interest to people even if it's not of interest to everyone. Still, if there is some sort of official limit in place, please let me know.

...instead of talking about yourself and about our other members, the people who are Here and Now???

I talk about a lot of things Allan, from all over and all around. You seem to be more comfortable with the idea that I talk about what's happening in this immediate environment, which I grant is a quiet one.

Would you like to talk about why you didn't find the thread to be helpful?

As a PS: It was the interview with Pat Bracken (linked at the bottom of Post #2, excerpts of which make up most of Post #4) that brought this site to my attention.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Allan You may or may not notice that others may relate to the case of John here. I personally (careful not to say too much) have been through similar times.

I found it interesting to read as did others, it paints a picture of the mental health services on offer in the UK and Ireland and how people are treated over here at there most vulnerable times. I'm actually a little bit suprised you didn't think of that?

Thanks for the posts SE.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

GuyOutThere: it paints a picture of the mental health services on offer in the UK and Ireland and how people are treated over here at there most vulnerable times.

John's treatment does paint a very different picture as compared with, say, treatment in North America. There, it's very unusual for people to be held for any extensive length of time so the idea that someone would be written off as hopeless and locked up for four years... it seems unfathomable. I truly don't know how John and Grainne have endured it for so long.

Meantime, John's experience strikes a number of similar chords with me as well. For example, we both had traumatic experiences in our childhoods and based on the little that has been shared, we both encountered some similar content during our experience of fragmentation. In addition, our child's first hospitalization was a very, very negative experience. Fortunately, we found better doctors and better hospitals to work with and they (our child) seem to have moved into an active phase of productive recovery. John seems to finally be starting his recovery too.

~ Namaste

[Note: When I say "our child" I am referring to the child of my husband and I. Like John, they were right on the brink of adulthood when they had their experience.]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest ASchwartz


Of course I understand that others relate to "John." That is my point. Lets talk about Our experiences with schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, medications, stigma and hospitalizations. In other words, lets keep it here.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh. Well those kinds of demands make me feel controlled and boxed in Allan. Was that your intention? In fact, I'm getting some mixed messages from you. Here's one of them...

Allan: Of course I understand that others relate to "John."

You seem to be saying that you understand why others would want to talk about or learn from John's experiences, because it is similar to their own and it's related to an issue that personally affects them.

Allan: lets keep it here

But with that statement you seem to be saying, I don't want you to relate to John and I don't want you to talk about him here.

Could we be honest Allan? I mean, that's usually the way it goes -- you share an opinion, I share an opinon... we talk.

I wasn't comfortable with your manner of bursting upon this thread to accuse me of taking up too much space and to tell me how unhelpful I had been. It was a criticism that arrived out of left field. I recognized it. Others seemed to recognize it as well.

I can certainly understand there would be a policy regarding the posting of spam, pornography, being mean to other members -- that sort of thing. But when someone comes into a schizophrenia topic and begins telling schizophrenics how they must behave...

I've learned to be wary of people who attempt to control others. Quite often, it means they have some underlying emotion they're not dealing with and it's about to get dumped in my lap.

I do believe that mature adults are capable of determining their own interests and choosing their own discussion topics. If the only way I can do that is to have those conversations elsewhere, I'm quite capable of doing that too.

Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought I had responded to this earlier but I must have stopped at the preview.

From The Moon: However, it seems all very overwhelming...

I suppose it is and maybe my style of sharing is informed by my style of experiencing which was to be thrust head-long into the experience. I knew nothing of Jung's work previous to that experience and not for many months after.

Do you think you could summarize each topic on a thread and truncate it a bit more to give people a chance to respond and then you could add more as the conversation evolves?

Sometimes, I don't know how much I'm going to be permitted to share From The Moon, so I probably am guilty of sharing a lot of information at first. The thing is, then it's there and people can come back to move through it as slowly or as rapidly as they'd like. That was something I spent the first few years doing -- not just reading, but reading many times over so I could slowly digest the material. That's part of the thing with depth psychology -- it's not a purely rational exercise. It speaks through the senses, not just through the words

I also found, earlier on, that I wasn't ready to converse. I suspect that's part of what people like about my blogs -- because they can come and take from it on their terms but they're not obligated to converse about it with anyone. Actual dialogue can be overwhelming, even intrusive, to someone who is recovering from fragmentation.

I've noted that people in the early stages of recovery often behave somewhat like a turtle. What I mean is, they pop their head out to briefly engage with the world and then retreat back into the comfort of their shell. Ideally, each time they pop that head out, they gain a little more in their ability to stay out but if the experience proves to be too draining or overwhelming, they retreat back into withdrawal until they can heal from it. In one of my posts I shared a song called Man Without Skin and that's what it can feel like to be stripped of the protection of egoic barriers. The world comes rushing in and it can be too much until and if the "egoic skin" has the opportunity to gain a little in thickness.

Anyway, all of the above likely impacts my posting style. Still, I can appreciate your point and the kindness of your words. There does seem to be some degree of interest in the concept of the Shadow... Shadow material is often the first bit of content that begins to surface in psychosis as well so perhaps we could start a topic about that and take it at a bit of a slower pace.

~ Namaste

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From The Moon: I am understanding your posting style to be the same way a movie should be experienced, from beginning to end...

Truthfully, it depends on the subject. That's precisely what I did in the thread regarding the movie Fight Club but it would be very easy to get sidetracked from the storyline and the complex structure if we had meandered. Now, the thread is there and if we wanted, we could go back and examine it in more detail.

I have no idea what you mean by the Shadow material but it sounds very interesting.

Well, let's start there then. It will have to wait until I've tended to my day however.

~ Namaste

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest ASchwartz

Hi All,

It is not my intention to box anyone in and I apologize if I inadvertently sent that message. Also, I want everyone to discuss their issues, opinions, etc and to do so openly.

What I am attempting to point out is that "Freeing John" seemed like an escape from dealing with one another.

Yes, we bring in unkown people here all the time. But, they are here and "John" is not. I wish here were.

Listen, in no way am I attempting to inhibit discussion here on any issue of interest. My sole purpose in pointing out my opinion and observation is to include ourselves and our experiences with schizophrenia.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Allan: What I am attempting to point out is that "Freeing John" seemed like an escape from dealing with one another.

Thank you for clarifying your concerns Allan. I'm wondering if, now that you've had the opportunity to reflect on the matter, you can see where others were identifying with aspects of John's experience and thus, their own experience?

Meantime, I did initiate a new thread as related to Jungian thought From The Moon. After some deliberation, I decided to place it in the psychotherapy topic since it's not likely to focus solely on the issue of schizophrenia and/or psychosis. I also decided that rather than start with the Shadow, we had to start with the Ego. Here's a direct link: Self Identity - the Ego and Persona.

~ Namaste

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From The Moon: I was trying to say I’d like to know more how you relate to John personally. There was a thread (maybe your first one if I remember correctly) that explained it really well until it took more of a style of a textbook. I can’t find it anymore but I was simply saying it would be nice to get to know you, what you went through, what happened to you, your child, how you’re dealing with it, the mistakes you made, the lessons you learned....

Yes, I did touch on some of that in my introductory thread. A few years ago, I also wrote this up and that covers some of my background: Psychosis, PTSD and Story as a Vehicle of Healing

I didn't anticipate at that time that one of my children would ever undergo anything similar. In the aftermath of my own experience, I didn't know of a single other human being in the history of the world who'd ever had such an experience. It was very disorienting and isolating. Fortunately, that didn't last because I had the internet and was able to find others who had undergone similar experiences. This helped to normalize my own. I was also very fortunate to have a few people in my life I could lean on.

I do share some of my child's experience but I try to do so with respect to who they are and where they are in their own stage of recovery. In other words, I try to preserve their anonymity and not reveal anything they might feel is too personal. That means I keep the details sketchy.

As for John... I've never met him. I did meet his partner Grainne however and I was tremendously moved by her/their story. Part of my response to them was motivated by having been in a caregiver role, like Grainne. And part of my response was related to identifying with some of the struggles and challenges that John was going through or had gone through. As a result, I was quite willing to help promote their cause.

When I go back and watch that first video that captured the intensity of her love and that sense of desperation, fear, hopelessness and helplessness ... and then I watch the next video... of John out walking with his family on his birthday... and it brings a warm glow to my heart. I feel hopeful for John and Grainne. I think they're feeling more hopeful these days too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest ASchwartz

Hi Spiritual,

But, that is just what I am getting at. The discussion can hover around an intellectual discussion instead of a more emotional and healing discussion. Its not about Jungian or any other therapy or about John but about what it feels like to have this type of mental illness and how to cope with it.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

From The Moon: There was a thread (maybe your first one if I remember correctly) that explained it really well until it took more of a style of a textbook.

A few more thoughts for you From The Moon.

I have been talking about my experience and recovery for several years now. One of the things I discovered was that in order to do so, I had to educate people to some degree because otherwise, if I say:

- I split into functions of the psyche, or

- I had an archetypal experience, or

- I had a confrontation with my shadow or

Jung and Perry both believed that schizophrenia was an attempt by the psyche to self-heal, ...

People had no context within which to place those kinds of statements if I haven't presented them with some Jungian concepts first. Then, they'd walk away, scratching their heads and remarking, "It doesn't make sense to me. I guess that's why they call those kind of people crazy."

I found the same was true in regard to my lack of medication. Unless I can present evidence that other people have recovered without medication I get written off as someone who has simply "Gone off their meds as presumed bad patients are wont to do."

There is a reason for the information and yes, everything that I say in this regard was an intimate part of my experience. That doesn't mean that everyone will read it. Quite honestly, it's a lot of work to read it and it's not light reading. Most people will probably pass on the opportunity. But those who identify it as helpful will follow up. We can't know who those people might be because we can never entirely predict what someone else will identify as helpful. But if there is something in my words that resonates with their own experience, they'll have some solid information in hand that they can follow up on in their own lives. This will be true whether they read it today or three years from now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest ASchwartz


Of course you can respond to your experience the way you respond to it.

That is just my question: what is your experience and how have you responded to it? I am pushing for a more personal discussion rather than one that is emotional.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Allan,

My frustration at the moment is that this topic began as a discussion about a young man who I've come to know through the eyes of his partner. There is much about their story that I personally identify with for reasons I have already stated. Insofar as your own questions go regarding my personal experience, I have also addressed them -- here, there and everywhere. Given that you keep asking, I can only assume that you have not read those posts or links. I suspect I would be correct if I was to state that neither have you taken the time to watch those videos about John and learn anything about him. Do you think it's possible that the lack of "personal investment" you may be feeling may be your own?

Meantime, your own contribution to this discussion seems to have been to take on the role of a traffic director: Do this. Don't do that. No, don't talk about that. These are the things you should talk about. Share personal information but don't get emotional. Are you aware that your every comment in this topic has had an expectation attached to it?

Perhaps you could offer up some thoughts in regard to John's situation. How do you feel about young people being institutionalized for four years? Do you believe some people should be written off as hopeless? What are your thoughts in regard to the history of Thorazine as a form of treatment? What about chemical cocktails? What about those disturbing death rates? What about the fact that Carriag Mor has no psychologist on staff and therefore, no psychological treatment? How do you feel about John's relationships with his partner and their son? What do you think John might need in order get well and recover? What are your thoughts in regard to your peers' responses to people like John -- do you agree with the approaches of Drs. Bracken and Healy?

My own (limited) understanding of you is that you have a personal history of working with individuals diagnosed as schizophrenic and that you also feel that psychotherapy as a form of treatment is both undervalued and not utilized often enough. Those are subjects that I could find quite interesting and might enjoy talking about with you.

~ Namaste

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reading John's story again i really begin to feel for him and all those who care about him even more.

I think people should not be hospitalized, hospitals are killers. They won't earn you a funeral but they will make you dead, dead inside. Once you've been to a hospital people judge you and then you begin to judge yourself.

I really should have a career change and become a psychotherapist, treating people where they belong, out of hospitals!

It is a human right to have freedom, sure some people who go mad are not fit to be around others (they may have killed someone) but many people are wrongly admitted to hospital and never come out. So at least i think there should be a compulsary review of a patients progress at least every 2 to 5 years depending on the severity of their mental health. At this review independant doctors (who don't know eachother, like a jury) decide based on evidence from the staff whether or not the patient is fit to be treated in the community instead of the hospital, and more importantly if not then the staff must provide an estimate of when the patient may have recovered enough to be released into the community for treatment.

That way people like John would stand a chance.

All too often people are thrown into hospitals and staff are too afraid to let them out so they stay there getting worse (or if they have any sense about them they escape).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

John is still there...

A Cork woman who has been battling for the rehabilitation of her mentally ill partner is to speak at an upcoming conference in UCC to debate the justification of power held by psychiatric services. Grainne Humphrys is a mental health campaigner but also the long-term partner of 30-year-old John Hunt, a resident at Carraig Mór in Shanakiel.

Diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia, John was first detained in 2006 after he suffered a breakdown. Grainne started an online campaign for his release this year from what she calls a “psychiatric prison” and a “chemical straightjacket”.

John is currently taking a cocktail of drugs, including anti-psychotics Solian and Clopixol, sleeping tablets, anti-anxiety tablets and Largactil, which has caused his teeth to rot and has resulted in the loss of four so far.

His partner believes that he is overmedicated and in need of rehabilitation to remedy the “inadequate response” by the medical profession.

“I believe that the response John got to his distress was an inadequate response. His distress was medicalised. He was going through a natural healing response as a response to a traumatic childhood and I believe that this process was interrupted with the use of psychiatric medication and forced treatment.

“He was excluded from the community and has become dependent and institutionalised. This experience has added years to John's recovery process,” she said.

She added that social factors and John’s life experience were not taken into account.

“His experiences were taken out of context and rather than looking at the root cause, he was labelled, drugged and incarcerated. This is a shocking violation of his human and civil rights. We need to change our response to human distress,” she said.


Just last July, he celebrated his 30th birthday with Grainne and their son Josh with a day out in Cork.

“The days out have given John new hope for his future. He speaks a lot about Joshua, our son, and how much he wants to be a part of his life. John is still keen to get out and the six-hour pass every two weeks has given him something to work towards. We still have a long way to go,” she said.

“I believe John has been re-traumatised by his experiences in the mental health services. I think it is paramount that an alternative for John is found as soon as possible. He needs to gradually be weaned off institutional life and brought back out into the community where he belongs.”

She said John would now have to overcome psychiatric drug addiction, iatrogenic dependency, lost years and chemical damage.

“He will have to heal from the horrors and isolation of forced treatment and the silencing of his voice for so long, on top of his original traumas. I believe that if I wasn't fighting this battle for John, he would be forgotten and that is a tragedy beyond comprehension.”

Read the rest of the article: Cork Independent: Forced Treatment

A few months have passed since I last spoke of John and his situation. At that time, the hope was that John could be transferred to the psychiatric unit at Bantry. This is the unit headed up by Dr. Pat Bracken and also the hospital closest to John's partner Grainne and their son, Josh. (At the present moment, Grainne and Josh can only travel to see John on weekends as he is not close enough to visit daily.)

Now, here it is, many weeks later and John is still in the same place. It's not the place of his choosing. He is forced to be there. He has no choice but to endure to the best of his ability, as do Grainne and Josh. He cannot leave. He cannot walk out of that place.

John's doctors argue that he is not well enough to be transferred to Bantry or to take part in Ireland's National Learning Network as part of his rehabilitation treatment. Grainne argues that it is his lack of meaningful social connections to significant others, the dependency of helplessness he has learned as a result of being institutionalized, and the trauma of his treatment that is preventing him from being well enough to meet the standards for transfer.

Amnesty International has previously criticized the Irish government for this same lack...

... Amnesty recognises that resources are critical in delivering quality health services that allow persons with mental illness to achieve their economic, social and cultural rights. This report acknowledges areas of progress and draws attention to some increased investment in community care and models of best practice, but accuses the Irish Government of making piecemeal and inconsistent progress in its efforts to reduce the stigma of mental illness through the establishment of high-quality community-based services. It is especially critical of the reduction in the proportion of general health expenditure on mental health from 9.4% of the total health budget to 7.2% in 2001.

Source: Amnesty International, Universal Rights and Mental Illness in Ireland

See also: The Petition to Free John

Music of the Hour:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is an extensive discussion regarding John's situation here for those who wish to know more: Helping John

It is the same discussion I referenced earlier. At that time, there had been 8000 readers in a community that measures readership by IP address, not post clicks. There have now been 10,000 readers. We can only hope that it helps to change things, not just for John, but for the millions of people who are like John. That includes people like me and people like my child.

This is why it's important that we be able to freely talk about people like John without being told we shouldn't.

~ Namaste

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...