Ivor Browne rightly lauded – but we are a long way from his vision and values

This article has been published by Mad in Ireland. It begins:

“The great Ivor Browne, who many will know for his humane approach to human distress, died this week to widespread plaudits from the media. This is right and fitting for a man who gave so much to people, was responsible for liberating many from prison-like institutions and highlighting that distress very often comes from deep-seated trauma, not brain disorders.

But what’s perhaps been missing from the narrative about Ivor, is just how far we really are from having mental health services that deliver on his clear-eyed vision and values. A psychiatrist himself and indeed the former Chief psychiatrist of the Eastern Health Board, Ivor was clear and unwavering in his criticism of psychiatry and its tools, i.e mind-altering medications and coercion in inhumane settings that cannot bring about healing. While the mainstream talks about his quirky treatment methods and breaking down the walls of the old institutions, very little is being said about his vehement criticisms of psychiatry, its power and how it treats people. Why is that? Could it be that those very power structures are still so strong, that criticism is immediately shot down as dangerous and ‘out there’. This, despite the fact that the science is now clear and very much on the side of radical change.

In a keynote speech to the Critical Voices Network of Ireland conference in 2010, Browne said the tragedy of psychiatry was that it was ‘actually creating illness’ and entraining people into a pathway of ‘being convinced they are ill…that they continue and become more ill.’ …”

You can read more from here.

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