WELCOME TO ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNERS for DISABILITY RIGHTS - a pan disability blog connecting my work with, EQUAL LIVES, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and the Survivor History Group.

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Saturday, 18 January 2014

More Survivor History News

Brett Sharpe, Administrator, Service User Involvement Directorate at
Together, has kindly fixed for the group to meet there on the final
Wednesday of every other month in 2014. The mezzanine.(that is the
area at the top of the short flight of steps that you can see when
you enter) will be available for us. Together's address is 12 Old
Street, London, EC1V 9BE

The dates are
Wednesday 29.1.2014 Survivors History Group 1pm Together
Wednesday 26.3.2014 Survivors History Group 1pm Together
Wednesday 28.5.2014 Survivors History Group 1pm Together
Wednesday 30.7.2014 Survivors History Group 1pm Together
Wednesday 24.9.2014 Survivors History Group 1pm Together
Wednesday 26.11.2014 Survivors History Group 1pm Together

By the wonders of modern technology I copied that straight of our web
page. You can do the same at any time by visiting
studymore.org.uk/mpu.htm and clicking the link that says
"Click for next London meeting - Everyone welcome"

The meeting of the Survivors History Group on 29.1.2014 will be
discussing the contribution that Eric Irwin made, over the course of
a long life (born Belfast 1924, died London December 1987) to the
movement. Eric was in asylums in Ireland, Australia and England. We
are hoping that the members present who knew him will include Frank
Bangay, Peter Campbell, and David Kessel, as well as Liz and Brian
who were two of the co-signatories, with Eric, to the "The Need for
a Mental Patients' Union - Some Proposals" (the Fish pamphlet) which
triggered the formation of the Mental Patients Union in 1974 and
later became central to the campaigns of PROMPT (Promotion of the
Rights of Patients in Therapy) and CAPO (Campaign Against
Psychiatric Oppression) whose activities took campaigning into
parliament, pioneered survivor poetry and song, initiated the
television documentary "We're Not Mad We're Angry" (1986) and
triggered the international revolt of survivor participants in the
World Conference at Brighton in July 1985 that launched the explosion
of survivor oganisations in England, Wales and Scotland during the
1980s and early 1990s.

Our pooled efforts to construct a history of Eric's life can be found
at http://studymore.org.uk/bio.htm#EricIrwin This has links to the
Fish pamphlet and other documents online.

Survivor History Group meetings and hospitality are free. More
expensive, but no doubt worth the price for some who can afford it,
is a trip to Greece for the 5th Qualitative Research on Mental Health
conference, this September (Not so expensive if you already live
there). Details at

Gordon Joly points out that the next meeting of the Survivors History
Group clashes with the first meeting at the House of Commons of the
inquiry into `parity of esteem´, to assess how effectively the
Government is meeting its objective to give mental health equal
priority to physical health.

The first meeting is on a very important subject
"Reducing premature mortality for people with mental health problems"
Wednesday 29.1.2014 - 1-3pm - Committee Room 19, House of Commons

Please visit http://www.rethink.org/get-involved/campaigns/all-party-
parliamentary-group-on-mental-health to know more about this.

Two really big events in survivor history are the publication of a
survivor historian's history of asylums and enquiry into community
care as a Penguin paperback on February 6th and a spectacular launch
event at 6.30pm on March 18th featuring members of the Survivors
History Group. This is at the Mile End Campus of Queen Mary,
University of London. (East End of London)

See http://studymore.org.uk/mhhtim.htm#2014 and click one link to be
notified when the book is published and another one to book your free
place at the launch and find directions and a map. As Ian Ray Todd
warns, they move the room (perhaps to cater for the demand?), but
once you have booked you will be kept informed of any changes. The
event, the wine and the company are free, but you have to book your

The Penguin book is "The Last Asylum. A memoir of madness in our
time", Barbara Taylor's journey through mental illness and the
psychiatric health care system. A survivor historian's account of her
battle with mental illness, set inside the wider story of the end of
the UK asylum system.

Barbara Taylor is one of the leading pioneers of "unofficial
histories" (not elite histories). See


If you have no yet read "Eve and the New Jerusalem. Socialism and
feminism in the nineteenth century" Virago (1983) then at least click
on the above link and find out what it is about. Anna Wheeler and her
daughter Rosina are also part of our history, who you will read about
if you follow links, are also part of our history.


The launch event is a public discussion of mental health care in
Britain, past and present, featuring Peter Barham - Peter Campbell -
Annette de la Cour - Antony Garelick and Barbara Taylor herself.

Survivor history is just one aspect of survivor research and there
have been important publications about this recently. With help from
others, I am making entries in my Social Science Dictionary to
explain survivor research and to provide links to publications. You
can see the draft at

Jasna Russo has written an important review of the book Patsy
Staddon edited on "Mental Health Service Users in Research: Critical
Sociological Perspectives" Policy Press. The review was published in
Disability and Society (details at
http://studymore.org.uk/sshbib.htm#JasnaRusso ) If you have any
difficulty securing a copy, please contact Jasna at

I think some members will find material to interest them if they
click on this link http://nsun.cmph.org/o/3C7NjYdiwQ0_6bB_IhpbqQ

In the late 1850s Bethlem Hospital (now the Imperial War Museum)
asked a top society photographer to photograph patients. His name was
Henry Hering, he had his own studio at 137 Regent Street, good
society connections and royal patronage. The photographic collection
of patients probably had two objectives, one to humanise the image of
the hospital under its new reformed regime and two to contribute to
the 'physiognomy of insanity' - the developing efforts to classify
mental disorders using appearance as a clue. [That is why I avoid
having my photograph taken (-: ]

The reforms at Bethlem were the direct result of the campaigns of the
first known UK survivor organisation, the Alleged Lunatics Friend
Society [See http://studymore.org.uk/bio.htm#JohnThomasPerceval ]

The Bethlem Archives and Museum have put this remarkable collection
online: http://www.bethlemheritage.org.uk/archive/web/HPA.htm
Those of us who are lunatics can see our predecessors. It is a very
moving experience to see people who we may previously read the names
of and to look into their eyes and see with ours how they may be

There is a lot of material about this photography in a blog. See

The museum is now bidding for a twenty-first century photography
project and wonders what today's patients would feel about voting for
it. To vote, visit

Secure patients of the 21st century were rallied to the cause of
survivor history by Clare Ockwell at their first conference on


Clare used a Power Point presentation with picture themes to prompt
her in discussing various aspect of our history - Including the
Alleged Lunatics Friend Society who campaigned for the reform of
Bethlem in the 19th century.We will make this available in our
downloadable resources from the website, but you can have your own
advance copy (attached).

The Survivors History Group is going through difficult times, but we
are working together to keep things going. If you are feeling
depressed about the future, please visit Jessie on the Survivor
History Timeline


I did, and I am feeling better already. There really are no known
adverse side effects to the Jessie treatment.

Best wishes, Andrew

PS. I am sorry if I have missed something you wrote to me about. It
has not been deliberate. I sometimes cannot keep up with all the
activity. Please keep up the activity and forgive me (-:

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The Tough Tenor (when I could walk)!

In a Mellotone

In a Mellotone
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