The inquest on Sophia was held on 13th June 2006. It lasted 7 hours. The coroner gave the cause of Sophia’s death as :-
SHE DIED AS A RESULT OF ACUTE RENAL FAILURE ARISING FROM THE EFFECTS OF CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME(also known as M.E.).
After the inquest there were some people who told me to ‘draw a line ’under Sophia’s death; they said that doctors and psychiatrists are too powerful and that people question them at their peril. Be that as it may, I believed, and still believe, that the way many, but not all doctors and psychiatrists, treat M.E. as a mental illness, is totally misguided and likely to lead to inhumanity and illegality. Through their answers to my complaints, it appears that their governing bodies agree with them, thereby giving the green light to other doctors and psychiatrists to do likewise, should they so wish. Their actions fly in the face of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
I believe that these groups of people function the way they do, ignoring the WHO, in the certain knowledge that they are ’the professionals’They brook no opposition, even if that opposition is functioning correctly. When Sophia was released from the mental hospital, I too, did not complain as she was terrified of being sectioned again. Because the majority of doctors and psychiatrists treat M.E. as a mental illness, this does NOT make it so.
Originally I wrote Sophia’s story for her friends, who she was unable to see because of this debilitating illness. I wanted them to know about her incredible courage, strength and compassion. Shortly afterwards I attended the first conference by Invest in M.E. in 2006. I asked if I could distribute this small pamphlet. They kindly agreed. Subsequently they asked me if they could reproduce it on their website. Both they as well as the 25% M.E. group have still got her story on their sites.
In September and October 2006 I made complaints to the General Medical Council (GMC) against the six doctors and psychiatrists involved . I also lodged a complaint against the social worker with Social Services (SS). I had already decided that should these complaints be airbrushed out , I would open this website; I wanted people to see how and why Sophia had been sectioned. I had thought long and carefully about such a step.
It is important for people to realise that Sophia’s treatment was not unusual. There are hundreds if not thousands of others suffering from M.E. who are treated in a similar way. Many of these are children who are torn away from their parents behind the closed doors of ‘family courts’; they can be treated/mistreated by the authorities as they see fit. They and their parents are bound to silence by the courts. Many more are forced into mental hospitals on a ’voluntary’ basis, knowing that if they do not agree, they too will be sectioned. Often they are too frightened to have contact with their GPs, and with good reason. People have been abused like this for decades; the practice continues unabated today.
Many documents were withheld from both Sophia and me on the grounds that 1) they would damage her health, 2) we had no right to see them. I believe that by shining a light on these, their own letters, as well as my complaints and the answers given, others can see just how the decision to section Sophia under the Mental Health Act, was reached. I believe that this will also mirror how it is still being applied to others with M.E.
COMPLAINT TO THE GENERAL MEDICAL COUNCIL
In October and November of 2007 the GMC and SS cleared their members from any wrongdoing.
- The ‘experts’ who reviewed the case were psychiatrists
- They refused to name them, on the grounds of ‘confidentiality’
- There was no right of appeal.
To me such an answer did not even seem reasonable. The fact that their two ’experts’ were psychiatrists beggars belief, given that the WHO deems M.E. to be a physical neurological disease.
I know many others who suffer from M.E. who are treated as mentally ill. Their M.E. condition did not improve. They have been given series of electrical shocks; one was thrown in a swimming pool on the basis that he could swim. He sank to the bottom and had to be resuscitated. There is the standard belief that these people, (many of them children), are just ‘making it up’ to get attention. I don’t know one single person suffering from M.E. who would not do anything and everything in order not to have this dreadfully debilitating disease and the attendant brutality and isolation which often, goes with it.
COMPLAINT TO SOCIAL SERVICES
I complained to Social Services about the social worker. Having investigated it they thought that her actions were perfectly acceptable.(SS20) I did not agree. Finally they employed an Independent Investigating Officer (IO).
The Independent Officer’s Reports (SS26) gave an overview of how those in social services conducted themselves. In my opinion the IO gave a balanced and measured viewpoint with the information that was available. This was not reflected however in the letter dated 23rd November 2007 written by the Associate Director of Social Services (SS27) that gave a formal response to the IO’s report. I was not impressed with it. It appeared as a whitewash.
When Sophia was released from the mental hospital in 2003 She applied for legal aid for the wrongs that were perpetrated against her. This was refused on the grounds that”…the Funding Review Committee were not satisfied there was sufficient evidence of clinical negligence……..there were no significant human rights issues which would justify the use of public finds to pursue this matter. In addition the Committee were not satisfied the cost benefit test was likely to be met….” (L7).
During 2007 I spoke to a number of solicitors. They indicated that the application was a ‘complicated’case, i.e. that it would be too expensive to bring to court. They said that there is a cost benefit ratio in place. I was also told that as Sophia was not survived by a husband or child, no legal action could be taken. In October 2007 I applied for Legal Aid in order to take the case forward to the courts. This was disallowed as it did not conform to the right criteria.
In 2004 the legal system said that Sophia’s human rights were not abused (L7 ). When she died no action could be taken because she did not conform to the right criteria. This was also held as Sophia had no children or husband. It put Sophia in a no win situation. For me the point of any legal action was to ensure doctors would be obliged to conform to the WHO; it was not for monetary gain. Had she had a husband or child, this could have been implemented. Why is something potentially illegal, only if they have the ‘correct next of kin’ at time of death? Surely if any doctor is treating a patient as mentally ill for a physical disease, then what they are doing is illegal, irrespective of the patient’s marital status?
It was said by Sophia’s solicitor (180) and the IO that she had a right to be treated in a manner she agreed with. It was also confirmed by the psychiatrist that she was of sound mind ( SS26. P14 para.1. ) Nonetheless, he totally ignored her human rights and arrogantly continued acting in the manner to which he had become accustomed. I wrote to Lord Goldsmith (Legal index) and subsequently to Baroness Scotland (L21 ). They appear not to deal with such breaches of actions. There is nowhere left for me to go.
Through the illegal actions of the doctors and social worker we have lost Sophia.
NEED FOR CHANGE
Sophia is dead. Nothing anyone can say or do is going to bring her back to life. What people can do is to turn her cold-blooded cruel brutal ‘treatment’ around into something positive and good for all those children, adults and their families with M.E. I know that for years these same families have begged and pleaded to be treated as the WHO says, as having a physical neurological disease. This is not asking for much; they are only asking for what is ‘a right’. It has not been many years since those with Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease and Epilepsy were also treated as mentally ill.
If I, who had all these documents has failed to make the doctors and social worker, accountable, what chance do others stand ? The doctors, psychiatrists and social workers can, if they so wish, decide to treat ANY PHYSICAL DISEASE as a mental illness. They can and will section various individuals in mental hospitals. The GMC has given them the green light to continue. There is no one to stop them.
Sadly, I, like many others, realise that asking for such basic human rights is not enough. I believe that in reality, it will take the many good doctors along with MPs and those in the House of Lords to enforce what the WHO says. If they are unable or unwilling to do such a thing, of what significance is the World Health Organisation ? Their existence under such circumstances is irrelevant.
Sophia believed in personal responsibility. She believed in making the world a better place for everyone, no matter how small the contribution. The day before she died I promised her that her life would improve and make better the lives of others who have M.E..
Through the doctors’ and social worker’s own letters it can be seen how they went about sectioning Sophia. I have never found out precisely why they did it. Maybe I never will.
Sophia - this is for you.
Críona Wilson (Sophia’s mum)
When I first published this website I was frightened, as some friends had warned me that it could be shut down and that legal action could be taken against me. Nonetheless, I felt that it was important to highlight what many, but not all doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, as well as others who hold high office, were prepared to do in order to sustain the myth that ME is a mental illness. Now, eighteen months later, Sophia’s site has received over a quarter of a million visits and no one has attempted to take legal action against me.
Earlier this year I wrote to the World Health Organisation (WHO) asking them to clarify a few simple questions. They said that it was the job of the Ministry of Health of each country to implement the WHO’s rulings and that I should contact them. This I did. The Ministry of Health gave me answers which, in my opinion, did not even make common sense.
The key figure in all of this appears to be Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England since 1998; he is also an executive of the WHO and therefore is duty bound, according to section 28 of the W.H.O's Constitution, to implement their rulings. To date he has refused to carry out his obligations as regards ME. He allows the doctors and psychiatrists to abuse and bully the most ill and vulnerable people: those suffering from ME. It appears to me that he will continue to ignore the WHO unless his position and power base are seriously threatened; then, and only then, will he consider it expedient to conform to the WHO.
Would any or all of these people continue to insist that the WHO is wrong if a member of their family were stricken down with this most terrible disease? That is the question.
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