Working as a consultant for a number of groups, the psychologist Terence McLaughlin, who has died of cancer aged 59, was an unsung hero of mental health activism
Ian Parker and Dave Harper Friday January 25, 2008, The Guardian
Working as a consultant for a number of groups, the psychologist Terence McLaughlin, who has died of cancer aged 49, was an unsung hero of mental health activism. While still a mature student at what became Manchester Metropolitan University (formerly Manchester Polytechnic), he became involved in the Hearing Voices Network, bringing together people who challenged mainstream views of what professionals often describe as "auditory hallucinations". The movement was then at an early stage of development in Britain, and McLaughlin, who graduated in 1992, focused on it in his PhD, awarded by Manchester Metropolitan University in 2000.
The movement sought to avoid attempts to make those who use mental health services comply with what psychiatrists prescribe as treatment, drawing instead on its own resources to offer alternatives to medical intervention.
Born in Liverpool, McLaughlin was a revolutionary socialist and spent many years working in industry. As a psychologist, he was much more interested in grassroots campaigning than career advancement. He was a co-author of Deconstructing Psychopathology (1995) and brought radical perspectives to conferences and publications, challenging experts' definitions of normal and abnormal behaviour. He was also executive editor of Asylum, the magazine for democratic psychiatry www.asylumonline.net/. His research always served wider political struggles, and he sought to keep histories of resistance alive.
McLaughlin was a modest man, often to be found in the background, facilitating the involvement of others. Campaigns with which he was involved included Manchester Hearing Voices Network, the Paranoia Network, the North-west Right to Refuse Electroshock campaign, Psychology Politics Resistance and the campaign against the mental health bill.
He had a sceptical attitude towards those in power, including psychologists. He was also a very generous person with a mischievous sense of humour.
He is survived by his wife Julie and children Mano, Juanita, Roisin, Mia, Grania and Carmen.
Rufus writes: Terry was the gentle giant of the hearing voices movement. When I stayed with Terry and Julie I always felt at home. Terry was a great mentor to me and gave me a lot of support and encouragement for many years. Whenever I really needed wise guidance on ways to understand, resist or subvert oppressive systems, he was there. Always passionate about tackling injustice and helping people to speak their truths, he was and will always be an inspirational person to me. Terry was an organiser and a great thinker. He taught me for example about how important it was to involve artists and young people in liberatory mental health activism. You have helped many people in many ways, the warm fire in your heart burns on in ours. Thankyou.