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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

Ian Parker and Dave Harper

The Guardian, Friday 25 January 2008

Article history

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. 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.



High-flying TV executive kills herself for 'not being good enough mother'

By Andrew Levy

Last updated at 3:10 PM on 23rd June 2010

A television executive killed herself by walking into the sea because she felt she wasn't a good enough mother. Angharad Jones had become convinced she had failed her only child, Sara, 17. The 47-year-old, a former head of drama at S4C – Channel 4 in Wales – texted a relative to say she had left four suicide notes at home before striding into the water. Her body was pulled from the sea close to Penarth Pier near Cardiff hours later.

A letter she left for her daughter said: 'By the time you read this I will be gone. I know it's wrong and I know I'm destroying lives and that makes me detest myself further. You are good and lovely and don't deserve this.' Another said: 'My selfishness and fear are so great that nothing can prevent me. The torture in my head is too much.'

At an inquest yesterday, her psychiatrist Dr Michael Bates said: 'She was regretful she'd not been a good enough mother to Sara. 'She felt she'd led a life of self-indulgence involving drinking heavily and having relationships which she regretted.'

Miss Jones, whose close friends included Notting Hill actor Rhys Ifans, was a talented poet and television author before becoming commissioning editor for drama and film at S4C between 1996 and 2007. She was responsible for some of its most popular programmes and her hallmarks were gripping storylines and racy dialogue.

One of her productions was Caerdydd, which examined the steamy affairs of people whose lives revolved around the National Assembly in Cardiff Bay. She then became a consultant at media production company Calon TV, best known for the hugely successful children's programme Fireman Sam.

But the inquest heard that after the move she worried increasingly about her income and agonised about her care of her daughter. Miss Jones, who was separated from Sara's father, architect Maredudd ab Iestyn, had spent time in a psychiatric unit at Llandough Hospital as a voluntary inpatient but on January 9 left for her home in Pontcanna, Cardiff.

She placed the suicide notes under her quilt before taking a cab for the seven-mile journey to the seaside. Police and coastguards began a desperate search after she texted one of her three sisters about the notes but her body was found in the early hours of the following day. A post-mortem examination found she had died from multiple injuries but added that these might have been caused by being washed up on the rocky shore. Drowning, it added, remained a possibility.

Her sister, Gwerfyl Jones, told the inquest: 'She was passionate about her job and worked very hard. 'She was outgoing, very confident and funny until a year ago, when she lost direction and became very uncertain. 'She didn't know where she was going professionally. She didn't have any money worries, but she feared for her future.'

Cardiff coroner Mary Hassell, who recorded a verdict of suicide, said: 'Angharad was a bright woman with a flourishing career who had done very well in her life until a year before her death. 'She changed the course of her career and had also been in a relationship which had ended. 'It seems those two great life changes provoked a very significant depression. She was concerned about money, yet in reality it seems she had no need to be.'

Miss Jones's three sisters were at the inquest but her daughter did not attend.