RTÉ One, Sunday, 9.30pm
Would You Believe?

Ivor Browne

Ivor Browne
Ivor Browne

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The controversial psychiatrist Ivor Browne, now in his eightieth year has been described as ' a very pure spirit.nourishing to be around because he's such a healing type of person.'

Writer Colm Tobin says, "He's just a good doctor, a kind man who would get up in the middle of the night for people. There's an aura off him which is almost holy."

As Chief Psychiatrist for the Eastern Health Board Ivor tried to reform our mental health system but faced enormous opposition from those who couldn't accept his unorthodox methods. He mistrusted traditional psychiatry's dependence on drugs; "That there's something wrong with the chemical constitution and you put something in to put it right.that's gone right through the tradition of psychiatry and terrible damage has been done as a result."

Ivor based his approach on his own personal struggle to change. "When you come to changing fixed emotional ways of looking at the world, like myself, that you've gathered through your upbringing, to make that sort of change is extremely painful and makes you open up areas that you simply don't want to look at. Now, no drug can do that for you."

It was Ivor who stood by Ross Hamilton and his mother Phyllis when Fr. Michael Cleary's family, friends and Church abandoned them and refused to believe they were Cleary's family. Ross calls him 'a life saver'. "If he didn't speak out for us back then maybe no one would have taken us seriously at all." Ivor suffered the consequences from the Medical Council for taking such a stand.

His commitment to his job eventually took its toll on his marriage: "I remember the night, you don't forget these things, when I went round to quietly say goodbye to each of the children because they were all asleep, looking at each of them in their beds because I knew that I was, in effect, saying goodbye to them."

Would You Believe looks back on a life worth living and a man that made a difference.

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