FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ex-Mental Patient Speaks Out in New Hip-Hop Album About Hartford's Institute of Living
Describes Experience as “Torture” and Says Hartford’s Not the Only Place This Happens
HARTFORD, Conn., October 14, 2022 – Connecticut native Jim Flannery surprised listeners with the release of his debut hip hop album, Sorry It’s Not Funny. The ten-track album provides a window into Flannery’s experiences being involuntary committed and forcibly drugged at mental hospitals across the United States, including Hartford’s Institute of Living.
Flannery goes as far as to accuse the government of committing “state-sanctioned torture of its own citizens,” providing his own encounters as evidence. Previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, Flannery also raises doubts about the claims of his mental processes being faulty, in particular taking aim at the assumption by doctors that he has a neurochemical imbalance in his brain. Flannery opens up in his music that he’s recently started hearing voices, while doubling-down on his insistence that his mental experiences are not a pathology, rapping “Though now that I hear voices, I’m empirically different. Like having emotions it’s an ability, there’s nothing wrong with my head.” Not a stranger to understanding and discussing science, Flannery has a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Boston University where he worked as a researcher in a neuroscience laboratory through a grant from the Beckman Foundation, and has founded startup companies in the biotechnology and LED lighting industries. Along the way he also earned a teaching credential in physics.
In 2018 and 2019, Flannery helped organize protests of the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in New York and San Francisco, inviting others to share their experiences and speak out. In his 2019 video invitation to join the protest, Flannery declared, “You may think my repeat lockups in psych wards hurt my credibility and make my judgment questionable, that’s fair, however, my four lock ups were in four different states across the U.S., making me a credible witness to the current condition of mental health services in our country.”
Flannery also expressed himself publicly in speaking specifically about Connecticut’s mental health system on October 20, 2020, during a testimony before the Connecticut Valley Hospital’s Whiting Forensic Task Force, sharing that “the greatest trauma I’ve ever experienced was at the hands of Connecticut’s mental health system.” A full transcript is available on the Connecticut General Assembly website.
“It’s possible sharing the truth about our mental health system will scare people. That’s not my goal, I’m doing this in an effort to make things change. People are being harmed by the mental health system that’s supposed to be there to help them. Worse yet, forced treatment and coercion are written into law, making everything they do legal,” said Flannery.
Flannery has been speaking about his experiences with the mental health system since 2013 when he first began performing stand-up comedy under the pseudonym “flim jannery.” Switching from comedy to hip hop was a calculated, yet risky decision. “Comedy seemed like the best way to talk about subjects that are painful to discuss, but over time, it felt like my sense of humor was causing more harm than good. Hip hop is the most authentic genre of art I’m aware of, I can say exactly what I want. I gave up something by walking away from comedy, but now that the album is finished, I can say it feels like the right decision.”
Flannery has also worked close with the international human rights organization, MindFreedom International, both as their web developer and producer of their video series, Voices for Choices: fighting for human rights in mental health. Speaking of MindFreedom, Flannery says, “There exists a movement that’s gone largely unnoticed, of psychiatric survivors, ex-mental patients, and even consumers of mental health services, who simply do not want to be tortured into submission by their own government. MindFreedom is the only organization I’m aware of that has a program like the Shield, which is a mutual support aid network of individuals who fight to help people be free from involuntary psychiatric interventions. I only wish I knew about them when I was locked up, especially my first time in Hartford.”
|The album cover for Sorry It’s Not Funny, the debut hip-hop album from ex-mental patient, Jim Flannery.||Jim Flannery|
Contact: Jim Flannery
Email: jim at jim-flannery.com