Polypharmacy and Elaine O’Hara

Elaine O'Hara

Elaine O’Hara, age 36.

Elaine O’Hara, a childcare and newsagent worker, was discharged from St Edmondsbury psychiatric unit on the 22nd of August 2012. Following a visit to her mother’s grave later that day, she went missing; it was the last time she was seen alive. At that time, due to her psychiatric history, her family though she had probably taken her own life. Her body was found the following year (Sept 2013) in the Dublin Mountains by a woman out walking her dog. Following a lengthy police investigation it transpired that Elaine was having an alleged sadomasochistic relationship with Graham Dwyer, a 42 year old architect from Foxrock in Co. Dublin. Although the cause of Elaine’s death has not been established, Mr Dwyer is currently on trial for her murder. According to the Irish Independent, their relationship was based on ‘BDSM’ – bondage, domination, sadomasochism, and masochism. Whether this man is guilty of Elaine’s murder (or not) remains to be determined by the Irish judiciary.

The Irish media are having a field day, initially portraying Elaine O’Hara as a very vulnerable yet intelligent woman; now it seems that her death is viewed as a media free-for-all, a no-holes-barred media circus. What struck me as really sad in this very peculiar case, is that Elaine herself seems to have been put on trial. Every aspect of her life, every lifestyle choice has been examined, scrutinised and then widely publicized for a further round of public analyses. There seems to be a general consensus that Elaine’s relationship with this man (and his sadistic fetishes) somehow veered towards an acquiescence of sorts. People naturally wonder how Elaine O’Hara could go out with this man, who according to media reports, had a sadistic penchant for inflicting pain on women.

Early difficulties –

Media reports say that Elaine’s difficulties started in her teens when she was bullied in school and a close friend of hers died in a road accident. Sadly, this then led to Elaine being treated under irish psychiatric ‘care’ and consequently medicated accordingly. She became very withdrawn and tried to cut her wrists at age 16. According to her father she had been medicated very heavily from the time she was a teenager and this affected their relationship – “she was hard going sometimes”. He said Elaine was on so much medication that she would sometimes fall asleep. He further stated that this had affected her in her teenage and early adult years. Considering this cocktail of mind altering drugs, is it really a surprise that Elaine would make some dubious decisions?

Elaine was released from a psychiatric Hospital the same day she went missing. That same day she collected 10 medications from her local pharmacy for athsma, diabetes, anxiety, depression, a stomach problem, vertigo and an added one for cholesterol. Which medical experts allowed this polypharmacy to continue; why did no-one put a stop to it?

Her sister Anne described Elaine as a ‘naive’ person who would “tell a man on the street her life story”. She said Elaine’s psychological difficulties meant that she ‘acted quite young’ and “she never really grew up as much as the rest of us, she was very naive, very trusting of people”. Psychologist Sheila Hawkins (partner of Elaine’s father) said “I placed her emotional development around the age of 15”. Ms Hawkins said she was aware of Elaine’s interest in sado-masochism and there was further evidence in court of a latex bodysuit being discovered. A work colleague testified that everything Elaine said had to be taken “with a pinch of salt”. She further stated “You wouldn’t know what was true or what wasn’t true”. How very sad that every single element of this woman’s life is under scrutiny; the question is, who is on trial here?

Polypharmacy –

So what about the ten medications she was on? Which doctor added in the 10th drug? Which medical expert said “Righty ho Elaine, how many drugs are you on? Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, not eight but nine prescription drugs. Okay so, let’s add in another one for good measure and that might solve your problems” . Were any of these prescribers experts in Pharmacology or psychopharmacology? Did any have a clue as to how these ten different drugs could interact? Does anyone actually care?

It seems there was a point where at least one doctor wanted to reduce her drug regime. Her father said that in her last five years “doctors were trying to reduce her medications and he thought she had improved quite a bit”. Despite this, the Irish Independent reported that ‘in the two years before her disappearance, the cost of the medication dispensed by her local pharmacy was €8,417’. Is it any wonder that this woman would allow herself to be moulded and coached by a dangerous man? She was medicated to within an inch of her life or arguably, within an inch of her death. It actually surprises me that she was able to function after consuming these drugs, never mind function coherently.

In my opinion, whether this man is found guilty or not, Elaine was abused in life by our Irish acceptance of the ‘medical experts’ and their ridiculous polypharmacy. Following her death, she and her family are now being abused by the media’s very public portrayal of every aspect of Elaine’s very short life. Would she have gone anywhere near this man or this lifestyle if she wasn’t medicated to the gills with dangerous mind altering drugs? That is quite possibly the one question the media are not prepared to ask.


5 thoughts on “Polypharmacy and Elaine O’Hara

  1. I agree entirely that the information in relation to Elaine O’Hara’s private life is sad and it’s even sadder that it has to be made public. However it absolutely must come out in court as it is intrinsically entwined with the details of the life of the accused. His DNA was recovered from her mattress after all. The extent of his involvement in her death is yet to be clearly established.

    I am very uncomfortable with your suggestion that various medications co-prescribed in someway made her more suggestible or more groom-able to the person or persons she interacted with on BDSM websites. Your suggestion that “acceptance of the ‘medical experts’ and their ridiculous polypharmacy” is dangerous and based on nothing more than your speculation. You don’t have enough details of her medical conditions, the medications she was prescribed, how well she adhered to the regimes etc to make this link. It’s not right to discount what qualified doctors and pharmacists deemed appropriate for this particular woman.

    Indeed her father did say that when younger she was often very influenced by her medications. We don’t know if she was on the same regimes throughout her adult life or that they did not in fact enable her to positively function at the level she did at that time. The alternative may have been a lot worse for her quality-of-life. Sheila Hawkins, an experienced psychologist, has stated she had an emotional age of about 15, although she was intelligent and caring. Her psychological problems are more likely to have made her vulnerable to the type of exploitation that is being recounted in court rather than medication. Certainly there is no evidence so far that medication made her more suggestible or that anything was inappropriately prescribed.

    It’s a very important point because the reason Elaine’s personal life is being made so horribly public is because someone brought her to that mountainy place and killed her. It would seem that person groomed her and abused her before killing her.

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  2. This is a very sensitive case, and I agree also with your post Leonie. The amount of prescription drugs (including psychiatric) that she was prescribed over the years (from her teens in seems) is simply shocking. One would have to question the so called ‘psychiatric care’ that she received over the years, that said, all in all it’s a very sad and tragic case.

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  3. I agree with you Leoni. I was on Cipralex for 3 years, for what im not too sure. I know i was a 17 yr old sad grumpy teenager when my doc put me on it. I was the stereotypical, head down under the hoodie, troubled young girl. The next thing I knew I had woken up 3 yrs later vowing to get off that shit, which thankfully i eventually did. For those 3 yrs i acted as if in a daze. I remember little, slept with every idiot who looked sideways at me and took every drug you could imagine. Once i got off Cipralex it was like an awakening, i went back to college and got myself a life, drugfree thank you very much. I made new friends because my old ones got fed up with my selfish drug enhanced couldn’t-care-less attitude. These drugs can change your personality to the extreme, to a person nobody recognises. I lived in a horrendous zombie-like state. I wholeheartedly agree that to prescribe anybody ten meds at a time is incredibly dangerous. RIP Elaine. Tragic tragic case.

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  4. Of course it’s the media’s duty to inform, not to educate. We should advise our young people not to get involved in risky behaviour, whatever illness they are suffering from. Entering the dark world of sadomasochism leaves one at wide open risk of meeting a nut, which sadly happened in Elaine’s case. Could we learn from this? Could we advise our young people and those who are vulnerable to avoid risky behaviour at all costs? Could we advise them to report if they are under pressure from the sort of nut that Dwyer is? And could we make it safe and secure for them to do so? There she was in a psychiatric hospital, with all the available expertise and support in front of her wanting to help, but she chose to hide her problems from them. There’s too much emphasis on Dwyer and how to prevent this happening to someone else is totally ignored. The media claim he is a psychopath. Don’t know if that can be changed but giving him the opportunity to do his worst can surely be changed. Or can it?

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  5. Education is very important helps you to seal your identity.
    The more we acts in an assertive manner when dealing with others,the more successeful will be our relationship with them.We are confident about what we want,we do not upset others,we speak up for ourselves we are persistent.
    What ‘s the earthy use of putting a man on the moon when we cannot live on the earth?
    Elaine O’Hara :Was a child care worker who was reaching out for help but was discharches from St Edmondsbury psychiatric unit on the 22nd of August 2012.
    Elaine was having an alleged sadomasochistic relationship with Graham Dwyer, a 42 year old architect from Foxrock in Co. Dublin. The cause of Elaine’s death has been established, Mr Dwyer is in Prison for her murder.Their relationship was based on ‘BDSM’ – bondage, domination, sadomasochism, and masochism.

    Why the psychatrist did not help Elaine to discover ways of helping herseslf to put her in charge to become autonomy and independent and less at the mercy of Dwyer.
    Elaine needed confidence not drugs ? A good psychatrist should teach how to break the habit with Dwyer help her to cope better and put her back in charge of her life.She was willing to face unpleasant aspects of her life which have been buried.Elaine did tried to re-evaluated her life,has not been given sufficient attention to uncoveing the root of her poblem;changing belief desire takes time to rewire her brain from addiction. Inevitable relapse is on tha cards with cocktails of medications in increasing dose being prescribed,many with serious side effects.Who benefits?Polypharmacy
    I feel very sad to medicalise her emotional state she remain disepowered as before.
    The goal of healing is not mediated mediocrity but the integration of the selfthrough catharsi Reconstruction and channelling the enourmous emotional energy into productivity.
    The formation of people whose sense of identity is intact and who have high level of love and respct of themselves without these positive formative influnce a person can wonder through life desperately searching of somobody to give him or her that sense of self-esteem .Co dpendent people learn early to accept that which is unacceptable .They lean not to expect a lot from others and are suprised when someone has positive attitude to them.Best wishes

    http://www.drjonty.com
    http://edhalliwll.com

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