Film Review: Voices From The Shadows

Film Review: Voices From The Shadows

by Simon Overton (editor of “Missed Diagnoses” & Author of “Charcot’s Bad Idea”)

If I’m on an ME death list I just don’t want to know!”- Consultant Neurologist,
Edinburgh (following comments by an IOP psychiatrist that he was being forced to x-
ray his mail and take other security precautions after alleged threats from patients).

Medicine and Psychiatry in Britain are under siege. Doors are being kicked down
by ski-masked thugs whose one objective is to abduct the children of medical
professionals. This is not for money or extortion but for compliance by hardworking
doctors with what these ME activists regard as the most effective treatment for
their condition. Across the country psychiatrists have been forced to take extreme
measures, mail is x-rayed, visitors searched and children are escorted too and from
school in case they are snatched. The situation is grim with many families unable
to see their children, once taken, for months if not years, held as they are in locked
rooms, often in ramshackle buildings with little care or compassion.

If the previous paragraph were to appear in the Guardian or other newspapers it would
be a national outrage, the Government would expect the police to make arrests. The
group would be infiltrated by special branch, intelligence would be gathered, the
crime would end and the criminals brought to justice. There would be heavy prison

The Film Voices from the Shadows, a shocking and deeply disturbing documentary
produced and directed by Natalie Boulton and Josh Biggs, makes clear that it is
patients themselves who have suffered abuse at the hands of some elements of the
medical profession. It is parents whose children are profoundly ill who have had
their doors kicked down by police and social services whilst psychiatrists sign
section orders and remove their children to locked rooms in locked wards. Yet
what is remarkable is the restraint the film shows. We see the suffering, we hear the
families and children describe their experience. The contributions from world experts
including Dr. Nigel Speight, a consultant paediatrician and Prof. Leonard Jason add
a profound clarity to the narrative. Jason says candidly “This is as important as any
other major illness, whether it is cancer, heart disease or AIDS.”

Biggs camerawork is sensitive rather than dramatic, this is not sensationalism, the
tone and mood are one of careful reflection on patients neglected and disenfranchised
from proper medical care and attention. It is a call for more clinical research, more
understanding, to support charities such as MEResearch UK and the 25% group.

As Jason puts it :

Voices from the Shadows is the most important and significant film on
pediatric ME that has ever been produced – Prof. Leonard Jason


  1. I saw this film a couple of days ago. The cinema audience was stunned and shocked into silence by the end. It is horrifying what the certainty of perceived medical truth can do in the name of care. It has been my experience that when something medical cannot be explained by the medical profession then the patient is blamed. "Something must be done" we all say when faced with pain and suffering.

    This film highlights how that "Something being Done" can be distorting, destructive and dehumanising - all the name of care. As the wrong cause is accredited to ME then how will a cure or treatment ever be found? This film showed clearly the need for research into the physical causes of ME so that sufferers are no longer treated as a psychiatric problem but as people with a physical illness.


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