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 She became very withdrawn and tried to cut her wrists at age 16.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?
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.