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IN AND OUT OF THE LOONY BIN
A shocking true story
Dr Romesh Senewiratne
Contents: The Tale I Tell Francesca 6 7 5
First Night in Meduna Ward First Escape 8 9 11
Heading for Parliament Return to Royal Park Day Three 12 13 17
By Bus to Brisbane The Private Professor Digger Eddie 22 24
Heart To Heart With My Father
Trying to Stay Away From Prince Charles Liberty Theo Billy Faith 36 38 39 40 35
Asking the Private Professor for Help Big Pete The Farmer Rufus James Deva Jason Yvonne 44 46 47 48 49 42 43
50 51 52
The First Injection of Many Logos 54 55 56
Bad, Sad and Mad Return to Melbourne Schizophrenia Mania 59 60 58
The Tall Thin Grim Doctor Socrates Paul Maria Sabriyah Joe 70 71 73 74 76 67 68 69 65
Andrew Michael Carl
Fully Committed Jenny Larry Cherie Ahmad 78 80 82 83
Three Young Witches Frank 88 90 91
Too Happy Psychiatrists
The Research Doctor Retrospective Diagnosis Cruel Betrayal Words 100 101 97
The Tale I Tell What follow, in this book, are poems about folk I met when I was locked up. I was incarcerated for my own good, I was told, and to keep society safe. Not that I was dangerous, but neither were the others, the hundreds of others, I met inside the loony bins. Now this tale is mostly true, though some names have been changed, to protect the identities of people I have met, and sometimes to protect myself. I‟ll tell my tale as best I can, though I am not a poet; I‟m not a doctor now, either, I‟m just a „schizophrenic‟.
Francesca I could see Francesca was scared. She clutched a crucifix tight in her old Spanish hands. She thought the TV was evil, Aussie TV, full of shameful behaviour, and violence, too. She thought the radio was evil, full of angry music and noisy young men. So they locked her up with five noisy young men, a TV and a radio. They gave her injections to treat her „paranoia‟; she shuffled up and down the cold, dark corridor, wailing like a banshee. No wonder Francesca thought she was in hell. No wonder she cried, and wanted to hold my hand.
First Night in Meduna Ward “Go back to your room!” “I need to go to the toilet.” “When you‟ve had a piss, go back to your room.” “I don‟t want to piss, I want to empty my bowels.” “Well do a shit then, and go back to your room!” “It‟s not a room, it‟s a cell.” “Are you trying to be smart?” “No, it‟s true. I‟m being held prisoner here. That makes it a cell.” “This is a hospital, not a prison, But OK, go back to your bed, then.” “Can I have a cup of coffee?” “No it‟s too late, the kitchen‟s closed. Besides, it might keep you awake.” “I‟m not sleepy.” “It‟ll make you less sleepy.” “Can I sit out here, then? I‟d like to do some writing.” “Look I‟ve had enough of arguing. Are you going to your room, or do I have to give you an injection?”
First Escape How dare they keep me in here! How dare they call me mad! These guys who think it sane to wage wars and rewrite history, to stage history and rewrite wars. How dare they give me drugs that‟ll cripple my senses, make me stiff and slow, dribbling like a baby? Don‟t they know I could bring their damn system down? Expose the fact they‟re abusing the public – the vulnerable people they‟re paid to heal? Naked emperors, Some of us see through your jargon! Your terminology is transparent to the millions who shun your hospitals and clinics, realising your professional role in character assassination. Yes, I said I would swallow your poisons, but that was just a ruse – I was pretending compliance yesterday. I‟m afraid I‟m leaving today. Right now, through this door the nurses left open.
Heading for Parliament Flowing like a stream, it appeared the abandoned hut was waiting for me, with a bench outside to write at, and a blue fairy wren to delight my senses. The crows are flying in the direction I must follow, to Canberra, where the real decisions are made. My little green car was loaded with treasures: favourite CDs and photos of my little daughter, the books I loved most and some of my unfinished work: folders of writing and half-baked ideas. Armed with a letter and essays I‟d written, I hoped for an audience with the Minister of Health. Neither to „put her to rights about the health system‟, nor to threaten Dr Lawrence‟s person. These were the claims, faxed and then spoken, in several private phone conversations between those intent on having me treated, in Canberra, the capital of our nation. So there I was in Parliament House, apprehended by Federal Police. Polite men they were, but they‟d been warned I could be after Dr Carmen Lawrence. I was polite in return, and came to no harm,
though taken, in handcuffs, to the local asylum. There I was told I must stay in the ward, the locked ward, where I could prove I was sane. They‟d hold off the drugs, the psychiatrist said, an Indian man with a small balding head. I agreed to abide with this plan of his, and wrote, in his ward on my hypothesis. Three days later I was discharged having alleviated my boredom by writing about medical education, and how we doctors are learning our business from the drug trade. I wrote about schizophrenia, too, and theories I had about this disease: my hypothesis that, like mania, the illness can be cured if the system allows it. The cure, I then claimed, and still claim today, is to refrain from calling ones patients such names. I gave my essay to the charge nurse, who passed them on, as I had requested, to the psychs who said I could leave, when the order ran out; gave me a note to show the shrinks back in Melbourne, my adopted home, to which I returned, the following week.
11 Return to Royal Park I thought my saga was over. not into violence.” “We can try Tegretol. I am not mentally ill. or Epilim. and what they said drove me mad.” “But that‟ll poison my thyroid. “We‟ll need to stabilise you on Lithium. instead.” Years later I read the records.” “I don‟t think you have a right to regulate me. or seeking permission or medication. Years later I read the records. this was a sure sign I was manic. but it had only just begun. Into paranoia.” “You don‟t really have a choice. as predicted. I could not contain my rage. The „impulsivity‟ I showed in rashly leaving without saying goodbye. you‟re regulated you know. . It spilled over. but into fear and suspicion.” “But I don‟t have epilepsy – those are anticonvulsants. how my refusal to accept drugging and a misconstrued label was described –„lack of insight‟.
. Keep in closed ward. Perhaps if I write more. Explain my ideas more fully? Maybe then they‟ll understand their mistake.. increase antipsychotic medication.12 Day Three Tomorrow they‟ll let me out. More and more. They‟ll realise it‟s all been a misunderstanding. I know they will. Uphold certification. Why can‟t they see there‟s nothing wrong with me? I‟m not mad.. “Grandiose – writing irrational papers in areas in which he has no expertise.” . at least I‟m not madder than anyone else.. I don‟t know that I can bear this. Yesterday I was sure today I‟m less sure.
my gentle friend. the day I escaped for the second time. and the surroundings of the prisoners. She was there. Also. though they‟d tried to convince her with impressive jargon. They told her I had mania . trying to defend me. I may as well confess. . Sara was shocked at my state. I‟d gained a fungal infection that made it hard to walk. Judging my unusual ideas couldn‟t have been easy at the age of twenty-three.13 Second Escape I didn‟t know her well. as only medicos can. She knew the place wasn‟t right and wouldn‟t make me better. as my medical family had insisted. After two weeks in Royal Park I‟d lost the urge to talk. I lost the appeal that day. but had no one else to turn to. that my theories were all mad. in front of a girl I rather wanted to impress. I was embarrassed to be shuffling and dribbling as I was. My friend didn‟t think I had gone mad. I‟d fallen for Sara.
but if that‟s the case it just proves the medication‟s effectiveness. writing about things I had no expertise in like the treatment of mental disorders. I was caught out.‟ they called it. Confident in my lawyer. . if they wanted to heal. The Board was told how I had changed and wasted all my money. the Mental Health Review Board was spun a web of lies. but to myself. but wasn‟t good at that. but definitely still not well. the psychiatrist said. I was sure I‟d be discharged. saying too much too fast.” I was appalled when the panel agreed that I needed more treatment. Until. I could damage my reputation by irrational claims about their profession: that they relied too much on their drugs. not make people sick. Back then I was clumsier – hadn‟t yet learned to hide tablets under my tongue. A new order in my files. because of the danger. „pressure of speech.14 At first I tried to palm the pills. „Change to Haldol syrup‟. that they needed to be more holistic. and the nurses told the doctors of my deviousness. neglected my work in pursuit of fun. not to others. that is. “Might seem that way. I‟d settled down now.
Permission was granted.15 People with minds that are unlike their own.” I wept for the first time since I‟d been imprisoned. a tough looking man with hair on his face and none on his scalp. the shrink explained to the Board. even if expecting refusal. people who aspire more to freedom than money but they had the right label for such crazy ideas. with the help of my new friend. who live under different stars. the hour she took seemed longer than usual. “Your friend‟s here. Sara. I lay on my bed sobbing. I guess the nurses felt sorry for me they‟d expressed surprise . “Could be that he‟ll speed and run someone over. until I decided I‟d get out. But how? Should I plan it? Or improvise? I phoned her and asked if she‟d come in and see me. though I knew that it hadn‟t been authorised in the charts.” I was hopeful.” said the nurse. “Can I go outside with my friend and have a cigarette? We‟ll stay just outside the front doors. but then the locked door was opened. Impulsive behaviour‟s common with this disease. is a dangerous state for society. Hypomania.
16 when I was returned to the ward after losing the appeal. my property had been seized.” I urged Sara urgently. though I didn‟t have my keys. Romesh!” I heard the shout behind me. though she looked as if she‟d seen a ghastly ghost. “Hey. “I‟ll drop you in Brunswick Street. but didn‟t turn my head. free at last. I had no money. My legal rights had gone to the State Trustees and they weren‟t on my side. “Where are we going?” She sounded alarmed. “keep walking!” Her face was paler than usual. But I was out of the loony bin and heading for the sun! . Sara drove safely. with the nurses in rather sluggish pursuit. and the police would surely be after me. We ran to the car and were out of there. I didn‟t trust the state any more. “Keep walking. We broke the pretence of strolling. and I was on the run.” So there I was. you can stay in the studio. “To your car!” I was trying to seem calm.
“I‟ll get a bottle of white.” Brisbane was the home I‟d been brought to as a child. and see and feel. using energy from the sun. and you can stay here for the night. the rhythm of life. I dreamed new dreams on the long bus trip. though my legs were shaking. Tomorrow I‟ll organise a ticket. if not in fact. into metal to recycle. like there was a motor in them. and turn the pages of the history books to a new age of enlightenment. I had grand visions of how my ideas might turn the tide. When a synchronous rhythm.17 By Bus to Brisbane He was kind to me that evening didn‟t call me ill. When no one remains hungry . we‟ll get you up to Queensland. and peace has been won. When free to think. guides harmonious rule by our leaders. by the intelligence of not buying bombs. a perfect place to seek asylum from the asylum I‟d been confined in. the people of the world unite to melt the guns and missiles. In memory. it was safe. They wouldn‟t stop. when the insane World Wars are done.
and resources now wasted feed everyone in need.18 in a world devoid of greed. and how many of these have gone unnoticed. In retrospect I must admit that these were delusions. and the awe-inspiring sunset missed since it wasn‟t on the idiot box? My 1997 book Psychiatric Tales and Words About Life. Except for dusk and dawn. when humanity wakes to alarm clocks. with nothing in-between. Sara painted the abstract portrait on the front cover. plain as day is day and night is night. that is. .
“Well it‟s a flow. I tried to explain. Not all my heart. I must admit. I knew I had to be judged as sane to be allowed to work again. if I was to be judged as sane. still in evolution. . She didn‟t write the notes till afterwards though. Not all made up. my ideas.” I knew. “So what is an „alpha state‟ doctor?” she asked with little interest. as best I could. a creative flow when everything‟s in rhythm the rhythm. can guide us in decisions. if you like. so they can peer over them before looking down and writing notes about you. since I had opened up my heart.19 The Private Professor She peered at me over those half-glasses intimidating women sometimes wear. I‟d discovered my theories. just the part of relevance to a private psychiatrist who was once head of the College. I had to hold my tongue about distrust of the whole psych system. of course. the timing of life. so she got the story wrong.
appeared to threaten interests I hadn‟t known existed the interests of an industry that thrives on other‟s misery.20 innocuous as they were. denying cures and pushing drugs.” she told me with a smile. “You‟re grandiose to think your ideas are your own. This doctor was outraged. So I opened up my heart. by arguing my case too strongly. maybe not hard enough. “but I don‟t think you are. about my work in physiology. she looked at me above her scary spectacles. but knowing not to show it. asked. . doctor.” I was angry now. I think – and I don‟t think you should work. “In what way am I grandiose?” Her reply would surprise anyone who‟d done a medical course. “You seem OK. I thanked her for her trouble. I started getting paranoid about what the bad guys wrote. Our registrars. lest she think me radical. It‟s possible that you‟re ill. they learn this stuff in every hospital. I tried not to hurt her ego. being labelled as defective. how positive thinking and optimism could improve people‟s health. A little grandiose. But I saw nothing to smile about.” she said. I tried not to blurt out too much. Maybe I tried too hard. After an hour or more. though my heart was in my throat.
I thought. I couldn‟t even guess. . who stalked me on the weekend? Things were getting out of hand. maybe the authorities. I needed somewhere safe to stay. Maybe my family. knowing little of such things.21 Who the bad guys were. Fortunately I had Digger. Could it be my sister‟s boyfriend. perhaps my enemies. whoever they might be? “Could the CIA be involved?” I wondered. my old friend from Uni days.
upon his face. I guess it makes him manly in his eyes. was “boldly prophesying hypotheses on minimal factual evidence”. Digger likes to argue. if indeed he did. but cutting too. I agree that Digger likes to argue. Though Digger and his lady let me stay there in their house. He‟s not one to listen. This was back in eighty-one. either. getting paranoid about .. but that‟s just hypothesis. and shared his food as well. especially after a spliff. Trephine the name of the student rag revealing his mates amusing view funny in parts.22 Digger When God made Digger. he fashioned him of broken bits of sinew mixed with steel. and smashed his nose for good effect. Or maybe he was punched when arguing the case with a weak array of facts. and likes to raise his voice. unfortunately I was scared. or maybe it was boxing that did that. His favourite occupation. according to his friends. that‟s what the profile says. He gave him scars to wear with pride. and he shared his ganga with me. After staying there with Digger and his lady.. his vignette in the magazine the Med School published every year.
and cruelty to children is not a subject easily written about. smile and roll another joint. Many families have secrets that one is loath to tell. He said the recent claim of twenty percent was a gross underestimate.” he yelled. stressed and homeless not the best place to be. and I didn‟t want to argue. Now I was getting stoned as hell on Diggers hooch. if I talked to someone else. Digger had a forceful way of making a point he shouted louder until you shut up.23 my father and my family and motives on their part. it‟s true. Then he‟d make a joke. refute. . I thought I might feel better. “Most children are abused. about the monstrous incidence of child abuse. I was tripped out. Digger confronted me with statistics I could not. in ignorance. maybe visit my friend Eddie and his lovely Marxist wife.
but time is a ghost. I tried to be quiet. we became good friends. But when I was in need. about all my traumas . as I remember. and recollection sometimes offends. I had to acknowledge I hadn‟t. let me talk. and still has no soul. I recklessly declared that Marx had it wrong. “I almost bought that shirt. from some book I‟d read. I know little of him. this kind man invited me into his home. We were in the refectory at lunch. talk and talk. With no first hand knowledge of what he believed. I don‟t know where or when. and he doubtless understands just as little of me. with nowhere to stay. That was before I found it in the Red Cross op shop. other than what he‟s divulged. I was wearing the brown shirt with beige and yellow spots. whom I‟d met just a few times in years. . His wife. I am sure now that was not the case.” I was not surprised since Eddie‟s so tall. if in his right mind. With fair reason.” I repeated. “Have you read any Marx?” she exclaimed. though I tried. to explain my theories about health and the psyche. “After all it‟s just an economic theory.. and respect their space. Despite our differences. They agreed with much and debated with some. My memories of Ed form a homunculus that‟s empty and vacant. they listened and gave me the chance I needed. but then I was foolish enough to stray into territory no visitor should. Gab was outraged.. Eddie and Gab are patient and generally wise.24 Eddie I knew Eddie as the tall guy who almost bought my shirt. like a robot. but it was too small.
if you want to be free and make sure you have a heart-to-heart with your father. . “Take off your tie. I assumed I had been forgiven. Biddulph the Bold.25 but didn‟t admit talking through my hat. I was then still too pompous and arrogant for that.” “Yes. It was written by a famous men‟s liberator. good advice. I‟d already discarded my tie. Nevertheless. when Eddie helpfully gave me a self-help book. possibly the first in your life.” I thought.
Not everything I might say can be said. not what was taught by experts in treating the mind. I didn‟t know. also for play. my theory of motivation: that humans have instincts for communication. but without it my story cannot be told not with any clarity. and settled by apology. that my father played a part In my initial referral – he was involved from the start. and judging by what I‟d seen and felt. For one thing I was angry that my father had not stayed the hands of the psychiatrists when I was first committed. along with those for learning. so I will try to be bold. medical doctors trained in scientific diagnosis. at this time. I‟m afraid. because it was not what was thought. when the CAT team first came and threatened to take me away. in early 95. not right here and now. saying I was insane.26 Heart To Heart With My Father This evening is not easy to write about. . Was diagnosed as delusional. Suffice to say there were some issues I had hoped could be explored in discussion. Back then. I‟d rung him in distress. called curiosity.
heart–to –heart conversation. who you knew from Mt Isa?” But I was intending to wait for my father. that they must eat less fat to keep their hearts beating. sister and myself. and I don‟t have a car. he wouldn‟t come there. This was the system that trained all of us. if they want to stay alive. he said on the phone to my mother who turned to me. and insist they obey the drug regimen. Eddie or Digger. “No you can‟t stay here. as determined by specialists in the public hospital system. I have no money and they‟ve frozen my cards. trained in prescribing the right drug for the right condition. he won‟t allow it. asking for assistance from experts if not sure about the decision. “now please go home. to check in MIMS before writing the prescription. knew I‟d need courage to face a man I‟d always feared.27 doctors like my father. the topic I most wanted to discuss with my father. and try to have a frank and open. won‟t they let you stay? Maybe your friend Glen. to order they abstain from grog if they cared about their liver. . I walked outside and had a smoke. Can‟t I stay here. trained to frighten patients into changing their habits. but although he lived at the place. to demand they stop smoking. Amma?” I felt my voice choking but I held back the tears.” “My home is in Melbourne.
had advised. But there was another voice he‟d brought someone with him. His brother. I liked too. I‟d always thought a bit of a drip.28 just like the Young Men‟s Liberator. and what a welcome surprise! My old mate Brett. His father. in the book of wisdom my enlightened friend Eddie lent me. quite a genius when young. but studied medicine. Though such was my view. I must admit. the famous Steve Biddulph. who‟d driven us from the airport when we first arrived in Australia. Brett had devoted his years to climbing the medical ladder. and his mother. Brett‟s brother. I heard the garage door open. but Brett himself. the thumping footsteps meant he was angry rather than scared. Instead. a medical professor of note was said to be a world expert in gout. and I admired him far more than Brett. I smiled . I knew not to voice it. That was when he was only sixteen. played piano like a pro. instead of following the music of his soul. I was but fifteen at the time. who could play flute well. and he‟d just got his licence. I liked a lot. Rather than music.
it‟s good to see an old mate. you could rule a line with his one-track mind. I could see it in his vacant eyes. with just a trace of mock horror. and how play could help autistic kids. and this mind was set on getting home. extending my hand. I‟m here at the request of your father. After all. His job that night was to diagnose. Drawing diagrams on paper. But Brett. and that is what he did. he wasn‟t with me.” said I. I tried to explain how the pineal organ might be a theoretical link between mind and body.” “Oh.29 and. and so bloody straight. . it was Sunday night.” “I‟m not here as a friend. said “Ah Brett. In a perfect world there would be nobody like Brett .officious and defensive. and Brett‟s weeks are longer than those of mere mortals. while I explained my theories about schizophrenia.
“What.” said I. OK. “What would you know? You‟re an administrator. “You‟ve got to be joking. “I‟m not joking. reduced need for sleep. “You mean spontaneity?” “Look. “the DSM will do. “what are the symptoms of mania?” I was getting alarmed and annoyed. I had him on the ropes. though not any more. . I‟ve signed the papers.” He continued like a zombie. according to the DSM?” The shrink was getting angry. I‟m not going to argue with you.” “With what diagnosis?” my anger was rising. “Mania” he answered and to my regret. and I‟m currently Director of Mental Health at Logan.” I asked. Brett!” “I was chief psychiatrist of Queensland.30 Trying To Stay Away From Prince Charles “You‟ll have to come to hospital. I knew.” “Elevated mood. shall we go?” But I knew I did not satisfy the criteria “OK.” He recited the list like a parrot.” Brett declared. “Yes. “Anything else? What about increased creativity?” I dangled him a carrot. grandiose beliefs and schemes.” Small beads of sweat coalesced on his brow. “Reduced appetite. I yelled. too. weight loss.” I replied. impulsivity. I‟ve signed the papers. overactivity.
” “A feeling? What kind of feeling?” I must have showed surprise. You see I thought it important. I didn‟t think you guys believed in intuition! So you agree we have more than five senses. Brett?” But the man was not amused. Me. „Hearing Vision. it was getting late. just a feeling that you do. “Call it an intuition. . to establish that the establishment was wrong to limit its research into only five senses.‟ he began. he was getting more irate. largely ignoring even these in the fields of clinical medicine and psychiatry. to explain to Brett ideas he just could not get: my theories about schizophrenia and autism and the role of the mysterious pineal gland. do you. nevertheless he engaged me in debate about what kinds of senses we humans have. and yes. It was Sunday night. but then. while we sat at the table where I‟d been drawing diagrams. I felt a strange delight in Brett becoming so upset. “An intuition. The pineal. I was starting to have fun. So I led Brett on at my peril I could see he was getting frustrated. his wife had called asking if he‟d be long. I laughed aloud and teased.31 “ I‟m not certain you have mania. back then.” he replied. I listed them on a new white sheet.
“What about smell. “I‟ve had enough of this. When I studied medicine. drugs like Prozac that was flooding our nation. is that a sense?” I added. is involved in our dreams and intuition. it was taught in Cambridge University. and asked them to come. and our sleep. how the melatonin is secreted during the night. along with the appendix: a vestigial organ. But the organ Descartes called the „seat of the soul‟ had been consigned to the waste.32 according to some ancient views. It was in this direction I intended to lead Brett the psychiatrist. and Libby as well. his voice became shrill. “And intuition. the amine from which it is synthesised. . now stressed and tired. and Harvard. with certain university academics spearheading the research. The reason for this was not that it was new or that these are contentious. taste and touch. They both came over. so I asked my mother if I could use the phone. too back in the fifties. called Digger and Eddie. At that point Brett lost it.” I asked. two years after Brett himself. too. in the early eighties in Queensland. We were not told the truth about serotonin. to come up with tablets for the treatment of depression. how it affects the pituitary gland. I learned that the gland produced melatonin but not how this hormone affects all the rest. are you coming or not?” I knew I was now in great danger of being locked up again in a hospital ward. disputed claimsat the time the drug companies were using this knowledge.
This is where I was trained. He was a senior doctor in casualty. With numbers on my side. as they ushered me into a closed room and said they would call Dr Pillai. though he said the next day I must present at Logan. And Digger was angry. I know where it is. Clutching my folders .33 she‟s Digger‟s lady. So I gathered my nerves. “I don‟t want the cops here. but the order had been signed. if he saw me in my dishevelled state. how to hide. Perhaps I could get help from my bosses of old. I said the next day. There was no way I was going. “Don‟t worry Romesh. So I walked and half ran. I was scared now. indeed I was terrifieddidn‟t know where to go. because he gets that way. you‟ll have to leave. the Royal Brisbane. though in quite a state. the senior doctors at the hospital. But when I walked in I realised the magnitude of my folly. as I would have been soon.” I had to agree. “Where‟s Logan?” I asked. from when I worked there. I knew this doctor. mate. walking out of the room before I was locked in. no way would he fail to diagnose me. before I worked at the adjacent hospital. Brett had to back down. but Digger assured me. because of the rain. the one in Herston. an anaesthetist. and I had to obey: present for admission to the hospital my gormless mate Brett was director of. I knew.” So I went back with Digger and stayed at his place. and got to the Med School.
I decided to escape across the bridge to the north side of the river. seated outside. As I calmed down. after discussing me with others concerned. . where I told of my saga. and then I heard my mate Eddie say. near the phone-box I‟d called from. and soon he was there. back at this time. I saw Digger in the back of the cop car. in the comfort of company. The cops paused. Unfortunately. asked if someone had called them I said no. the suburb of West End. “Well. Eddie was by now convinced. these things were not admitted. though. I noticed a paddy wagon coming our way. He said that he‟d meet me down by the river. From there I phoned Eddie. The law was the law. my old trusted friend. shaking with fear. and I‟d been committed. yes!” Then I knew that I had been betrayed. Asked if I‟d like a cup of coffee. I knew there was no escape from the boys in blue. I needed one badly so we each took a chair at a small corner cafe.34 of research and writing. too.
she immediately engaged me in conversation. but I‟m told these new ones are known as the best”. a wise crone prone to excesses of love. “How old is your child now?” I asked with concern. and I‟ve been on meds since. “Twenty one years. she appeared as a woman without any fear. Liberty had plenty of fears but kept them to herself.35 Liberty Liberty was in lockup the night I arrived. both in Jamaica and here. inmates like me in the ward at Prince Charles. lithium and the rest. A large woman with the complexion of honey. But that was disguise. I later realised. There were twenty or so. . At this time she joked she was „hypomanic‟. explained to me the complex connections of her family. I later discovered. Maybe not quite as sane as they come: Liberty still swallowed the chemical paradigm. The drugs killed my thyroid and I gained all this weight. they‟ve tried it all on me. like she was when overjoyed at the birth of her daughter. since to me this lady seemed sane as they come.
nor a lorry or truck. he declared. the drugs were much the same.36 Theo Theo was twenty one and rearing to go. van or coach.” he reproached. I guess. Theo was not daunted. and Theo was full of love. Theo was confused. He snapped his fingers like crazy and blinked his glazed eyes. “Any car you like”. That‟s what he said. Not that it mattered. So we put him to the test. The psychiatrists probed Theo‟s delusion. The young man said if he snapped his fingers you could have whatever you desired. the likely diagnosis. “You have too little faith. Theo had read that God is love. They humoured his delusion. A lot of guys do. I suppose. . He thought he was God Almighty. he loved women when they gave him head. perhaps schizophrenia. Still. and not just the young ones. He told us so. but especially. he said. Mania. They covered all bets: gave him four different drugs at the same time. He loved everybody. as he put out his fag. Many young men are. but no car I could see appeared. He thought loving women meant wanting to have sex with them.
The doctors were sure the drugs were working. The other inmates were much more direct. admitting that he was more like Moses or John the Baptist.37 saw no point in reasoning with a point of view they assumed in their rigid minds. like he did. They debated with Theo and laughed when he said loopy things. Theo did get saner. Eventually he was discharged. . when he swallowed all of them at once. to be „fixed‟. and he took the drugs until he died.
„Impulsive behaviour‟. or what it did to him. to give in. his sanity was obvious to anyone who listened to him with an open mind. tranquillisers and sedatives. when they locked him up again. he‟d leave at first opportunity. He didn‟t care if they thought he was mad. It inspired me that this young man refused. if not content. In fact. they called this. point blank. He didn‟t appear to give a hoot about the system. . listening to his Walkman and dreaming of the day he would play in his own band with his greatest love – his trumpet. He‟d sing and walk along the corridor.38 Billy Billy always seemed happy. If they locked him up. He knew he was sane. But who could blame him for trying to escape? Drugged to the eyeballs with lithium.
I heard. They locked Faith up and gave her chemical restraints. She liked to kiss them. . Faith was still angry at having lost her baby. and more.39 Faith Faith was eighteen and pregnant. Her family thought that mad. Faith liked boys. many years later. so mixed up. She was born into a family of avid Bible readers. so thin. They wouldn‟t have discussed her views with Faith. clouded by a haze of drugs. The psychiatrists agreed. loved them. She read that to be a saint you must love everyone. so they increased the dose. this being standard treatment. Her „aberrant behaviour‟ continued. big blue staring eyes. in fact. eventually gave her ECT (they don‟t call it shock treatment these days). When I last saw her she was in a wheelchair. psychiatry being divorced from religion.
At the age of thirty-four. and my face. That‟s what the lawyer told me. . That was before I was first committed. Her report would cost me four of the last five hundred dollars I had. after talking to others. but for a different matter. of course. showed none of the torment I felt in my heart. the professor earned her fee of four hundred dollars by sending my lawyer a typed report. on a night I‟ll remember forever. anguish that wasn‟t documented there in the charts. I‟d paid him once. like a mask.” So she arrived. and the State Trustees agreed. after perusing the notes and the essays I‟d written. Yes. the expensive professor. He wasn‟t really my lawyer. all doctors. that‟s in the law. I don‟t think he will. “You have a right for a second opinion. So. I needed an independent report.40 Asking the Private Professor for Help There was no alternative. After two weeks in the locked ward on antipsychotic drugs my movements were slow. but I thought that he was.” “I‟ll ask your consultant if he minds.
Like the nurse had advised me. when I had impressed them by my obedient behaviour. or at least move me to the open ward. once again. a couple of days before.” Eventually they‟d have to discharge me. I knew I would just have to wait out my time. “Just play the game. . a week later it was clear that she‟d got it all wrong. three-quarters. There was a piano there.41 The story of my life is a long one to cover in half. or even an hour. When I read the report. They‟d let me play for an hour.
another fag in his shaking hand. . So little has changed. to a frightened community of anxious hospital staff. locked up with the disturbed. horrible old days of cells. Thirty-eight years he has come. bars and drugs and shocks. since the hospitals achieved (In their own reckoning) „World‟s Best Practice‟. the violent. Except the bars have mostly been replaced by reinforced glass. a rough. and a bellow and a half. tough diamond with a belly and a half. since the age of eleven. but not feel. just because he was huge. through which one can see. So terrifying. freedom.42 Big Pete Big Pete sits alone. Pete‟s voice boomed loud when driven to swear but the big man was slow to rise in anger.
he‟d been told by a friend. That such odd perceptions are typical symptoms of a chronic disease of the brain. The farmer came from a culture that didn‟t believe in such things thought such perceptions are a sign of being mentally insane. reflecting their emotional states. They had the tablets. The activity of their chakras. The farmer suspected he might be crazy. Dulled. But it was too late. who concurred. to treat this weirdness in his head. He asked the psychiatrists. they said. Thought he might put up with his unusual powers of observation after all. The doctors wouldn‟t stop till the farmer‟s perception was like theirs.43 The Farmer I met a farmer who told me he saw auras around people. When he came into hospital and experienced their „treatment‟ he changed his mind in days. .
except when he took . as thought. if XY made a man and XX made a woman. one based on the male DNA. while in hospital. an extra Y chromosome. and also his hope that with such help he might beat Mike Tyson. he was far from aggressive. saving graces in a virtual life. Now Rufus was big. Rufus liked boxing. said Rufus. Could be he got deranged from watching men kill each other in violent movies. ingested by way of the mouth by swallowing semen. I realised that Rufus was kind and gentle. or maybe it was the videos.44 Rufus It may have been speed that drove him mad. In the weeks that I knew him. The theory was this. Well surely. at least by my standards. instead of talking gently to his child and his wife. and maybe someone had punched the sense right out of his head. but Tyson is built like a bison. It followed. could make him and his mate supermen! I laughed at his theory. as odd as it is. maybe it was ignorance that compelled the young man to follow his friend and swallow his seed. Though trained to throw punches and dodge a right hook.
45 speed. remembering the assistance prescribed amphetamines were said to have given their academic performance. a disease now described in textbooks and journals. disobeying rules and not waiting their turn. when labelled as a child with ADHD. those of the trade. Rufus got better. . blurting out answers and annoying adults. as a „disorder of children‟. running and climbing and talking too much. as one refers to amphetamines on the street. or not long after. And he agreed he‟d been in a state of psychosis. Ironic indeed that the same was prescribed to Rufus. accepting a double curse called „dual diagnosis‟. once off the speed. though they made him take lithium too. turn to the same when they reach adolescence. Hardly surprising if children trained to take pills from before they start school. who act like they‟re bored.
He was seeing red. He came to us with tears in his eyes. they had said. “You‟re Personality Disordered.” James wanted admission because the alternative was jail. at first. on his one leg. by the mind police who then threw him out on his ear. “I‟m mad.” .46 James James was pissed off. broken life full of violence and anger and mixed up people. “You‟re not ill”. and the ever-present mist of alcohol. Bailed out. can‟t they see? I didn‟t ask to come from a sad. because they wouldn‟t let him stay.
Who wouldn‟t want a grandmother as grand as Deva? . She loved people and she loved life. She knew no other way of speaking. And her mind was full of opinions. at a society that was mad at her because she refused to act her age and dement as demanded. Deva did not fit in in a society that treats elders like children. Deva served as a grandmother to anyone who needed one. Deva spoke her mind. playing bingo and spending her last pennies on the pokies. When she spoke. She was seventy-eight and full of wisdom.47 Deva Deva was a grandmother. full of experiences and kindness. Deva threw back her head and laughed her toothless laugh. insisting on obedience under threat of medication. compliantly swallowing her tablets.
But Jason is getting prepared for the stock-market crash. and didn‟t make sense to the cops. serendipitously collects seeds and pods. The police thought he seemed disorganised. drugs and no cash.” he says. with mind full of hope. usually on his legs. in the valley.48 Jason Jason‟s not crazy. He was just locked up because he got faceless. The shrinks call it „hoarding‟. Jason is always disorganised. and curious bits of metal. others think it bizarre. He travels where he feels. “Things that are useful. a sign of schizophrenia. Some call this obsessive. .
She complained all day about the smallest of woes. and expected worse. to speak frankly and honestly about uncomfortable truths. Thought no one liked her. unafraid. they just gave her drugs. . All she needed was a change in perspective and some healthy advice: that if she smiled more people might well smile back. She saw in her neighbours undeclared foes. to think before she spoke if others wanted to hear about her troubles.49 Yvonne Yvonne was depressed. The truth is. Like many others. She was paranoid. Yvonne saw the worst. few did. Yvonne‟s real therapists were the friends she made in the asylum real people. The doctors didn‟t tell her this. when it came to their friends.
qualified as a doctor. eventually. accepting he had a „chemical imbalance‟ that would plague his brain for life. since Luke‟s got a new job. couldn‟t have a decent conversation with so little concentration. He immediately diagnosed himself with depression. now collecting trolleys at the supermarket. He dutifully swallowed his meds and lay on the bed. Luke signed himself in. I suppose they did work.50 Luke Luke had recently graduated. . The young physician took his tablets though they made him very tired. waiting for them to work. took the tablets as prescribed.
. thought everybody was „boring‟ and „stupid‟. He disliked everyone. so he brought out the worst in the few people he met. hoping he didn‟t look older.51 Cedric Cedric was negative. or staring at the mirror. He sat in his cubicle doing jigsaw puzzles. so he could be given the finest newest meds on the market. When I was released Cedric was still there. Maybe he‟s there still Cedric didn‟t like change. Cedric signed himself in to hospital.
52 The First Injection of Many “Flupenthixol. including the ability to feel and create. if I let you give me this injection you‟ll let me out for the weekend?” “That‟s right. Now this chemical‟s important: a neurotransmitter that stimulates movement and other abilities.” “Unless I‟m successful at the appeal. do you?” “I don‟t expect anything. the power to move. I guess. but can you give it in the arm?” “Your nurse will be giving it.” “You don‟t expect me to be.” The nurse had a large handle-bar moustache and eyes too small for his face.” “You plan on trying it out on me?” “You‟ll have to have the injection if you want leave. here in my brain. what‟s that?” “One of the new antipsychotics. .” “OK. it‟s an independent tribunal.” “Unless you‟re successful at the Mental Health Tribunal. but he managed to see my arm alright.” “A couple of weeks?” “You‟ll be given another one then.” “But you‟re only letting me out for the weekend how long does the injection last?” “Only a couple of weeks. doctor. you can ask her. the ability to speak. because I soon felt the effects of the drug they injected that blocked the receptors for a chemical called dopamine. and sing and debate.” “So.
with „major tranquillisers‟ an older euphemism. to the minds and the souls of the young and the old. Now the Parkinsonism that these drugs induce is caused also by others in their class the drugs they now call „anti-psychotics‟ but used to boast were liquid lobotomies. . „Neuroleptics‟ are the same drugs as well. If „psyche‟ means „soul‟. and I‟m told that it does. these drugs whose enforcement‟s upheld by our laws poisons injected in. those treating the psyche. through the skin. Dopamine-blockers like flupenthixol dull the mind and stifle the soul. This is not the worst that these drugs can cause.53 the energy to escape. They made me shuffle and walk like a man afflicted by Parkinson‟s Disease: a disease of the brain also caused by lack of dopamine. are hurting the soul.
Logos is the word. men (mostly men) who profess to know more than mere teachers. but not wisdom. logos again. So we have been taught. that healing comes from God and not man. premise of the friends of wisdom. the doctors who. the word for word. wise to the wisdom of friendship. Doctors are only allowed to diagnose and treat according to institutional doctrines of the day. Some based on established ideas from the diverse field of psychology.54 Logos In the beginning there was the word and the word was good. . The word brings knowledge. treat more than they teach. by this great system of thought. and miracles are the antithesis of magic healing occurs only by prayer. philosophers by many names and of more doctrines. not bold enough to claim healing. sophia. but only those schools devoted to statistics and lab rats those agreeing with the medical classification of humanity into marketable anagrams. All teaching their masters‟ logic.
” “Because they‟re all mad anyway?” “Learning psych terminology takes years.” “They‟re classical symptoms of mania.” “My sad case. bad case or mad case?” “Are you writing „flight of ideas‟ and „tangential thinking‟?” “Just writing notes.55 Bad.” “You misunderstand.” “Isn‟t that confusing?” “To the public. like Seasonal Affective Disorder. aren‟t they?” “You can get tangential thinking in schizophrenia.” “I thought SAD is an anagram for Schizo-Affective Disorder.” “My sad cause. Being facetious won‟t help your cause.” “You mean. bad cause or mad cause?” “Your case.” “It‟s an anagram for both. that stands for Bipolar Affective Disorder. maybe.” . Sad and Mad “It says here that I am BAD. like SAD?” “That‟s right. too. not to the profession.
There I wrote about my tale. to be replaced with loneliness and fear. The flow I so enjoyed. of people I had met sometimes mad. Sara had been gone for months. since the injection had made me stiff as hell. is no-ones fault. I‟d spent six weeks in hospital.56 Return to Melbourne I lost the appeal. slowly. six weeks with little laughter. . once again. But soon I was delighted by the return of my friend. when patients can‟t think straight. was gone. glad to be free. sometimes sane. „Thought disorder‟. I flew back down to Melbourne and found a house to rent. earlier that year. I wrote these things as verse and wrote some prose as well. but sad to be afflicted with manic-depression. like everybody else. I‟d been told. but was discharged soon after. I avoided social contact and stayed inside my house. Half-believing I‟d become obviously mad to others. except for genes nobody can be blamed.
The truth is. I thought. would realise what I meant. more admissions. by honestly describing what I‟d seen and heard. I had lost the plot. realising that their treatments were bad and getting worse. and engage in self-reform. schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were working like curses. or so. The hospitals would stop the drugging and release all their captives.57 since I‟d gone round the bend. Such was my delusion. these terms they insisted we accept like SAD and BAD. . Thought I could save humanity from drugging and self-destruction in psycho-religious wars. One that lasted for thirty. actually benign. the system. that their diagnostic labels.
or diverse. Schizophrenia can be diagnosed for making up new words or talking about matters obscure. like talking to birds. or laughing at the interviewer‟s clothes. but that‟s not what it is. . Schizophrenia can be diagnosed for wearing gloves indoors for strange attire. Schizophrenia means split mind. Schizophrenia can be diagnosed for thinking that angels can make you do odd things. Schizophrenia‟s a label that creates the disease. hearing people‟s voices or thinking them unkind.58 Schizophrenia Schizophrenia can be diagnosed for reading people‟s minds.
„Pressure of speech‟ is fine. Lateral thought has been taught. by people like De Bono. like schizophrenia is an iatrogenic disease. while „tangential thinking‟. . I must have lack of insight. too unless talking to someone whose thinking is slow. has been pathologised. exactly the same thing.59 Mania I‟ve been told I have mania. and „flight of ideas‟ is another term for thinking on a flow. and increased goal-directed activities are great. to increase intelligence. Doesn‟t that mean I‟m a maniac? Just as those with schizophrenia are called schizophrenic? But I like reduced need for sleep. increased zest for life as well. by inference. as far as I can tell. to be thinking such heresies: that mania.
the twenty-ninth in a leap year. But such views as I held were obviously false. when I was apprehended. when I was said to have had mania. I phoned when I was angry about things that had been done the year before. to the police. Distance can be frightening. to those who were convinced that I was paranoid. who I phoned from time to time. I was angry. and wanted to sue the doctors who had drugged me and taken away my rights. I was talking on the phone. and the police had responded. The team had called for backup. I‟d reported. about lies that had been fabricated in efforts to suppress me.60 Committed Again It was a hot February evening. They might as well have mugged me. I‟d left the front door open when the CAT team had appeared. “The police have come. Two thousand kilometres away . what I called a conspiracy.” I said aloud. to the person on the line. That person was my mother. when imagination runs riot.
he ordered that my mental state be more thoroughly assessed. . including one he sent to Dr Carlyle Perera. But the papers had been signed. The letters that he faxed that day. and taken in the paddy wagon back to hospital. saying that my thinking was OK. I read only years later. so I was handcuffed in my hall. My friend Sara was there that night when they took me away. Not knowing how I spent my time and hearing only snippets. This doctor. my father once again decided I must be committed. She tried to stop them.61 my parents felt disquiet. I discovered was the Chief Psychiatrist.
Shaking his hand. I tried to start to explain that I‟d been framed. I didn‟t catch his name.62 The Tall. But I was in this room and I would not be released until I‟d been assessed by the doctor who‟d been called. thin man with grim visage came in. He said he was the registrar.” I explained to the tall. Grim Doctor The cops released the handcuffs. and after a couple of hours a tall. “They said I was deluded. thinking I am registered to work again as I was trained as a family physician. inside the stark confines of a psychiatry ward. at least in this new wing. but I was trapped again. I said I had discovered new ways to use the brain to maximise creativity . There was only one room with locks to keep you in in this new hospital. carrying my chart. thin man with cold fish-like eyes about the recent work I‟d done on physiology. Thin. I waited there impatiently.
One might suppose. to hope to help heal troubled minds. it became clear that this poor man was thicker than a goat. not least of all. and to respect the culture of the mind one claims the right to treat under committal. in his sunken eyes. Not thick because he could not speak English like an Englishman. He was thick because he‟d learned to write and not to think. are torturing .” I realised. one well might. in this land and in others. “What you call mania. when I was able to read the notes he wrote. In fact.” I said “Is not such a disaster. because the man could not speak fluent English. that to assist the psyche. my words had all been wasted. one needs at least to understand the language with which this mind speaks. not thick because he thought me mad and wrote that I had „BAD‟.63 and minimise the strain of living in this stressful world where all are driven faster. It is a farce that continues. that doctors claiming they‟re healing minds. to write poisonous anagrams and order drugs to treat them.
They‟re torturing themselves.64 our brothers and sisters. too. with these words they‟ve memorised terms with which we‟re stigmatised. .
if they gave him half a chance.65 Socrates Imagine my surprise. for every word they twist to their advantage. having been thinking deeply about the curious art of philosophy. not life. Socrates was wise. He told them they were old school squares with too much confidence in theories based on books. when I met him in the asylum. I thought Socrates a wise young man. and just a little bit fazed. and ignoring his parents. and increased the medication. Once he was humbled they added lithium to keep him down and out. Socrates was kept in the ward And slugged with neuroleptic drugs. he would have explained. They thought he‟d gone into a trance. where he had been locked up for meditating. but not wise enough. Once he was in the lock-up he argued with the psychiatrist not a wise thing to do. to meet a lad called Socrates in the adult psychiatry ward. he said. so they wrote that he was „grandiose‟. not wise at all. Socrates was bold. drinking his hemlock . He was glazed and dazed.
You might see him on the street I heard these days he even drives. .66 under duress. but this Socrates survived.
67 Paul Paul went technology mad couldn‟t help talking about hydrochloric acid and sulphuric acid and what a disaster it would be if it spilt on the floor. . Poor old Paul was regulated for being such a bore.
I Maria. “Not past this line here. Take me home. sobbing. I want to go my home. I not like it here.” they said pointing to the yellow line. I want my home. “Take these pills – they‟ll help you sleep” “I not slip.” she begged. The nurse rolled her eyes and went back to her newspaper. who walked away slowly. . please. please. didn‟t know what she was doing in a strange place full of strange people who told her she couldn‟t go home. over which we „involuntaries‟ were not allowed to step. She‟d had enough of Maria.68 Maria Maria had her bags packed and was ready to go.
Monday. She spat them out. „ECT to start. She shouted when she got angry her elderly father was deaf. What had she done to deserve such torture In a foreign land? Why would no one help? If only she could speak to her brother back home. . poisoning and abuse‟. Sabriyah was alarmed. possessed by evil spirits. She had been locked up with people who stared at her and cast spells on her. „Preoccupied with spells and making bizarre phone calls about torture. so they injected her instead held her down. so scared.‟ the psychiatrists wrote. looked at the tablets in the nurse‟s hand with suspicion. the nurses observed. so confused. in Turkey. while she screamed that they were demons.69 Sabriyah Sabriyah was worried. Maybe they were trying to poison her. Sabriyah was terrified. She was so desperate.
anyway. I didn‟t want to know. spent many years in jail. . Joe leaned across the desk of the nurses station.” “Fuck you.” he crankily complained. Give it to me now. The doctor said I need it. He said he was a criminal.” Joe shambled off. “I need some Valium. or we‟ll call Security.” he yelled.” “That language is inappropriate. “Go to your room. you bastards.70 Joe Joe was a mountain of a man. Go to your room. Some things are best left unheard. “I need my methadone. I didn‟t ask for details could see he was not well. “The screws in this place are fucked. shaking and broken.” Joe shouted.
who philosophises. Andrew is a gentle soul. and wonders why he feels so ill. who swallows his tablets. and worries about whether he has been logical. Andrew is a gentle soul. Andrew is a gentle soul. concerned he can‟t remember what happened when they first locked him up and gave him electric shocks Andrew wishes…he wishes . He plays guitar and worries about the state of his mind.71 Andrew Andrew is a gentle soul. He talked about his memory. then worries if he has offended anyone. who converses honestly.
72 his brain would recover from the cruel treatment he still believes was necessary. .
73 Michael Michael was shaking. compliance and control. because the drugs made him shake.” .” he chortled. Michael was shaking. They know of my power. colours and the fine line between madness and sanity. but laughed at the poison.” he said.” “I‟m a mental musician. but they can‟t put me down. He sang about smiling. but not my head. “They can cripple my hands. He was sure he was divine. treatment and torture. “Zoo-penthixol. He was suffering. “they think we‟re zoo animals. They know that I‟m special. my special ability to make people laugh and sing.
Carl felt free to debate. round here. to the philosophy faculty. The university faculties were not. The professor did not agree. he hoped. Students respect their teachers that is the way. Back then. his mental faculties.74 Carl Some years ago. “The rule here is clear. Carl went to University. to develop. his mental faculties were full of freedom. The old man became angry. when studying philosophy Carl wrote throughout the night. He wrote about freedom freedom of speech.” . he felt free to argue the point of freedom with his professor.
under threat of injection. He was institutionalised. Zyprexa (Olanzapine) advertisement in Jan 2007 MIMS . He complies with the poisons. but not broken.75 Carl was diagnosed. He now shows compliance. the day he will be free. without trembling.... but waits for the day. to speak his mind without dribbling. He was drugged. and write steadily..
I knew. And so. some were high. The people I met transformed my life and inspired me. Some were rude and unfriendly. Some were low. I met many more inmates like me. Some were loud. They gave me purpose. Some were quiet. committed for various crimes. that freeing the slaves and captives .76 Fully Committed In the years that followed I lost count of my commitments. by the time of my next incarceration. I do know it was more than thirty times they locked me up and injected me. some were cold Some timid. Some were warm. in various hospitals. some bold. Some were way too polite. I learned my lesson: not to talk too much or criticise the powers that rule the medical profession – that control the behaviour of doctors. changed my priorities.
denigrating labels my profession was inflicting.77 was my medical responsibility. cruel. unusual people have sick minds! How dare they justify their stultifying drugs by convincing the impressionable that they have chemical imbalances! How dare they call originality and lateral thought „mental disorders‟! How dare they call happiness madness! . How dare they say these delightful. Liberating them from labels.
A week or so later Jenny could talk.” She smiled. lying on a couch. they can‟t. “Good. and she asked me some questions about matters I‟d considered. before drugging her for „schizophrenia‟. “I‟m sure it‟s not possible. though they might if they could. I answered with what I thought that I knew. and said.” Jenny‟s delusion was why she was there. We were locked up together in custodial care by people who judged our thinking bizarre. . heavily drugged. The fact is. She asked if I thought that this could be true – that a microchip had been surgically placed in her brain.78 Jenny When I first met Jenny she was unconscious. She had a concern she could rarely share that her brain was implanted by the CIA. but nobody tried especially hard to ask why it was that she held this belief.
” Three days later.79 She listened carefully to my opinion before smiling. she was discharged. “It must have been all in my mind. . the doctors convinced that their drugs had worked fine.
less than 10 years old. Larry became. He hated war and the fact he‟d done. he endured. out there in the courtyard and told me the cause of his greatest anguish. then. he found that he liked Vietnamese he liked the people and liked their food. and addicted to smack. and I saw a single tear run from his crinkled left eye. she had deserted him when he was a boy. He gave it his best and came back more broken. with the candour of a broken man. and this was when his abuse began. After years of abuse. so he looked at the night sky. depressed. He once left his mother in hospital to die. But then.80 Larry He told me he fought and killed in Vietnam. a ward of the state. And then he was conscripted and trained like the rest. Never saw her again. Larry told me his story one night. Scolding and beatings and rape. He sucked on his smoke. and left her. but the fag had gone out. “A lot of bad things. as his skin grew harder and his mind more fragile. . he returned even worse. with personality disorder. how he once shot his friend to save his injured mate from the „gooks‟. solace in injections and numbness from heartache diagnosed as psychotic. Years later.” then he paused. said he drove her there.
when I float on the ocean and soar in the sky. “I am Bipolar. that weapons are sold. fighting fit.” But he looked to me like a wasted old man. His eyes became moist as he tried to explain what he said he had heard was wrong with his brain. He loved some.” . I am. while the poor die of hunger. contracted by needles he stuck in his arm. But then he got AIDS. of the treatment for what were presumed as delusions: that the terror we see is engineered by warmongers. I prefer when I‟m „high‟. If I stop all the drugs I‟ll be better off dead. that he stuck in his veins. said they beat heroin. and took all the drugs “I‟m better. and cheaper too. you see. He said some made him feel better. he followed advice. that what passes for news is more propaganda.81 He tried out the drugs. The old-timer told me of the shocks and the needles. Yes. the professor said. in fact. if you got them on script. But they make me so sad. that a man to be trusted shows you respect.
because she didn‟t know she was a poet. where her poems. She sold the only thing she owned. little pearls of wisdom of beauty and of honesty. neatly written are discarded in the waste by the doctors and the nurses and the others. . of happiness denied and the courage it‟s taken to survive this long in and out of confinement. to finance her habit. accepted any consolation. in their haste to get her to accept she‟s nothing but a „street worker‟ with a „chemical imbalance‟. Cherie looked for love. In return she gave her poems. appreciated deeply a stranger‟s conversation.82 Cherie Cherie thought she was a prostitute. sincerity and kindness.
Growing up in Arabia he was aware that talking to dead people was forbidden in Christian countries. She‟s dead. Sir. is someone else here?” Ahmad looked around in surprise. “He said he was trying to communicate with his girlfriend.” “Only my voice?” “Why. .83 Ahmad “Do you hear voices?” the doctor asked. “Of course. doctor. He knew it.” “Is this true?” Ahmad was caught between a rock and a hard place. I hear. I am not deaf!” “Whose voice do you hear? Can you recognise it?” “It is your voice. The nurse who alerted the doctor to Ahmad‟s state of mind came to the rescue.
“We‟ll have to transfer you to the mental health unit. if not legibly. so I asked if he‟d like to join us. He noticed the migrant seemed suspicious. I could see it on his face. mostly broken.. So Ahmad was brought to the ward by security. Just a mental aid. Just for a couple of days. he‟d be writing the notes up later. Writing them properly and legally. It has been published in my country. He wasn‟t cuffed or anything – the police weren‟t involved. writing the word „irritable‟. but he was upset. mate. Sir. it works as a music room too having a few.” admonished the registrar. We were having a jam in the art room.” “Are you saying I‟m mad?” Ahmad was incredulous “I speak five languages. . in typical crude scrawl..” “No need to get stroppy.I write poetry.84 “Only thinking about her. You cannot talk to people who are dead. musical instruments.” But the registrar knew he was onto something.
said the charge. He asked me later how to get out of the place and told me of his story.85 Ahmad could hear where my sympathies lay. Ahmad was discharged. He was given a booklet entitled „Patient‟s Rights‟. This took quite a while. The next day. and charge nurse saw us talking.” I said. “Fair enough”. I was asked inside. though he couldn‟t quite get the groove. or perhaps the next. “but that‟s a job for staff. “I just suggested Ahmad ask for an interpreter. was taken for a chat. like me. and asked to sit down. There I was told not to interfere with patient management on the ward. taken to an interview room. having learnt something about the land he‟d migrated to: .” Ahmad.
.86 not to go to hospital because he feared the pain in his heart.
in the far corner of the courtyard. how they became possessed by such views. at least while confined. and those who wronged them were cursed.87 Three Young Witches I met three young witches that‟s what they said they were. because they never do. they swallowed the tablets. So they talked furtively of what they believed. The drugs they were given were destined to fail to change the ideas the witches obtained from copious literature and the Internet about crystals and spells and New Age rituals. They told me they performed spells. if that helped win their freedom. They‟d all been labelled with „schizophrenia‟. . whispering together. It‟s hard to believe that in this age of computers girls calling themselves „witches‟ are still persecuted. Interested in the same books. and they said they were ill. and the nurses made notes and the doctors ignored them. they shared magazines on witchcraft. The three young women I met in the ward had made friends with each other. but nobody asked.
“and the more you argue. “You‟re not well. denied the one thing he asked for stood miserably in line.” Frank knew not to persist. the patients discussed behind closed doors where opinions expressed by judgmental fools who‟ve read all the books and know all the rules but. Frank. queuing up for his lunch. They wouldn‟t let him go to his only son‟s wedding. „In what way?‟ he sullenly responded. but his sorrowful visage said it all. but the colder hearts of those who could free him were engaged in a session of character assassination. They call it a „ward round‟ or just a „ward meeting‟.” he was told by the nurse. might be too intrusive. the more it seems so. he might make a „scene‟ or voice his delusions that the people he‟d met were drugged more than needed.88 Frank Frank was mad and Frank had good reason. neglected to learn how to listen with compassion. to the cold floor and walls. . His anguish was clear. in their haste to climb up the ladder. yet. was the reply. So Frank. that the freedom we hear of is not shared by all. “You‟re still a bit elevated”. Might cause a disturbance.
he clearly was better since tears had welled up in his eyes.89 From being too happy. .
You can never be „too happy‟. or a person who believes that such a condition is a disease for which the best treatment is imprisonment and toxic drugs? What is an „elevated mood‟? What about an „expansive mood‟? Sounds like a nice thing – and it is. Sounds to me like a description of normality. The concept is ridiculous. It‟s insane.90 Too Happy Who is mad? A person who is „abnormally happy‟. . How much zest for life is „too much zest for life‟? What‟s wrong with „Increase in goal-directed activities‟? When does a healthy ego become „Inflated self-esteem‟? These are textbook signs of „hypomania‟. a weird concept dreamt up by peculiar psychiatrists less than a century ago.
rhythm Enjoying the moment Those rare moments of freedom.91 Psychiatrists Acting like the mind police Regulating our moods. our emotions With drugs. We can keep people Out of psychiatric institutions By educating them. toxic chemicals Instead of nature‟s own cure Meditation. harmony. . not medication Concentration On the good things in life Focusing on music Beauty. the psychiatrists About how to teach people to be happy Rather than drugging them into apathy.
that those he tortures truly are ill and in dire need toxic pills. . They ask him why his wallet swells.” He says earnestly. while people dwell in living hells. He carries his opinions over those who ask why. to prove his victims are really sick. He justifies with lies and tricks.92 The Research Doctor The doctor struts his stuff. “That‟s accepted at my University.” “Good for research funding in this new age of eugenics. There‟s no simple cure. With self-fulfilling prophesy he explains why the mentally ill will never be well “It‟s in their genes. he carries his head high. They ask why his patients weep and why his patients cannot sleep.
while contributing also to the rising rate of suicide.” The doctor sucks up to the professor. subconsciously doctoring his statistics.93 there‟s no easy fix. . though following the advertising hype and contributing to the health of the pharmaceutical industry. The doctor swallows the semantics. Both see themselves as independent. The professor has been indoctrinated. but the clues may be revealed by dissecting brains and genetics. exercising their free will. too.
as I read your diagnoses of the dead.94 Retrospective Diagnosis I ask. do you consider what‟s said? Do you think any poet sane? How can you understand such a brain. diagnoses are made and his brilliance fades. I ask as I read the criteria you make . when you write on Van Gogh. of the madness of artists and the ravings of poets. viewed as a freak with diseased imagination that glorified sunflowers and saw beauty in the mundane. when you treat metaphor with disdain? I ask as I read.
The human race. tired of running round in circles. synonymous with bad.95 to call artists mad. driven ever faster. created by crooks with hidden agendas building academic empires. do you consider any poet chemically balanced? Do you consider any artist appropriately behaved? Or are poetry and art themselves the „diseases‟ that you would rid the human race of? The human race. in your stupid textbooks. prejudiced rules constructed by fools. .
As sensitive people. They have seen the world as poets.96 sick of competing. artists exploited. the victims cry out but fear to be clear. They speak in metaphor to hide their horror. not “schizophrenics. poets tortured.” . relentless careering. climbing the ladder deeper into the sewer of greedy profiteering.
degenerate races judged by murderous monsters according to face. asylum to those called insane defective. .97 Cruel Betrayal Escaping in terror from Nazi eugenics. with their dead in mind. prescribed euthanasia „mercy killing‟ by the merciless. greedy. as they left their dead behind. the bewildered were herded onto the ship. The poor people fled to escape the dread weeping. The British Empire promised to provide full protection. weeping. poisonous chemicals. race and colour. tortured. judged cruelly. outright mass-murder.
fifty years later: army used disabled soldiers and interned Italians. . the scene of countless betrayals but none forgotten by the long memory of history.98 They prayed for relief. Australia. they trusted the soldiers of his majesty‟s army. Betrayed by the Red Cross they suffered more torture guinea pigs for ICI. The news now resurfaced. they‟d be safer still in the great southern land. martyrs for humankind. though saved. who told them. and also used Jewish refugees to test out new chemicals. drugs to make profits for British and American pharmaceutical companies.
99 The victims were infected. The Third World cries out. . The terror of war brings profits for companies producing more treatments for the problems they created. a fatal disease. a parasite that kills millions. by far. transfused and injected with no less than malaria. too expensive. enslaved their people and destroyed their treasures. They now have a cure. but nobody hears the stifled screams of children in horror. or took them as plunder to display in museums and private collections. for nations kept poor by debts they incurred to the empires that raped them.
„intrusive‟ When talking „too much‟ Is a sure sign of madness? When poisons are „medicines‟ And beliefs are „delusions‟ When the system that schools Is full of confusion? .100 Words If we don‟t understand The meaning of words How can we make sense? When they speak of defence But they mean fighting wars When they speak of „the facts‟ When they mean propaganda? If we don‟t understand The meaning of words How can we understand truth? When spontaneous is „impulsive‟ And happiness „elevation‟ When concern‟s „paranoia‟ And sadness „depression‟? If we don‟t understand The meaning of words How can we honestly communicate? When emotional means unstable And curious.
. beauty love. but essential values. essential concepts essential to healing. without which life is empty. and devoid of meaning.101 Missing Values Truth. compassion never in the index of a medical text.
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