Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam (MD) ©2014
In 1995 I was locked up for the first time. This was at
Melbourne’s Royal Park Hospital, and I was 34 years old. I had
been working as a doctor for 11 years, and was a working at
the time as a solo suburban family doctor in Dandenong, an
outer suburb of Melbourne.
The discharge summary from the Royal Park Hospital refers to
"bizarre theories that made no sense to relatives", cited as
evidence that I suffered from ‘hypomania’. I had been locked up
at the Royal Park Hospital for almost a month before I escaped
(and the 'discharge summary’ written), but since no one had
discussed my theories with me while I was locked up there,
they depended on "collateral history" from members of my
family, who evidently didn't understand the scientific theories I
had been talking about.
Two of the theories mentioned (though not described) were not
original – one being the well-known ‘Chaos Theory’ the other
being the curiously-named palaeontology theory known as the
"Four Dimensional Bioblob". The original theory was that
communication, curiosity and play are instinctual in social
mammals and are important motivators for human behaviour
with therapeutic potential. This was described as my
"delusional theory of motivation".


I drew the diagram on the right
when trying to explain my
theory of motivation to the
psychiatrist Rajan Thomas in
March, 1995. I had been told
that Dr Thomas was an expert
in autism, but I had been asked
to see him as a ruse. His real
whether I could be legally
My 1995 theory of motivation
included the hypothesis that
healthy curiosity is being
suppressed by the educational
children (including TV). If,
however, the curiosity instinct
could be encouraged, this
could lead to educational
programs that were holistic and self-directed. This could be
used to improve attention and concentration – since people can
concentrate better on matters of interest to them. Denial of the
instincts for communication, curiosity and play resulted, I
hypothesised, in the state of mental stress known as boredom.
Boredom, like other stresses, leads to or worsens physical and
mental illness.
I was also theorizing about the effects of ageist clichés and
negative preconceptions that I thought may be reducing holistic
learning in older age – “too old to study”, “too old to change”
etc. These, I speculated, could be contributing to dementia as a
consequence of limited learning and also contributing to


Related to my theories about instincts and conditioning I was
speculating on the development of aesthetic in the visual arts
and the possibility of a "universal" aesthetic based on the
appearance and proportions of nature. Related to my theories
about how what we see affects us I was thinking about how eye
contact can be developed in autistic children by building trust
via engagement in musical and artistic activities with these
children. I was also developing theories about the pineal organ
in the brain, which I had read possesses a magnetic sensitivity
in birds - I was speculating about its role in humans.


The registrar who compiled the discharge summary after I had
escaped a second time from the hospital (where I had been
forced to take the antipsychotic drug haloperidol) referred the
first two of these theories as ‘Bioblos’ and the ‘Chaotic Theory
of Time’. A few weeks later, when incarcerated, again against
my will, in the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, the
“admission letter” refers to "delusional theories on the
causation of autism, schizophrenia and the role of magnetism
on the pineal organ". A few days before I was locked up at the
Royal Park Hospital, the Director of the local Mental Health
Clinic had written, in providing a second opinion, that my


"theory of motivation was held strongly, but not with delusional
After 1999, when I was first locked up at the Alfred Hospital in
Melbourne for developing a supposedly irrational peace plan for
Timor (advocating that Australian troops not be sent to the
island, since, in my opinion the Australian Government was
more interested in the oil and gas in the Timor Sea than the
rights of Timorese) the fact that I theorized that HIV has been
developed and used as a biological weapon became an oftcited reason to argue that I suffered from "paranoid
schizophrenia". The reasons I came to these beliefs were never
inquired into by the "treating doctors". When I said that the
medical system was corrupt this was regarded as further
evidence of mental illness and "paranoia".
I have been deeply interested in science for as long as I can
remember – especially natural science. My mother has a degree
in zoology from the University of Ceylon, and my father and
older sister have medical degrees, so I was brought up in a
family environment where medical science and science more
generally were frequent topics of conversation, along with
politics and (with my mother) religion. I studied science,
including biology, chemistry, physics and maths in school
before studying medicine at university.
Along with my scientific opinions, several of my political and
philosophical actions, ideas and opinions have been quoted,
over the years, as evidence of mental illness by doctors keen to
find the right diagnosis and the best drug to treat it. The labels
they applied to me have included mania, bipolar disorder,
delusional disorder, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.
Most recently I have been told that I have been diagnosed with
"psychotic disorder not otherwise specified". I must be getting
hard to diagnose.
The Four Dimensional Bioblob
When we lived in England I remember my father working on his
MD thesis. I knew, at the age of six or seven, that this thesis
had something to do with a chemical called potassium and


organs called the kidneys, and involved lots of graphs and
numbers – and something called statistics. Since my father was
writing a thesis, I decided, when I was seven, to do the same –
it was called Dinosaurs, and I had only 3 or 4 books to draw on
for my research. The final 60 paged ‘thesis’ was mostly
drawings, many copied from Burian and Augusta’s iconic work
Prehistoric Animals which had been given to me when I was six.
My mother encouraged my enthusiasm for dinosaurs (and
natural history more broadly) by taking me, on several
occasions, to the magnificent Natural History Museum in
London. This was my favourite place in the world until we
migrated to Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, in 1968.
Unlike many childhood dinosaur enthusiasts, I retained my
interest in dinosaurs till the present, and while hardly an expert
in palaeontology, I have read fairly widely on fossils and
evolutionary biology. I also remain interested in physics,
especially theories relating to light, sound, magnetism and
time. As a doctor I am particularly interested in how such
knowledge can be used to promote health, and as one looking
for the bigger picture I am interested in integrating all the
diverse bits of data I have collected in my brain and in my
library over the years.
As such it was with much delight that I read about the concept
of the ‘4-Dimensional Bioblob’ in Archer and Gotthelp’s book on
their fossil discoveries in Riversleigh in North Queensland. The
theory links biology and physics in a deep and profound way.
The authors were respected young palaeontologists at the
University of Queensland, and the book, titled Riversleigh is a
‘mainstream’ publication. The foreword is by the famous Sir
David Attenborough.
The concept of the Four Dimensional Bioblob, however
strangely named, is remarkably simple and elegant. It refers to
the connection between ones cells and those of ones parents,
and theirs with their parents…and so on. In other words, if time
is described as the fourth dimension (as it is in conventional
physics) all of the life on the planet can be viewed as a
gigantic, shape-changing organism moving through space and
time with the movement of the earth (around the sun and, with


it, through the cosmos). All life is connected, if it is true that it
originated from a single cell.
Of course, it is possible that life was seeded to the earth as
micro-organisms from outer space – perhaps from meteorites or
comets, and did not originate from one cell but from several
around the same time (or at different times), but when I read
about the ‘4-Dimensional Bioblob’ in this book, back in 1993, I
was excited enough to discuss it with my wife, mother, sister
and several friends. I even mentioned it to a couple of my
patients who were interested in such matters. Nobody at the
time expressed a failure of comprehension of this simple
theory, though several were amused by the biological concept’s
‘Bioblos’, as written in the discharge summary by the registrar
Jan Theobald is a misspelling and misconception of ‘bioblob’,
and no explanation of it was sought or given to the doctors and
nurses at the Royal Park Hospital. No explanation has been
sought from me since, by the several registrars who have
transcribed ‘bioblos’ from the initial discharge summary to their
own, or presented this misconception of a valid scientific
concept as evidence of ‘presenting illness’ in clinical meetings,
‘Grand Rounds’ and other gatherings where my supposed
madness has been described and discussed without my
presence by ‘health care workers’, some of who had met me,
and others who had not.
The ‘Chaotic Theory of Time’, another of my supposedly crazy
theories, is none other than the well-known ‘Chaos Theory’ –
taught in universities around the world and about which
numerous books have been written. In the weeks immediately
before my first commitment I had bought several books (this
was pathologised, in the discharge summary, as ‘overspending’
– I actually spent $600 on about 15 books, including several
medical textbooks). Among these books were a couple on
modern physics – A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking,
and a book describing the work of Richard Feynman, one of the
architects of chaos theory.
I had not finished reading A Brief History of Time and only read
part of the book on chaos theory, because on the 7 th of April


1995 I was taken by 2 policemen, handcuffed and protesting,
from my rented flat in Fitzroy Street in St. Kilda to the Meduna
ward in the now demolished Royal Park Hospital. I was angry at
first, but soon became frightened…and then bored…really,
really bored.
My interest in chaos theory was centred on my analysis of
aesthetic – both visual and auditory. I had been struck by the
beauty of naturally distributed objects such as fallen leaves or
pebbles. My simple understanding of chaos theory was that
chaotic systems reflect underlying order. This is may be an
oversimplification, however in early 1995 I decided to try to be
‘chaotic’ – within limits – to try and maximise my efficiency.
What I really was after was to perceive beauty in unlikely
situations, to allow random, or ‘chaotic’ events to direct my
perception and activities - to 'go with the flow'.
During the months immediately before my first incarceration I
had also had an insight about the way people become stressed
about time. I saw clock-time as significantly different from real
time. Clock-time, I thought, is used to control people. I
remember discussing this with my receptionist, Pam, pointing
out that in big corporations those at the bottom rungs of the
hierarchy are punished for being late to work, while those at
the top can come and go as they please. I was also aware, from
years in general practice, that people are frequently stressed
about the passage of time – especially in terms of ageing, but
also in terms of being late for appointments. I decided then not
to wear a watch, and to rid my flat of clocks. I wanted, in what I
called the ‘Chaos House’ (actually a chaotic flat) to do things
when I felt like it – including eating and sleeping.
I had read, I can’t remember where, that a Zen saying is that
one should sleep when sleepy and eat when hungry. It was
pointed out that this was easier said than done. I found that
when I stopped being woken by an alarm clock I had more
energy during the day and needed less sleep at night.
Increased energy and reduced need for sleep are listed in
psychiatric texts as evidence of hypomania, but then so is
increase in goal-directed activities – something many people,
including myself, have strived for with good reason. The
American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical


Manual of Mental Disorders also states that for some individuals
‘hypomania’ is characterized by an increase in creativity,
efficiency and accomplishments.
Another sign of hypomania, according to the textbooks, is
increase in sociability – examples are given of people striking
up conversations with strangers, such as people sitting next to
them on a bus or train. I did not travel on buses or trains at this
time but I did strike up conversations with strangers. I had been
captivated by the idea that you meet everyone for a reason.
Thus I discussed time, memory, history, physics, biology and
other topics of interest to me with a range of people I met.
None expressed the idea that I was mad, though some may
have thought so and been too polite to say so.
Although my hospital records make this claim, I did not suffer
from so-called ‘pressure of speech’ (another sign of hypomania
and mania) in that I spoke at a normal rate (for me) and could
be interrupted easily enough. I remained a good listener, but
found that I could talk for a longer time than had been the case
in the past. I should mention, though, that I have always had a
penchant for long, deep conversations with people I related
with, though I tend to be quiet when I first meet people,
especially groups of people I do not know.
Theories about Autism
Shortly before I was first committed I had also bought a book
that had a profound effect on my thinking about neurology and
psychiatry – Oliver Sacks’ An Anthropologist on Mars.
The case studies in this book were interesting but had less
impact on me than the drawings – these were done not by
Sacks but by his patients. There were several by two children
diagnosed as autistic – so called ‘idiot savants’. These children,
one of whom was referred to as Stephen, were capable of
amazingly accurate drawings of things they were looking at, or
they had seen and remembered, yet were deficient in other
areas of their mental and social development.


I knew little about autism until I read Oliver Sacks’ book . I had
read the famous neurologist’s well-known and popular The Man
who Mistook his Wife for a Hat a few years earlier and found
this to be fascinating as well. I had heard about autism, of
course, in my medical studies and been told that it was
believed to be related to schizophrenia in that many autistic
children develop schizophrenia later in life. The condition was
said to be rare. Children with autism, we were told, are unable
to form normal emotional connections with others, including
their parents, and do not play with other children. The fact that
these children typically develop minimal eye contact with
others was probably mentioned, but I did not remember this
important feature of the syndrome.
After I had read Oliver Sacks’ accounts of patients with autism I
read the section on mental illness in the paediatric text I had
bought when a registrar at the Royal Children’s Hospital in
Brisbane, back in 1986. Nelson’s Textbook of Pediatrics
suggested that children with autism present major behavioural
problems and that these were usually managed with
benzodiazepine tranquillisers and major tranquillisers (which
were also called ‘neuroleptics’ or ‘antipsychotics’ but were all,
in those days, dopamine-blocking drugs).
I was shocked to read this, since I had assumed that music and
art therapy would have played a central role in management of
children who often had remarkable musical and artistic
sensitivity and ability. To my surprise there was no mention of
art and music therapy in this book at all, as far as I could see,
and the same was the case in the medical and psychiatric
textbooks that I had in my library. I went out later to the
University bookshops in Monash University and the University
of Melbourne and found the same to be the case with current
Because of my interest in art, vision and light I was interested
in the development of aesthetic appreciation in sight. I was
equally interested in aesthetic development in hearing – the
auditory aesthetic. In both areas I analysed my own changes
and came up with theories as to how appreciation of music and
visual aesthetic grow through life – with the correct auditory
and visual stimuli. I was keen to develop strategies to use light


(and colour) as well as music to improve my own health and the
health of others. This has proved an enduring quest.
For many years as a family doctor I failed to inquire as to
whether my patients played musical instruments or listened to
music. I did not regard these as an important part of taking a
medical history. It was only around 1994 that I started
integrating my understanding of music with that of health and
illness. At the same time I started realising how much my
medical course had focused on illness at the expense of health.
In psychiatry the examples are glaring and obvious – to anyone
able to discern the jargon rather than succumbing to the notion
that they are not experts and are therefore unqualified to
‘diagnose mental illness’.
My knowledge of psychiatry, until I was first committed, was
rudimentary. I had studied a term of psychiatry as a student,
and attended the obligatory psychiatry lectures and tutorials. I
had attended a few ‘ward rounds’ and ‘grand rounds’, when the
‘treating team’ would sit in a circle of chairs in a closed room
and discuss absent patients. They debated about the ‘correct
diagnosis’ always deferring to the opinion of the ‘treating
psychiatrist’. I watched as a student without the urge to voice
my own opinion. I was trying to understand the jargon and
memorise new symptom constructs, and had suspended my
critical judgment. In fact I had suspended my critical judgment,
regarding what I was taught, long before I entered university –
when I accorded teachers at school, church and home more
credibility than they deserved.
As a first-year resident I did a psychiatry term at Rosemount,
which was decorated with neither roses nor a mountain. It was
a ramshackle collection of wooden buildings a mile up the road
from the Royal Brisbane Hospital which, at the time, prided
itself with being the ‘biggest hospital in the Southern
Hemisphere’. The mental hospital had ‘wards’ – each a
rectangular wooden building, including one that was always
kept locked. This was, of course, called the ‘locked ward’ by
everyone except the authorities, who insisted that it was a
‘high dependency unit’. In it were about five or six people
including a Chinese man, who was heavily drugged with
Largactil and several other drugs. He used to shout that he was


a victim of the CIA. We were assured that this was a
manifestation of ‘paranoid schizophrenia’, and believed it,
without ever trying to speak to him.
There was nothing to do in the locked ward. That’s why it was
alternatively described as a ‘low stimulus area’. Other
psychiatric hospitals in Australia use these same euphemisms
to this day. But an ‘LSA’ or “Low Stimulus Area” is that only in
name. One is constantly stimulated but in a very unpleasant
way. There is always a television set, regardless of how small
the ward is. There is the constant background of requests and
pleading and begging that occurs at the door to the nurses
station, and the regular offering (backed by threats of violence
and seclusion) of prescribed drugs. Meanwhile the nurses
behind the reinforced glass of the nurses station do their
utmost to ignore the inmates, except to ensure that they take
their tablets and do not try to escape (which is termed
The admission letter to Prince Charles Hospital, written by the
ex-Director of Psychiatric Services in Queensland, Brett
Emerson, states that, “I assessed him in his home for 3 hours
and it was only after that time that the delusional material was
raised by him. He described at great length and detail his
recently discovered beliefs on the causation of schizophrenia,
autism, and the role of magnetism on the pineal gland.” He
continues, “There was also evidence of flight of ideas, rapid
speech, irritability, insults and marked lack insight.” [I have
known Brett Emerson since 1976, when we were both students
and I didn’t mince my words when I told him what I thought of
him and the hospital system that employed him.]
Theories about the Pineal
So what were these ‘delusional’ beliefs? In fact they were not
beliefs – they were hypotheses, and I recognized them as such.
I had, indeed, had the temerity to develop theories on the
causation of schizophrenia and autism. I had also developed a
hypothesis regarding the (unoriginal) claim that the pineal
organ retains a magnetic sensitivity in humans as it is
commonly thought to in birds. This was that if the brain and


Central Nervous System transmit electrical signals (which they
do) these would create tiny magnetic fields. While these
magnetic fields might be weak compared to the Earth’s field or
that of man-made electricity (and magnets) their proximity to
the pineal could result in physiologically significant stimulation
of the organ.
When I looked in more detail at the 1990s psychology and
neurology textbooks I noticed that much that was known about
the pineal was omitted from the texts students were learning
from, including the fact that the neurotransmitter serotonin is
concentrated in the pineal where it is converted, during the
night, into melatonin. The known effects of melatonin on the
pituitary gland were not mentioned in most textbooks either.
This was despite the fact that serotonin was specifically
targeted by the popular class of antidepressants known as
SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Blockers). Another littleknown and little-taught fact about the pineal is its connection
with the visual system. It is this connection, and the possibility
that the pineal retained a magnetosensory function that
interested me the most when I was first diagnosed as having
“delusions” about the pineal.
I had read, in the 1980 edition of Harrison’s Principles of
Internal Medicine that the pineal, which had once been thought
to be a useless vestige of the primitive parts of the brain, was
now known to function as a “neuroendocrine transducer” – in
other words the organ acted as an “interface” between
neuronal and hormonal signals. This has profound implications
for mind-body medicine.


My attempt to explain this to Emerson was evidently not
successful, and I had not then read the work of the American
scientist Robert Becker, who has been claiming that the pineal
is the centre of a biomagnetic system in humans since the


1970s. We were not told about his work in medical school, or
our post-graduate education.
I had read as a child that the pineal organ is thought to be
involved in the migratory behaviour of birds. This was thought
to be related to an ability to sense the Earth’s magnetic fields. I
had read that the lateral line system of fish was thought by
some to be part of a magnetic organ as well. I had also read
that magnetic fields had been studied by the Russians and by
the Western military-industrial complex, and that weapons were
being developed using magnetic fields including so-called
‘Seismic Weapons’ – used for the deliberate causation of
earthquakes and consequential tidal waves.
Shortly after my first three incarcerations (in April, May and
June 1995), I chanced upon a magazine called New Dawn in a
‘New Age’ shop in St. Kilda. I was drawn to the cover story
promising to expose the wickedness of psychiatry. I had
experienced this evil first hand, but this was the first of the
anti-psychiatry propaganda I read. Unfortunately, the genuine
evils of psychiatry are distorted in the propaganda produced by
the ‘Church of Scientology’, which, at the time, was a major
advertising sponsor of New Dawn.
Not knowing anything about Scientology or the history and
politics of the ‘Anti-Psychiatry Movement’, I posted some
articles, documents and diagrams – a large folder of them to
the editor of New Dawn. Three articles, titled ‘A Holistic
Doctor’s Psychiatric Experiences 1, 2 and 3’ were published in
subsequent issues of the magazine.
Theories about AIDS
It was in New Dawn that I first read of the allegation by others
that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, had been
deliberately engineered and introduced, through infected
vaccines and blood products to targeted populations. The
author of the article was a medical doctor by the name of Alan
Cantwell, who has written several articles and books presenting
his evidence. I have not read his books, but the information he
provided in the articles published in New Dawn were convincing


enough for me to partly abandon my search for personal health
through art and music to discover the real cause of the AIDS
epidemic. This decision has proved costly, financially, physically
and mentally. However I still feel a need to continue my
research into this uncomfortable topic and to communicate with
others about my concerns and the evidence I have gathered
over the years. Evidence of premeditated genocide using the
Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
I graduated as a doctor at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic,
in 1983. When I worked as a resident doctor at the Royal
Brisbane Hospital, I remember a ‘surgical patient’ relegated to
a remote corner of the hospital. Everyone was afraid to go near
him, including the surgeon who was supposed to be treating
him. When Robert Gallo announced the discovery of HIV (then
called HTLV III) in 1984 I was working as a resident at the
adjacent Royal Children’s Hospital, and took little interest in the
During the 10 years I worked as a family doctor in South
Dandenong I treated only one person with AIDS. He was one
member of large family I looked after, and I saw him only
occasionally – usually when he wanted a script for the drugs
that were being prescribed for him by the Fairfield Infectious
Diseases Hospital. He was on more than 10 different drugs –
including AZT (Retrovir), a range of anti-fungal drugs and
antibiotics, and also Valium and Rohypnol in addition to
antidepressants. Needless to say he was very much focused on
both the drugs and the disease, and all I could offer him was
advice about how to improve his quality of life. He listened
dutifully, but was more interested in acquiring an extra script
for Rohypnol.
When I first read Alan Cantwell's articles in New Dawn I was
convinced by many of the physician’s arguments. He presented
evidence that HIV was introduced to targeted homosexual
populations in the US (Los Angeles, San Francisco and New
York) via contaminated hepatitis B vaccines in the mid-late
1970s. He also reminded us of examples of experimentation by
the US government on African-Americans such as the notorious
Tuskegee experiments, when the effects of untreated syphilis


were studied across successive generations, while denying the
subjects the simple cure of an injection of penicillin.
The main reason I became suspicious that the AIDS epidemic
was my research into eugenics and biological warfare by the
Allies. I found that there had been active suppression of the fact
that Western governments and institutions, including those in
Australia had been actively supportive of the eugenics
movement and agenda before the Second World War. During
the war the German Nazis had justified genocide on the basis of
eugenics doctrines. The fact that these doctrines originally
emanated from Cambridge University where the founder of
eugenics, Francis Galton, was based was an embarrassment to
the British and the Australians (given the close link between
Cambridge and the Australian university system). It was also an
embarrassment to Harvard University and the USA, because
Galton had been invited there to present his ideas about racial
superiority and inferiority in the 1890s.
When I researched the eugenics movement I found that
supposed “overpopulation” in the colonized nations was an
overriding concern of the movement. I found that this concern
continued after the war, into the 1950s, 60s and 70s – when the
AIDS epidemic began. I read about the campaign for ZPG – zero
population growth and the doomsday forecasts of population
scientists such as Stanford University’s Paul Erlich, that
proclaimed overpopulation to be the number one global
“health” problem. I read Henry Kissinger’s Memorandum 200
when he declared Third World overpopulation to be a problem
of national security for the USA.
I also found out more about biological warfare, which was
frequently in the news in reference to the supposed clandestine
biological warfare programs in Iraq. Before Iraq was invaded in
2002 I had already read about the Cold War MK Programs and
also about the role of Australia in researching and testing
biological weapons for the Allies during the Second World War.
It was not for no reason that the weapons inspector Richard
Butler, who built the fraudulent case against Saddam Hussein
was Australian. My research indicated that if AIDS is being used
for genocide, Australian institutions are deeply implicated,


along with many esteemed universities and institutes in the
In 2001 I completed a 600-paged thesis presenting my research
into eugenics and AIDS titled “Eugenics and Genocide in the
Modern World: the cause of the AIDS epidemic?” I reedited and
shortened this book in 2010:
The psychiatrists refused to read the book, but continued to
insist that I was deluded about the causation of AIDS. The notes
from the Alfred Hospital openly state that a diagnosis of
paranoid schizophrenia was based on my delusional theory that
AIDS was being spread through the world to depopulate parts
of Africa, South America and Asia and that HIV was being used
as a bioweapon. I had researched the MK Programs and the
biological, psychological and chemical warfare programs of the
Allies during the Cold War and this had confirmed my
suspicions about AIDS. The hospital doctors refused to debate
the evidence or read my book, but they continued to insist that
my beliefs about AIDS were a reflection of serious mental
Theories about Psychology
Most of my theories in 1995 and 1996 were about psychology. I
was working on an integrated model that explained motivation
in terms of instincts and conditioning. Later I considered the
role of free will as a third factor that is neglected when limiting
the discussion to a balance between "nature" (instinct) and
"nurture" (conditioning) alone. This has obvious implications for
law, where will to commit a particular action is implied. In
psychiatry they do talk about volition, but commonly assume
that we are slaves to instinct and conditioning, ignoring free
will. Dichotomous thinking between nature and nurture was
dominant when I studied medicine in the 1970s and 80s and
remains so to this day.


In early 1995 I was particularly interested in the development
of the aesthetic and judgements about beauty in what we see
and hear. It seemed to me that aesthetic develops semiindependently according to various parameters, such as line,
form, colour and composition in the visual arts and harmony,
tone, melody and rhythm in music. With exposure to new
stimuli and concentration on these parameters, the aesthetic
develops - it matures. However, if one does not look for beauty
in sight and sound the aesthetic stagnates. This has relevance
to pedagogy and also could be used in health promotion - my
theory was that perception of beauty in what is truly beautiful
is good for the health and good for education.
My insight about communication, curiosity and play being
instincts came after I had spent an afternoon painting and
playing with my then 2-year-old daughter. I was interested in
human motivation and looking for ways to improve motivation
for healthy activities. I was also trying to define what “healthy
activities” were, exactly, and the role that morality, virtues and
ethics played in good mental health.
I was working on the assumption that mental health promotes
health of the body and vice versa. I was also working on the
assumption that keeping the mind active can ward off
dementia. These may be false assumptions, but I doubt it. But
what is mental health?
Defining Mental Health
Is greed a type of mental illness? Is dishonesty? Can ambition
be unhealthy? Is militarism a serious mental problem as well as
a societal problem? Is bullying a sign of mental ill-health as well
as of cowardice? These are some of the questions I pondered
when trying to redefine mental illness; and I was also
considering how the system itself fared when examined for
greed, dishonesty, grandiosity, aggression and delusions. In my
opinion it was guilty of all of these vices.
If the system that does the diagnosing is deluded and confused
about mental health, what is the yardstick by which members
of society are judged for sanity and insanity? It seems that the
magnate who profits from the manufacture and sale of


landmines is deemed saner, in our society, than the activist
who is “preoccupied” by trying to get these weapons banned.
The criteria used by psychiatry emphasise the intensity and
“level of preoccupation” with the belief as defining the
“severity of the delusion”, not its bizarreness, less so its ethics
and morality.
This is how we have developed a society where those who
falsely justify wars are given positions of power and prestige
while those who oppose them are silenced. Militarism has the
support of the system; pacifism does not. Psychiatry has long
been used as an instrument of social and political control. The
power is not held by politicians, though; it is held by elite
members of the medical profession.
The delusions of psychiatry are propagated through the
university system and related network of “teaching hospitals”.
Like all doctors I am a product of this system. Unlike most
doctors I have looked critically at the system that trained me
and found it wanting. The experiences I had when I was locked
up and treated in a dehumanizing manner emphasised to me
the difference between psychiatry in theory and psychiatry in
practice. Psychiatry-in-theory emphasises “empowerment of
patients”, a “holistic approach” and “informed consent”.
Psychiatry-in-practice is all about punishment and reward. The
reward is to be let out of the supposedly healing environment –
to be discharged from ‘hospital’. It can’t be that healing an
There are exclusion criteria in mental health laws in many
countries, including Australia. Legally, one is not allowed to
diagnose mental illness on the basis of religious, political and
philosophical beliefs. When it comes to practice, however,
people are often declared insane on the basis of religious,
political and philosophical beliefs. And on the basis of scientific