©2018 Romesh Senewiratne-Alagartatnam (MD)
I am writing this to express my strongest condemnation of the thinking and actions of Dr Balaji Motamarri towards me at the Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital and Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services (MSAMHS) of which he is the director.
I have never met Dr Motamarri, and he has refused to speak to me, even on the phone, but I have been subjected to abusive diagnosis and treatment by a series of psychiatrists at the PA Hospital and its outpatient clinics since 2002, when I was locked up 5 times under the authority of Dr Paul Schneider, who continues to work as a senior psychiatrist at the hospital to this day. Schneider was acting on the wishes of my father, Dr Brian Senewiratne, who was a long-time consultant at the same hospital and a colleague of his. My father was also a long-time propagandist and lobbyist for the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) travelling the world campaigning for the Tamil Tigers to be de-banned. He claimed that the Tigers were “freedom fighters” rather than terrorists and argued, citing the example of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), that a “guerrilla army using guerrilla tactics on guerrilla soil” could never be defeated, though the fight may go on for hundreds of years.
My father began getting me locked up in 1995, when I first publicly criticised him. A man who holds grudges, he has had me locked up numerous times since then, prevented me from earning my living as doctor, and tried to discredit me by claiming that I was “in and out of mental hospitals” (which was true, but mainly because of his insistence that I had a “serious psychotic disorder” that required “assertive treatment”). To run salt into my wounds, my father presents himself as a champion of human rights and the rights of the oppressed.
Balaji Motamarri, my father and I all have Linkedin and Facebook accounts. What I know about Dr Motamarri comes from what he has made publicly available about himself and his qualifications, rather than personal discussions with him. I have seen him once, when he was pointed out by nursing staff one weekend, when I had been locked up again in 2016. It was a weekend and he was the on-call psychiatrist for the PA. I had been locked up for more than a week and wanted to go home. I wanted to see him so that he could see for himself that I was of sound mind. He didn’t even acknowledge my presence and ignored me completely. I have not seen him since, though the Nigerian psychiatrist who had got me locked up (again on the wishes of my father) kept me locked up for a few more days, and tried to convince me that I had “paranoid schizophrenia”. I pointed out that my long-standing claims that my father was a supporter and lobbyist for the LTTE was not paranoid, it was factual. She ordered that I be injected with the antipsychotic drug paliperidone and placed on an Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO) to enable easier return to the hospital if I become “unwell” again or refuse (the abusive) “treatment”.
Balaji Motamarri’s Linkedin page indicates that he speaks Hindi and Telugu and graduated in medicine at the Andhra Medical College in 1987. His Linkedin page says he has been a psychiatrist in Australia and “Clinical Director, Psychosis Academic Clinical Unit” for 19 years and 8 months (since Oct 1998). Below this it states that he has been ‘Clincal [sic] Director” of MSAMHS since 2012. Since he has been the clinical director of the “Psychosis Academic Clinical Unit” I have been locked up and injected on more than 20 occasions, always at the PA Hospital (one of several hospitals on Brisbane’s south-side that comes under the authority of the MSAMHS).
Despite graduating (in India) some years after I graduated at the University of Queensland, Balaji Motamarri’s Linkedin and Facebook pages do not suggest that he is computer literate. He also has an almost complete absence of academic publications to his name, yet he is supposedly the clinical director of the “Psychosis Academic Clinical Unit”. As testament to his carelessness, even when confronted with the relatively simple task of listing his experience for Linkedin he made several typographical errors (in addition to ‘clincal’ instead of clinical): He says he is now (since October 2016) the Executive Director of “Clincial Services” of “Metrosouth Mental Health Services”. He hasn’t even got his own title right. This is the “Executive Director of the Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services (MSAMHS)”.
Balaji Motamarri has 161 Linkedin contacts, including 14 mutual contacts with me. I have about 3500 contacts, including psychologists and psychiatrists from many countries, including India. I also have contacts relevant to my other areas of interest – neuroscience, medicine, meditation, music, human rights, law, Buddhism, journalism and politics. I have posted links to my music and publications on my Linkedin page, which are available to be read by my peers, including Balaji Motamarri. I have sent him a contact request but he hasn’t accepted it yet.
The University of Queensland lists one and only one publication co-authored by Balaji Motamarri. From 2012, and published in “Current Medical Research and Opinion” it is titled “Practical guidelines on the use of paliperidone palmitate on the treatment of schizophrenia”. PubMed lists 3 other papers for which he was a co-author, all published in Australian psychiatry newsletters and all promoting long-acting injectables, like paliperidone. Since I was locked up at the PA in 2012 I have been injected monthly with paliperidone on the orders of a series of psychiatrists answering to Balaji Motamarri. They started off by saying I had schizophrenia, then revised it to “psychotic disorder – not otherwise specified” before changing back to schizophrenia. My protestations that I have never had hallucinations, am motivated and sociable with a stable mood, am well-organized, rational and logical and am obviously of sound mind has fallen on deaf ears. The psychiatrists have consistently taken the side of my father against me and declared me to be “psychotic” and “delusional” to believe that he was maliciously motivated towards me, and that he was a propagandist and lobbyist for the LTTE.
Balaji Motamarri’s Facebook page provides a window into his social life in 2010. There are only 2 postings, from 26 December 2009 “Merry Christmas to all” and from 25 January 2010, when he has posted on his wall what he intended as a personal message to his friend Manju:
“Hi Manju. My apologies for not replying earlier. As you can understand we are ‘recovering’ from our trip – the trip of ‘Telengana Bandhs’. Hyderabad has become a city of uncertain nightmares. And to add to the issue, our daughter’s school is starting in 2 days time and you know the dramas associated with this – just imagine ‘school after 10 weeks on holidays’ – what a nightmare to the parents.”
Balaji Motamarri seems to be feeling sorry for himself because his daughter has to go back to school after 10 weeks of holiday (which he claims he needs to recover from) and this is a “nightmare to the parents”. I have never had nightmares about my daughters going to school, but I have had many nightmares about being locked up by Balaji Motamarri’s unit. In these nightmares I am trying to prove my sanity but am interminably kept waiting. Sometimes I am assaulted by men with needles. Sometimes I am looking for my bed but am faced with endless corridors. My most consistent nightmare is being kept waiting in the confines of the PA Hospital. I am also uncertain about what he meant my Hyderabad becoming a “city of uncertain nightmares”. I am certain about my nightmares. They are very vivid.
Balaji Motamarri has only 182 Facebook friends, and hasn’t made any new ones in recent years. However, when he first filled in the questionnaire for Facebook he enthusiastically listed the Indian educational establishments he studied at. His Intro lists:
Works at MSAMHS
Worked at CNAHS
Studied psychiatry at PGIMER Chandigarh
Studied MBBS at Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatman, India
He also includes three high schools, including one in Chennai, where he matriculated in 1979 (before starting medicine in 1981).
Everybody should be treated with respect, but seniority is an important concept in society and in the medical and academic hierarchies. One is expected to respect ones seniors, as one is expected to respect ones elders. This has a long tradition in the West as well as the East (including India). The MSAHMS boasts that it provides “respect” as ones of its core values. I matriculated in 1978, winning the Tyrwitt Cup for best academic student at the Church of England Grammar School in Brisbane. I was working as a young doctor looking after desperately sick children and at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Prince Charles Hospital when Balaji Motamarri was still a medical student in India. While Motamarri was studying to become a psychiatrist I was looking after a community of 1000 mainly elderly patients, including many with complex illnesses (including mental health problems) as a family doctor in Melbourne. I have researched and lectured on mind-body medicine at Swinburne University in Melbourne, and my lectures can be viewed on YouTube, if Balaji Motomarri and his staff are interested to see what my state of mind was like in 2001 (when I was first misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia). They can even see the interview I gave in 1998 when I discussed my research into the pineal gland with Micheal Adami and the documentaries I have made about eugenics, psychiatry and AIDS (the theories that were diagnosed as ‘delusional’ by the psychiatrists in Melbourne).
I think I am owed the respect of a phone call with him to explain how and why his hospital is misguided to force a disease label and anti-psychotic drugs on me. I am also owed an apology for being locked up for raising uncomfortable truths and being denied my freedom of speech and my physical freedom. I am owed an apology, too, for being poisoned with drugs that have harmed my health and brought me no benefit, as well as putting me at risk of a range of iatrogenic adverse effects. At least I don’t have the added trauma of believing that I have an incurable brain disease.