High-handed treatment by the PA Hospital

I am angry. After giving him the benefit of the doubt, despite our history, Professor Mark Taylor has betrayed my trust in him and his considered judgement. I should have been more wary – in 2001 he wrote that I had a psychotic illness when I said (and wrote) that AIDS is man-made. At the time, he opined that before I became “ill” I had a paranoid, narcissistic personality disorder. This character assassination and drugging was at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and I had hoped that the last 17 years would have improved Mark Taylor’s judgement and medical practice. A competent psychiatrist can ascertain whether a person is mad or sane in a few minutes, and can do it over the phone.

Last week I received a note in the mail from Raghavan ‘Raghy’ Raman who has been appointed my “case manager” since the English nurse Nigel Lewin went on long-service leave a few months ago. Lewin had been injecting me on the orders of a succession of psychiatrists at the PA since 2012, when I was locked up for 2 months for maintaining that my father was a supporter of Tamil Tiger terrorism and had worked as a lobbyist of the organization. The hospital refused to look at the evidence that I provided of my claims and put me under the authority of an Indian Tamil psychiatrist many years my junior who is known to my father.

The note Raghy sent informed me that “my” injection will be due today but that he would be on leave for two weeks. I was asked to come in for the injection, to be given by one of the other 200 staff of the MSAMHS. I was given a number to ring – that of the “psychosis team”.

I rang the number and asked to speak to Balaji Motamarri, the long-time director of MSAMHS, who also qualified in India, before coming to Australia in 1998. “We don’t have a Dr Motamarri working here”. I said that he was the director of the organization and I was put through, instead to Sharon Locke, the “team leader”. I have spoken to this woman many times in the past, and expressed my objections to the PA Hospital’s negligent, high-handed treatment of its patients, including myself. She listens and notes things down, but says she can’t comment on matters that I need to “discuss with the doctor”, including my diagnosis and need for treatment.

When I met Mark Taylor after 17 years I had 24-hours notice to prepare. I had been phoned by Raghy Raman the day before to say that rather than Ghazala Watt, I would be seeing “Dr Taylor”. I told him that Mark Taylor had been responsible for locking me up in Melbourne in 2001, and was one of the psychiatrists I had named in the Statement of Claim I sent to the hospital, but was not accepted by the courts. The hospital psychiatrists referred to this as my being “litiginous” and further evidence that I was mentally ill.

In 2001 Mark Taylor wrote that I was deluded about “AIDS, eugenics etc” and misrepresented my statement to him that my father was a supporter of Tamil Tiger terrorism, and was trying to stop me from asking him what he knew about biological warfare. Taylor wrote that I believed that my father was spreading AIDS and that he is a “biological terrorist”. He wrote that these beliefs (about AIDS, eugenics and my father) were evidence of schizophrenia and recommended that I be injected with zuclopenthixol (Clopixol) against my will under a “Community Treatment Order” (CTO). I successfully appealed against the CTO was was released from forced treatment by the Alfred Hospital, but now Mark Taylor has turned up again, and has been given power over me.

I answered Mark Taylor’s questions about me honestly but did not get a chance to show him any of the evidence of my sanity that I had carefully packed in my briefcase to show him. The opportunity never arose, since he was sitting in front of the computer screen and typing my responses to his interrogation of me. He was particularly interested in my drug intake but also asked general questions about my health. I was relieved to speak to somebody who was fluent in English and encouraged by his assessment that I was “no longer” psychotic and his promise that would consider reducing the injections.

After I expressed my concerns to Sharon Locke last week, Mark Taylor phoned me back and asked how he could help me. This is a first from psychiatrists at the PA Hospital. I said he had said he would think about stopping or reducing the injection. He agreed he had done so, but wanted to be sure that I was “stable” fiirst. I assured them that I was, and the only problem I have is side-effects from the 100 mg of paliperidone that Ghazala Watt had insisted be injected into me when my father contacted the “service” complaining about me again.

Rather than assessing my mental state over the phone, Mark Taylor said he wanted to “check with your case manager Raghy”. This is ridiculous and negligent. I have already told Taylor how Raman, who is an Indian Tamil with poor English skills, thought that the Tamil Tigers were “activists” rather than terrorists, and was clearly sympathetic to the terrorist organzation I have long been opposed to and my father supported. Today I told Sharon Locke more disturbing facts about Raghy Raman that I had not shared before, since he asked me to keep his confidence. These related to his own medical problems, including the cause of his psoriasis and hypertension. He was blaming the antihypertensives he was on for worsening his psoriasis, but I suggested that maybe stress was a common factor in both. He agreed that he was stressed, but blamed his wife’s behaviour towards him as the cause of the stress, and that there was nothing he could do about it. He then told me he expected to commit suicide when he was forced by his age to retire. This man is not in a position to judge the sanity of me or anyone else.

The injections don’t need to be reduced, they need to be stopped. It is patently obvious that I don’t have schizophrenia, if the the term is to be understood by the contents of psychiatric texts.

On Balaji Motamarri’s Directions

©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 hold 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.

Old Wine in New Bottles – Remarketing ‘Depression’

Last year, I watched an interview on ABC News 24 informing us about a “new theory on the cause of depression”. This is that it is caused, not by a “chemical imbalance” but by inflammation in the nervous system (notably the brain). This is being presented as an alternative to the “serotonin theory of depression” that was used to justify the presciption of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) drugs, beginning with Prozac in 1987.

I have been watching and analysing the changing hype for many years. When I worked as a family doctor, the drug companies were claiming that depression was caused by a chemical imbalance in the neurotransmitter noradrenaline, not the indole amine serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine). This was because the market leaders in the “depression market” were the toxic and ineffective “tricyclic antidepressants” which were developed in the 1950s and were the mainstay of depression treatment till they were replaced by the SSRIs in the 1990s. Tricyclics were known to affect noradrenaline (norepinephrine) levels in the brain.

The psychiatrist interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) defended the “chemical imbalance theory” that has been such a successful marketing catchphrase for the drug companies but admitted that the SSRI’s don’t work for everyone and that “we don’t know” why some people with depression have disordered serotonin metabolism and others don’t. As usual, she explained that they needed more money for research to get the answers.

Dr Liz Scott, for that was her name, also agreed that the new theory was plausible, pointing to the fact that stress affects the immune system. She didn’t explain how stress, which usually depresses the immune system, is responsible for this inflammation, or why there is no evidence of such inflammation in the brains of depressed people who commit suicide. At the same time it is known that chronic illness of many types causes unhappiness and “depression”, including viral, bacterial and fungal infections, kidney and heart disease, cancer and chronic arthritis. Forced psychiatric treatment (especially incarceration) is an important cause of stress that Dr Liz Scott did not mention, predictably. Many other things cause unhappiness, and unhappiness has long been termed “depression” by the medical treatment industry, rejecting the older term of melancholia (thought to be due to a preponderance of black bile, one of the four humours of Galenic medicine).

In the 1960s American “experimental psychologists” of the “Behaviorist School” did a series of cruel experiments on baby chimpanzees, which demonstrated, as if there was need for it, that primates (as well as cats, dogs and even rats) pine away and become morose and depressed when they are deliberately made lonely and deprived of social activity and the comfort of others. This was heralded as a “discovery”.

Prozac was released with much hype, including a flurry of books in the “popular science” press, especially by Rupert Murdoch’s Harper-Collins publishers. These promoted Prozac for a range of medical and psychiatric conditions beyond depression, and resulted in profits of 3 billion for Eli Lilly. The other major drug companies followed suit, releasing and marketing (including bribing doctors to prescribe) a growing range of alternative SSRIs.

Eli Lilly have a long history of research into psychedelic drugs and psychoactive drugs that affect the serotonin receptors and pathways in the brain. In the 1960s they bought the rights to LSD (or ‘acid’) from the Swiss company (Sandoz) that had developed it. It was known that LSD could cause “schizophrenia-like” psychotic episodes, according to the psychiatric terminology of the time. This terminology dates back to 1909, when the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler coined the term “schizophrenia” and promoted its use for what his colleague Emil Kraepelin of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, known as the “Father of Psychiatric Classification”, had termed “dementia praecox” (adolescent dementia).

Bleuler argued that Kraepelin, in Germany was too pessimistic and that a third of his patients in the Swiss Burgholzli asylum recovered and were discharged from hospital. Kraepelin had taught, for many years, that any young person who “heard voices” was eventually destined to die of dementia (terminal mental degeneration) in a lunatic asylum.

German psychiatry became more brutal under the Nazis when patients with “schizophrenia”, “cyclical madness” (manic depression or bipolar disorder) and “personality disorder”, who had been populating the long-term mental asylum wards, were prescribed “euthanasia” – meaning “good” or “mercy killing”. Needless to say this included political enemies of the regime, since it has long been the case that enemies of the state or ruling regime get branded as mad. The same label of schizophrenia was also used in the Soviet Union to justify locking up and drugging, with chemical restraints, social and political dissidents.

In fact, chemicals do have a lot of effect on human thinking and behaviour, as the well-known effects of alcohol and drunkenness demonstates. To understand the hidden crime of “antipsychotic drugs”, and “antidepressants” one needs to know a few basics about catecholamine and indole amine neiurotransmitters and neurohormones.

Neurotransmitters are small molecules that bind to cell membranes of the nerve cells (neurones) in the brain and nervous system, stimulating or inhibiting “action potentials” or electrical impulses that pulse or vibrate in a constant, complex network through the nervous system. There are many different receptors for the same neurotransmitter – for example there are D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5 receptors in different parts of the brain. This results in the same chemical neurotransmitter having different effects depending on the type of receptor on the effector cell.

This science lies behind the efforts, over many decades, to find antipsychotic drugs that did not cause stiffness, dribbling and uncontrollable writhing movements of the face and limbs (Tardive Dyskinesia) which crippled so many of the long-term inmates of mental hospitals in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, when the main drugs that were used were Largactil (Thorazine), Haldol (haloperidol), Stelazine and Modecate. Thousands were crippled and still are, by these horrible drugs – both in the communist and the capitalist nations. The main “indications” were “schizophrenia”, “mania” and “schizoaffective disorder”, though they were also used as chemical restraints in elderly people diagnosed with dementia, a particularly cruel form of elder abuse that was prevalent in the more abusive nursing homes in Australia.

It is important to realise that the neurotransmitters in the brain are in constant dynamic flux. Every emotion or action results in chemical changes. When one listens to music the chemicals in the brain change. When one does for a walk, the chemicals change. When one gets excited, or relaxes, the chemical balance changes. Some neurotransmitters increase and some decrease in activity, made more complex by the fact that different cells have different neurotransmitter receptors, affecting how they respond to them. It been demonstrated that the successful completion of tasks results in measurable increase in serotonin levels.

Chemical imbalance theories make a lot of money for companies selling chemicals (drugs/medications). Millions of dollars are spent on promoting various chemical imbalance theories and the drugs that affect these chemicals. The dopamine theory of schizophrenia and the serotonin theory of depression were used to market dopamine-blocking “antipsychotic drugs” and SSRI “antidepressants” respectively. Despite numerous people demonstrating the fallacy of the different chemical imbalance theories, opponents are up against a multi-billion-dollar industry that is profit-driven and stands to profit from repeating the theories without mentioning the opposition to them.

Don’t believe the hype.

Debating Psychiatry with the PA Hospital

 

This is a debate from two years ago (February 2016) between me and Nigel Lewin, an English psychiatric nurse from the Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital.

Nigel had been appointed my ‘case manager’ and I was being made a “medical case” and “mental case” by my medical colleagues at the hospital that empoyed my father from 1976, when my family migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka. I was 15 then and remember staying in a house on the grounds of the hospital when we first arrived. Later, I avoided the hospital where my father and sister worked, and had a poor opinion of it, reinforced by my father’s claims (for which he was eventually sacked) that the hospital was “in chaos”. This was in 2001 and he got me locked up at the “chaotic” hospital (in his own written opinion) in 2002. In fact, he got me locked up 5 times in 4 months, culminating in my rib and finger being broken by security guards and male “nurses” immobilising me so that I could be injected with a drug called Zuclopenthixol, a treatment for ‘schizophrenia’ and other ‘psychotic disorders’

I began my debate with Nigel by asking him what he thought about “Psychotic Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified”, the label the hospital was trying to pin on me at the time, after revising the diagnosis from one of schizophrenia. Now, under the treatment of Jumoke Banjo (from Nigeria) and Ghazala Watt (from Pakistan) the diagnosis has been changed back to “paranoid schizophrenia”. Nigel Lewin has now gone on long service leave and a new case manager, an Indian man by the name of Raghy Raman, has been appointed. Raghy has expressed the opinion that the leader of the Tamil Tigers, Vellupillai Prabakaran was an “activist” rather than a terrorist, and described me as having “elevated speech” when I debated with him about the Tamil Tigers. In response to this, the psychiatrist Ghazala Watt increased the dose of depot antipsychotic she has abusively ordered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Considering ‘Insight’

©2018 Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam (MD)

Being insightful is considered a virtue. It is similar to being thoughtful, but insight implies intuitive knowledge and perception of truth. There has been much study of insight in psychology in recent years, mainly looking at the phenomenon from the perspective of problem solving. It has been found that insight is promoted by good mood and sleep, which help solve problems. An insight is described as an “aha moment”, “penny-drop moment”, “eureka moment” or epiphany.

 

However, ‘insight and judgment’ mean something quite different in psychiatry – in this medical specialty, insight specifically means willingness to accept that you are, and have been, mentally ill. This is problematic and constitutes a widely used circular argument – that refusal to agree you are mentally ill is itself evidence of mental illness. It means that mentally healthy people who are mistakenly admitted as psychiatric patients harm their chances of discharge if they maintain that they are not mentally ill.

 

The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), widely used in evaluating antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenia, is explicit about this. Section G12, titled “Lack of Judgment and Insight” states that ‘extreme’ (grade 7) lack of insight is to be recorded due to:

“Emphatic denial of past and present psychiatric illness. Current hospitalization and treatment are given a delusional interpretation (e.g., as punishment for misdeeds, as persecution by tormentors etc.), and the patient may thus refuse to cooperate with the therapists, medication or other aspects of treatment.”

 

Good judgment involves the ability to make sound decisions, based on knowledge of what is true and what is false. It is insulting to accuse someone of poor judgment, and uncalled for if the accusation is based on reasonable refutation of an incurable mental illness label. People can make sound judgments about many things, but not be convinced that they are mentally ill, especially if the illness is claimed to be due to unmeasurable chemical imbalances in their brains that are of uncertain origin, the dominant paradigm in psychiatry.

 

This item in the PANSS is one of 16 items taken from the older Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), which was developed in the USA in the 1960s and used to evaluate “general psychopathology”, as well as to evaluate psychoactive drugs. The PANSS also includes 7 “positive symptoms” and 7 “negative symptoms” for a total of 30 items that are evaluated. This results in a score from 30 to 210. “Improving” scores on the PANSS constitute the main claims for efficacy of the newer antipsychotic drugs; the older drugs were evaluated by the BPRS and other scales, usually when compared to the “benchmark drugs” chlorpromazine and haloperidol, rather than placebo.

 

A glaring problem with the PANSS and BPRS is the fact that known side-effects of dopamine-blocking drugs, such as “flattened affect” are described as signs of schizophrenia, rather than the treatment of the condition. Other signs such as hostility and uncooperativeness can be explained as legitimate objection to being called mad (or insane), by whatever name.

Predictably, people with some mental illness diagnoses resist the label of “illness” more than others. People with phobias, anxiety and depression often come to see doctors for help and so do people with auditory hallucinations (usually diagnosed as schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder). In these people the diagnosis of illness can be a relief, and they accept drug treatment without objection. In other cases, patients resist the label of illness vehemently, especially when they are said to have elevated mood (diagnosed as hypomania and mania) or delusions.

It is not surprising that many people accused of having an elevated mood resist the judgement. The BPRS grades “moderately severe” elevated mood (rating 5 on a scale from 1 to 7) as:

“Reports excessive or unrealistic feelings of well-being, confidence or optimism inappropriate to circumstances, much of the time. May describe feeling ‘on top of the world’, ‘like everything is falling into place’ or ‘better than ever before’. OR several instances of marked elevated mood with euphoria”.

Needless to say, people who feel on top of the world, better than ever before, or for whom everything is falling into place, are often not inclined to think they are mentally ill, and with good reason. Likewise people with an increase in goal-directed activities, increased zest for life those who see connections they didn’t see before and have insights. Ironically, the process of coming to conclusions through insight, especially if they are unique or ‘idiosyncratic’, is itself viewed as a sign of mental illness.

The Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) rates elevated mood on a scale from 1 to 5, with grade 3 being:

“Definite subjective elevation; optimistic, self-confident, cheerful, inappropriate to content.”

The key to the diagnosis is the subjective evaluation of what is “inappropriate to content” or “inappropriate to circumstances”. This is done by the interviewer, and depends on his or her own belief system, judgement and understanding of the patient’s circumstances.

Persecution by Tormentors and Punishment for Misdeeds

 

The belief that one is persecuted is not necessarily delusional. Many people, over the ages, have been persecuted, for various reasons including their race, their ‘caste’ and their beliefs. People are sometimes tormented by the families, or by their peers (for example victims of bullies at school or work). Siblings sometimes torment each other, and so do cousins and other relatives. Sometimes it is neighbours who do the tormenting. People often gang up against people who are stigmatised as strange, mad, crazy or odd and this can amount to persecution. Children are often punished for disobedience and it is not unreasonable for people to regard their imprisonment as mental patients a punishment. This is not helped by a punitive culture in the mental health systems of many nations.

 

There are many dysfunctional families, and family dysfunction comes in many forms. Some families are very competitive and sibling rivalry, as well as competition between parents and children, can be a problem. Some parents, especially fathers, are very authoritarian and demand obedience from their children. Disobedient children are labelled as “difficult” and taken to doctors for diagnosis and treatment. Here the power imbalance is obvious. The child has little power to resist being labelled as the “problem”, however much the doctors protest that they can’t help their behaviour because they have a chemical imbalance in their brains. When the children misbehave it is inevitable that the adults and siblings blame the “illness” and ask if they are complying with taking their their tablets.

The adults in this situation include parents and other family members as well as teachers. Some teachers are inclined to suspect their students of having “attention deficit disorder” when they are not interested in their lessons, and become visibly bored, restless and fidgety. Teachers provide a large number of the referrals for ADD and ADHD. It is rarely asked as to whether the teacher is to blame for being boring and failing to engage the student. This requires introspection, which is sometimes lacking in any profession, including teaching.

Apart from scape-goating a particular family member, there are problems with looking for a chemical solution or “magic bullet” to life’s difficulties. This can form a pattern of behaviour in the child and in their carers and family. When they are down, rather than looking for activities and experiences that will bring them back up, the tendency is to take an antidepressant. When they are anxious, instead of listening to music or going for a walk, or any of a wide range of actions that can lessen anxiety, they look for a benzodiazepine.

It is also a problem when children are medicated for what is basically disobedience. The drugs that are used for ADHD are stimulants, related to amphetamines, known on the street as ‘speed’. Though they can improve concentration and keep you awake when you are tired, it has been known for over a century that amphetamines are addictive, and can also cause psychosis. Despite this they were widely used as weight loss drugs and “pep pills” in the 1960s and were again promoted in the 1990s for the newly-named “mental disorder” known as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). In the 1980s it was said that only 1 in 200 children had ADD; this rocketed up to 1 in 20 with the new label, with a corresponding explosion in prescriptions for stimulant drugs. This was in the 1990s, and was a precursor to the explosion in addiction to amphetamines a decade later. Many of the youth who are addicted to metamphetamine (‘ice’) were initially diagnosed as having ADHD and given stimulant drugs.

 

Family abuse occurs at all ages. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable and can easily be pathologised for being “difficult”. Rebellious adolescents are also vulnerable to being given a disease label for their behaviour, as well as young people who reject the religious beliefs of their parents and embrace other philosophies and religions.

 

The concept of insight should be considered holistically. There is a difference between insight (introspection) and insights (epiphanies). One aspect of introspection is to be able to look critically at our own mistakes, flaws, vices and poor judgements in the past. It requires us to challenge our indoctrination from various sources as we grew up. The process of growing up and learning from our environment (including family and school) inevitably results in some false beliefs and delusions. Some of our beliefs are not congruous with reality, and it is a challenge, throughout life, to rid ourselves of such delusions. Sometimes, when one realises ones previous error, especially about long-held beliefs, it comes as an insight. Such insights are often pleasant, and can be exciting. They can elevate the mood.

Seeing connections you didn’t notice before and making new associations can also be exciting and elevate the mood. Elevating the mood itself has the effect of increasing insights and insightful thinking. How many potentially beneficial insights have been suppressed or destroyed by the practice of regarding “gaining insight” as a synonym for accepting that you are mentally ill?

 

 

Evidence against the PA Hospital

At 9.00 am this morning the Indian psychiatric nurse, Raghuvan ‘Raghy’ Raman, who thinks the Tamil Tigers were ‘activists’ rather than terrorists, rang me from the PA Hospital. He told me “your injection is due, what time can I come around?”. He didn’t ask me how I was; if he did I would have told him.

At 11.30 he turned up alone with a bag containing a 100 mg injection of Invega Sustenna (paliperidone) ordered by the Pakistan-trained psychiatrist Ghazala Watt for a cost to the taxpayer (at the Chempro chemists in Buranda, opposite the hospital) of $414.09. The script was written by a Dr A Neligan, who I have never heard of, and is probably Ghazala Watt’s registrar.

Paliperidone is a treatment for schizophrenia and other psychotic ‘disorders’, but I am not in the least bit psychotic or mentally disordered. Ghazala Watt, though, has repeated the diagnosis of a Nigerian psychiatrist named Jumoke ‘Jumi’ Banjo, who kept me locked up on three occasions in late 2016 and early 2017, following complaints to the hospital by my hostile father and next-door-neighbour.

Banjo is a graduate of Ibadan University in Nigeria, and had not been in Australia long. I graduated in medicine many years before either of these psychiatrists, and am senior to them in years as well as experience.

What I wanted to discuss with Raghy Raman on camera was the grossly negligent, inaccurate and defamatory report recently ‘written’ by Ghazala Watt. One of the two modifications she has made to the report claims that “elevated speech” was evidenced by the ‘treating team’, and hence she was increasing the dose of antipsychotic from 75 to 100 mg. After he had asked for the video camera to be turned off and I complied, we discussed this and he admitted it was he who said I had “elevated speech”.

My voice gets louder when I am angry or trying to make a point. I was both. There is also no such thing as “elevated speech” in psychiatric texts – only ‘elevated mood’ and ‘pressure of speech’. Pressure of speech and elevated mood are evidence of mania, rather than schizophrenia, and I do not display either. I am justifiably angry at being misdiagnosed as “mentally ill” and assaulted with injections that are making my physical health deteriorate and are the ONLY CAUSE of my mental distress.

But I am a tough guy, and these people have injected me with even bigger doses in the past, of even worse drugs. And I have survived, though according to the statistics, at 57 I am nearing the end of my expected life, as a mental patient in Australia.

The report of Ghazala Watt was more a character assassination than a legitimate medical report. The bulk of the report was already on the PA Hospital computer, and she changed only two paragraphs, retaining all the misinformation that previous psychiatrists and psychiatry registrars had written for previous MHRT tribunals. She has not even changed the opening statement of the report that I am a “52 yo male”. I am, in fact, a 57-year-old physician and graduate of the University of Queensland, who has four times as many LinkedIn contacts as her, and 10 times as many Facebook friends. Yet she has retained in the report, in the section on Social Networks (there is no section for professional networks) that I have no social support apart from my mother. This is presumably an effort to paint me as a socially withdrawn and inept “schizophrenic”. My appeal to the MHRT is to be heard in a week’s time. In the meantime I’ll try and continue working.

I have many forensic psychologists and forensic psychiatrists among my LinkedIn contacts. I would appreciate their assessments of Ghazala Watt and Raghy Raman from the evidence I have provided, My own assessment is that they are grossly incompetent and systematic violators of human rights in Australia, for which their superiors are also legally responsible.

 

Public Image, Social and Professional Networking and Defying a ‘Schizophrenia’ Label

The PA Hospital psychiatrist Ghazala Watt has claimed, in a report for my upcoming Mental Health Review Tribunal hearing, that I have “paranoid schizophrenia” and that the only social support network I have is my 84-year-old mother. This essay proves her wrong.

The textbook characteristics of ‘schizophrenia’ include social awkwardness, social withdrawal and what was called, when I studied psychiatry in the 1980s, ‘downward social drift’. I have been labelled with schizophrenia, but I reject the diagnosis in myself for several reasons, including my social and professional networking ability and in others because it is a stigmatising misnomer. I do not satisfy diagnostic criteria for the label and the diagnostic criteria themselves are flawed. It is not scientific or rational to believe that people who have auditory hallucinations have the same incurable brain disease as people who are disorganised or socially withdrawn or who believe in telepathy or corporate and government conspiracies. I have never had hallucinations, of any sort, am well-organized in my thinking and actions, am sociable, and have never had telepathic experiences, but I admit to believing in certain conspiracies. These include my long-standing and well-founded conviction that my father conspired with others to have me silenced by getting me locked up and stigmatised me as a ‘mental patient’.

My father is blunt in his terminology when he speaks about me to my mother – “he’s bloody mad, he’s completely bananas” and other invectives. When he writes about me or phones people up he is more discreet, however, and says that I have a “serious psychotic disorder”, concealing his animosity towards me. He refuses to allow me to visit my mother at their house, though she wants me to do so, and he hangs up the phone on me if he answers it rather than my mother. Occasionally he abuses me first, but mostly he hangs up the phone silently or leaves it off the hook without answering my repeated “hellos?”

 

I have appealed to the Queensland Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) for release from a “Treatment Authority” (T/A), previously called an Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO) prior to the change of terminology (but not practice) with the new Mental Health Act of 2017. The hearing is next week. I was put on an ITO a year ago by Dr Jumoke ‘Jumi’ Banjo of the Princess Alexandra Hospital. Dr Banjo, who had recently come to Australia from Nigeria, kept me locked up on three occasions over a few months in late 2016 and early 2017, following complaints to the hospital by my hostile father and next-door neighbour, Jeff Miller. She changed the diagnosis from ‘psychotic diagnosis – not otherwise specified (NOS)’ to ‘paranoid schizophrenia’ and dramatically increased the dose of the Paliperidone injection she ordered from 25 mg to 150 mg.

I contested this diagnosis at a MHRT hearing while I was still an inpatient, but, as I expected, I lost. Refusal to accept the disease label you have been given is routinely regarded as ‘lack of insight’ and further evidence of mental illness, necessitating involuntary treatment. This is despite Banjo writing, of my mental state:

“MSE [mental state examination]

Casually dressed, grey hair and beard, settled and polite with reasonable engagement, no psychomotor agitation.

Spontaneous speech, normal in rate, volume and tone.

Mood is euthymic and affect is reactive.

Thoughts are coherent, no disorder of thought form and does not currently appear preoccupied with previously described delusional content, no depressive cognitions, no suicidal or homicidal ideas.

No evidence of perceptual abnormality.”

This sounds like a normal, mentally healthy person. It is hard to explain, given this assessment, her statement that I have “limited insight into the nature and severity of [my] condition”, which she specified as “paranoid schizophrenia”. It is also hard to reconcile with her denying my liberty by keeping me locked up in the ward and her treatment plan to have me injected every month, indefinitely, with 150 mg of the antipsychotic drug Paliperidone. Her actions were illegal, according to the Mental Health Act, which states that patients can only be confined against their wills if they are and remain a risk to themselves or others. The legal loophole the psychiatric system in Australia uses, to get around these exclusion criteria, is to argue that the patients jeopardise their own health by refusal to take the prescribed drugs. It is also against the law to lock people up for their political or philosophical beliefs, but these laws are routinely violated too.

 

My 1995 theories

 

I had started theorising on the cause and management of schizophrenia before it was first suggested that I myself had the ‘disease’. This suggestion was made by my father, in a letter he wrote to the psychiatry registrar of the Junction Clinic in Melbourne, Noel Barrett, in March 1995:

“I’m not sure why, but I did remark to my wife that I thought his recent adventures into the unknown, the attempts to explain autism, the compulsive eating of obesity (which I’ve had an interest in), sleep, memory disturbances, Alzheimers, schizophrenia etc – was abnormal. I even said, ‘I don’t know whether this is the start of a schizophrenic illness.’ Why I said so (to my wife, of course, and not Romesh) I cannot quite remember but I did notice that the ego boundaries were no longer there.”

It is true that I was developing original ideas about the cause and management of autism, schizophrenia and memory disturbances and was also researching sleep. I was particularly interested in the role of the reticular activating system (RAS), the noradrenergic network of neurones connecting the brainstem with the midbrain and cortex that influences state of alertness and concentration as well as sleep. I hypothesised that the RAS is also involved with attention and mental focus, partly through its connections with the thalamus, which integrates and directs attention through the senses.

My theories on autism included the theory that lack of eye contact was related to lack of trust and fear of adults, which can be addressed by a gentle approach to building trust through play, music and art, with a conscious attempt to encourage eye contact with the child. My theories on schizophrenia, which have changed since then, related to the neurochemistry of dopamine, development of the limbic system and analysis of mental associations. These were only a few of the theories I was working on at the time; others related to the development of aesthetic appreciation in sight and hearing, integrative neuroscience, holistic approaches to health and theories about instincts. I was particularly fond of my insight that communication, curiosity and play are instincts which can be used to develop public health and individual health promotion strategies.

My theories on dementia were related to the relatively uncontroversial theory that curiosity is an instinct. It was based on the assumption that keeping the brain actively learning would help ward off dementia, something I thought was self-evident. I was interested in identifying social factors such as the beliefs that you are “too old to learn” or “too old to change” in contributing to dementia, and thought that encouraging curiosity and ongoing experiential (not necessarily formal) learning could mitigate against it. I later found, when I tried to discuss my ideas with Professor Colin Masters, in charge of Alzheimer’s Disease research at the Mental Health Research Institute in Melbourne, that not everyone thinks that keeping the brain active helps prevent or slow down the progress of dementia.

 

My Father’s Insanity

 

When he wrote to Noel Barrett and his consultant Rajan Thomas in March 1995, my father was clear that he wanted me committed, raising the possibility that I had both schizophrenia and hypomania. He also made it clear that he wouldn’t like to be committed himself. He wrote, in brackets, at the end of the long, handwritten letter:

“(I hope that the above dissertation does not result in someone certifying me!!!)

The preceding sentence in the letter, which was faxed to the Junction Clinic in Melbourne, refers to his activities in drawing attention to what he called “Third World conditions” at the Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital, where he had worked as a visiting consultant physician since we came to Australia in 1976 (note his use of capital letters);

“ I am having a hectic job here handling a very busy practice and also Consultant Physician at a major hospital to add to this. I’ve recently become the major (in fact, one and only) spokesperson for the Hospital to represent the chaos in the Brisbane hospitals to the government. So I’ve got my work cut out. However, if you feel that I can be of any use in Melbourne – if only to provide the necessary family support – I’ll be delighted to hop on the next plane and head off there”.

This is a self-serving lie. My father did not represent the hospitals to the Queensland government. That was the job of hospital administrators, with whom he was mostly not on good terms. What he did was to agitate the junior staff and non-medical staff that the old hospital was like a “Third World” country like Sri Lanka and approached all the commercial TV stations to give interviews to make this charge. He didn’t mention that his main political activity was lobbying for the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) and the separatist cause in the war in Sri Lanka.

My father has written several letters to psychiatrists about me, but never mentioned Sri Lanka or his political activities in support of the separatist war. However, a review of his own blog (called ‘Brian Senewiratne pages’) and YouTube clips from his own site and the network of LTTE-supporting sites indicates what a serious omission this is. My father’s LinkedIn site, which reveals only that he is an ‘onsultant [sic] physician’, has no photo and no details of his medical work or qualifications but includes a list of his skills, all of which have been endorsed by his network of professional Tamil friends. He has 258 contacts, one of whom he shares with me.

His LinkedIn site also fails to mention what he calls elsewhere his “human rights work” and also his role, since the end of the war (May 2009) as a ‘senator’ of the ‘Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam’ (TGTE). Despite not speaking or understanding Tamil, he was appointed (not elected) as a ‘senator’ by Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, a Sri Lankan Tamil lawyer in New York who was the legal representative of the LTTE until their defeat in 2009, following which he established the TGTE with himself as “Prime Minister”. The TGTE flies the LTTE flags at its events and commemorates the “martyrdom” of the LTTE fighters including their leader Vellupillai Prabakaran, as well as the organizations many suicide bombers. My father has written recently (2017) that the Tamil people in Sri Lanka are missing the LTTE now that they are gone, and that what most people call a terrorist organization ran a “well functioning de-facto state”, selectively omitting the long list of crimes committed by LTTE against Tamil, Muslim and Singhalese citizens of Sri Lanka over the 30-year conflict.

His public profiles as a doctor and as a political agitator have been kept separate, though he uses his qualification as a doctor to win the respect of his pro-LTTE audiences. My father has defended the fact that he only “preaches to the converted”, responding to this criticism in a YouTube clip where he says that “you have to preach to the converted to keep them converted; otherwise they become unconverted”. What he is intent on “converting” the Tamils to is the belief that they have been subjected to genocide by the Sri Lankan government and that the only solution to this is a separate state for Tamils and division of the country. He also tries to convince his Tamil audiences to support a boycott of Sri Lankan goods and services, as well as sport (cricket) and tourism, which he declares will “bring the Colombo government to its knees”. Back in 2006 he gave an interview in Canada where he said that what is needed, and could be achieved by such a boycott, is “economic exsanguination” of the country. Exsanguination is the act of draining all the blood out – he thought the LTTE could win the war by destroying Sri Lanka’s economy, disregarding the cost to the ordinary people of Sri Lanka, especially the poor.

My father makes it clear that he is not Tamil and makes a point of stressing that he is of Singhalese ethnicity and a “Christian”, whose mother was a “devout Buddhist”. In the same 2006 interview he claimed that he is a “genetic half-Buddhist” as if religion is inherited in the genes. He uses this claim to justify his criticism of the Buddhist clergy, whom he accuses of “ethno-religious chauvinism” and trying to make multicultural Sri Lanka into a “Sinhala-Buddhist” nation. He then says that he has no objection to this, but by the same token the Tamils need their own state – Tamil Eelam. This gained him the support of the separatists, but was a distortion of the actual situation in Sri Lanka, where though Buddhism is protected the State, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity are also respected and celebrated with public holidays. He has claimed that the Tamils were denied their language in 1956, when his uncle SWRD Bandaranaike made Singhalese the only official language, ignoring the fact that for many years the official policy has been to promote trilingualism in Singhala, Tamil and English, and Tamil has been a national language (in addition to Singhala, which was also the official language) since 1958 with the introduction of the Tamil Language Special Provisions Act.

There are many videos of my father on YouTube and also videos made by him. The videos of him include recordings of speeches he has given, always to Tamil Tiger-supporting audiences (in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia) as well as a few interviews he gave for Tamil cable TV channels. These have been uploaded by various supporters of the LTTE. The videos made by him have been uploaded by LTTE supporters and also, relatively recently (2 years ago) he uploaded 3 videos of him talking to the camera while seated at his dining room table. Though the talk was intended as an address to the TGTE, he posted it publicly on his own YouTube channel. These latter videos have had a few hundred views, a few likes and several dislikes (including by myself). The videos of his speeches, in which he shouts his support for the LTTE and “the Tamil Eelam struggle” have also had mainly negative ratings, and up to a few thousand views.

The videos made by my father, available for free on YouTube, but which he had originally hoped to make money out of, include his home-made propaganda videos. These were recorded unprofessionally with my mother turning the video camera on and off. He started making these in 2006, after he was invited to address the expatriate Ilankai Tamil Sangam organization in the USA and offered to make a video to “correct the disinformation campaign by the Sri Lankan government”. My father does not have video editing skills and very few computer skills, but he had access to the expertise of some of his ex-students, now doctors, who supported the LTTE. These took still photos and short video clips from the LTTE propaganda collection and inserted them into the videos, which he subsequently boasted were “a dozen DVDs I have produced on the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka”. These, he claimed, were a “major contribution” that had worried the Sri Lankan government.

Using his own terminology, my father is an egomaniac. He is also extremely manipulative, as is seen by the titles of his videos, one of the first being “The New Killing Fields of Asia”. He’d hoped to emulate and capitalise on the popularity of the successful and famous movie “The Killing Fields” about the genocide in Cambodia. He was trying to create a mental association to support his claim that the Sri Lankan Tamils were being subjected to a similar genocide. He is not a subtle man.

The ‘New Killing Fields of Asia’ made in 2007, was uploaded 3 years ago by a Tamil separatist and supporter of the Tamil Tigers. Since then it has had only 65 views, and rated 3 dislikes and no likes. Another of his videos, ‘SRI LANKA – THE ETHNIC CRISIS – WHAT THE WORLD MUST KNOW’ was uploaded 10 years ago by another separatist site. It has had 518 views since then (ratings not disclosed). Then there is ‘SRI LANKA GENOCIDE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW BY BRIAN SENEWIRATNE’. This video has had 215 views in 5 years (one like and 3 dislikes). Despite this obvious lack of interest in and effect from his videos, my father continues to boast to Tamil audiences and members of the Socialist Alliance and Greens Party about his “dozen DVDs” being a “major contribution” he is proud of.

On YouTube there is another bizarre video, also amateur and home-made, of my father professing to be an expert on ‘AFFECTIVE DISORDERS’. This video was uploaded by one of his patients, who had been given the DVD by him. In this video slides have been crudely inserted that cover part of his face, and he slowly reads what is on the slides to reinforce his points. These include that the diagnosis of affective disorder is frequently missed by doctors less perceptive than himself (including psychiatrists), that adult doses of antidepressants should be used in children (saying that the only alternative is shock treatment) and that depression is caused by the neurones in the limbic system “not talking to each other”. He gets these videos copied, in small runs, by his local printer (a Vietnamese gentleman who has also printed his LTTE-supporting propaganda over the years) and hands them out free to his patients. He tells them, though, that the DVDs are in high demand and sell for “50 pounds each in the UK”. (I have heard him say this, when I called him while he was seeing a patient and left the phone off the hook so I couldn’t call back).

 

Yet my father admits elsewhere (when it suits him), that he is not trained in psychiatry. Earlier in the letter 1995 letter to Noel Barrett he has written:

“I’m not sure whether it is even worth recording the opinions of someone such as myself who has no background in psychiatry. My concerns are that he has decided to suddenly throw in his practice without really good reason. I’m also concerned that the ego boundaries seem to have been breached to the extent they are.”

 

Google provides this explanation of ‘ego boundaries’, a term I have never heard psychiatrists use any more, and don’t use myself:

“When the inner boundary is critically weakened or lost, the return of repressed egostates falsifies reality and can result in delusions and hallucinations. When the cathexis of the outer boundary is weakened or lost, the sense of reality is disturbed, and external objects are discerned as unknown, strange, and unreal.”

This is psycho-babble. I like to keep it real and use ordinary language. On a point of fact, I did not decide to “throw in” my medical practice in 1995. I told my parents that I was thinking of selling it to concentrate on research, music and writing. It was a carefully considered decision and not impulsive or indicative of mental illness in any way. After I was locked up, my family got the practice closed down and I lost it without selling it.

 

Ghazala Watt’s claim about my lack of a ‘Social Network’

 

I decided, when confronted with a recent report for the MHRT ‘authored’ by the MSAHMS psychiatrist Ghazala Watt, to prove her wrong. She has claimed, in the section on “Social Networks and the Capacity to Support the Patient”, that:

“Romesh’s only positive relationship was with his mother who supported him and accommodated him in a property which belonged to her. Romesh has a long-term conflict with his father who also antagonises with him. Father often prevents mother from supporting Romesh.”

That’s all Ghazala Watt has written, and to make matters worse, she has repeated it, word for word (along with the grammatical error), from the previous report to the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) from 20.9.2016. This time the person who claimed to be the author was Jumoke Banjo, a graduate of Ibadan University in Nigeria, and recently employed by the PA Hospital as a consultant psychiatrist. I had been relieved at first to have an African woman to discuss my freedom with, but before long I realised my optimism was unfounded. Let me correct the record, and explain why, though my father and I do not get on, this is not a consequence of mental illness on my part, and most certainly not a sign of ‘schizophrenia’, the serious mental illness label that both Ghazala Watt and Jumi Banjo are trying to pin on me.

The psychiatrists know full well that sociability and good social (and professional) networking skills go against this ‘diagnosis’. Making out that I have no friends is part of the process of pathologising me and stigmatising me. It makes a mockery of the stated values of ‘Metro South Health’, which includes the Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services (MSAMHS). These, their website proclaims, are “caring for people, leadership, respect, integrity, teamwork and courage”. I think I deserve to be treated with more respect, and so do other patients of the ‘service’. They also show little evidence of integrity, leadership or courage, and what they call a “team” is a hierarchical system where the psychiatrist’s word is law.

My Social Networks and their capacity to support me

 

I get all the support I need from my daughter, my friends and my social networks, especially from Facebook and the positive comments I get on my YouTube sites. Since I was told that Ghazala Watt was increasing the dose of the abusive injections she has ordered, I have also worked on my professional network on LinkedIn, increasing my list of contacts from 200 to over 800 in less than a week. Several of my new contacts are professors, including psychologists and psychiatrists, from many countries, but mainly in Australia, the USA and UK. I have found, over the years, that my scientific opinions are more likely to be accepted by psychologists than psychiatrists, especially the psychologists leaning towards holism, positive thinking, CBT, embracing change and promoting healthy motivation and activities, as well as mindfulness. I am looking out for progressive psychiatrists that will be prepared to countenance criticism of their doctrines without pathologising me. I have also had contact requests accepted by other medical doctors, by lawyers, journalists and authors, environmentalists, film-makers, musicians, engineers (especially sound engineers), art therapists, social workers, nurses, public servants and other professionals.

Unfortunately, increase in sociability and motivation are liable to be pathologised by the medical profession as signs of mental illness, namely ‘hypomania’ and ‘mania’. I was first locked up, in 1995 and again in 1996, following accusations by my father and my sister’s boyfriend Rob Purssey (then a psychiatry registrar) that I had mania.

Sudden change raises alarm bells in people looking out for mania and psychosis, so I have to be careful not to seem “over-sociable” or “overactive”. But I am a sociable man, which is why I have more than 2700 friends on Facebook. These include people living all over the world, and some whom I have known since my childhood in Sri Lanka. I can chat to them whenever I want, but most of the time I am busy working, not socialising.

It is true that not all my Facebook ‘friends’ are people that I know and like. I have accepted friend requests from people I don’t know, though I have refused others, if they were spam. I consciously set out to make friends with people of all the ethnic groups in Sri Lanka – traditionally classified as Singhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and Veddha. I have no Veddha friends, since they are forest-living people, but I have over a thousand Sri Lankan friends on Facebook, including Singhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and Chinese Sri Lankans. I went to school with some of these friends and have known them for more than 40 years. I have made a point of making friends with people of every major religion, though I no longer believe in the Anglican Christianity I was brought up with, and lean more towards Buddhism. I have friends who are both Protestant and Catholic Christians, but I have more friends who are Buddhist and Muslim, with a few who are Hindu or Jewish. I rarely ask people about their religion, unless they raise the subject themselves, but I am interested in finding common values in different religions and am interested in their different perspectives.

I also have many friends in the anti-psychiatry movement and the psychiatry reform movement, some of whom I have known for many years, though I have been actively making friends in these movements in recent weeks as well as joining some related groups.

Many of my Facebook friends are musicians, mainly in Australia and Sri Lanka. Some of my Australian friends are personal friends that I have played music with over the past 30 years and one is a guitarist who played with me in my first serious band, Strange Etiquette, back in 1986, who is now a well-connected psychiatric nurse educator and academic. I am also friends with other members of Strange Etiquette, as well as other Brisbane musicians, but I have musician friends all over Australia. This is not the situation of a person who is socially isolated.

I also have Google+ and Twitter accounts, and even an old MySpace site. I have uploaded about 40 documents, including several e-books to my Scribd site, which I have had for about 10 years. These include books I have written on eugenics, holistic health, schizophrenia and music, as well as books of my poetry. I have recently purchased a new WordPress site and am enjoying writing for it and watching the site grow. What I publish on my WordPress blog is automatically shared with my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter pages, and I am also able to make links to my YouTube and Scribd sites. My YouTube site has 304 subscribers, which is not a lot, but more than my father (who has only two). My most viewed video has had 20,000 views, this being a documentary I made some years ago on my research into eugenics, biological warfare and AIDS. Though it has the most views and likes (44) it has also had the most dislikes (10). Other popular videos include footage I shot of mimicry by a Pied Butcherbird (7,490 views with 29 likes and 2 inexplicable dislikes) and a clip of me playing the piano and singing “Living in a Bubble”, one of my original songs. I have uploaded 241 videos over 10 years, including my musical compositions, a documentary on the neuroscience of music, my art (and that of my mother) and more clips of birds in my garden.  I have also uploaded some videos about the militarisation of psychiatry, the pineal organ and my research into it, as well as a monologue called “The Pseudoscience of Schizophrenia”. I work long hours on the Internet, but enjoy my work.

With the help of LinkedIn I have been able to compare the professional careers and profiles of the psychiatrists and medical family members who have called me mad with my own work output, networking and public profile. From memory, I have been diagnosed as mentally ill (with various labels) by the following Brisbane psychiatrists, none of whose assistance I sought: Rob Purssey (who was my sister’s boyfriend and a psychiatry registrar) who has a LinkedIn (with more than 500 contacts) and YouTube site (with only 4 subscribers) but no Facebook page; Ghazala Watt (LinkedIn with 353 contacts and Facebook with 200 friends but no YouTube); Jumoke Banjo (no LinkedIn or Facebook); Justin O’Brien (LinkedIn with 250 contacts and Facebook with 1000 friends); Joanna Loftus (LinkedIn with only 36 contacts and no information about her qualifications, experience or background) Daniel Varghese (LinkedIn with only 7 contacts and no Facebook); Subramanian Purushothaman (LinkedIn with 2 contacts and not filled out other than ‘Australia’); Monica Des Arts (no LinkedIn or Facebook) and Paul Schneider (no LinkedIn or Facebook).

I have also been seen by Dr Jill Schilling who said I was not mentally ill after a single visit to my home in July 2015 and took me off the ITO the hospital had put me on; by Ken Arthur, a private psychiatrist who examined me at the request of the MHRT (LinkedIn with only 16 contacts, no details and no photo); by Joan Lawrence (in 1995) who agreed that I should remain locked up at the Prince Charles Hospital under Dr John Bowles and by Brett Emmerson, who certified me in 1995 and got me locked up at Prince Charles Hospital at my father’s request, based on information provided by my father as well as a heated debate I had with him when my father brought him to my parents’ house in 1995 to certify me.

Brett Emmerson and my father now have both LinkedIn pages, but Joan Lawrence has neither. My father has a Facebook page but he doesn’t know how to use it, and has no friends at all. John Bowles has a LinkedIn page that says he is now retired but is an advisor to the MHRT. He has 111 contacts including 10 shared with me. I have also been seen, initially for an examination ordered by the Medical Board of Queensland, and later on my own volition, by Dr Frank New, who I have not seen for a while, but wrote to the Medical Board in 2002 that he was confident that I did not have a mental illness (after a 3 hour interrogation). My father, angered by this, told my mother that Frank New “is not highly regarded”. Frank, who I have considerable respect for, is in private practice. He doesn’t have a LinkedIn or Facebook page.

Brett Emmerson has 274 contacts on LinkedIn, and also features in a single video on YouTube. This was uploaded in 2014 by the Metro North PHN (Primary Health Network) and is of a lecture he gave to junior employees in an auditorium. He is currently the Director of the Metro North Hospital and Health Service, which covers the Royal Brisbane Hospital and the Prince Charles Hospital. I have watched this lecture and found it very boring. It has only had 56 views in 3 years, and rated 3 dislikes and 1 like.

The directors of the PA Hospital and Metro South Health also have LinkedIn pages, namely Michael Cleary (Executive Director of the PA), David Crompton (Director of Metro South) and Balaji Motamarri (Director of the MSAHMS). Professor Crompton’s LinkedIn page says that he is “Professor and Director of the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention” at Griffith University (since March 2017), “Professor School of Human Services and Social Work” (Griffith University, since December 2013) and “Executive Director Addiction and Mental Health Services” (Metro South Health) from September 2008 to the present. He was a rural general practitioner before he became a psychiatrist and then a medical administrator. He too has 111 contacts including 10 shared with myself.

The website of Metro South Health has a photo of Professor Crompton (OAM) listing his position as ‘Executive Director’ of the ‘Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services Executive Team’. Dr Balaji Motamarri (with the space for his photo unfilled) is named as ‘Clinical Director of Psychosis Academic Clinical Unit’. The ‘Chief Executive’, who I had not heard of until I checked the website today, is Dr Stephen Ayre, a graduate like me of the University of Queensland who did general practice before getting a Masters in Health Administration from the University of New South Wales. He was previously Executive Director of Medical Services at Prince Charles Hospital (2008-2014) before being appointed ‘Executive Director’ of Princess Alexandra Hospital and QEII Jubilee Hospital Health Network in May 2014. He was appointed Chief Executive of Metro South Health in July 2017. Stephen Ayre, like Robert Purssey and myself (but unlike all the others mentioned) has over 500 LinkedIn contacts.

The psychiatrist in charge of the MSAHMS “psychosis unit” and the man who is responsible for the hospital’s atrocious, negligent and disrespectful treatment of me is Balaji Motamarri, who has refused to speak to me, even on the phone, though I have been locked up several times under his authority. His LinkedIn and Facebook pages do not suggest a man with academic skills or computer literacy, which are essential for a man in his position in this day and age. He clearly does not know how to use Facebook, which 13-year-old kids can handle. Not knowing how to have a private chat with his friend Manju, he has written on his wall, for all to see:

“Hi Manju My apologies for not replying earlier. As you can understand we are “recovering” from our trip – the trip of “Telangana 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 of holidays’ – what a nightmare to the parents.”

This was posted in January 2010 and he hasn’t posted anything since.

Academia is competitive, business is competitive and medicine is competitive too. I have opted to compete with my detractors on an uneven playing field, in which I was at a disadvantage, with the stigma of having been, as my father puts it, “in and out of mental hospitals”. I think I have won the competition for social and professional networking, as well as work output and public response to that work. I have also disproved the allegation that I have schizophrenia.

Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam

25.2.2018