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who have auditory hallucinations have the same incurable brain disease as people who are disorganised or socially withdrawn or who believe in telepathy or corporate and government conspiracies.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 Arya Chakravarti

HUB Forensics

25.2.2018

Debating Ghazala Watt

Today, when I attended the appointment that was sent to me in the mail, the PA Hospital psychiatrist Ghazala Watt was prepared to lock me up again. She arranged for a man called Gordon, a middle-aged man with a shaven head and thuggish demeanour, who I recognised to have a Scottish accent, to come into the consulting room with us. I wasn’t told that Gordon was the ‘duty officer’ (I read it later in her report) but I noticed that he sat between me and the door. If Ghazala had decided to “admit” me, Gordon would have provided the muscle to subdue me, if needed. As it was, he sat there silent, unmoving and expressionless, while I debated with Ghazala Watt and tried, again, to correct her misconceptions.

I attended the appointment under duress. I have made it clear that I have no respect for Ghazala Watt and do not want her to be my doctor, or have anything to do with her. I am my own doctor, though I also have a GP, who studied with me at the University of Queensland and I used to consult a private psychiatrist, Frank New, who won my respect when he interviewed me for 3 hours and then wrote a 13-paged report explaining why he thought I was not mentally ill, and didn’t think I ever had been. This was back in 2002, when Dr New was asked to provide an independent psychiatric assessment for the Medical Board of Queensland, following my numerous incarcerations as a mental patient in Melbourne. Since then, he has rung the hospital on several occasions, saying that he does not think I have ‘schizophrenia’, the label Ghazala Watt is trying to pin on me again. The schizophrenia diagnosis (initially made in Melbourne) was discarded by other psychiatrists at the PA in favour of what they termed “psychotic disorder NOS”. NOS stands for ‘not otherwise specified’, meaning not otherwise specified in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). It is a misconceived label, open to abuse, that has now been discarded in the current DSM V.

After our debate, I was asked to wait while Ghazala prepared a document that I was given by Gordon titled “CLINICAL REPORT – TREATMENT AUTHORITY REVIEW – MENTAL HEALTH REVIEW TRIBUNAL”, for “Romesh SENEWIRATNE”, supposedly “prepared” by Raghuvan (Raghy) Raman and Ghazala Watt. This is misleading. The ‘interim case manager’ Raghy had little to do with the preparation of the report – it is a repeat of the last one the hospital produced, and the ones before that, with a single paragraph by Ghazala following our debate today. The false claims in the report were initially based on a thorough character assassination of me by the inpatient psychiatric registrar David Nguyen in 2012, then modified and made slightly less offensive by the psychiatrist Daniel Varghese (under whom I was locked up in 2009, 2010 and 2011). It was later added to by subsequent psychiatrists, including Subramanian “Subu” Purushothaman, Justin O’Brien and the registrar Sagir Parkar but no efforts were made to correct the factual inaccuracies (or even the typographical errors) after the most glaring ones in Nguyen’s initial report were amended by Daniel Varghese 5 years ago.

Ghazala Watt’s own contribution is written in bad English and all in lower case without any capital letters except Sri Lanka (the first time, the second reading ‘srilanka’). It reads (under ‘current mental state assessment’):

“presented for the review on time, was seen in the presence of duty officer. remained focused on his father’s actions leading to him having medications and admissions to the hospital. presented with multiple writings about his father, political movements in Sri Lanka and anti psychiatric movements. remained focused on the cause of previous admissions in relation to complain about father and not in relation to medication noncompliance or treatment authority being revoked.

presented less irritable preoccupied with srilankan politics and mental health services being ‘sided’ with his father. insight remains limited with limited understanding on mental illness and the role of medications.”   

Watt and Raman have also changed the diagnosis from “Psychotic Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified’ to ‘Paranoid Schizophrenia’. Someone who uses capital letters correctly, but also with a poor understanding of psychiatric terminology and theory, has written the section on “current treatment”. This may be Raghy or Nigel Lewin, who is English and was my ‘case manager’ and monthly assaulter for several years, until he went on long service leave recently, when he was replaced by Raghy Raman, who is an Indian Tamil man of late middle-age who is sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), the terrorist organization that my father acted as a lobbyist and propagandist for during the war in Sri Lanka, and has praised in his writings and speeches since the military defeat of the Tigers in May 2009. His most recent book claims that the Tamil people in Sri Lanka are missing the Tigers now that they are not there and that the LTTE ran a “well-functioning de-facto state” that had a good police force and legal system with courts superior to parallel courts provided by the Sri Lankan government. This is nonsense. The LTTE “courts” killed, tortured and imprisoned people who stood up against them. They were run not by trained lawyers but by young LTTE thugs. The LTTE kidnapped Tamil children and gave them weapons to fight in a war they knew they were losing (after placing cyanide necklaces around their necks, which they boasted showed their dedication to the cause rather than the organization’s ruthlessness). They used Tamil civilians as human shields and shot civilians who tried to cross to the government side at the end of the war. They killed numerous Tamil leaders who were branded as “traitors” for siding with the government. My father was one of the people who publicly named these “Tamil traitors” who became assassination targets for the LTTE. And this is just what the LTTE criminals did to the Tamils, who they claimed to be fighting for the “liberation” of.

I had a discussion with Raghy about Prabakaran and the LTTE the last time he came to visit me. He was armed with an injection; I was armed with a video camera. I filmed the interview and uploaded it to my YouTube site a week later, after I was told that I would have to see Ghazala Watt despite my objections to her. This may be why Ghazala asked me, as soon as I entered the room, “Are you recording this? Because I don’t give you permission to record this”.

I answered that I don’t even have a mobile phone. She said “I heard that you sometimes record interviews”. I explained that when people come around to my house to inject me I am in the habit of filming them and the camera is visible for all to see. I reassured her that I wasn’t recording us. She, on the other hand, had a “witness” who would agree with everything she said (Gordon), and act as her bodyguard too. It is ironic that she called me “paranoid schizophrenic” when it was she who demonstrated the paranoia.

During our discussion, Raghy expressed conviction that AIDS is man-made (as I have long suspected) but also came out with some strange delusions, with a political twist. He said that the LTTE’s military leader Prabakaran was not a terrorist in his opinion, but an “activist”, who only killed the “other groups” (of Tamils) after he converted to Christianity and this killing was directed by the Church. He also accused the Catholic Church and Sonia Gandhi of killing her husband Rajiv Gandhi (the ex-PM of India) “to win the sympathy vote” so that Sonia could become Prime Minister of India. When I told him that the LTTE had admitted to killing Gandhi (by a female suicide bomber), he said that this was due to a deal made between Sonia Gandhi and Prabakaran and that the LTTE had been promised help by India to win the separatist war but that India had let them down.

I corrected Raghy, and told him some things he needed to know about the LTTE’s terrorism and other crimes against Tamil as well as Singhalese and Muslim Sri Lankans, but I didn’t confront his delusions as strongly as I could have. As it was, he evidently thought I had “elevated speech”!

It was Raghy who gave me the last injection and also gave me the bad news last week that if I didn’t attend the appointment I had been sent I might be “returned to the hospital” by force. Raghy also told me that rather than stopping the injections, Ghazala and the “team” had decided to increase the dose. The report I was given today claims that I have “elevated speech”, in the section on “Current treatment”:

“Assertive case management for ongoing review of mental state, risks and compliance with medication. Paliperidone IM medication increased to 100mg every 4 weeks in the context of possible relapse in mental state evidenced by elevated speech with the treating team. To have monthly reviews by case manager and psychiatry registrar, and regular reviews with a consultant psychiatrist.”

This is a confusion of psychiatric jargon. There is such a thing as an elevated mood (often misdiagnosed), but I have Raghy on record saying that I did not have one and that I was euthymic – presenting with a normal mood. The other psychiatric term is “pressure of speech” which is described as a sign of mania, not schizophrenia. An elevated mood is a sign of hypomania and mania, according to the DSM; there is no such thing as “elevated speech” in psychiatric terminology, such as it is.

Ghazala Watt claims in her CV that she has expertise in writing medico-legal reports. Yet she has written a report to the Mental Health Review Tribunal with poor grammar, incomprehensible sentences and no capital letters as required according to the accepted rules of English grammar, which are insisted on in legal reports. My 8 year old daughter uses appropriate capitals at the beginning of a sentence. One might think that a Fellow of the RANZCP should too.

My fresh recollection of this morning’s debate and interview are rather at odds with the brief assessment by Ghazala. Let me take it sentence by sentence, correct and include what she omitted.

“presented for the review on time [I was 15 minutes early], was seen in the presence of the duty officer”

I did not want Gordon, who looked like a neo-Nazi thug, to come into the room with us, but Ghazala insisted. She said she wanted him there, but not why. I had never met him before, and didn’t want to discuss personal matters in his presence. The real reason is that she wanted “backup” if needed. I didn’t know and wasn’t told that he was the duty officer, responsible for admissions from the clinic to the hospital.

 

The report’s next sentences are:

“remained focused on his father’s actions leading to him having medications and admissions to the hospital.” and “presented with multiple writings about his father, political movements in Sri Lanka and anti psychiatric movements”.

She has omitted some important information and misinformed the tribunal about what I carried with me to show her when I “presented”. I didn’t have “multiple writings” about my father. I didn’t have any at all. What I did bring with me, was my diary (which I showed her) and a folder I had titled “Public Image and Personae – Me vs. the people who are calling me MAD”. I didn’t show her this folder, but I selected particular documents for her to keep and read, including one piece by my father and two pieces by myself – “Theorising About the Pineal Gland” and “Royal Park Admission (1995)” printed off from my new WordPress blog. She had never heard of WordPress, so I explained what it was, and that I was writing about my psychiatric experiences. I didn’t have any of my own writings on the anti-psychiatry movement, though I mentioned it in my books The Politics of Schizophrenia (2000) and The Pseudoscience of Schizophrenia (2011) which I have not shown her yet.

At the end of the interview I also gave her a document that I hoped would give her some insight into my father’s modus operandi. This is a long and highly defamatory piece that he had published in the Britain-based expatriate website Colombo Telegraph (CT) a few years ago that purports to be a “psychiatric analysis” of the highly respected Sri Lankan politician Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is hated by the LTTE supporters for his role in defeating the Tigers in his role as Defence Secretary. I gave Ghazala the first 10 pages of the article so that she could compare the sanity of my father’s writing with my own. This is the only thing I had in my folder about “political movements in Sri Lanka”, and it was not written by me.

What I did have in the folder, apart from these, were documents printed off the internet, from Google, Linkedin, Facebook and Youtube, comparing the work and image of four people – myself, my father, Ghazala Watt and her boss Balaji Motamarri, an undistinguished Indian psychiatrist who heads the “service” she kept referring to – the Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services (MSAHMS) of which the PA is one of several hospitals. I was ready to debate the fact that madness and sanity are relative terms, but Ghazala rejected all talk of madness or sanity.

“What’s madness?” she asked

“Insanity.”

“What’s insane?”

“Crazy.”

I would have explained my reasons for thinking that everyone has false beliefs or delusions, and that these are propagated by several means, including the media, religions, cults, political parties, schools, universities and families. But such a discussion requires the other person to be open-minded and receptive to new ideas. Ghazala was only interested in denying concepts of madness and sanity in order to try and convince me that she and the “service” were “helping me” with my “mental illness” and not taking sides in what the report admits is an “acrimonious relationship” with my father. I doubt that Ghazala knows what acrimonious means.

 

I didn’t have writings of my own about “political movements in Sri Lanka” or the “anti psychiatric movement”. I had asked her about what she knew about the anti-psychiatry movement and she said she’d never heard of it. I showed her a printout of the first page of the “Worldwide Protest of the American Psychiatric Association” Facebook page, with a posting by myself, saying:

“It seems to me that psychiatry is primarily a system of character assassination”

“Why are you showing me this?” she asked.

I pointed out that the posting had many likes, and that it was part of a world-wide movement against abuses by her profession.

 

It is a sad reflection of psychiatric education for specialists in Australia that Ghazala Watt became a consultant and member of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) without being aware of the anti-psychiatry movement and scientific, ethical and legal criticism of her profession. Raghy and Nigel, the case managers, both psychiatric nurses, had heard of it but that’s about all. Raghy said the movement had been active for at least a hundred years, and he thought it was active in Melbourne, but I never saw signs of this during the 20 years I spent in Melbourne, during which I was locked up and injected more than 40 times between 1995 and 2007, when I returned to Brisbane.

In our brief conversation after my debate with Ghazala,  I asked Gordon if the anti-psychiatry movement was active in Scotland.

“No!” he answered, emphatically.

I then asked if he thought I had schizophrenia.

“I’d have to go along with the doctor on that, I’ve never met you before.”

“Do you think I am elevated?”

“Maybe.”

I explained to Gordon that I wasn’t elevated, or irritable, I was justifiably angry that the hospital kept siding with my father, who used to work at the hospital, against me.

The next sentence is hard to comprehend, but I think she’s trying to say that I was (and am) blaming my father for getting me locked up, rather than my not taking medications. I’m not sure what she means by “previous admissions in relation to…treatment authority revoked”. I have not been locked up because I was taken off the ITOs (Involuntary Treatment Orders – there were no such things as “treatment authorities” until the new Queensland Mental Health Act of 2017):

“remained focused on the cause of previous admissions in relation to complain about father and not in relation to medication noncompliance or treatment authority being revoked.”

In fact, as I explained to Ghazala, a previous psychiatrist, newly employed at the PA Hospital in 2015 by the name of Dr Jill Schilling had visited my house with Nigel in July and came to the conclusion that I was not psychotic and could not be legally kept on an ITO. After a single visit she took me off the ITO. The report says only that “ITO was revoked on 28/07/2015” but not why, and the fact that Dr Schilling thought me sane.

I told her what happened after that: my father pressured my mother to ring up the hospital complaining that they should not have taken me off the ITO and I was “again” saying that my father was involved with the Tamil Tigers. The fact is that I had never stopped, and that this was not just the truth but it was demonstrably true from his writings and speeches which are freely available on the Internet. The PA responded, to my mother, that as I had been taken off the ITO the only way I could be forcibly “assessed” was if she went to court and took out a “Justice’s Examination Order” (JEO), which she had never heard of. My father was in charge. It was he who drove my mother to court, but “kept his hands clean”.

I was then visited by police who told me I had to go with them back to the hospital, where I was locked up for a few days and discharged. Unsatisfied, my father continued his efforts to get me locked up and evicted from my house, enlisting the help of my next-door neighbour Jeff Miller, with whom he had several phone conversations (while refusing to speak to me on the phone and ringing the case manager to allege that I was harassing him by ringing him all the time, which was untrue).

This pattern of hostile behaviour by my father has continued to the present day. Only last month he shouted to my mother, “He’s getting worse. He’s completely bananas. You’ll have to call Miller and get him to call the hospital”. When my mother demurred he got angry, “What about the other neighbours? We can jump up and down and they [the hospital] won’t take any notice of us”. This was because Nigel Lewin had recognised my father’s animosity towards me and took what he said with a pinch of salt. Nigel and Sagir Parkar had also spent some time looking into my father’s political activities on the Internet and concluded that what I had been saying about his involvement with the LTTE was, in fact, true.

I was locked up again on my 55th birthday, on 22nd September 2015, after my neighbour Miller and my father reported me together, one (my father) to the Mental Health Services and one (Miller) to the police. Miller said I was armed with a knife and he feared for his life lest I run across the road and stab him, because in his paranoid imagination I hated him that much. The truth, as I reported to the police who eventually dropped the case,  was that I had not even seen Miller and had walked across the road to cut some bark off a paperbark tree for my art. Ghazala Watt’s report contains the version of this event as recorded by Justin O’Brien who was the consultant at the hospital responsible for keeping me locked up for the next two months, while my father emptied my house of its contents and convinced my mother to put it up for sale (rendering me homeless). He also employed workmen to chop own all the trees and shrubs I had planted over the past 8 years, and got my mother to sign a curt, legalistic note informing me that if I attempted to return to my house she would take out an ‘Apprehended Violence Order’ (AVO), though again, she had no idea what an AVO is or its legally correct use. My mother signed the letter in three places as directed by my father, and copies were sent to Justin O’Brien and the case manager. She has no recollection of signing this cruel letter two years later, and eventually relented and let me return to my home (she owns the house, but the title deeds are in the hands of my hostile older sister’s lawyers).

After she told me she was increasing the injection I told Ghazala that I was disappointed that she and the hospital consistently took my father’s side against me.

“There are no sides” Ghazala tried to persuade me, “Not your side, or the hospital’s side or your father’s side. I can assure you that the hospital is quite independent of your father.”

In her “assessment” she continues:

“presented less irritable preoccupied with srilankan politics and mental health services being ‘sided’ with his father”

Less irritable than when? I have never been irritable. I am a very calm and forgiving person, but I get irritated (not irritable) when I am insulted by people calling me mentally ill or psychotic, especially  by people who are wilfully ignorant or prejudiced. I was justifiably angry because Ghazala Watt had just told me that she had decided to increase the dose of the ‘antipsychotic’ injection from 75 mg to 100 mg. This was despite my explaining at the beginning of the interview that I was suffering from deteriorating physical health because of these abusive injections. I told her that I have gained 10 kg of weight and my daughter has recently commented on my “pot belly”, which I didn’t have in the past. Ghazala is well aware that weight gain is a common side-effect of the drug she insists on ordering be given to me against my will, under threat of being locked up again. Today when I challenged the science behind her “clinical decision” to increase the dose (rather than stopping the drug, which would be the ethical and scientific thing to do) she asked me, threateningly, “do you want to be hospitalised again?”

It was Ghazala who raised the matter of my father with me. She said he had contacted “the service” several times and complained about me, which is why she was increasing the injection (she later said that there were other reasons too, when I accused her of siding with my father against me). She said she had not spoken to him herself, but asked me to explain why I had posted things about my father on the Internet. She then said that she’d heard that I’ve also posted things about “our service” in which I had named names. I couldn’t deny it and explained that I am naming them and shaming them.

Interestingly the new report has taken out the previous report’s naming of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) as the terrorist organization I was accusing my father of supporting. Instead it says that I was, in October 2016, “preoccupied with delusional thoughts about his father’s involvement with a political group”. I have never heard the LTTE described as a “political group”, or as Raghy would have it “activists”. Most people know them as ruthless terrorists, which they were.

Finally, she ends her contribution to the character assassination with:

“insight remains limited with limited understanding on mental illness and the role of medications”

My understanding of mental illness and the correct use of medications is at least as good as Ghazala Watt’s. I worked for many years in family medicine, including psychiatry. I know the role of the drug companies in shaping the thinking of doctors, and that drugs are over-prescribed and over-consumed. I am also aware of the pseudoscience prevalent in psychiatry with its various “chemical imbalance theories”. I have also researched the Australian psychiatric system and the role of eugenics in shaping psychiatric doctrine in Australia, the USA and elsewhere. I had to admit to Ghazala Watt, though with a smile, that I thought she was heavily brainwashed.

I explained to Ghazala that I needed to defend myself when people called me mad.

“Who called you mad?”

“My father. He calls me a bloody madman, all the time.”

“You don’t like that?”

“Would you?”

“I don’t know. No-one has ever called me mad.”

I held my tongue, but I confess to the urge to be the first to do so. That was a wise decision that may have stopped me from being locked up again, something Ghazala and Gordon were ready for.

“Let’s get this clear, I am not involved with mad, crazy and insane, I am a doctor treating mental illness”, she said.

A label of ‘mental illness’ is worse than a label of mad. It’s cool to be mad. It’s good to be mad at bad things, evil actions, oppression, torture and abuse of power and position. I’m mad at my father, and mad at Ghazala Watt, but I am not mentally ill. I am angry, and my anger is justified and rational. They say that the pen is mightier than the sword. I’m hoping that the pen is also mightier that the needle.

 

Retrospective Diagnosis (protest song)

I ask as I read

Your diagnoses of the dead

Of the madness of artists

And the ravings of poets –

Do you consider what’s said?

Do you think ANY poet sane?

How can you understand such a brain

When you treat metaphor with disdain?

 

I ask as I read

When you speak of Van Gogh

Diagnoses are made

And his brilliance fades –

Viewed as a freak

Diseased imagination

That glorified sunflowers

And saw beauty in the mundane

 

I ask as I read

The criteria you make

To call artists mad

Synonymous with bad

Prejudiced rules

Constructed by fools

With stupid textbooks

Created by crooks

With hidden agendas

Arrogant and friendless

 

Do you consider any poet “chemically balanced”?

Do you consider any artist “appropriately behaved”?

Or are poetry and art the very diseases

That you would rid the human race of?

The human race, tired of running

Round in circles

Driven ever faster, the human race

Sick of competing and climbing the ladder

Deeper into the sewer Of greedy profiteering

Relentless careering

Artists exploited, poets tortured

The victims cry out, but fear to be clear

They speak in metaphor

To hide their horror

They have seen the world as poets

As sensitive people

Not “schizophrenics”.

 

(words and music by Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam Arya Chakravarti, 1999)

Guitars, bass and vocals by Romesh)

 

The Pseudoscience of Schizophrenia

The Pseudoscience of Schizophrenia looks in detail at the theory that schizophrenia is primarily an iatrogenic problem which is worsened by the current disease model in psychiatry.

The term “schizophrenia” was coined by a Swiss psychiatry professor named Bleuler who declared that the young people whom his rival the German psychiatry professor Emil Kraepelin had classified as “suffering from dementia praecox” had, in fact, a “split mind”. This was later discussed ad nauseum – was there, in fact, a split between “thought” and “affect” as the Eugen Bleuler has postulated in 1911, or is it a misnomer but still a valid label?

When I studied medicine at the University of Queensland in the early 1980s we were taught that though the term “schizophrenia” is a misnomer, it is, in fact, a “real illness”. This was said to be a developmental disorder that was partly inherited and characterized by “chemical imbalances” in the brains of people, many young people, who heard voices, had hallucinations, and held delusional beliefs. These beliefs, we were told, included such things as belief in magic, UFOs and that thoughts can be put into ones head by remote means (with no mention of the TV’s potential to do so).

This book questions this and associated jargon and doctrines of the medical branch of the mind sciences – the doctors who profess to have expertise in “mind treatment” (psyche+iatros=psychiatry) rather than “mind knowledge” (psyche+logos=psychology).

Talk therapies and words that are used in therapy (and by the media and wider society) have profound effects on the health of individuals and nations. The use of pseudo-scientific terms that rapidly become terms of abuse has a long history in medicine – take the terms idiot, moron, cretin and mongol, for example.

Nowadays people are abused as “schizos” and “being mental”. Yet the entire focus for what passes as “mental health promotion” is centred on convincing more people that they are mentally unhealthy and need to consult their doctor. The doctors themselves are groomed to prescribe at the drop of a hat.

Though there is a growing market in “antipsychotic” drugs the biggest money-spinners are the “anti-depressants”, especially the SSRI drugs. Depression is also amenable to talk therapies and non-drug approaches such as music, creative activity, building interests and social activity. Strategies for promotion of mental health without the use of drugs (or ECT) are explored in later chapters of this book.

 

https://www.scribd.com/document/71008178/The-Pseudoscience-of-Schizophrenia-by-Dr-Romesh-Senewiratne-2011

 

Words, Words

Words, words, you used words

To express a meaning too bizarre for me

Words, words, you used words

To express a meaning too bizarre for me

 

I’ll have to call you mad, or face the fact that I’m mad

Or everyone is mad and that would be mad

 

Words, words you used words

To express a mind too alien for me

Words words, you used words

That disturbed my sense of reality

I was unconfident I was jealous I was shy

I was unconfident, I was jealous, insecure

 

“Hey you! You talk too much – you’re defective”

“Hey you! You talk too little – you’re defective”

 

Words words, only words Words imprison, but words can be released

More words, only words Words imprison, but words can be released

 

I was unconfident I was jealous I was shy

I was unconfident, I was jealous, insecure

I will be what I want to be, confident, friendly, secure

I will be what I want to be, confident, friendly, secure.

 

Words and music by Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam (1998)

Sara Di Genova – vocals

Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam – guitars, bass, percussion and vocals

 

Back to the Present and Ghazala Watt’s Threats

I have been writing about my past psychiatric experiences without keeping an eye on my present danger. I was sent a trap in the mail last week. It was an unsigned letter from the PA Hospital with an appointment for “Dr Watt” this coming Monday (19th February). If I couldn’t attend the appointment, a number was provided for me to ring. In this case, the letter claimed, my name would be taken off the records.

The letter also warns patients to come prepared to wait. This is to create the illusion that the “doctors are busy”, but there are other motives. Being kept waiting is one of the established means of demonstrating power over you. It is routinely used by psychiatrists in the hospital system. The patients are deliberately kept waiting; their patience is tested. Impatience is pathologised as “mental illness” and so is the restlessness of boredom.

I don’t like unnecessary waiting, especially to see someone who is going to disbelieve everything I say, twist it around to make it seem mad, misunderstand me and pathologise me. Ghazala Watt communicates with her friends over Facebook, and so do I. If she is interested in my welfare she can sent me a message on Facebook or even a friendship request.

The letter was a trap, and one I could not escape from. There is nothing I would like better than to be taken off the records of the PA Hospital. I have been trying to achieve this since 2002, when I was first locked up there after developing a Peace Plan for Sri Lanka that provoked the ire of my father, Brian Senewiratne, a long-time doctor at the PA and supporter of the Tamil Tigers. My plan, in response to my father’s war plans, was to promote trilingualism in Singhala, Tamil and English throughout the educational system of an undivided country, rather than further warfare and division, which were supported by my father in his role as a lobbyist and propagandist for the Tamil Tigers (formally known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE).

I have discussed the LTTE and my father’s involvement with this organization with many psychiatrists at the PA, as well as many outside it, when I was living in Melbourne. They have been divided regarding their views towards both me and the Tamil Tigers. Some said there was nothing wrong with me, including Dr Jill Schilling who, in June 2015, discharged me off the Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO) I had been placed on by the Latin dancing Mormon psychiatrist with a business degree and a bizarre Facebook profile, Justin O’Brien.

O’Brien was responsible for denying me my freedom by physically locking me up in 2014 and 2015 as well as getting me injected for my insistence that my father was a supporter of the LTTE, and that they were a terrorist organization rather than “freedom fighters” as my father and the other separatists were propagandising. O’Brien has now left the PA and I have been put under the abusive control of Ghazala Watt, who graduated in medicine 20 years after I did. She obviously doesn’t believe in respecting her elders, but then, I don’t respect my father and he is older than both of us. Age doesn’t always bring wisdom, but I had hoped that Ghazala Watt would at least show respect for my work, even if she didn’t agree with my views on psychiatry, especially given my knowledge of Australia and the nefarious history of the Australian psychiatric system. Other wiser and more tolerant psychiatrists have been able to do so. It is ironic that Ghazala Watt claims interest in ‘transcultural psychiatry’ but is ignorant about events in other parts of the world, including her native Pakistan.

I rang the number on the letter to explain why I did not want to see Ghazala Watt. I have already seen her twice and do not respect her psychiatric opinion, or her opinions more generally. In addition to the LTTE and my father, I tried to discuss the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative with her, and she had not heard of it despite it being the biggest development project in Pakistan at the moment. At the time I was writing on geopolitics and history, rather than psychiatry, but I gave her a copy of my 1997 self-publication ‘Psychiatric Tales and Words About Life’, which is stridently critical of psychiatry, when I first met her. Her response was to skim through it rather than reading it carefully, and give it back when I saw her, a month later, saying that she found it “confrontational” and that she would be concerned about the sanity of the writer. I intended  the book to be confrontational when I wrote it. It is about human rights abuses by the psychiatry profession. Giving her the book when I first met her was intended to measure how receptive she would be to my viewpoint twenty years ago. It was for her to get to know me, and realise that my criticism of her profession is nothing new, and not without reason.

When I rang the number provided I was put through to the “team leader” Sharon Locke or Lockie, I’m not sure. I was told her surname by an Indian Tamil psychiatric nurse, by the name of Raghy Raman, who says he is limited in what he can say because he is “only an interim case manager”, and needs to look after his job. He spelled her name “LOCKE” but pronounced it “Lockee”.  Though qualified as a nurse, Raghy says he is not qualified to make diagnoses or to write that I do not have “schizophrenia”, as Ghazala Watt is claiming (and treating me for). He assured me that he writes, after he has seen me, that my “insight is good”  and that he had an “insightful conversation” with me. The problem is this means a very specific thing in psychiatry – preparedness to accept the disease label you have been given. By this token my “insight” is “poor” or even nonexistent. I am opposed to the entire disease-creating paradigm of psychiatry. I have found that this is the basis of a core psychiatric framing technique, with the circular argument that refusal to accept that you are ill is itself a sign of mental illness (“lack of insight”).

Knowing that I had to be careful about what I said, I explained to Sharon some of the reasons that I did not want to see Ghazala Watt. These included our differences in opinion about the LTTE, the value of non-drug measures to promote mental health (including music, art, poetry, walking, gardening, reading, yoga and meditation/mindfulness training and CBT) and what constituted therapeutic doses of the drug she is forcing on me.

When I last saw her, I explained that the injection of 75 mg of paliperidone (Invega) that she had ordered had sterilized me, made me gain weight and sleep in the middle of the day as well as causing anhedonia (lack of feelings of pleasure). I had explained this to the previous case manager, Nigel Lewin and the registrar Sagir Parkar, who both agreed to ask Ghazala Watt to reduce the injection from 75 to 50 mg.

She told me, “50 milligrams is subtherapeutic, we might as well stop them completely”.

“Yes why don’t you?” I responded, but she was speaking rhetorically.

I asked why, if this was so, the drug company Janssen-Cilag make 25 and 50 mg injections for monthly use in “schizophrenia” The drug companies obviously don’t think such doses are subtherapeutic. I realised that she was an even more crazy promoter of these neurotoxins than the drug companies that manufacture them and have a vested interest in their use. I challenged Ghazala about this claim and she said she had proof to back it up. She said she’d give it to Nigel Lewin to give me. She didn’t.

Sharon Locke (or Lockie) was polite to me, and told me she would see if they can “find me another psychiatrist”. This is a farce, since they all agree with each other, and are part of a “unit” run by a “team”. There is a psychosis team, among many, and I am under the “psychosis team” The team leader, I take it, is Sharon. She is the boss of Raghy Raman and Nigel Lewin, who are both “nurses” that give the injections and don’t make waves.

Raghy had said when he last saw me that the only option he could think of was for me to see a new psychiatrist, also from India, by the name of Kailash Kedia. Dr Kedia was apparently at the team meeting with Dr Watt and Sharon as well as their underlings. Despite paying lip service to “the team” (and sheltering behind ‘team decisions’) anyone who knows the system realises that it is rigidly hierarchical, with the senior doctors being obeyed by the junior doctors (registrars and residents) as well as by the nurses, social workers, psychologists and assorted “mental health workers”. The private opinions of the underlings, when they are bold enough to express them, are often more sympathetic than those of the consultants, but they rarely admit them publicly and never write them in the notes. They don’t bite the hand that feeds them and gives them a paycheck.

Today, Raghy phoned me up and asked if he could come and see me. When he arrived, 15 minutes later, he said that he had some bad news for me. Following my conversations with both him and Sharon, doctors Watt and Kedia had discussed the matter and Ghazala Watt had said that if I haven’t been seen by other doctors “at the service” I could see Kailash Kedia for a ‘second opinion’. They then went through the farce of going through my records and establishing that I had been seen by many different doctors in the past. Watt already knew this; maybe she was making a show for the new doctor and the rest of the team who didn’t.

Raghy told me that if I don’t attend the appointment with Watt next Monday, they will fill out an “ATR” and get me taken back to the hospital by force (meaning by the police). An ATR stands for “authority to return” and I have suffered the consequences of this in the past, including handcuffing by police followed by assault in the emergency department of the PA. So I wisely agreed that, under duress, I will attend the appointment with Watt next Monday.

He then told me that he had more bad news. “The injection dose is to be increased”.

This is Ghazala Watt’s revenge for challenging her authority, but she is an arrogant woman who needs to be challenged. In fact, I think she should be deregistered for criminal medical negligence and prosecuted for the numerous human rights abuses she has been involved in, and presided over, since she came to Australia. As you can see, I’m mad at her, but not so mad as to think this will actually happen, as things are. The system doesn’t like dissenters, but sometimes it’s important to speak truth to power.

Evidence against Justin O'Brien FB $2 (3)

Locked Up Again, this time at Monash

Monash Medical Centre (1996)

Evidence against Robert Purssey
Evidence against Robert Purssey

 

I was locked up again, this time at the Monash Medical Centre in Clayton (Melbourne) on 29 February 1996. Sara was at home with me at the time and later went on the radio with me to say what had happened. She was told by the police and CAT team workers that I was “deluded” because I thought I had my medical registration, and there was an authority for me to be taken to the hospital. Once I had been taken away Sara looked through my papers and found that I did, in fact, have a Medical Registration certificate, dated 21 February 1996. I was, she realised, registered.

The hospital was acting on orders of the Chief Psychiatrist, Carlyle Perera, who is Sri Lankan and was known to my father. My father had written this letter to Carlyle Perera on 23.1.96:

“Dear Dr Perera,

I’m sorry to get you involved in this but I am facing a major problem with my son, a doctor now off the Register [I wasn’t] who has a serious psychotic illness which does not appear to me to be adequately treated. I am turning to you for help because I have explored every other avenue with absolutely no positive results.

You are probably already familiar with the problem (I gather you arranged for him to see a psychiatrist at Monash – which, according to Romesh, he has no intention of doing).

Permit me to summarise the situation.

He has had a psychotic illness since around December 1994 which came to a head around March 1995. After several weeks of consultation and observation with Dr Thomas of the Inner South area a CAT team was sent out and he was admitted to the Royal Park Hospital. I think there was a problem in obtaining a bed in the secure ward and he was transferred to an open ward.

As expected, he took off from the hospital and appeared in Canberra determined to see Carmen Lawrence and put to her the world shattering discoveries he had made and his ideas about how medicine should be practiced. He was picked up by police outside Parliament House and taken to the Woden Valley Hospital where he was admitted to an open ward and later, when the risk of his leaving was pointed out, to the secure ward from which he was discharged after a period of 3 days.

He was allowed to return to Melbourne (where his ex-wife and child live), picked up again by the CAT team again [sic] and admitted as an involuntary patient to the Royal Park Hospital. He appealed to the mental Health Board which validated his involuntary status.

Amazing though it may seem, he took off again, this time from a supposedly secure ward. He got on a coach, left the state and headed off for Brisbane where we live and appeared on our doorstep with essentially nothing other than the clothes he was wearing.

I got him some clothes [he gave me some of his old shirts] paid the bills he had run up trying to get here [the coach fare was $150.00, which a friend in Melbourne paid for, since my accounts had been frozen] and observed him. The fact that he was suffering from a psychotic illness of a manic sort was obvious even to me, a non-psychiatrist. [The diagnosis of mania was disproved during my weeks incarcerated at the Prince Charles Hospital, but rather than giving me a clean bill of health the psychiatrist John Bowles claimed that I had a paranoid psychosis and was paranoid about my father].”

Coordinated with my father’s letters, my sister’s boyfriend Robert Purssey also wrote in February and March 1996 to Carlyle Perera, Bill Robinson and the psychiatrists at Monash, sending copies of his correspondence to the Medical Board, in the hope of sabotaging my medical career (as my father did, also). In these letters he presented his own perspective and also took an arrogant and dismissive attitude to my work and my suffering as an involuntary patient, from the drugs that had been injected into me, my repeated incarcerations despite being of sound mind and the ongoing smear campaign my family conducted against me.

Robert had played a key role in my initial admission to Royal Park – it was he who made the critical phone call that got me locked up on the night of 7.4.1995. When I left the hospital without authority and drove to Canberra hoping to see Carmen Lawrence and Barry Jones (the health and science ministers) Robert admits to having taken two days off work (“compassionate leave”) to try and track me down, which included calls to the Federal Police at Parliament House that I was an escaped “manic” patient who may attack the health minister. When I was discharged from Woden Valley Hospital after 4 days observation without drugs (and judged by Dr Gupta to be sane) and returned to Melbourne, it was Robert who called the CAT team saying I had returned. I had come home to an empty house, since my wife Sue and daughter Ruby were still holidaying in Spain with my mother (who paid for the trip with my father’s approval). I was very relieved to be home and went next door to pick up our dog from our next-door neighbours, Sid and Mavis. I didn’t suspect that they had been told to ring Robert if I came to the house and they did so (without warning me). Robert didn’t ring me to find out how I was. Instead, he phoned the CAT team and I was visited by two police men with a CAT team worker and I was taken back to the Royal Park Hospital, where I was kept in the decrepit Bleuler Ward for two weeks until I escaped again.

He wrote to John Bowles of the Prince Charles Hospital (20.6.1995):

“The only reason he was swiftly apprehended on the occasion of arrival in Canberra and upon return to Melbourne was my near full-time phone consultations with police and psychiatric authorities in Canberra and Melbourne, something I am clearly not capable of doing from Melbourne in my current job, and I wonder whether any other person would be in a position or with the motivation for such a task. I required compassionate leave twice for this purpose”.

Robert is now proclaiming the benefits of “self compassion” as a practitioner of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). He purports to be promoting “mindfulness”, “meditation” (which he says should not be associated with hippies and people wearing kaftans, as if they are) and has promoted, in a lecture published on YouTube, a mindfulness app called “Buddhify”. Ironically, in 1995, he got me committed for arguing with him that Buddhism provided a better model for psychiatry than Western psychiatry does. The truth is that selfishness (self compassion) needs no encouragement, unlike genuine compassion (caring for others or putting others ahead of oneself).

At Monash I was seen by a tall, grim Polish psychiatry registrar by the name of Roman Krysztofiak, whose English was not good. Krysztofiak misrepresented my views after I debated with him, writing in the discharge summary (12.3.1996) that:

“About a year ago he ‘decided’ to change is personality and lifestyle. As a medical practitioner he decided to stop using any medications for his patients and treated them with other methods: “holistic way, using Buddhism etc”. Finally he ceased to practice and he then sold his practice”.

This is absolute nonsense. The medical records of Willow Lodge Medical Centre, where I was the main doctor show that I never stopped prescribing medications, though I was more judicious about their use. I did not preach Buddhism at work, though I had told both Krysztofiak and Robert Purssey that Buddhism provided a better model for psychotherapy than Western psychiatry. I never put this view into practice, however, though it did inform my view that personality is not fixed , and can change for the positive with effort. In his notes Krysztofiak wrote that I thought Western medicine should be replaced by “Buddyizm”, and that this was a sign of B.A.D. BAD is an acronym for Bipolar Affective Disorder, and I was again said to be manic. I did say that I tried to adopt a holistic approach to the diagnosis and treatment of my patients, but this meant to me looking at the whole individual rather than limiting ones attention to the parts. I explained that I was not an advocate of herbs, vitamins, homeopathy, naturopathy and other “alternative treatments” that are often associated with “holistic medicine”.

In his discharge summary Krysztofiak presented the “Mental State Examination” as a list:

  • A short Sri Lankan man, with good hygiene, co-operative but getting angry easily
  • Affect “high”, feels angry
  • Speech – overtalkative, pressure of speech, pre-occupied with legal aspect of the admission, paranoid idea, especially his family and doctors are plotting against him, grandiose – an excellent artist, scientist, ‘an expert in psychiatry’
  • No perceptual disturbances
  • Cognitive intact
  • No insight
  • Judgement impaired

Also on 29 February, the social worker Ruth Laughlin, who came to my house with police wrote:

“Female friend, Sarah, helped him to abscond from Royal Park on two occasions. Suggests that he should not be given permission to leave the ward with his friends as he is unlikely to return.”

 

Krysztofiak’s boss and the psychiatrist in charge of me was Associate Professor Ross Martin, who was the acting director of the unit, but has since been demoted and is now only an “adjunct lecturer” at Monash and no longer an associate professor. This doesn’t surprise me. He seemed timid and anxious, but also passive-aggressive. He kept telling the registrar lies about me that he’d gathered from my family, but when I interrupted him and tried to correct him about matters of fact, he accused me of “going off the point”. He later reported that I had “pressure of speech” and “flight of ideas”, symptoms of mania, when he was asked to give evidence against me at the Medical Practitioner’s Board Formal Hearing, which was held in July-August 1996.

After writing to the Chief Psychiatrist my father got his friend Chelvarayan Barr-Kumarakulasinghe, who goes as “Dr Barr”, to make the phone call to Monash to get me locked up. From the FOI documents it appears that Barr rang up on 29.2.1996 (the day I was admitted) and said that there was “deterioration in [my] mental state”, that I was “paranoid and litigatious” [sic] and reporting unspecified “change in behaviour with child” and “wife stopping access”. This all came from my father and Robert. Sue had just returned from a fortnight in Brisbane, with Ruby. Prior to that I had been looking after Ruby three days a week (she hadn’t yet started school) but Sue sent me a typed letter saying that she was cutting me off from contact with Ruby, supposedly because of the “vitriolic abuse” I was subjecting  my father to.

I was locked up for 2 weeks at Monash, during which Sara visited me frequently. It was not as traumatic as my previous incarcerations for this reason. The haloperidol injections crippled me, however, and I was in a sad state when I was discharged under a CTO to be administered by a Hungarian psychiatrist, whose English was not good, by the name of Andras Perenyi. Perenyi died in 2016.  His obituary says that “his natural courage created the condition to make himself a respectful doctor in a different country”. I think his friend who wrote the obituary meant “respectable”. He was certainly not “respectful”. The obituary also says that he participated in clinical trials for psychotropic drugs, had a good sense of humour and remained a “proud Hungarian”.

Andras Perenyi did not share his sense of humour with me. Maybe I was one of the people he was doing antipsychotic drug trials on, but I wasn’t told about it. What I do know is that he ordered abusive injections of haloperidol to be injected into me, although I was severely Parkinsonian.

Sara has described my state as if “all the life had been drained out” of me when I was discharged from Monash. I was stiff, slow and lethargic and lay on the sofa all day. The injections incapacitated me until I won an MHRB hearing at Monash and was discharged off the CTO in May that year. Two years later, in 1998, I was again locked up under Ross Martin at Monash. This time he injected me with haloperidol again but had changed his diagnosis to one of “delusional disorder”.

Immediately after I was locked up at Monash in 1996, Robert came around to my house with my ex-wife Sue. He came into the house after forcing a window open, and ransacked my possessions, taking all Ruby’s toys, books and clothes to give to Sue, as well as all the original diagrams and notes I had made on mind-body medicine, psychiatry, psychology and integrative science, copying them and sending them to the Monash psychiatrists with a letter addressed to Ross Martin. It begins:

“Please find enclosed copies of ‘papers’, letters and other writings of Romesh Senewiratne (D.o.B 22.9.1960) collected when access was gained at his house (bonded and leased by his mother) on Sunday 3.3.1996 for recovery of many of his daughter’s clothes and a number of my textbooks. While I appreciate that limited time might preclude comprehensive consideration of this material, I should like to draw your attention in particular to a number of areas.

“‘Brief Chronology’ and ‘Chronology of Events’ give an essential overview of Romesh’s perspective of his illness and treatment, and although much of the factual information is rather at odds with others’ accounts it should enormously assist further treatment approaches.

“In ‘Hypomania’ which follows on from ‘Chronology of Events’ Romesh cogently argues that imprecise usage of operationalised diagnostic terms has rather confused his understanding of what kind of condition he has been recommended for – ‘hypomania’ in DSMIV and ICD10 being excluded by marked impairment in social or occupational functioning (both), psychotic features (both) or hospitalisation (DSMIV). It might save or at least refocus tortuous circular arguments with Romesh to clarify with him exactly which diagnostic category within which classificatory scheme is felt to be most appropriate with due regard to the operationalised criteria.”

‘Operationalised’ is an example of psychiatric jargon and Robert was training to write in such jargon. It shows what uncritical, submissive thinking when studying psychiatry does to ones processes of logic, rationality and lucidity.