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.

 

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.

 

My debate with Brett Emmerson turns out badly

 

I had visited Prince Charles Hospital in Chermside as a medical student and later worked there as a paediatric registrar on placement from the Royal Children’s Hospital back in 1986. My responsibility was to look after babies, infants and children recovering from and preparing for open heart surgery, which was performed by adult cardiac surgeons, there not being any dedicated paediatric cardiac surgeons in Brisbane at the time. It was very demanding work, and as the only “paed”, much responsibility was placed on my 25-year-old shoulders. My reward was that I was treated with respect by the staff. It was very different when, on 7 June 1995, I was admitted as an involuntary patient to the Winston Noble Unit, the hospital’s psychiatry unit.

I was referred to the hospital by Brett Emmerson, then Director of Mental Health at the Logan Hospital. Emmerson is currently Director of Psychiatry at the Royal Brisbane Hospital and the Metro North Addiction and Mental Health Services. He was previously the Chief Psychiatrist of Queensland, and before that the Director of Psychiatry at the PA Hospital (where his father, Bryan, had been a medical professor when Brett and I studied at the University of Queensland).

Brett and I go back a long way. It is he who drove my family from the Brisbane airport to the house of his parents, Bryan and Elva, in January 1976, when Bryan had supported my father’s application as a consultant physician at the Princess Alexandra (PA) hospital. Brett was then 18 and about to enter the medical course at Queensland Uni. His younger brother Stephen, who was a talented musician was friendly to me, more so than Brett.

I saw Brett occasionally when we were at Uni and spoke to him when I did, and when my father brought him to my parents’ house to certify me as insane on a Sunday night in June 1995 I greeted him amicably and extended my hand:
“It’s good to see an old friend”
“Let’s get this clear – I did not come here as a friend”, he replied, refusing my handshake.

“Oh”, I said, “I see”.

 

I then debated with Brett for 3 hours, while he became more and more irate. I criticised the psychiatry disease model and challenged his knowledge of the criteria for a diagnosis of mania, which he was accusing me of having. He was very defensive about his profession, as I expected him to be, but didn’t care about. I also tried explaining to him my theories about the pineal, the mysterious gland in the brain that secretes melatonin (which he knew nothing about). I had read that the pineal may function as a magneto-sensory organ (a theory popularised by Robert Becker in the 1980s) and told him about this, as well as my theories on the causation of autism and schizophrenia. In his intake referral form Emmerson claimed that I had “delusional beliefs about the pineal and the causation of schizophrenia and autism”. Meanwhile my father sat silently in the next room recording the debate on a dictophone. I enjoyed the debate, Brett didn’t.

 

After 3 hours of increasingly heated debate, Brett told me that he was certifying me and that I would have to go into hospital. At this stage I rang one of my friends, who was a doctor I was staying with after coming back to Brisbane following my escape from Melbourne’s Royal Park Hospital. At this stage I didn’t understand the role my father had played in the Melbourne incarceration, and had come to Brisbane seeking my parents’ support for my sanity. I was allowed to go home with my friends, but the order had been made by Emmerson and my father, and the police picked me up the next day when I refused to go to the hospital.

 

I was then locked up for 6 weeks at the Prince Charles Hospital. Emmerson did not visit me nor did my father, and nobody asked me about my theories about the pineal, schizophrenia and autism, which I would have been happy to discuss, and were the supposed subject of my ‘delusions’. Instead, I was drugged with antipsychotic drugs, first by mouth and then by injection, under the authority of Dr John Bowles and his registrar Philip Bird. The diagnosis they made was one of “paranoid psychosis”, having been unable to confirm Emmerson’s claim that I had mania by direct observations of my behaviour (I slept, ate and talked normally in their estimate and did not have an elevated mood). I was said to be “paranoid” that my father wanted me locked up for his and not my interests and had conspired with other family members against me to get me certified and vilified.

 

My weeks at Prince Charles Hospital were very traumatic, especially the first 3 weeks when I was held in the locked ward and forced to take oral haloperidol syrup. The consultant John Bowles was rude and dismissive and told me that I would be treated “the same as the other patients” and that he was not interested in discussing my theories with me.

Consequently, the report written by John Bowles to the Patient Review Tribunal (PRT, the Queensland equivalent of the MHRB in Victoria) does not mention my theories on schizophrenia, autism, the pineal and other scientific matters that Brett Emmerson had claimed were ‘delusions” and evidence of mania. Instead, he wrote, on 18 July 1995:

“Romesh (R.S.) was sent to T.P.C.H. after regulation 21(1) by Dr B. Emmerson because as a doctor who had previously worked in S.E.Qld Romesh was known in other hospitals. [I had, in fact, worked at the Prince Charles Hospital, too]. He believes the 21(1) order was ill founded and illegal and has sought legal opinion to contest his admission as an involuntary patient. Dr Emmerson had in fact spent an extensive period of time making an evaluation on both direct and co-lateral evidence and sought admission and treatment for R.S. on the basis of a psychotic illness.

“In brief R.S. claims that many and several opinions of doctors both here and in Victoria are incorrect, biased by misinformation from R.S.’ family (mother, father, sister and wife) and as such he is/was the victim of an elaborate and extensive conspiracy to denigrate and incarcerate him. He proclaims that the primary adversary is his father who is intolerant of R.S’ preferred lifestyle, philosophy, attitude toward conventional medicine and intellectual independence. R.S. then contends that Dr Senewiratne (snr) has had inordinate influence over those psychiatrists and others who have been put in a position to make judgements and decisions about R.S. his ideas, behaviour and reactions to the circumstances that surround him.”

In this three-paged report Bowles wrote that he was not able to confirm the previous diagnosis of hypomania, but he believed there was “sufficient evidence of a paranoid psychosis” on the basis of:

  1. Manifest paranoia – his insistent belief that he was a victim of contrived persecution from multiple sources.
  2. An unrealistic appraisal of his present circumstances especially in view of his deregistration [I had not been deregistered] and prospects of re-instatement as a medical practitioner.
  3. A persistent drive for litigation against those who sought to help him but opposed his point of view.
  4. A propensity to misinterpret information in his own end and distort information given to various people.
  5. His insistence that he had a special means of idiosyncratic communication with his daughter in Victoria. This was of a such a degree that it alarmed his mother as being bizarre and incomprehensible. (She may report this independently to the Tribunal).

Interestingly, given subsequent events, Bowles did not mention the key role of Robert Purssey in spreading rumours about me and getting me locked up. This may be because Robert’s father, Brian Purssey, was the Director of the Greenslopes Repatriation (Veteran’s) Hospital in Brisbane and known to him. Later Robert Purssey moved up from Melbourne with my sister and was employed by the Prince Charles Hospital as a psychiatry registrar under John Bowles himself. A curious omission indeed.

The truth is that I believed, with good reason, that my family were persecuting me and conspiring against me in order to get me locked up. They were maintaining that I was psychotic and had “mania”, as is evidenced by the numerous letters they wrote behind my back, with requests that the letters not be disclosed to me (they weren’t at first but were some were later under FOI). Bowles himself confirmed that this was a misdiagnosis and that despite observing me for six weeks I did not show evidence of mania (an elevated, expansive or irritable mood, reduced need for sleep, grandiosity, flight of ideas and other such symptoms). Yet this was the diagnosis made by Brett Emmerson when I was admitted to the hospital and by Robert Purssey and my father in their letters to the psychiatrists. It was also the provisional diagnosis made before I was admitted to the Royal Park Hospital, but downgraded to a non-psychotic “hypomania” diagnosis in the discharge summary. I was justified in refusing treatment for “hypomania”, and the justification comes from no less an authority that the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that stated in its then current DSM IV that hypomania is not associated with psychosis, that it does not require hospitalisation or drug treatment and can, in some individuals lead to an increase in accomplishments, creativity and efficiency.

The reference to an “special means of idiosyncratic communication” with my daughter stems from my mother telling John Bowles that I said I could sense that my daughter was being hit by her mother. This was understandable concern and I rang my sister as asked her if Ruby was being hit. “I don’t think she’s hit enough”, was her cruel response. It made me very worried about her, but I did not say that I had a “special means of idiosyncratic communication” with her.

 

While I was in Prince Charles I made many friends, including Mark, who had been locked up for mania, too. Mark actually had gone mad, after ingesting large quantities of amphetamine and developing delusions about X and Y chromosomes. He thought if he swallowed extra Y chromosomes in the form of semen he could become a superman. He also convinced one of his friends to do the same, but when he went to Mt Cootha, where the TV stations are located and demanded to be put on air, he was arrested and subsequently certified into the Winston Noble Unit. I explained to Mark the scientific facts about X and Y chromosomes and why his theory was delusional, and he accepted what I said. It confirmed my view that delusions can be cured with reasonable, fact-based debate.

Due to the drugs I found it hard to write, but I persevered and wrote several essays on my developing health model for the neurosciences, which I showed to Mark’s mother Kay, who was a teacher. She said. “You’re just a New Age philosopher, I don’t know what you are doing here.” Kay then offered for me to stay, rent free, at a house she owned, allowing for me to be discharged from Prince Charles Hospital, an act of kindness to a stranger that I will be eternally grateful for.

I stayed in this house for a month, during which time I wrote many poems and did line drawings of my experience as a catharsis. I was very lonely, and didn’t have access to the phone or a car. I had written to the State Trustees asking that my car be sent up to me from Melbourne but the State Trustee Peter Sier wrote back that after paying the lawyers and accountant there were “insufficient funds” to do so. He also said that my practice company, studio and Groove-On Records had been closed and my house was to be put up for sale, and that he had consented for my ex-wife Susan to have custody of our daughter, Ruby. I was furious, but unable to do anything about it other than write poems and draw. I didn’t have access to a guitar, and anyway I was too Parkinsonian to play.

In August 1995 I was allowed by Bowles to return to Melbourne on the proviso that I agree to see Norman James at the Royal Park Hospital on my return. My mother insisted on coming with me, first to Melbourne and then to see Norman James. It was very stressful with Sue, who had been informed by phone, during her holiday in Spain with Ruby and my mother, that I had gone mad and needed to “go” into hospital.” I didn’t need to go there”, I tried to explain,” I was taken there by force by the police”, but Sue wasn’t interested. She thought that this was the new me. I had been transformed from a kind, jolly, considerate husband to an angry madman who sat there and stared without moving. She didn’t understand that my anger was justified and I sat there immobile because I was still partially paralysed from the flupenthixol injections. She told my mother, “I can’t have him here.  He’ll have to leave”. I went and stayed a night with Michael Butera in St Kilda and the next day I rented a house at 4 Eastgate Street, Oakleigh, where I slowly recovered from my ordeal.

After she helped me escape, Sara was questioned by the police. She was stressed by this and went overseas to Europe, visiting relatives in Italy and Spain. In October 1995 she returned to Melbourne and found that I was well, living alone in Oakleigh and preparing my first book “Alpha State : A State of Mind for the New Age” for publication. This book was a collection of my writings while I was locked up, which my mother agreed to pay for the typing of. With a single typed copy of the manuscript I contacted Channel 7’s Today Tonight program. They asked me for an interview, which was recorded in my house at Oakleigh, but never went to air.  I also gave a radio interview for the PBS station which was aired in October 1995. Robert recorded this interview and sent it to Bill Robinson in support of his allegation that I had mania and needed treatment.

I spent a lot of time with Sara during the months that followed and she was at my house when the CAT team from Monash appeared on my doorstep with police on the night of 29 February the next year (1996).

My First Mental Health Review Board Hearing (May 1995)

Some of the nurses at Royal Park were sympathetic. I remember one telling me, “I know, Romesh, that there’s nothing wrong with you, but you have to play the game if you want to get out of here”. Playing the game meant admitting that you were ill when you were first admitted and swallowing the tablets you were given without protest. The nurses also told me that I could apply for a Mental Health Review Board hearing, which was supposedly “independent of the hospital”, though held on the hospital premises. I was told I could have legal representation and, knowing no other lawyers, I asked the solicitor who had done the Groove-On contracts, David Hancock (who was a friend of Anthony Dymke), to represent me. I asked Sara to come to the hearing too, as my support person. I was confident that I would released, but my optimism was unfounded.

The lawyer David was out of his depth. He did a poor job of refuting Owen’s arguments. He asked if I was a risk to others or myself. Owen admitted that I was not a risk to others, but could damage my own professional reputation. This is ironic indeed. What damaged my professional career was the hospital writing to the Medical Board saying that I was mentally ill, and my family spreading the rumour that I was in and out of mental hospitals.

The Board consisted of a lawyer (in charge), a psychiatrist and a ‘community member’. Tony Owen represented the hospital.  I didn’t know at this stage that less than 5% of appeals to get off CTOs are successful. Owen also told an anecdote that I could see swayed the board members, especially the community member, who nodded in agreement with him. He said that he once had a young patient who was pleasant and intelligent (“like Romesh”) but hypomanic. He said the patient escaped from hospital and drove at high speed, killing a pedestrian. The fact that this was merely an anecdote and I have always been a careful driver (I haven’t ever had a serious accident) escaped the board, and I sensed that I might not win my discharge after all. Indeed I did not. I lost the appeal and was returned to the locked ward. I begged Owen not to send me back there. “Don’t you have any compassion?” I asked. His answer was callous. “I once had a bit of compassion, but it has shrivelled right up”.

I went into my room, threw myself down on the bed and wept for the first time since my admission. I then decided to escape. I phoned Sara and asked her to come and collect my wallet. She did so. I then rang her back and asked me to come and visit me again. This time I asked the nurses, who were sympathetic, if I could go for a brief stroll on the grounds and have a cigarette with Sara. They allowed me to do so. Once I was out of the doors I told Sara to keep walking. We hastened our pace as a nurses came out calling for me to return. We walked quickly to the carpark and got in Sara’s car. She was as white as a ghost. I was shaking with fear too.

Sara then dropped me off in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy where my studio was located and went home. She was later visited by police, asking if she’d helped me escape. Shortly afterwards she left the country and went to Europe.

Finding the studio locked, I walked around to Anthony Dymke’s place. I was shaken and my legs wouldn’t stop trembling. I discussed my situation with Anthony and his wife and they suggested that I leave the state. I didn’t have any money, since the State Trustees had frozen my back accounts, so Anthony bought me a ticket for a coach to Queensland the next day. I headed up to Brisbane thinking my ordeal was over. It had only just begun.

 

Robert Purssey’s “Mania” Campaign

In late 1994, I began to have what I called “insights”. Others call these “epiphanies”, using a Christian term. A lawyer I met in 1995 described my experience as “kundalini rising”, using a Hindu term. I had many of these every day and found that the insights increased when I smoked ganja, which I had done since I was a medical student, doing an elective in Mt Isa. In retrospect I accepted the verisimilitude of my insights without adequate consideration and criticism, though I did have some good ideas, including the insight that communication, curiosity and play are instincts. I also had insights about the tyranny of clock-time, the development of aesthetic appreciation with experience, and the role of the reticular activating system and the pineal organ in the brain and how health could be improved by what we look at and listen to, paying attention to what comes in though our eyes and ears, in addition to what comes in through the mouth. These insights formed the basis of a complex theory of motivation that I developed in early 1995, coinciding with the time that my family started suggesting that I was mad and trying to get me locked up and forcibly “treated”.

When you are excited your need for sleep decreases. I was excited about several things. One was my insights into holistic health, the limitations of my reductionist education, problems of competitiveness in society (for which reason I established Groove-On records), science (especially neuroscience and psychology) and creativity, especially in music. The other was Sara, who I was infatuated with. It was Sara, who didn’t think I was mad, that helped me escape from Royal Park the second time, driving me to Fitzroy and dropping me off in Brunswick Street, near my studio, which I had established in 1993, and where I used to practice with my band as well as record my own music long into the night, when I was still living in Richmond with Sue. To my dismay the studio was locked and I couldn’t get in, so I went around to my friend Anthony Dymke’s house nearby. Anthony was the bass player in my band The Figgs and was also a co-director of Groove-On Records, the recording company I had established in late 1994 ahead of the Groove-On Concert in February 1995, when we professionally recorded the bands Curtis Late, Sedan and Those Acapelicans at a special concert at the Prince Patrick Hotel in Collingwood.  The recording was done by Harry Williamson of Spring Studios in Prahran, with plans to have further recorded concerts of Melbourne bands and release compilation CDs of their live performances.

I was motivated to establish Groove-On Records as part of an effort to promote cooperation and mutual respect among young musicians, rather than competition, which I saw as a pervasive problem. I recognised how good the Melbourne musicians I knew were live and thought more could be done to promote them nationally and internationally if there were high-quality live recordings available.

I had told my father about my plans for Groove-On Records when I visited Brisbane and stayed at my parents’ house over Christmas 1994. He had surprised me by writing out a cheque for $10,000 towards the project, a strange thing to do if he suspected me of having mania (he subsequently claimed that I had developed a “serious psychotic disorder in December 1994, which ‘came to a head’ in March 1995). I deposited this money in my account, transferring only $5,000 to a new account for the Groove-On bank account, out of which I paid $3,000 to Harry Williamson for recording the concert. Groove-On Records was registered as a company, for which I used the legal services of David Hancock, a friend of Anthony Dymke, who was the bass player for both my band, the Figgs, and Curtis Late, with Kylie Auldist on vocals, which I regarded as the best band in Melbourne, with my love of a funky beat. I also paid all the band members, leaving $500 in the Groove-On account.

Later, both my father and Robert Purssey used the $10,000 cheque my father gave me to frame me as mentally ill. My father wrote that I had “gone on a spending spree with no insight into where the money was coming from” which was completely false and an attempt to frame me with mania, of which “over spending” is a classical symptom. Robert wrote, in June 1995 to John Bowles of the Prince Charles Hospital:

“The ‘Groove On’ account which commenced at $15,000 now contains $500. The fate of perhaps $5000-$8000 remains unaccounted for by the State Trustee. I believe until this is fully classified [sic] we must assume that R.S. has secreted this money in an account unknown to the State Trustee, potentially to fund a further escapade.”

These figures were false as was his conclusion, and Purssey had no right to go through my financial or practice records or any other of my possessions. As I said, the Groove On account only ever contained $5,000. I did not secrete money in hidden accounts. I don’t do such things. In this letter Purssey shows his prejudices as well as his sarcasm, in writing:

“His mother is, for historical family interpersonal and her own characterological reasons incapable of refusing R.S’s undoubtedly ‘woefully sorrowful’ and ‘sincerely made’ pleas for merely some brief respite/relief from the ‘oppressive regime and boredom’ of the inpatient setting to allow him some peace, relaxation, ‘therapy’ and to gather resources (music, books etc) to make him [sic] further stay in such a ‘terrible place’ tolerable.”

 

Indeed boredom was one of the traumas of my incarceration, and I longed for some books to read and music to listen to. Robert was very cruel to deny me this. It is true that I longed for some peace and relaxation and that the experience of being disbelieved, locked up, stigmatised as mad and ordered about was demeaning as well as oppressive. Robert has no insight into the trauma of being locked up and drugged, and had the temerity to quote my own very reasonable writings as “proof” that I was mad:

“I understand R.S remains insightless and feels he has fully demonstrated the incompetent/fraudulent nature of all psychiatry and its related legal apparatus, and appears to firmly believe, and I quote:

‘the side effects of these drugs as well as a secondary suppression by the schizophrenic himself accounts for the secondary ‘negative’ aspects of the schizophrenic illness, currently viewed as incurable’ and ‘minimising drug treatment with phenothiazines (and presumably butyrophenones) will avoid permanent damage to the basal ganglia and limbic system which are responsible for secondary schizophrenic deterioration, tardive dyskinesia, amotivational syndrome, chronic depression and emotional flatness”.

As for the “escapades” Robert accused me of going on, he explained in a 1996 letter to the psychiatrist Bill Robinson, that:

“The first escapade took him to Canberra intending to speak with Carmen Lawrence, but changing to the more intelligent Barry Jones, to put the Australian Health system to rights. The consultant who admitted Romesh, unfortunately only under pressure from the family, considered that many people would see his views as valid, repeatedly hung up the telephone on friends and family who were trying to provide background information and was reluctant to speak with Royal Park doctors”.

Returning to my first Royal Park admission and discharge summary, Jan Theobald wrote her “mental state examination” not on her own observations but from the notes of the admitting resident, who had thought me to be a 23-year-old medical student and not a 34-year-old doctor. I had been angry when I saw this young doctor and demanded to speak to someone in authority. The quotes Theobald provided were based on what this doctor wrote, and were loosely based on what I said. These were included in the “mental state examination” section of the discharge summary:

“Short man, average build, Sri Lankan origin, casually dressed in shirt and trousers, wearing no shoes. No psychomotor agitation and able to sit during interview. Quite irritable and expansive mood. Oriented x 3 [time, person, place]. Memory good. Denies disorders of perception. Speech pressured with flight of ideas. Grandiose themes, slightly paranoid and occasionally threatening. ‘The system is victimising me because of my knowledge’. ‘I am like Ghandi, you are victimising black people’. ‘You are taking your career into your own hands, by my contacts with influential artists in St Kilda this will be all over the newspapers’.”

I recall saying some of these things to the young doctor when I was angry at first being locked up, but not in these precise words. During the three weeks I was locked up, though, I didn’t continue saying them, partly because I could hardly talk because of the haloperidol.

Theobald wrote that I had “no insight” into what she and the consultants Tony Owen and Norman James provisionally diagnosed as “hypomania”. Under “treatment and progress” she wrote:

“Started 2 days after admission on haloperidol and clonazepam, but after promising to remain on the ward, absconded 4 days after admission. He travelled to Canberra where he caused a disturbance by attempting to see Barry Jones and Carmen Lawrence regarding the implementation of his medical theories. Returned to ward 11 days later after being apprehended in Canberra by Federal Police and then spending 4 days under observation at Woden Valley Hospital. Family applied for Administration Order which was granted. When returned to ward Romesh was writing a lot of grandiose and irrational papers on various aspects of medicine in which he has no expertise [I actually wrote the three essays in Canberra before I was returned to Royal Park, which didn’t provide a desk to write on]. Began to settle gradually while managed in HDU [high dependency unit]. Medical Board of Victoria informed about admission and they have offered him an option of applying for temporary deregistration. The day of his MHRB hearing (which he lost) he absconded again and we were later informed that he went to his parents’ home in Brisbane.”

Again Theobald misrepresented the facts. I did in fact leave the open ward I had been sent to from the locked Meduna Ward, where I was first locked up. I had been given haloperidol syrup which had made me Parkisonian – stiff in my movements and slow in my speech. This increased my resolve to leave, which I did after 4 days. I walked from the Royal Park grounds in Parkville to St Kilda and returned to my flat, where I met Michael Butera, a musician who was living above the flat that Adrian and I were sharing. I packed my car with Michael’s help and drove to Canberra, hoping to get an appointment with the science minister Barry Jones and the health minister Carmen Lawrence. I did not create a “disturbance”, however.

My decision to leave the hospital in which I was being unnecessarily drugged and drive to Canberra seeking support from the health minister and science minister was described as “impulsive behaviour” by the psychiatrists at Royal Park and further evidence of hypomania. It was also falsely claimed that I “caused a disturbance” by trying to see the Health Minister.

Robert Purssey had contacted the Federal Police at Parliament House saying that I was mad and may attack the health minister, Carmen Lawrence. He knew that I had plans to contact the health minister and the science minister, Barry Jones. In fact, I had written polite letters to them and included some of my theoretical work on the pineal and mind-body medicine in separate envelopes, which I took to Parliament House asking that they be delivered to them. That I contact Barry Jones had been suggested to me by the late psychologist Ronald Conway, whom I had visited after reading his book “Rage for Utopia”. Conway told me that Barry Jones might be interested in my theories about the brain and mind.

When I presented at the security screen at Parliament House with packages of my work in large envelopes addressed to Carmen Lawrence and Barry Jones I was approached by Federal Police, who treated me respectfully and with whom I wisely cooperated. They took me to Woden Valley Hospital, where an Indian psychiatrist named Dr Gupta agreed to observe me over the Easter long weekend without drugs. During these three days I wrote three essays, one on medical education and memorisation, one on the management of autism, promoting art and music therapy as better alternatives to drugs and the third on my theories about the causation of schizophrenia. Dr Gupta was shown these essays and I was discharged without seeing him again myself. My father had offered Gupta $10,000 to send me back to Melbourne in an ambulance. Gupta was angry. He said, “we don’t do that sort of thing in Australia” and hung up the phone on him.

Robert Purssey confirmed in a letter to the psychiatrist Bill Robinson (in a letter also written in late February 1996 and coordinated with my father’s) that Dr Gupta “repeatedly hung up the phone on family members who were trying to provide background information”. Purssey admits that Dr Gupta said that many people would agree with my views and hung up the phone on him. I then stayed a few days with my old friend Dammi, who was working as a radiologist in Canberra. She had heard that I was locked up and came to visit me, offering me a place to stay when I was discharged.

At this time I was visited by a Federal Police officer by the name of Barry, who inquired whether I was indeed a threat to Carmen Lawrence. When I explained him what had really happened he gave me his card and number and told me to contact him if I needed help. I later did, and informed the Federal Police that my father had conspired with others to have me locked up. They said it was a State Police matter.

 

Theobald records that I was treated with 20 mg oral haloperidol and an unspecified dose of the benzodiazepine tranquilliser Clonazepam, and that lithium was to be started the next day, but I absconded after the MHRB hearing and went to my parents’ place in Queensland. This is gross over-treatment. Lithium is an accepted treatment for mania and bipolar disorder, which I did not have. It is a very dangerous drug that causes serious side effects as well as dangerous toxicity. The well-recognised side-effects of lithium are poisoning of the thyroid gland and kidneys resulting in many patients on long-term lithium needing to take thyroid hormone replacement and dying prematurely from kidney disease. If the drug is too high in the blood it causes a specific syndrome of lithium toxicity which can be fatal.

The supposed clinical efficacy of lithium was ‘established’ by the Australian psychiatrist John Cade, who was working in a military psychiatric hospital in Melbourne. Looking for a toxin in the urine of manic patients, he was injecting the urine of his patients into guinea pigs in a disused hospital kitchen at the Bundoora Hospital. Finding that he could stop the guinea pigs dying from the injected urine by mixing it with lithium salts, he tried injecting lithium alone into the guinea pigs “to see what happened”. He found, to his delight, that the guinea pigs would not try and right themselves if turned on their backs, and it appeared to be an effective “tranquilliser”. So he tried injecting it into his “schizophrenic”, “manic” and “depressed” patients. He reported no benefit in the “schizophrenics” but a dramatic benefit in “mania”. This was in 1948 after Cade had recovered from military service in the Second World War. He went on to become the boss of the Royal Park Hospital and the President of the College of Psychiatry (RANZCP). Years later, as a celebrated and influential psychiatrist, he described his “chance discovery” of lithium carbonate as being like a prospector finding a gold nugget. The irony is that the Victorian psychiatric system was first established during the gold rush of the 1860s, when people were locked up, chained, drugged and flogged for “gold fever”. Years later what had been called gold fever, would be called “mania”. Cade himself used the terms “psychotic excitement” for mania, as well as the old terms “dementia praecox” (rather than ‘schizophrenia’, a term coined by Eugen Bleuler in Switzerland in 1908) and melancholia (now called depression),

 

When I was first admitted, I was naïve about the system. I trusted that the people in charge were not corrupt. So I asked the nurses for a second opinion, thinking it would be independent of the consultant I had been put under, Anthony Owen, and I might be treated more fairly. They arranged for this second opinion to be provided by Owen’s boss and the Director of Psychiatry at the Royal Park Hospital, Norman James, who was a past president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (1991-93) and a big believer in the merits of lithium as well as shock treatment (ECT), which the RANZCP website boasts he introduced to the poor Himalayan nation of Bhutan after his retirement. The people of Bhutan need many things, but ECT (electroconvulsive treatment) is not one of them.

James supported Owen’s diagnosis of ‘hypomania’ and my continued detention and drugging. Norman James went on to become the Chief Psychiatrist of Victoria and later of South Australia.

Norman James was the psychiatrist I was forced to see on my return to Melbourne in September 1995, after I was allowed to return from Brisbane following a 6-week incarceration at the Prince Charles Hospital in Chermside. He placed me on an CTO (Community Treatment Order, the equivalent of an Involuntary Treatment Order or ITO in Queensland) after giving me another Flupenthixol injection, which by his own admission made me “quite Parkinsonism”. At my request, transferred the CTO to a private psychiatrist I used to refer patients to in Dandenong by the name of Bill Robinson. Dr Robinson didn’t think I was mentally ill, and stopped the treatment.

On 20th November 1995 Dr Robinson wrote a report to the Medical Board of Victoria saying:

“I thought Dr. Romesh Senewiratne was an articulate, well read, intelligent man, who may well have been stressed by his separation from his wife earlier this year. I thought that whilst he seemed to be rather eccentric and well off the mainstream medical path of his parents, that he was neither psychotic nor hypomanic.’

This is in contrast to the referral letter sent by Norman James to Robinson dated 4 September 1995 which claimed that I had suffered from “excited paranoia” rather than hypomania, the diagnosis made by John Bowles at Brisbane’s Prince Charles Hospital. James wrote that:

“It would appear that his illness was one of excited paranoia rather than hypomania, which commenced about the time of the breakup of his marriage. He seems to have benefited from antipsychotics and I believe that he is in need of such treatment to continue for approximately a further year as is usually recommended for a first episode psychosis. He was given 40 mg of flupenthixol in Brisbane to be repeated monthly. This I did on 22.8.95 and it has caused him to become quite Parkinsonian, hence I have prescribed Cogentin, 2 mg bd. He also said he was mildly akathesic, but declined either diazepam [Valium] or propranolol for this”.

I didn’t take the Cogentin, which made me feel even worse. I didn’t see the sense in taking another tablet to take away the side-effects of flupenthixol, when the flupenthixol was not clinically indicated in the first place. Fortunately, Bill Robinson didn’t think the Flupenthixol was indicated either, and came to take what my family said with a pinch of salt, after Robert Purssey sent him a rude letter accusing him of “neglect” for “depriving” me of the treatment (meaning drugs) Purssey said I needed, and another episode when he was told that I had kidnapped my mother, when she came to visit me from Brisbane and was late to return to Chelvarayan Barr-Kumarakulasinghe’s house where she was staying. She had to ring Robinson to say that in fact she was fine and hadn’t been kidnapped by me at all, by which time he had already called the CAT team (and had to call them back saying it was a false alarm). The final straw regarding my family, for Dr Robinson, was when he was informed that I had abducted my daughter Ruby from her childcare centre, when I had in fact been given permission by her mother Sue to pick her up and keep her at my house till 7.00 pm. After he was advised that this too was a false alarm, Robinson said that he would not take further calls from my family and anything they wanted to say needed to be in writing. However, when the Chief Psychiatrist, Carlyle Perera asked him to refer me to the Monash Medical Centre (MMC), he did so. But before the scheduled appointment at MMC, my father had taken further action and got his friend Chelvarayan to refer directly to the CAT team, and I was locked up again (February 1996).

How My Family Framed Me as Mad

Royal Park Hospital

 

On the night of 7th April 1995, Robert Purssey rang up the after-hours psychiatric services claiming that I was “smoking lots of dope”, had “smashed up my flat” and “manhandled” my flat mate. These were false claims, repeating hearsay from my flatmate Adrian Deakin. Deakin and I had an argument about his not paying his share of the rent and his appalling hygiene and I had asked him to leave, but I did not “manhandle” him. I also did not smash up my flat or damage it in the least. I was smoking no more ganga than I had for many years, and considerably less than Robert himself (who also abused alcohol, which he later went into rehab for, before reinventing himself as an “ACT therapist”).

Robert’s role in misinforming the psychiatrists at the Royal Park Hospital, after I was taken there by police on the request of a psychologist by the name of Mark Salter, is evident from the discharge summary from the hospital, written by the registrar Jan Theobald in May 1995, after I escaped from Royal Park the second time and caught a bus up to Queensland with the help of friends.

In Jan Theobald’s discharge summary numerous false and misleading claims are made about me. She wrote that I referred to a complex series of ideas that made no sense to relatives, naming these as “the bioblos” and the “chaotic theory of time”. This was a reference to the palaeontology theory known as the “Four-Dimensional Bioblob” that I read in a book on fossil discoveries in Australia (Riversleigh) that boasts a foreword by no less than Sir David Attenborough. It was not an original theory and I first read about it and tried to explain it to my family in 1993. Robert Purssey, who was my sister’s boyfriend, evidently did not understand the theory, despite its simplicity and elegance. The 4-D Bioblob hypothesis profoundly observes that we are physically part of our parents as a single organism in the fourth dimension (time) and they are part of their parents and so on through the tree of life. It conceives of this “bioblob” as constantly changing and growing as a single interdependent organism travelling through space and time, and illustrates the interconnectivity of living species. When I read about it this concept resonated with me, and I tried explaining it to many people, most of whom understood it. Robert did not, and failing to understand it, pathologised it as evidence of ‘mental illness’

The ‘chaotic theory of time’ refers to none other than Chaos Theory, about which I was reading and which is a well known theory in Western physics. Inspired by the famous fractal pictures, I was exploring the connections between chaotic patterns and development of the aesthetic, with particular reference to the organic shapes and forms of the natural world and perception of beauty, and how these change with time. This was original, but not insane and certainly did no harm to myself and others (which is a necessary condition for involuntary detention in Australia).

Jan Theobald also wrote that I claimed to be able to diagnose people instantly on sight, without the need for a proper history and examination. Again, this came from my family, and not from conversations I had with Theobald (who never spoke to me, though I was locked up under her consultant Tony Owens for 3 weeks and she wrote the discharge summary). This was a very damaging claim and was untrue. All competent doctors are able to make what are called “spot diagnoses”, and I have made many over the years. However, it is important to confirm the diagnosis by the history and examination as well as relevant tests. I have never departed from these principles; the allegation was very damaging and understandably raised the concerns of the medical establishment. What’s more, Theobald’s discharge summary was copied and sent to both the Queensland and Victorian Medical Boards, during efforts to stop me from practising medicine (though there were no complaints from the people who mattered – my patients).

Theobald also wrote that I “stated to relatives” that I’d had a “revelation like Buddha” in which I became aware of the “oneness of all living things” and began “haranguing friends and relatives about this incessantly”. She also wrote that I was brought up a Christian but had a “recent conversion to Buddhism”. Again Theobald got it wrong. I had converted to Buddhism and had many insights by reading and comprehending the truth of certain Buddhist writings, but that is not where I developed concepts of the “oneness of all living things”. This came from my understanding of the 4-dimensional bioblob, which, as I have said, I read in a palaeontology book. From Buddhism I became more aware of the ubiquitous nature of change, which includes personal change and raises doubts about the psychiatric concepts of fixed personality and “premorbid personality”. I didn’t discuss Buddhism with many people, but Robert was one of the people I did. I told him, to his annoyance, that Buddhism provides a better model for psychotherapy than the Western psychiatry he was studying. He evidently regarded our debates as me “haranguing him”. He has a thin skin.

Then there was the claim by Theobald that I attempted to give my practice away gratis to my locum. This is again not true. I did say that I wanted to sell the practice to concentrate on my music, research and writing. This never eventuated. I lost the practice, which was closed down by the State Trustees on the instigation of Robert and my sister Shireen, who had organized for me to lose my financial and legal rights by application to the Guardianship and Administration Board while I was locked up at Royal Park. I had never heard of the Guardianship and Administration Board and was so drugged hat I could barely stay awake and had difficulty talking. From my sketchy recollections of the event, I just begged to be allowed to go home and consented to whatever was asked of me. I didn’t know they’d use the system to deprive me of my daughter, my medical practice and recording company, my legal and financial rights and my family home. Robert knew the system, I didn’t.

Years later, in 2002, the registrars at the Alfred Hospital repeated in their discharge summaries all the false and misleading claims made in the Royal Park discharge summary including the ‘bioblos’ and ‘chaotic theory of time’ but never thought to discuss them with me. They also claimed that I tried to give “practice grants” to my locums (having misread gratis as grants) and that I claimed to be able to diagnose people on sight without the need for a proper history and examination. Mud sticks.

Theobald continues, with the “history of present illness” to write:

“He failed to pay his employees in the weeks leading up to his admission and had omitted to pay his rent, taxation and superannuation commitments. He was spending uncharacteristically large amounts of money on books. Thought his flat mate was spying on him and that people were tapping into his telephone, Referred to Inner South CMHC and CATT by family. Refused community Rx [treatment]”

In truth I had only two employees, my receptionist Pam and locum, Dr Ganesh. I did not neglect to pay them and neither did I fail to pay my rent, superannuation or tax. This was made up by Robert Purssey to support his claim that I had ‘mania’. I spent $600 on books for my cross-disciplinary research, which I could well afford. Regarding my flat-mate Adrian Deakin: he had been convinced by Robert to run a second phone line into his bedroom and listen in on my phone conversations, so as to report on my behaviour to him. Later, Robert convinced other friends to collect answer phone messages from me and copied them and sent them to psychiatrists, as well as a radio interview I gave in 1995 after I’d been discharged. In this interview I stridently criticised the psychiatric system, and Robert thought it would convince the psychiatrists that I had “chronic mania”. He continued his campaign for several years, until he and my sister separated.

IMG_0178

 

The intake referral taken by ‘Damian’ names ‘Robert Percy’ (Purssey) as the person making the referral and my “Brother”, and also the “treating GP/psychiatrist”. Rajan Thomas is named as the “case manager”. My surname is misspelt ‘Senewiratna” (as it was by Tobie Sacks). It claims that I was “not sleeping”, which was untrue and an attempt to frame me as having “mania”, of which reduced need for sleep is a classical symptom.

Being a psychiatric registrar, Robert knew the classical signs of mania and crafted his reports of my behaviour to fit this. He “framed” me as mad, in other words.

My experience at the old Royal Park Hospital traumatised me for several years. I still have nightmares about it. The worst aspects were the boredom and the effects of the haloperidol and clonazepam that I was drugged with. This was for a diagnosis of “hypomania” which is described in the DSM IV as a mental state that is not characterised by psychosis (unlike mania) and can, in some individuals, result In improvement of efficiency and achievements. Hypomania is defined as an “elevated, irritable or expansive mood” that is not the effect of drugs and lasts for more than 5 days. It is accompanied by other symptoms characteristic of both hypomania and mania (hypomania means less than mania) including increase in goal-directed activities, increased sociability and talkativeness, increased use of puns and humour, ‘flight of ideas’, grandiosity and reduced need for sleep. The DSM also states that hypomania, unlike mania, is not characterised by problems in social and occupational functioning and does not require hospitalisation. Despite its positive features, suggestive of improved mental health, hypomania is regarded as a precursor of mania, and in Australia is treated in the same way as full-blown mania with incarceration and dopamine-blocking antipsychotic drugs. This is what was done to me when I got too happy, independent and positive for the system and my family who worked for the system, with whom the system sided against me. The system remains on their side.1995 RPH discharge summary 01