Case against the Alfred Hospital

©2018 Dr Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam

  1. Between 1999 and 2002 I was locked up and assaulted with injections of antipsychotic drugs several times at the Alfred Hospital (Prahran, Melbourne).
  2. I was not suffering from a diagnosable mental illness at the time but I was punitively diagnosed with several serious mental disorders including “schizo-affective disorder” by two psychiatrists (Kym Jenkins and Robert Shields), and “psychotic disorder (Schizomanic type) superimposed on narcissistic and paranoid personality disorder” by another (Mark Taylor).
  3. These disease labels seriously damaged my personal and professional reputation.
  4. Psychiatrists at the Alfred Hospital also contacted the Medical Board of Victoria claiming that I had “schizoaffective disorder”, in an effort to stop me from working as a doctor.
  5. The Director of Psychiatry at the Alfred (Dr Peter Doherty) also provided selected documents to the Medical Board of Queensland in 2002 in a further effort to stop me from working as a doctor.
  6. When I was locked up between 1999 and 2002 I provided ample evidence of my sanity in the form of my writings and publications but these were pathologised and misrepresented as “hypergraphia” and evidence of mental illness.
  7. My claim to be doing research on the brain was also described as a grandiose delusion.
  8. My concern about the Stolen Children, human rights abuses against Aboriginal people and the role of eugenics in causing genocide were misrepresented and presented as evidence of mental illness.
  9. My support of the allegation (first made by others) that HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) was developed as a biological weapon was pathologised and referred to as further evidence of mental illness and “paranoid delusions”.
  • My concern that the medical system and government were dominated by Freemasons was pathologised by the psychiatrist Mark Taylor as evidence of mental illness.
  • My concern about the possible role of the Mossad and a cabal of Jewish psychiatrists in persecuting me and calling me mad/mentally ill was pathologised as evidence of paranoid delusions by psychiatrists at the Alfred (including Peter Braun and David Lowenstern who are Jewish).
  • My concern about the possible role of MI5 in my incarceration was likewise pathologised as evidence of mental illness and paranoid delusions by Mark Taylor and Kym Jenkins, who are both British; Kym Jenkins went on to become the President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP); Mark Taylor moved to Scotland in 2002 but is now working in Brisbane and has been made my “treating psychiatrist” by Metro South and the Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital.
  • My claim that my father was a supporter of terrorism for his support, propaganda and lobbying efforts for the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) was likewise pathologised as evidence of mental illness.
  1. The repeated false claims of my hostile father that I was “paranoid” and “psychotic” were uncritically acted upon by the hospital CATT team (Crisis and Assessment Team) without checking the veracity of his and my claims.
  2. During each admission my behaviour and observations of it were not consistent with the claims of the admitting doctors, but I was still held for several days in the LSA (Low Stimulus Area) and unnecessarily (and abusively) injected with short-acting Zuclopentixol Accuphase injections, which caused involuntary spasms in my back and legs as well as difficulty speaking (a single injection only on three of the admissions).
  3. Despite the fact that I have never suffered from hallucinations, I was recorded to have ‘thought disorder’ by some, but not other, psychiatrists.
  • My justified anger at being abducted from my home and locked up for no good reason was pathologised as an “irritable mood” and “hostility”.
  • My statement that I was talking legal action against the hospital for deprivation of my rights was pathologised as well, with records that I was “litigious”.
  • My 40-point Peace Plan for Timor was pathologised as an “extremely thought-disordered letter sent to Kofi Annan of the UN”; it was a list of proposals not a letter and was not sent anywhere (I gave a copy to the Jewish GP who had employed me to do sessions for him at what he called “Melbourne Wholistic Medicine”, Abraham “Abe” Mass – it was Mass who referred me to the Alfred Hospital on 16 September 1999 with the claim that I had “schizoaffective disorder”).
  1. The hospital recorded that Abraham Mass was my GP and not my colleague, though the psychiatrists referred to the fact that I had been referred in by a “GP colleague”.
  2. I stopped working for Mass at this stage and the hospital recorded that I was an “unemployed medical practitioner” qualifying that it was “as of last week”.
  • Mass attempted to change from being my employer to being my doctor after the first admission (which he arranged) though I had not and would not seek his medical advice.
  • On discharge from the Alfred Hospital I was ordered to attend Dr Peter Braun of the Waiora Clinic (an outpatient clinic of the Alfred); I confronted Braun with my suspicion that he was working for the Mossad, which he did not deny but wrote to the Mental Health Review Board that my concern that “doctors” work for the Mossad were evidence of mental illness and paranoia. Braun also confirmed during our discussions that the Israeli military had trained both sides in the war in Sri Lanka, but defended this action on their part.
  • In 2001, following another report about me my father (and a resultant admission), the decision was made to start me on injections of a depot antipsychotic – Zuclopenthixol (Clopixol) to be given every 2 weeks under as Community Treatment Order (CTO); this decision made me leave the State of Victoria and seek safety back in Queensland, where I went to school and graduated as a doctor, despite the fact that my father lives here; I hoped, at this stage, to convince him of my sanity.

    Particulars:

Admission from 16 September 1999 to 27 September 1999.

16.9.1999 – Referral by Abraham Mass of 257 Tucker Road, Ormond

Abducted by Ian Katz and Victoria Police from 149 Bambra Road, Caulfield and taken in handcuffs to the Alfred Hospital

House was rented from Avi Jawarowski via real estate agent Hiam Sharp of Caulfield. Avi Jawarowski’s brother Sol is a psychiatrist, who worked previously for the Alfred Hospital but has now returned to Israel. Avi Jawarowski who is a chemist is listed in the Burnet Institute Annual Report as a Senior Lecturer at the institute. The Burnet Institute is located at the Alfred Hospital and part of the Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct (AMREP).

Katz wrote (in all capitals):

39 YO SINGLE UNEMPLOYED MEDICAL PRACTITIONER, ADM INVOL VIA ISCATT

BACKGROUND/

PSYCHOTIC DISORDER, VARIABLE DIAGNOSES (BIPOLAR, DELUSIONAL DISORDER ETC)

ADM (Admissions) X 5       1995 X 2

1998 X 3

HOPC (History of Presenting Complaint)

2-3/7 OF PARANOID IDEAS, IRRITABLE, LITIGIOUS, HYPER-GRAPHIA, GRANDIOSE

NON-COMPLIANT RECENTLY

ΨTRIST – DR PROCTOR

REFERRED VIA COLLEGUE GP

DR (Omits the name – Abraham Mass)

MSE/ HYPERAROUSED, IRRITABLE STOCKY MAN OF DARK COMPLEXION IRRITABLE, THOUGHT DISORDERED, GRANDIOSE, BIZARRE PERSECUTORY DELUSIONS OF POLITICAL/SCIENTIFIC THEMES, NO INSIGHT, PRESSURE OF SPEECH

ASST (Assessment)/

EXAC (Exacerbation) OF PSYCHOSIS

?SCHIZOAFFECTIVE

ADM INVOL (Admit Involuntarily)

MEDICAL BOARD INFORMED AS PER STAT LEGAL REQUIREMENT

I KATZ

Seen by Kym Jenkins (psychiatrist) who wrote:

STAT REVIEW

39 yo unemployed (as of this week) medical practitioner. Referred to CAT team by a medical colleague [again omits name]

Recommended under MH Act [by Ian Katz] because of grandiose and persecutory delusions

PΨHx (past psychiatric history) – delusional disorder/hypomania

MSE/

Well groomed

suspicious

hostile

verbally aggressive

speech pressured

some flight of ideas

Content of thought:

Delusional belief that he is persecuted by a Jewish mafia, British colonial regime

Belief that he is involved in research into the brain – grandiose delusions re this

Delusional belief that Alfred Hospital staff responsible for disseminating HIV to 3rd World, East Timor and sending letter to Kofi Annan at UN [This is a misrepresentation of my views and behaviour – I did not send a letter to Kofi Annan or anyone else – I was working on my 40-point Peace Plan for Timor but had not sent it to anyone; the reference to Alfred Hospital staff “disseminating” HIV to Third World countries this was a reference to my writings on the Burnet Institute which had recently relocated to the premises of the Alfred Hospital – details can be found in my book ‘Eugenics and Genocide in the Modern World’]

?disorders of perception

Insight: nil. Thinks he is in hospital as part of plot/persecution

Imp (Impression): psychotic episode hypomanic presentation

ΔΔ (differential diagnosis)

Schizoaffective disorder/Bipolar Affective Disorder

Plan/

Certification upheld

Patient informed of this & has “rights” leaflets

Very close observation LSA

At risk to others if absconds

Collateral Hx – Private Ψ

Length of psychosis

Past treatments and response

Medical Board to be informed

Commence antipsychotic Rx – rispiradone 2mg nocte

Needs full organic work up – admits to cannabis usage

Needs mood stabilizer ?not been on lithium

Kym Jenkins

 

17.9.1999

Seen again by Kym Jenkins while being kept in the “LSA”

She wrote:

Remains hostile, guarded ++, thought disordered, speech less pressured, totally insightless.

Believes there is a political plot against him and continues to have grandiose and persecutory delusions.

Stat dose 100 mg Zuclopenthixol (Acuphase)

Romesh would like a 2nd opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

20.9.1999

Seen again by Kym Jenkins with registrar Tejpal Singh

After the interview Jenkins wrote:

Romesh presents :- much less elevated

More pleasant

Not openly hostile

Speech not pressured

Thought stream slowed – no flight of ideas

Apologising for previous insulting behaviour on admission

Decrease in grandiose and persecutory ideation

Impression/    Hypomanic episode resolving

Plan/

Can be nursed in open ward

Needs close obs (absconding risk)

Continue rispiradone

Reassess MSE tomorrow – may be masking psychotic Sx [symptoms]

Discharge planning – will need assertive follow up to ensure compliance

Address issues re medical registration.

 

To be continued…..

High-handed treatment by the PA Hospital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Melbourne Establishment’s Response to my AIDS Thesis

I began researching AIDS in Melbourne in 1996. I had initially been struck by the similarity of the negative eugenics targets of the Nazis (notably homosexuals and drug addicts) and the epidemiology of AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s – notably that it was a heterosexual disease affecting women and children in Africa (Pattern 2 countries) while it was mainly confined to homosexuals and injecting drug users in the West (Pattern 1 countries, as they were called).

Following 5 years of research and writing I finished ‘Eugenics and Genocide in the Modern World – the cause of the AIDS epidemic?” in 2001. At the time I was a visiting lecturer at Swinburne University’s Graduate School of Medicine, so I sent copies to Professor Avni Sali, the head of the graduate school and Professor Richard Silberstein, head of Swinburne University’s Brain Sciences Institute. I also discussed my theories about AIDS with Professor Sali in person, and with Professors Gustav Nossal and John Mills over the phone. I discussed it, too, with Associate Professor Mike Toole, head of the Burnet Institute’s International Health Unit and with psychiatrists at the Alfred Hospital, who later claimed that my theories where the paranoid delusions of ‘paranoid schizophrenia’.

Professor Sali, who is a surgeon, said that he too thought AIDS was man-made and could not find flaws in the reasoning of the thesis. He said, however, that there was little he or I could do and that it’s a “big program”. He then suggested that I share my thesis with a man called Noel Campbell. Campbell, trained as a dentist, had been given a “research professorship” at Swinburne by Sali and met me in Lygon Street, Carlton for dinner. He told me that he was 90% certain that AIDS was man-made and developed by the USA, and told me about a lawyer by the name of Boyd Graves, who was supposedly taking the US Government to court for developing the Human Immunodefieciency Virus (HIV) as a biological weapon to target Black people. I later discovered that this was a fraud, Boyd Graves worked for the US Navy and was trying to make money from distributing a flow chart of the 1970s “Special Cancer Virus Program” which he said “proved” that AIDS was man-made. Graves also claimed that he himself was cured of HIV infection by a single injection of a drug called Imusil which had been patented by a Jewish businessman by the name of Marvin Antelsman. I found that Antelsman had Israeli military connections and that he had been involved in setting up computer systems for Israeli submarines. Also Imusil is a preparation of colloidal silver that had long been used as an anti-fungal skin preparation by the Israeli military.

Mike Toole, who I met in the street when I was busking and later rang at the Burnet Institute trained as an epidemiologist at Monash University in Melbourne. He is the long-time head of the institute’s International Health Unit (IHU) that has NGO status and advises on AIDS management in numerous countries in the Asia Pacific region. He said “we prefer to the leave the politics out of it and focus on strategies that work”. These were barrier methods of contraception (notably condoms) and early intervention with drugs, though the institute is also involved in promoting childhood vaccination as a major part of its international health programs. Toole’s boss at the Burnet Institute, the Harvard-trained microbiologist John Mills intially supported my opposition to biological weapons, but hung up the phone on me when I suggested that HIV was a bioweapon.

I had several conversations with Sir Gustav Nossal, who was involved in the WHO immunization programs in Africa that may be implicated in the introduction of HIV to Africa (notably the smallpox and polio eradication programs). He asked me to send him a copy of my thesis, which I did. When I rang him later to discuss it with him he and raised the possibility that the USA had developed HIV as a bioweapon to counter the “Third World Overpopulation” concerns that were stridently expressed in the West in the 1960s, he rebuked me, “Dr Senewiratne, this conversation is going outside the realms of a normal scientific discussion”.

The most dramatic of the responses was from Professor Richard Silberstein of Swinburne’s Brian Sciences Institute, when I rang him. I remember the date, because it was September 11, 2001. “Sorry Romesh, I can’t talk now. Turn on your TV. Some of our people are there.”

I turned on the TV and watched the second plane hit the twin towers.

I also gave a copy of my thesis to the psychiatrists at the Alfred Hospital. They refused to comment on it, but said that my belief that AIDS was man-made and involved Australian institutions was a paranoid delusion and a symptom of schizophrenia. This had the effect of silencing me for a while, though I continued to find evidence to support the hypothesis, including the historian Philip Dorling’s discovery in 2001, that Frank Macfarlane Burnet (after whom the Burnet Institute is named) secretly advised the Australian government and military to focus on developing our chemical and biological warfare capability and use it offensively (though illegally) to attack “the teeming hordes” of “coloured people” to our North, which he and other White Australian intellectuals thought were breeding too fast.

This is the 2010 edition of the book, reduced from 600 to less than 300 pages.

 

 

With One Voice “Peace” (protest song)

words and music by Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam Arya Chakravarti, 2004

recorded in 2006

 

WITH ONE VOICE ‘PEACE’

 

Looking at the sunshine

But kept in the dark

The weatherman said it would be fine

Another glossy, casual remark

‘Cause a new war looms and we’ve seen it all before

A new war looms and we’ve seen it all before

 

The TV talks up the conflict again

It showed the friendly soldiers and some were weeping

It slowed the lonely viewers already sleeping

Said the special correspondent ‘the soldiers are despondent’

This time the administration has acted without consent

And its time to voice some real dissent

 

‘Cause a new war looms and we’ve seen it all before

A new war looms and we’ve seen it all before

 

No longer hypnotised by lies

The masses mobilized

To stop the growth of arms in the skies

The masses have been mobilized

 

They dance and march and wave placards

The poets and the singing bards

They say with one voice “No War!”

They say with one voice “Peace!”

They say with one voice “Peace!”

 

Psychoimmunology, the Nocebo Effect and Psychiatry

©2018 Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam (MD)

In the 5th century BC, the Athenian general and historian Thucydides wrote about how people who lost hope after contracting the plague were more likely to die from the deadly disease. His was the first description of what is now called psychoimmunology – the effect of the mind on the immune system. Another common manifestation of psychoimmunology is the well-known placebo effect, where belief in a treatment results in greater efficacy of the treatment, even if there is no active ingredient in the said treatment. The nocebo effect is the opposite of the placebo effect – when negative effects of an inert treatment occur due to expectations of harm.

The immune system is always subconsciously active, fighting off potential infections and cancers. It can also be over-active, as in allergic reactions, or become misdirected against the body’s own tissues, causing a wide range of autoimmune diseases. It is a common observation that mental stress can aggravate allergies and autoimmune diseases as well as cause depressed immunity.

The term ‘psychoimmunology’ was coined by George Solomon at UCLA in 1964. In 1975 Robert Ader and Nicholas Cohen coined the term ‘psychoneuroimmunology’ (PNI), emphasising the role of the brain and nervous system (neuro) in the processes by which the mind influences the immune system. This was initially viewed with scepticism since medical orthodoxy taught that the immune system was independent of the nervous system (despite knowledge of the placebo effect). There was less focus on how the immune system affects the brain and mind, although at times it obviously does (such as various types of inflammation of the brain). One of Ader’s interesting experiments was one where he conditioned rats to become immunosuppressed by pairing an immunosuppressive drug with saccharin. He found that he was able to stimulate immunosuppression by merely exposing the rats to saccharin after they had been conditioned to link saccharin with the immunosuppressive effects of the drug Cytoxan.

The placebo effect, and its converse, known as the ‘nocebo effect’ illustrate the effect of the mind on the immune system. How these effects arise and what neurological and physiological processes underpin them are partly unanswered questions, but are likely to involve many parts of the brain, especially those areas that affect emotional reactions (such as the amygdala and nucleus accumbens) and the hypothalamus, which affects the endocrine system via the pituitary and pineal glands as well as the autonomic nervous system. The role of the endocrine system in these effects is emphasised by the new term “psychoneuroendoimmunology” (PNEI).

An interesting thing about the placebo effect is that it operates even when the subject knows that it is a placebo. It has also been found that the colour and size of placebo tablets have a bearing on their effectiveness. Red tablets have been found to be more energising, while blue tablets are more calming. This indicates the role of the visual system on the placebo effect. Effective placebos are not just tablets, however. Injections of saline and ‘sham’ surgery have also been shown to be effective placebos. It has also been found that placebos are effective even when the subject knows that they are placebos and have no active ingredients in them. However, belief that an active drug is in the placebo makes the effect more powerful.

The converse effect, the nocebo effect, is the phenomenon by which a drug or treatment that is expected to cause disease does so. For example people become immunosuppressed, nauseated and lose hair if they think the placebo drug they have been given is a cancer chemotherapy drug (and they have been warned about possible side-effects). This indicates the possible negative, as well as possible positive effects, of suggestions.

Studies have shown that depressed mood is associated with impaired immunity and that a good mood promotes health of the immune system. The problem is that improved mood, especially if sudden and accompanied by insights and reduced need for sleep, is liable to be pathologised as hypomania or mania (and ‘elevated’, rather than improved, mood) and treated by dopamine-blocking drugs and lithium, often after locking the person up (which predictably causes the mood to come down). To complicate matters further, it has been reliably reported that people in a good mood (and those who are mentally relaxed) require less sleep. It is also known that meditation can lead to both insights and less need for sleep.

It is generally accepted that the amygdala, an almond-shaped nucleus located deep in the temporal lobes, plays an important role in the placebo and nocebo effects. The amygdala is activated by fear, alarm and anger responses. These emotions activate the hypothalamus and the sympathetic nervous system causing what the Harvard physiologist Walter Cannon termed the “fight or flight reflex”. Activation of the amygdala causes a cascade of hormonal changes via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, causing stimulation of the heart, bronchodilation in the lungs, sweating and diversion of the blood flow away from the gut and towards the muscles (in preparation for fight or flight). Though the sympathetic nervous system is known to be involved in “flight and fight” (fear and anger) responses, this branch of the autonomic nervous system is also involved in positive excitement and healthy activation. As well as this, it innervates the pineal gland, where it regulates the synthesis of melatonin from serotonin (during the night).

The body’s response to stress, both physical and mental, is to secrete the hormone cortisol (from the adrenal glands) under influence of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) from the pituitary. The ACTH is secreted in response to corticotrophin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus, a structure at the base of the brain that is neurally connected with the amygdala and other emotion-related parts of the brain. In addition, neuropeptides such as Substance P, which have pro-inflammatory effects, are secreted by the brain and by immune cells such as macrophages and other white cells. The cortisol affects white cells in complex ways, including increasing some populations and decreasing others, causing apoptosis of some cells and chemotaxis of others. It has a generally suppressive effect on the immune system, for which it is often used therapeutically.

While this stress response is essential for escaping from danger, it is thought that in modern society there is often a chronic overstimulation of the stress pathways, leading to increased illness from a range of stress-related maladies (including heart disease, hypertension, autoimmune disease, headaches, peptic ulceration and irritable bowel syndrome).

The sympathetic nervous system is counterbalanced by the parasympathetic nervous system (associated with “rest and digest” physiology according to Cannon). This branch of the autonomic nervous system is associated with a range of physiological activities associated with healing and regeneration. Many stress-reduction techniques (including biofeedback and meditation) aim to increase parasympathetic activity over sympathetic activity in the autonomic nervous system, with the objective of increasing healing and regeneration.

The possible role of the pineal has not been discussed much, but the pineal’s main hormone, melatonin, is known to have effects on the secretion of pituitary hormones, and is thought to have effects on the immune system. In addition, melatonin is known to be a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants counter oxidative stress and have positive effects on the immune system (and ageing) as well as beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and nervous system. It is known that conversion of serotonin to melatonin in the pineal (which occurs mainly at night) occurs under the influence of sympathetic activation and the SNS neurotransmitter noradrenaline (norepinephrine).

There has been considerable study on the effects of neurotransmitters and neurohormones, cytokines and endorphins on the immune system. These studies illustrate the complexity of the brain’s effects on the immune system (especially the activity of white blood cells or leukocytes) and the effects of the immune system on the brain and mind (in such diseases as Multiple Sclerosis, AIDS, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease). Though complex and incompletely understood, it is clear that loss of hope and pessimism have negative effects on the immune system, as well as other physiological systems.

 

Implications for Psychiatry

 

The detrimental effect of loss of hope, written about by Thucydides 2500 years ago, has serious implications for doctors, especially psychiatrists. Psychiatry is a notoriously pessimistic area of medicine. Hundreds of “mental disorders” have been named, all incurable according to psychiatric orthodoxy. If the signs and symptoms of the “disorder” are no longer evident, the patient is said to have gone into remission, rather than cured. Labels of “personality disorder”, once applied, are never removed and all personality disorders are, according to psychiatric orthodoxy, permanent. This can be expected to depress the mood and the immune system. In addition there is an increasing tendency to regard the normal as abnormal. Excitement, for example, is seen as hypomania and normal sadness as “depression”, while a range of New Age beliefs and alternative science (and political) beliefs are regarded as signs of “schizophrenia”. This leads to self-fulfilling prophesies and partly explains the appalling life expectancy of people once they have been given a label of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

In the case of bipolar disorder (manic depression) a single episode of mania or hypomania is taught in psychiatric texts to herald a life-long condition of “mood disorder” requiring long-term mood stabilizing drugs like lithium. These drugs have terrible side-effects and shorten the life, explaining why a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is accompanied by a ten to twenty year shorter lifespan, on average. A diagnosis of schizophrenia shortens the life by 15 to 20 years, on average, and again is treated with long-term antipsychotic drugs that are known to shorten the life and make people lethargic, obese and prone to diabetes and heart disease in addition to causing neurotoxicity in the form of Parkinson’s Syndrome and Tardive Dyskinesia (a permanent condition characterised by involuntary spasms, grimaces and writhing movements that is caused by antipsychotic drugs). Lithium is notorious for causing kidney and thyroid failure.

Though the suicide rate is much higher in people given these diagnoses, most of the morbidity and mortality is not due to suicide. Besides, self-harm and suicide can be partly attributed to the pessimistic diagnosis (resulting in loss of hope), and social stigmatization resulting in loneliness, poverty and other social problems. These commonly lead to loss of motivation and depression, with negative effects on the immune system. The main cause of the shortened life span when on antipsychotic drugs is due the long-term effect of blocking essential neurotransmitters, causing metabolic problems and heart disease. They can also cause irreversible brain damage in the form of cognitive decline, cerebral atrophy and tardive dyskinesia. Though they can be effective in treating hallucinations, they should not be used for behaviour control or as chemical restraints, as they frequently are, especially in the elderly. Delusions are better treated by debate than drugs. The diagnosis of delusions can also be problematic in that the belief system of the interviewer is pitted against, and assumed to be superior, to that of the patient.

To maximise the potential of the body’s own healing mechanisms, and those mediated by the mind, is imperative that people reject labels of incurable mental illness and realise that just because they have been mentally unhealthy in the past does not mean they need to be mentally unhealthy in the future. It is also imperative that doctors and other health workers realise that implanting pessimism in the minds of their patients is a recipe for inducing chronic illness.