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…..

Debating Psychiatry with the PA Hospital

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

“MSE [mental state examination]

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

Spontaneous speech, normal in rate, volume and tone.

Mood is euthymic and affect is reactive.

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

No evidence of perceptual abnormality.”

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

 

My 1995 theories

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Father’s Insanity

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

My Social Networks and their capacity to support me

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hi Manju My apologies for not replying earlier. As you can understand we are “recovering” from our trip – the trip of “Telangana Bandhs.” Hyderabad has become a city of uncertain nightmares. And to add to the issue, our daughter’s school is starting in 2 days time and you know the dramas associated with this – just imagine ‘school after 10 weeks of holidays’ – what a nightmare to the parents.”

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

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

Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam Arya Chakravarti

HUB Forensics

25.2.2018

Debating Ghazala Watt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The report’s next sentences are:

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

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

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

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

“What’s madness?” she asked

“Insanity.”

“What’s insane?”

“Crazy.”

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

“No!” he answered, emphatically.

I then asked if he thought I had schizophrenia.

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

“Do you think I am elevated?”

“Maybe.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In her “assessment” she continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who called you mad?”

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

“You don’t like that?”

“Would you?”

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

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

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

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

 

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