High-handed treatment by the PA Hospital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Balaji Motamarri’s Directions

©2018 Romesh Senewiratne-Alagartatnam (MD)

I am writing this to express my strongest condemnation of the thinking and actions of Dr Balaji Motamarri towards me at the Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital and Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services (MSAMHS) of which he is the director.

I have never met Dr Motamarri, and he has refused to speak to me, even on the phone, but I have been subjected to abusive diagnosis and treatment by a series of psychiatrists at the PA Hospital and its outpatient clinics since 2002, when I was locked up 5 times under the authority of Dr Paul Schneider, who continues to work as a senior psychiatrist at the hospital to this day. Schneider was acting on the wishes of my father, Dr Brian Senewiratne, who was a long-time consultant at the same hospital and a colleague of his. My father was also a long-time propagandist and lobbyist for the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) travelling the world campaigning for the Tamil Tigers to be de-banned. He claimed that the Tigers were “freedom fighters” rather than terrorists and argued, citing the example of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), that a “guerrilla army using guerrilla tactics on guerrilla soil” could never be defeated, though the fight may go on for hundreds of years.

My father began getting me locked up in 1995, when I first publicly criticised him. A man who hold grudges, he has had me locked up numerous times since then, prevented me from earning my living as doctor, and tried to discredit me by claiming that I was “in and out of mental hospitals” (which was true, but mainly because of his insistence that I had a “serious psychotic disorder” that required “assertive treatment”). To run salt into my wounds, my father presents himself as a champion of human rights and the rights of the oppressed.

Balaji Motamarri, my father and I all have Linkedin and Facebook accounts. What I know about Dr Motamarri comes from what he has made publicly available about himself and his qualifications, rather than personal discussions with him. I have seen him once, when he was pointed out by nursing staff one weekend, when I had been locked up again in 2016. It was a weekend and he was the on-call psychiatrist for the PA. I had been locked up for more than a week and wanted to go home. I wanted to see him so that he could see for himself that I was of sound mind. He didn’t even acknowledge my presence and ignored me completely. I have not seen him since, though the Nigerian psychiatrist who had got me locked up (again on the wishes of my father) kept me locked up for a few more days, and tried to convince me that I had “paranoid schizophrenia”. I pointed out that my long-standing claims that my father was a supporter and lobbyist for the LTTE was not paranoid, it was factual. She ordered that I be injected with the antipsychotic drug paliperidone and placed on an Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO) to enable easier return to the hospital if I become “unwell” again or refuse (the abusive) “treatment”.

Balaji Motamarri’s Linkedin page indicates that he speaks Hindi and Telugu and graduated in medicine at the Andhra Medical College in 1987. His Linkedin page says he has been a psychiatrist in Australia and “Clinical Director, Psychosis Academic Clinical Unit” for 19 years and 8 months (since Oct 1998). Below this it states that he has been ‘Clincal [sic] Director” of MSAMHS since 2012. Since he has been the clinical director of the “Psychosis Academic Clinical Unit” I have been locked up and injected on more than 20 occasions, always at the PA Hospital (one of several hospitals on Brisbane’s south-side that comes under the authority of the MSAMHS).

Despite graduating (in India) some years after I graduated at the University of Queensland, Balaji Motamarri’s Linkedin and Facebook pages do not suggest that he is computer literate. He also has an almost complete absence of academic publications to his name, yet he is supposedly the clinical director of the “Psychosis Academic Clinical Unit”.  As testament to his carelessness, even when confronted with the relatively simple task of listing his experience for Linkedin he made several typographical errors (in addition to ‘clincal’ instead of clinical): He says he is now (since October 2016) the Executive Director of “Clincial Services” of “Metrosouth Mental Health Services”. He hasn’t even got his own title right. This is the “Executive Director of the Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services (MSAMHS)”.

Balaji Motamarri has 161 Linkedin contacts, including 14 mutual contacts with me. I have about 3500 contacts, including psychologists and psychiatrists from many countries, including India. I also have contacts relevant to my other areas of interest – neuroscience, medicine, meditation, music, human rights, law, Buddhism, journalism and politics. I have posted links to my music and publications on my Linkedin page, which are available to be read by my peers, including Balaji Motamarri. I have sent him a contact request but he hasn’t accepted it yet.

The University of Queensland lists one and only one publication co-authored by Balaji Motamarri. From 2012, and published in “Current Medical Research and Opinion” it is titled “Practical guidelines on the use of paliperidone palmitate on the treatment of schizophrenia”. PubMed lists 3 other papers for which he was a co-author, all published in Australian psychiatry newsletters and all promoting long-acting injectables, like paliperidone. Since I was locked up at the PA in 2012 I have been injected monthly with paliperidone on the orders of a series of psychiatrists answering to Balaji Motamarri. They started off by saying I had schizophrenia, then revised it to “psychotic disorder – not otherwise specified” before changing back to schizophrenia. My protestations that I have never had hallucinations, am motivated and sociable with a stable mood, am well-organized, rational and logical and am obviously of sound mind has fallen on deaf ears. The psychiatrists have consistently taken the side of my father against me and declared me to be “psychotic” and “delusional” to believe that he was maliciously motivated towards me, and that he was a propagandist and lobbyist for the LTTE.

Balaji Motamarri’s Facebook page provides a window into his social life in 2010. There are only 2 postings, from 26 December 2009 “Merry Christmas to all” and from 25 January 2010, when he has posted on his wall what he intended as a personal message to his friend Manju:

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

Balaji Motamarri seems to be feeling sorry for himself because his daughter has to go back to school after 10 weeks of holiday (which he claims he needs to recover from) and this is a “nightmare to the parents”. I have never had nightmares about my daughters going to school, but I have had many nightmares about being locked up by Balaji Motamarri’s unit. In these nightmares I am trying to prove my sanity but am interminably kept waiting. Sometimes I am assaulted by men with needles. Sometimes I am looking for my bed but am faced with endless corridors. My most consistent nightmare is being kept waiting in the confines of the PA Hospital. I am also uncertain about what he meant my Hyderabad becoming a “city of uncertain nightmares”. I am certain about my nightmares. They are very vivid.

Balaji Motamarri has only 182 Facebook friends, and hasn’t made any new ones in recent years. However, when he first filled in the questionnaire for Facebook he enthusiastically listed the Indian educational establishments he studied at. His Intro lists:

Works at MSAMHS

Worked at CNAHS

Studied psychiatry at PGIMER Chandigarh

Studied MBBS at Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatman, India

He also includes three high schools, including one in Chennai, where he matriculated in 1979 (before starting medicine in 1981).

 

Everybody should be treated with respect, but seniority is an important concept in society and in the medical and academic hierarchies. One is expected to respect ones seniors, as one is expected to respect ones elders. This has a long tradition in the West as well as the East (including India). The MSAHMS boasts that it provides “respect” as ones of its core values. I matriculated in 1978, winning the Tyrwitt Cup for best academic student at the Church of England Grammar School in Brisbane. I was working as a young doctor looking after desperately sick children and at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Prince Charles Hospital when Balaji Motamarri was still a medical student in India. While Motamarri was studying to become a psychiatrist I was looking after a community of 1000 mainly elderly patients, including many with complex illnesses (including mental health problems) as a family doctor in Melbourne. I have researched and lectured on mind-body medicine at Swinburne University in Melbourne, and my lectures can be viewed on YouTube, if Balaji Motomarri and his staff are interested to see what my state of mind was like in 2001 (when I was first misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia). They can even see the interview I gave in 1998 when I discussed my research into the pineal gland with Micheal Adami and the documentaries I have made about eugenics, psychiatry and AIDS (the theories that were diagnosed as ‘delusional’ by the psychiatrists in Melbourne).

I think I am owed the respect of a phone call with him to explain how and why his hospital is misguided to force a disease label and anti-psychotic drugs on me. I am also owed an apology for being locked up for raising uncomfortable truths and being denied my freedom of speech and my physical freedom. I am owed an apology, too, for being poisoned with drugs that have harmed my health and brought me no benefit, as well as putting me at risk of a range of iatrogenic adverse effects. At least I don’t have the added trauma of believing that I have an incurable brain disease.

Old Wine in New Bottles – Remarketing ‘Depression’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t believe the hype.

Debating Psychiatry with the PA Hospital

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pseudoscience of Schizophrenia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

My debate with Brett Emmerson turns out badly

 

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

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

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

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

“Oh”, I said, “I see”.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.1995 RPH discharge summary 01