Report on Mental Health in Southeast Wales for John Griffiths AM and Jessica Morden MP

 

bedlam

I have been a non-consenting patient of southeast Wales’ mental health services since 2nd April 1997. I have almost amassed twenty years of living within this closed mental health system. I write this report with a view to enacting real change for the better for myself and other end users of the mental health services in our area.

 

Ideally I would like to see the Mental Health Act scrapped in parliament. I feel that it is antiquated and rooted in Victorian Bedlamism.

Psychiatry is not a science. At best it is a pseudoscience. There is little actual medical evidence for most, nearly all mental illnesses. Mental illness, unlike normal illness, cannot be scientifically assessed. If an illness cannot be scientifically diagnosed, how can it be an illness? The blood, body, mind of a schizophrenic is exactly the same as a healthy person. There are no biometric markers that indicate a sickness in someone’s mind. The point is that mental illness is not pathological. Cancer has its markers, as does AIDS. As these illnesses can be scientifically studied and examined, they can also be scientifically treated and hopefully cured. What hope is there for a cure for mental illness if the illness itself cannot be determined scientifically? This point exposes the myth that mental illness is untreatable and cannot be cured. It cannot be cured as it does not exist in the first place. I was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia in 1997. Schizophrenia is apparently an incurable disease. This is not true as it does not exist and I have never suffered the symptoms psychiatrists identify in schizophrenia. For 19 years I have been confident that I have been misdiagnosed and yet I still experience treatment and simply cannot evade the system.

 

Big Pharma is the driving force behind the mental health industry. For every identified illness there is often expensive treatment available from big global pharmaceutical firms. Drugs companies rarely see their share prices topple and mental health is a very profitable sector. With all this big business and money flying around I often worry about exactly how precise and effective these treatments are. There must be a more ethical means of turning a profit for Big Pharma than mental health drugs, drugs that are often used against the consent of patients.

 

Treatment against consent is my biggest bugbear in psychiatry. In every branch of medicine the patient has a choice bar psychiatry. If someone falls ill they may choose to consult a healthcare professional or doctor. The doctor can then diagnose illness and offer treatment with a view to curing the illness. At any stage the patient is within his or her rights to refuse the doctor’s advice and to consult elsewhere or simply ignore the treatment. Often illness is an individual matter and if the treatment doesn’t feel right to a patient then why should that patient continue the course of treatment. How many of our medicine cabinets are full of half-used prescriptions of painkillers and antibiotics or the like? In mental health as treatment against consent is condoned and used, patients’ rights are eroded. We move out of a realm of doctors and patients and into a realm of torture and torturer. Treatment against consent is torture plain and simple. It was used in the days of Bedlam, in the Victorian Institutions and has been a cornerstone of the short history of psychiatry and mental hospitals. Yes, some more barbaric, outlandish practices (with no scientific basis) such as lobotomy have been ceased, but treatment against consent continues to this day and with our modern technology and advancements in science chemical lobotomies occur on a daily basis through the use of some of psychiatry’s arsenal. We are talking drugs such as Clozaril, depot injections, Risperidone, Olanzapine.

It is often argued that psychiatrists are dealing with the most disturbed of patients. People always use Peter Sutcliffe in Broadmoor as an extreme example and say how this abhorrent man who has committed abhorrent crimes needs to be treated against his consent. Unfortunately, the vast majority of service users aren’t Peter Sutcliffe, yet they get tarred with the same brush and treatment against consent affects this majority of patients far worse than they do Sutcliffe and other extreme cases. Even in the case of abhorrent psychiatric criminals, these people are human beings with human rights. The choice of treatment and the right to consent to treatment is an absolutely fundamental human right and is part of what separates us as an intelligent species from the animal world. Treatment against consent fosters a concentration camp mentality. It is Nazism, plain and simple, extreme far right use of force to disrupt nature. It is man against the environment in its most absolute ultimate form. Man mistreating other man using torture and chemicals. So much of psychiatry is rooted in eugenics and this is a distant historical archaic fixation that needs to be properly eradicated in order for human society to function properly,

 

To set this treatment against consent in its context I give you my 19 year case as an extreme example. I have never accepted my diagnosis, nor felt mentally ill. I therefore reject treatment. When under section of the Mental Health Act you lose your right to consent. From Day 1 on my healthcare plan I have been forcibly injected against my consent, with drugs unknown to me and only through experience and research have I discovered what these drugs do. When you refuse tablets in a mental health environment they will turn to injections to guarantee that you take the treatment. They are allowed to use force and in my case have done that or always used the veiled threat of force to get me to take down my trousers so they can inject my thigh or backside. By law, mental health professionals can freely assault, restrain and drug with hardcore, mind and body –altering chemicals with no repercussions. If this happened in a war environment – let’s say Aleppo, there would be international outcry and it would be seen as a war crime, yet it occurs on a daily basis inside British mental hospitals, and worse, with new CTO legislation, also in our communities. Depot injections that I am allergic to have caused me to have a severe hiatus hernia. This makes me projectile vomit all my meals and every morning I start the day puking. It was brought on by depot injections against my consent and the NHS is powerless to stop psychiatrists doing this to me and so my hiatus hernia cannot be treated and cured so I have to live with a permanent disability caused by treatment against consent.

 

What if treatment against consent was outlawed? It would force the mental health services to adapt greatly. For a start, less emphasis would be on Big Pharma and the medications it produces. We would move away from clinical psychiatry and into the realm of more natural, talking therapies. I’m not saying people should all be freed from mental hospitals, just that the emphasis on drugs would be less. People could choose to be unmedicated and if deemed ill, remain inpatients, but unmedicated ones by choice. When a lay person thinks of a psychiatrist they think that these people sit down and chat with you for hours about your problems and your childhood etc. This is a common misperception. Psychiatrists tend to be just clinical and rely on prescribing drugs. It is psychologists, who aren’t necessarily medically trained, who perform the talking therapies one associates with US Sitcoms and films etc. Psychologists won’t offer you medications. They aren’t doctors so lack prescribing power. They will recommend ways and means of dealing with your problems and often over a period of time will assist you in coping with your problems by identifying root causes and disruptive patterns of behavior. Psychology is a buzz subject academically these days with university departments full, yet try seeing a psychologist on the NHS. You will always find a psychiatrist. They are funded by Big Pharma. I have been on the waiting list to see a psychologist for over ten years. I am deeply embedded in the mental health system with regular hospitalizations yet cannot get to see a psychologist. Aneurin Bevan UHB simply employ too few psychologists and those they do are fully overworked and do not have time for their clientele. The local NHS invest in psychiatry and virtually ignore talking therapies yet it is in these areas where psychiatry and its relevant research are most accurately close to being a proper genuine science. We are supposed to be moving away from clinical mental health environments and towards ‘care in the community’. It is imperative that talking therapies get adequate financial coverage and are accorded a valued place within the therapeutic setup, especially in our local area.

 

Another great area for improvement locally is another variety of talking therapy in use in mental hospitals, that of occupational therapy. The occupational therapy has as its aim the goal of readying an inpatient for reintegration into the community and outside world. They will work on basic skills, life skills, things one would normally do on the outside and from within a hospital environment an occupational therapist shall aim to get you back to full healthy working order, enough so you can function independently in the real world. Two years ago I met with Judith Paget, Chief Executive, Aneurin Bevan UHB, and in this meeting I emphasized how I disliked the cutbacks that were being made within her system on occupational therapy. To me, as a longstanding mental inpatient, I found the most value in the hospital to be in occupational therapy. Occupational therapy made me feel normal. Whether it be a day trip to the beach, cooking a lunchtime meal for fellow patients, doing a morning crossword or just simple arts and crafts, occupational therapy is vital in an inpatient environment and indeed in out patient aftercare. Yet, consistently over the past twenty years the OT budget has been cut, staff have been laid off and services and end users suffer as a result. On at least three occasions over the past 3 years there has been absolutely zero occupational therapy at all in Talygarn. When you combine the fact that you can’t see a psychologist or engage in other meaningful talking therapies, it seems that the local system is over-reliant on psychiatry and Big Pharma meds. It’s how to pass your time in the hospital system. One aims to be as active as possible and all It seems you can physically do as a patient is sit and smoke cigarettes. It’s no wonder that drug use is becoming ever more prevalent inside mental hospitals as people are genuinely bored and need to occupy their time in some way. Judith Paget incidentally promised to get me in a consultation meeting with the heads of OT for the Trust and to suitably increase funding in their direction. Instead she brushed me aside, ignored her promise and cut back more funds and saved more money by binning OT which she obviously deemed a non-essential luxury.

 

In general, human rights for mental patients need to be improved. I worry about the scrapping of the human rights Act and how it will affect mental patients. There are a few safeguards I’ve noticed in use in the tribunal courts which do protect certain interests of patients. In general, there is a massive stigma attached to mental illness and perhaps the worst part of being diagnosed and treated is how the community and society change to treating you as an individual. It is a difficult period for patients and their families and friends. This is made worse by the massive stigma and misunderstandings associated with mental health. I think that it all begins with the vast divide between staff and patients within hospital systems. Too many fundamental freedoms and rights are taken away from inpatients. If one is being treated like a subhuman one will feel like a subhuman. Mental hospitals become, not healthcare environments,but punishment centres. They are prisons for the disaffected. Most patients I have spoken to who have experience of both the prison service and mental hospitals actually prefer prisons as they have more freedom there and it is more like normal life inside. They can have jobs and tvs and do what they wish during association hours. Mental hospitals, and you must try visiting Talygarn and St Cadoc’s to see this, are dark and dismal places often threadbare with so little to do for patients. Facilities are dilapidated, often broken and rarely repaired. If mental health is to be treated on a parity with physical health then surely the environment of the hospital can be improved. Rights are taken away. Mobile phones are confiscated, or mobile phone chargers. Cigarette lighters are confiscated. You can’t drink caffeinated coffee. Takeaways are banned. Are these rules fit for patients or fit for prisoners?

 

As the last twenty years have gone by I have noticed how freedom within the community, within the hospital itself, has slowly been tightened up. Twenty years ago, patients would wake in St Cadoc’s, have a cooked breakfast, do the crossword together in OT, and disappear to Caerleon town to trawl around the pubs all day. You could freely walk around the beautiful countryside grounds and vistors could come and go as pleased. Nowadays, you are more likely to walk onto the ward after some leave, forced to submit to a full body search and have a breathalyzer to test you for any signs of alcohol. Your visitors have to stay outside the entire ward and can only come at certain times. You cannot simply walk out into the grounds for a bit of fresh air. These hospitals are now heavily policed by the staff that have become warders as opposed to nurses. As smoking bans enter the fray, staff can no longer socially smoke with patients and talk about their problems. It adds to further separation between staff and patient and ultimately when the smoking ban is enforced life for an involuntary smoking patient will be a nightmare as they will be forced to quit on the spot and that is unhealthy. If the aim is to get patients into the community they need to be able to have trust built in that community from as early a stage as possible. Mental Health systems should be about lifting barriers, not erecting them. There is enough stigma in the real world without stigma inside the hospital system.

 

There is a major problem in justice for mental patients. The current tribunal system is very unfair and far too heavily weighted in favor of psychiatrists. For a start one of the three board members of a Tribunal is a psychiatrist. There is an unhealthy backlog of delay in the Tribunal system meaning that you often have to wait several months under treatment (against consent) in hospital following your appeal being lodged prior to the Tribunal sitting. Solicitors are hard pressed and often very impotent in terms of what actual assistance they can give you. The hospitals are full of people living in hope about their appeals yet on average only about 5% of appeals are ever successful for patients. I feel that similar to the criminal justice system, prior to being locked away you should get your chance in front of a court for them to decide if the psychiatrist is right in saying you need to be detained under section. It is only reasonable for this to happen.
Police have become a lot more involved in mental health – Cells are being used to hold patients prior to them being transported to hospital. Often patients’ first contact with services is via the police, police transportation being used instead of ambulances and handcuffs and, worse still, tasers are routinely used on mental patients. The last thing you expect as you enter a healthcare environment is to be shot in the chest by a police marksman. I have been the victim of a taser attack in my own home and it severely traumatised me. Again, are we treating health or is this just a form of social control for disciplining the marginalized and disaffected.

Police have no role in healthcare. When you need to use the police as a patient they will ignore you and they routinely ignore some of the worst crimes perpetuated by staff in mental hospitals. The training of the police re mental health needs to be completely overhauled and they need to distance themselves as a system as a whole from the mental health sector if we are ever to achieve parity between mental and physical healthcare.

 

Training needs to be revamped and brought into the twenty-first century. Antiquated ideologies need to be erased. I find that most mental health workers appear to have a glazed sense of brainwash about them. They are conditioned into distancing themselves from the mentally ill, into building barriers. They are oversold the pharmaceutical benefits of the drugs and are misled, like doctors, by drug company marketing material, false claims and the vast profits that multi-billion dollar industry generates.

 

Lastly, does it really need to be said that the system should not be employing criminals. Often psychiatry and the industry attracts some dark people in its workforce. There are far to many with brutal prison-warder type mentalities who get their kicks out of oppressing others. And psychiatrists are not always the sanest and most reasonable people. I was appalled to learn that my psychiatrist of two years had a history of child sex offences. Dr Darryl Watts was employed by Aneurin Bean UHB after spending 30 hours a week surfing child pornography on the internet whilst working as a psychiatrist in Bristol. He was convicted, struck off and the later employed to work in a position of responsibility. He is unfit to judge the sanity of others in my opinion and this is a clear scandal.

 

For more see http://endofterror.org

 

 

 

Brexit and Mental Health

brexit

Brexit, like it or not is a reality. 54% of the public voted in a referendum for us to leave the EU. I watched with despair as events unfolded and was almost praying for us to stay in as I feared that a Brexit decision could really send my End Of Terror situation spiralling out of control. Post-Brexit, if I believed in restricting people’s liberties for thought crime and nowt else and I had the power as a psychiatrist, then maybe I’d be sentencing 54% of the population for section detainment in mental hospitals for making a completely irrational decision in voting, a decision I believe that long term will make the entire UK suffer, economically, politically and more importantly, to End Of Terror, within the mental health system.

Why the big fear, you may ask? Firstly, one of the core components of EU membership is that EU citizens have access to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. This court, although I’ve never used it personally, acts as a safeguard for human rights. I’ve always dreamed of getting over to Strasbourg and felt that it would be one of the only places in which to get justice for End Of Terror. I will never realise that goal. But,many good things have come from Strasbourg over the years and indirectly it has safeguarded all those unnecessarily under the cosh, detained in UK mental health institutions. One piece of legislation that has been delivered through the presence of the EU Human Rights Court, is our own country’s Human Rights Act (1998). This Act came into being under the supervision of the Tony Blair government and basically enshrined EU Human Rights legislation into British Law.

I have always felt that the Human Rights Act is incompatible with the Mental Health Act. The fundamental freedoms it enshrines are usurped once the Mental Health Act is invoked. I have constantly tried to argue a Human Rights case for myself, even in the Mental Health Tribunal Courts, quoting the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights and referring to Strasbourg and indeed the Human Rights Act. Most debate, however, falls on deaf ears, and the tribunal courts tend to favour the misplaced incorrect mindset of Mental Health Workers who generally claim that the Mental Health Act is more important than any human rights legislation and overrides it. Treatment against consent is my main bugbear with the Mental Health Act and any fool can see that this is incompatible with virtually all that Human Rights laws suggest.

Brexit has created not just deep divisions in society, but also a pre-Revolution like political fallout. Both major parties – Labour and Conservative, are quarrelling within their ranks and their infighting is spilling over into a tense political anarchy, spreading like wildfire across the Nation. Brexiteers are abandoning their pre-referendum promises and also withdrawing on the whole from their ideology, as they resign from political decisions, themselves surprised that they duped the British voting public so wonderfully. I need not mention the falls of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Michael Gove, all leading campaigners for Brexit, who have all not quite stood up to their vision. The reality is that there is a great political awkwardness lying in the immediate future for those decision-makers that have to actually go ahead and invoke Article 5o of the European Constitution and officially make the UK no longer an EU member. These shirkers will rear their ugly heads at some distant point in the future to carry on their warped visions and lies.

It was already a major part of David Cameron and the Conservative Party’s plans to terminate the Human Rights Act and to replace it with a UK Bill of Rights. The Human Rights Act was a Labour policy and is loathsome to rightist politicians. It is a safeguard that protects and restricts Conservative policies. Perhaps a tonic to Cameron as he resigned in the wake of Brexit, was that Britian leaving the EU would enhance the powers of those opposed to Human Rights legislation as the people of this country would no longer be able to challenge the UK government in Strasbourg, thus consolidating more power in Westminster. However, the Brexit fallout is not all rosy for the mental health system and those who rely on the comfort of human rights. Theresa May is our new unelected Prime Minister, avoiding even the vote selection for leader of the Conservatives from within the party ranks. At End Of Terror we have already pleaded with Theresa May to sort out the situation with Mental Health and Policing in South East Wales. She was home secretary for the vast duration of the period when the police and mental healthers stepped up their violent pursuit, culminating in them opening fire on me with a taser through the letterbox at home (see articles on Police Brutality and Mental Health). I tweeted Theresa May but like David Cameron, she just completely ignored End Of Terror, a response that we are well used to seeing from policymakers and the powers that be, in general. Theresa May is dangerous to Mental Health as she has some radically twisted views on human rights and wherever possible has exercised her parliamentary powers to vote against any form of human rights that would protect people within the Mental Health system. I just hope that now she has reached her zenith of power, in being Prime Minister, that perhaps she has the responsibility to change her views. She promises a better Britain for all and I pray she delivers this FOR ALL, and not just the privileged few.

It’s not all bad, perhaps, for mental health detainees. I’ve pondered Brexit substantially and one of the possible benefits could be that due to the falling pound, the departure from the Common Market and tighter budget restrictions there could be a corresponding fall in budget expenditure for mental health and policing. Mental Health spending was supposed to reach parity with Physical Health spending and this goal is far from being realised and is very distant on the horizon. I think that in a shrinking economy with less access to European markets, psychiatry, whose total reliance on Big Pharma with its almost pure dedication to pharmaceuticals, may be forced to tighten its purse strings. A lot of psychiatric medicines are produced abroad and imported into the UK. With the pound demolished and the exchange rate to Euro and indeed dollar damaged, the cost of bulk buying mental health medicines from abroad could almost double in real terms. Tariffs on European imports will further exacerbate these costs. Will we see a move towards non-pharmaceutical interventions in mental health? Will the oft-neglected talking therapies enter fashion? Will the taxpaying public support rising pharmaceutical expenditure, on drugs that are very iffy at best and have no scientific or medical foundation?

Looking towards the Mental Health Review Tribunal Courts, any change in Human Rights legislation could alter the way that they work. Most people are not aware that the current status quo has been changed slightly in favour of patients at Tribunals due to the Human Rights Act. At present the onus of responsibility in the courts for burden of proof falls upon the detaining authority to prove that ongoing detention of an appealing patient is warranted. Any loss of human rights laws could lead to a reversal of this situation thus making the patient’s job of appealing against section detainment even more difficult. Already the courts decisions are heavily weighted to rule against patients, with only approximately 5% of appeals resulting in success for patients.

An interesting point to note and one that I have already touched upon in a previous article – Immigrant Doctors on the NHS – Will there be fewer foreign doctors and therefore psychiatrists as a result of Brexit? I do not believe that positions of such power and responsibility should be allocated to immigrants in psychiatry. I do not feel that foreigners truly understand the nature of our society as they have not been nurtured in it. I would welcome fewer immigrant psychiatrists. However, on the flipside, I think that fewer foreign mental patients, nurses and cleaners could be detrimental to mental hospitals as it would essentially reduce the complexity of the usual rich biodiversity of nationalities they contain. I’m sure foreign patients such as the Italian Allesandra Pacchieri might be glad not to be in the UK mental health system, most certainly after her terrifying ordeal here.

Research is one area of society dependant on Europe and its links with universities across Europe, sharing their studies and cross-funding. Already the science of mental health is most imprecise – it is a pseudoscience at best. The lack of research as a consequence of Brexit will leave us ever deeper in the dark ages of this medieval-like system of torture.

On the whole I think that Brexit produces a new, more isolated society with fewer safeguards in place that will lead to more suffering for mental patients and an increased government reliance on the oppressive system that mental health provides. Isolation and a warped power sense triggered the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany. Remember that post WW2, one of the mechanisms set up to prevent the incidence of Nazism from ever reappearing, was the creation of closer international co-operation via the European Union. It mustn’t be forgotten that one of the first groups of people Hitler tested the concentration camp system upon were Germany’s mental patients. Often it is in times of crisis that mental patients’ suffering is at its most acute.

Brexit Britain, cast adrift from continental Europe, will be a lonesome island, its asylums even lonelier, darker, more eery than ever. Big Pharma is too far embedded to disappear and I fear that the new government, most certainly outside of the European safeguard mechanisms, will further erode human rights making an easier triumph for the fascist powers that control mental health and perpetuate modern day psychiatric slavery.

Interesting internet articles:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/29/eu-referendum-mental-health-vote

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Rights_Act_1998

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Court_of_Human_Rights

http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

 

 

 

East vs West?

Chinese Herb Shop
Chinese Herb Shop

Years of psychiatric abuse and torture in a non-voluntary capacity has left me deeply sceptical of Western Medicine (as it is practised in the UK at least). In a way I can thank the years of chemical torture the psychiatrists have committed upon me for opening the doors to Alternative Health. When your body is being pumped full of female hormones a la Risperidone or your white blood cell count is being ripped out by Clozaril, leaving your immune system exposed to any minor virus., you sure start shopping about.

Normally the first point of call for health matters would be the GP’s surgery, in my case, Gray Hill Surgery, Caldicot. Now, years ago, this surgery seemed to me to be well run and dealt with most of my innocuous childhood ailments. However, especially over the past fifteen years, during my ‘mental illness’ treatment, my lack of faith in the charlatans that practise there has eroded beyond all hope. They will never stand up to a psychiatrist and question their medical opinion. This has happened to me on numerous occasions, when all the medical tests prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the psychiatric treatment is causing me severe medical distress and shoudl be stopped purely on health grounds. It’s as though teh Hippocratic Oath has been dissolved in favour of powers under the Mental Health Act and to me, GPs are interested less in prevention and cures of illness and are simply tablet dispensers. They are the pushers of the Drugs Companies’ product. The final cog in the wheel, necessary for the grand machine to keep churning. The only reason these days that I go to the GPs is for the antibiotics they so blatantly overprescribe to the public. I need them every once in a while to clear up nasty chest infections that my damaged immune system just cannot easily clear. In, Past the Desk Nazis, grab a script and straight out. It’s like a military operation to just arrange an appointment these days so I endeavour to make the whole procedure as painless as possible.

This leaves a gulf, however, as I do not have a regular healthcare provider, or one that I recognise. The internet is a great help in terms of medical education, but as for most things it is best to see a pro. My exploration of Alternative Remedies and Natural Products has been vast. Some works, some doesn’t. It’s an experimental journey which is often fun and overall my health has been vastly better managed in this journey. I find that most of the knowledge and literature for alternative health dates back many years. It is easily dismissed by the profiteering Drugs Companies as all a load of nonsense and some of it might. But as you full well know yourselves, the healthiest things in your lives are almost always those things which are as close as possible to their natural form. As soon as industrial processing of a product emerges, we start to see the trigger finger of commercial exploitation and big business. For the sake of profits, the product suffers, even if the original intention is good, the final outcome is bad for your health.

I noticed the Chinese herbal shops springing up everywhere in South Wales and began to get intrigued. For ages I have sought out loose Chinese Jasmine Green Tea and I religiously swear by its cleansing properties. It is available in Chinese supermarkets at dirt cheap prices. On day leave from the local nuthouse for that area (Talygarn) – I wandered into Pontypool town centre and came across a little herbal shop just by the newsagent’s in the High Street. The Chinese Owner ‘Louis’ peered over his counter at me and politely inquired as to the nature of my malaise. I explained how I was seeking something that could counteract the harmful properties of the psychiatric meds that I was at that time having to endure. Louis, had a puzzled look, and then sprung into action, digging out some entwined leaves.  I was to put one in a cup of boiling water once a day where it would unravel and diffuse. once ingested, it would act upon my digestive system and assist in processing the toxic chemicals in my body and reduce the harmful side effects and general imbalance that was harming my body. He popped a selection of these weird dark green leaves into a brown paper bag, wrote a few characters on it for me and having paid the two or three quid cost, I muttered a quick ‘Xie Xie Ni’ and went on my merry way.Yes – once I got back to the hospital they gave their usual sneer and confiscated the product with glee as it ‘hadn’t been prescribed by a doctor’ but I managed to smuggle a few leaves out with me for use at home and did exactly as instructed. The mild bitter taste was great and it is an old adage that bitterness is best for the body. After a few weeks I genuinely did feel a lift. The taking of this ‘tea’ became part of my daily ritual and was civilised and pleasant. That is what healthcare should be more about. Voluntary, helpful, pleasant and non-intrusive. Eastern Medicine has been around for thousands of years and techniques are highly sophisticated. I realise that Western Doctors study for a fair amount of time at university, but Eastern practionners are not just in jobs they live as medicine men. Their knowledge comes from a  whole lifetime’s experience. Secrets are preserved and handed down from generation to generation. There is a spiritual reverence for their products and their systems when properly analysed, even with Western scientific methods, do actually perform very well indeed. I know that in places like China, western Medicine is also available and popular, but they haven’t totally abandonned traditional medicine and its deep cultural roots. I think that there is hope and much to be learnt by Western Doctors and scholars, from studying this style of medicine. Ignorance is not acceptable for a genuine doctor.

I did read a disturbing recent article about a Chinese political prisoner within their mental health system. I think all the human rights orgs were up in arms about his situation. I read in detail about the guy’s experience and although it wasn’t exactly Cinderella, and the guy had a lot of bad things done to him, it was obvious to me that he hadn’t had the full Western style chemical cosh applied to him. The meds were low dose, low quantities, and weren’t hardcore psychotropic drugs like Clozaril or whatever the en vogue drug company affiliate program happens to be promoting that month. The point is – I think that in not totally devoting a healthcare system to modernist ideas and over-teched experimental drug solutions, perhaps it is a healthier way to conduct a health program? East vs West may be a theme I touch  upon a lot, and Modern & Industrial vs Organic Natural & Traditional is certainly a debate well worth considering.