Friday, November 6, 2009


This article follows the news of the major shooting in American largest military base by the army psychiatrist Dr Nidal Malik Hasan who was known to be a risk and held extreme religious views. It was political correctness which led to the risks being ignored in allowing him to work in US military base. Dr Nidal Malik Hasan was not able to treat his patients while keeping his own belief system intact. The facts of the matter are that psychiatrists learn from patients. It is impossible to learn some things in medical school. The process of learning meant that I changed a great deal as the result of my learning. My whole life changed. And that is a lot. American psychiatry is regarded as founded by Dr Benjamin Rush. This physician held the view that there was a medical condition called Negritude which caused dark skin. Dr Benjamin Rush said that if that condition was cured the skin of the victim would turn white. His image adorns the seal of the American Psychiatric Association today. His therapeutic methods were dangerous and one of his students killed the first President of the United States by bleeding him of nine pints of blood. Another psychiatrist who killed was Dr Henry Cotton who treated psychotic patients with teeth extraction and 43% died. The American Journal of Psychiatry wrote: "an extraordinary record by one of the most stimulating figures of our generation". Dr Louis Tsavaris killed a patient with whom he had sexual intercourse. Dr John Nathaniel Rosen invented a technique of treating patients with schizophrenia by slapping them. In 1971 he was given an award by the American Academy of Psychotherapy. Dr Harvey Lothringer killed a 19 year old college student, cut her up with a power saw and flushed her down the toilet. Dr Omar Sabadia, a South African psychiatrist arranged for his wife to be killed. Dr Frederick Aptowitz used one of his patient to plant explosives under the car belonging to an ex-employee who was taking legal action for sexual harassment. Dr Michael Grinberg solicited a murder of ex-girlfriend. Unfortunately for him he hired an undercover policeman. Dr Ernst Rudin German Psychiatrist played his part in the extermination of Jews, Gypsies and others. Hendrick Verwoerd the Prime Minister of South Africa one of the creator of apartheid was trained as a psychologist. Dr Radovan Karadjic is in Hague answering charges of genocide during the war in former Yugoslavia. However, the biggest killers in my profession of psychiatry are those who are merely indifferent to the suffering of many mentally ill patients who go and kill themselves. The following categories of patients suffer neglect: 1. patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (like the ones Dr Nidal Malik Hassan treated but usually not caused by war experiences) 2. patients with social problems, those who discover unpleasant things about the place where they live 3. minorities 4. majority (women) When you add all of those, it is a larger number. Psychiatrists in UK are paying more attention to the politics of religion than science at some institutions and that is bad news, indeed. If it was not like that I would not have started Secular Psychiatry as I did. On the whole one can change people more easily if they are irresponsible with their feelings and in their actions than it is if it concerns their religious belief system. The reason for that is very simple. Religion is like a addictive drug and people do not want to give up pleasurable things, in general. Dr Nadal Malik Hasan could not do his job because of his religion. One of the techniques used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder is to imagine being powerful against the person who caused you harm. The imagery may involve agression and I guess Dr Hasan knew that. Out of his own feelings of inadequacy he killed. Some people would rather kill and die than say to themselves I fear my inferiority as a healer. The sick soldiers became his enemies because he made a choice not to change. According to American research on doctors psychiatrists are the least religious of all the doctors. Therefore, Dr Nadal Malik Hasan would stood out anyway amongst his colleagues. I imagine he would have suffered rejections and not many would be keen to work with him. Psychiatrists are also in short supply in the world and not keen to work in military either. Thus, the largest and most powerful military base had a number of problems to overcome and it did not.


Anonymous said...

An excellent post, Helen and one which raises a number of important points.

Firstly, you say that psychiatrists learn from their patients. This is unfortunately not true of the vast majority of those I have encountered. Most of them seem to be engaged in the abuse of power and not in actually helping or healing people. I have read my notes and the vast majority fall into this category.

Recognising that you don't know everything and being genuinely interested in the person you are trying to help makes you a 'wise woman'. In my experience everybody likes somebody to show an interest in them and who is genuinely trying to help.

A lot of psychiatry is about labelling and judging people. I have just left a long post on Dr No's blog about the tragic death of that young woman who had been labelled with an 'emotionally unstable personality disorder' and 'depression' amongst other problems. How does that help? It makes you feel worse not better.

As you point out, amongst neglected groups are women and those suffering from PTSD. The problems that KW was said to be suffering from are entirely consistent with a diagnosis of complex ptsd. The service provision for treating this is atrocious in my experience.

Judith Lewis Herman's brilliant 'Trauma and Recovery' is arguably the most important book on this syndome where she brings together miltary war zone trauma and the syndromes associated with battered women, concentration camp survivors, rape victims etc.

One of her stages in recovery is finding a survivor's mission. My particular mission is improving conditions for people with this syndrome - which is an injury rather than an illness. I know this is a huge social problem at the moment and it definitely needs to be addressed.

As you have pointed out previously on this blog, PTSD can result from persecution by the GMC, workplace bullying etc. It can also be from rape, domestic violence victims of crime etc ( that has been pointed out in the last few days)

I had a chat with a lady called Christine at my MPs office yesterday, having written to the women and equality unit about the way the victims of sexual offences are treated by the police.

The way I was treated by them after reporting Dr X. for committing a criminal offence against me was openly compared by Inspector Morris of their 'professional standards department' to an eighteen year girl who committed suicide after being raped - a case which was in all the national papers.

I have explained to my MP that if I can save one person from this I wll almost welcome all the suffering. I hope you will be an ally in exposing this
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