Beyond Freedom and Dignity:
A Personal Testimony of Abuse by Clinical Psychology.
Chapter 1 Dreams
Chapter 2 Things and Feelings
Chapter 3 B Ward
Chapter 4 Defensive Reactions in Psychiatric Patients
Chapter 5 ECT, Psychiatry And Behaviourism
Chapter 6 Violence
Chapter 7 Towns and Cities
Chapter 8 An Attempt at Analysis of the Effectiveness
of Behaviour Modification treatment.
Chapter 9 Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Makes Free)
Chapter 10 My Father Dying
Chapter 11 Serenity and Stupidity
Chapter 12 Gentility and Thuggery - Osborne's Paradoxical Persona
Chapter 13 Universities 1, Experiences With Ethical Issues Committee.
Chapter 14 The Archaeology of Abuse
Four chapters were originally submissions made to the Ethical Issues Committee of the NZ Psychological Society in 1987. The form 'interchapters' a sub narrative of the larger story. This larger story is autobiographical, traversing my origins then experience of psychiatric hospital and abuse by a psychologist Morton Osborne.
The scene of the crime
These events occurred in
Readers can communicate with the author at [email protected]
Chapter 1 Dreams.
"Keep hold of your dreams
for if dreams die
life is like a broken winged bird
that cannot fly."
I first saw these words on a poster at the home of a school friend. She fulfilled one of her dreams and became a Doctor. My Dad's first dream was to become a Doctor. I doubt if likened his ambitions to dreams, a practical life imposes a more earthly conception of things. It wasn't possible for him to complete secondary school, let alone study medicine.
Still, I was raised in the household of a man who dared to have dreams, who spiritually and consciously strove to fulfil them. He was a man to strive and abide. The thing for which he lived to strive and abide was the land. He was a farmer, he was tane whenua (maori for "man of the land"), to the bone. When he became estranged from his land his world collapsed.
My first memory of him is walking together across moonlit
returning home from the cow shed. It was late evening and his labour was only
then finished. Darkness often marked the beginning and end of his working day.
From before dawn until after dusk he laboured. As he tramped his rubber ‘
He couldn’t even think of finishing high school let alone to go to medical school. He was raised by his uneducated maori mother, a woman alone, and it was depression times. He worked in a racing stable where he met my mother. As well he drove a baker's van. When it was war time he volunteered to join the New Zealand Air Force. Commonwealth pilots were part of the British war in the air. He was rejected for pilot training because of colour blindness. Because he was maori he was not subject to the draft, but he volunteered anyway and may have been destined for the 28th(Maori) battalion, but his employer needed him more. Rather than defend democracy he had to continue driving the baker's van. He crashed the van, and his services, previously essential on the home front, were no longer required.
That's when he decided he would like to try his hand at farming.
first wave of this founding were those men serving exploitative industries.
Whalers made settlements on the shores, and seamen seeking masts for their
ships ventured inland. Some came to reap the souls of the indigenous people.
There were frontiersmen and men of the cloth. But there was one commodity
inexhaustible in Aotearoa (the maori name for
was a migration of the English speaking peoples. The yeoman of
migration was of farmers, each man a gambler of labour or capital in
expectation of just reward, of possession of his own holding. In the mid 19th
century, these men and women flowed inexorably onto the
rural hinterland of
maternal grandfather, Alexander Bowie, was the first
With the emigrants onward and upward vision
came to a new land,
and worked the soil
Striving I know
as every true man of the soil does strive
to own his own piece
of the good earth.
But the cataclysm of 1914
saw him conscripted into uniform
he was wounded in
No hardship of our comforted living
can match that of battle cry
of bullet in the belly
of the red sweet wine of youth flowing in the mud.
convalescing from his wounds in
he met an Irish chamber maid
the war gave him wounds, a wife
and the spectre of war experience
he farmed as a returned soldier
Depression days saw his farm sold beneath him
But he continued on with his herd
Until they too went under the hammer
Seven pounds per head
a third of purchase price
He continued to farm land not his own
until the weariness of his years
confined his toil
to the vegetable garden
working unto death
he was buried under lush pasture
at rest in the soil
he toiled so diligently
Greater strength hath no man than he
who carried the burden of his years
I must find his strength
This simple verse touches on the experiences of his life and on the character of his hardships. An elucidation of it is the following.
‑ Alec Bowie was an emigrant and a yeoman farmer. At one time he lived in a simple whare(dwelling) in settlement of new ‘bush’ land. In this colonial outpost, the ties to mother England were such that in 1914 we were at war with the Central Powers through the decision of the British Government, not our own. As a dutiful colonial offspring our own Government then pursued the war with vigour, conscripting 10% or more of the male population to serve overseas.
Bowie served and was wounded in
his return to
Many lost their land. My grandfather lost his land but continued on farming his herd as a `sharemilker' until they too were put up at a mortgagee sale.
Thus he came once again, to be a member of the rural proletariat where he had commenced his immigrant life. Such a progression is part of the social history of NZ. In my grandfather's experience it is part of the psychological and spiritual heritage of my family. I am rarely conscious of it but such things are part of the skeleton of one's psyche, the bones which underlie consciousness, awareness and spirituality. The story of his life is about character.
When he lost his herd he became a farm worker then in turn a relief worker. In that age there was no unemployment benefit, only ‘relief’ work on public work’s gangs and the like. The prime movers of these relief gangs could be the human body - hands, arms, strong backs and shoulders. His pride not allowing him to slacken, he worked with shovel or whatever implement, the pittance he received being for the support of five children.
Poverty is relative, such hardships were shared by many families of those times.
latter years he moved the family to a farm house in Walton which is in the
He retired from farming when he was seventy four and lived in a home which my father’s mother had bought. This did not mean the end of his working life. He worked on, not knowing how to rest, except now he was a gardener, not a pastoral farmer.
There was an elemental intent in his cultivation, a solemn and purposeful way he dug and turned the turf in preparation for planting. He first cut the weeds or grass from the surface, then the turf itself he turned as a plough turns the turf into the furrow alongside. But into this cut had been placed the weeds first stripped from the turf, so that it became compost cake, nutrient for the vegetable which grew in it.
To a man knowing a life of need, this seeking of the earth's providence was a serious endeavour. When working with him in our garden at my parent’s home I found the decaying body of a bird, a mere sparrow, cadaverous and dry.
"Dig it in..." he said.
His voice had a low rasping resonance.
"It'll make manure."
My elder brother Tony recounts an event when Alexander's strength was waning. The two of them were feeding the stock on my Dad's share-farm when he found he was struggling to lift the cow's fodder. He turned to his grandson and said "You won't tell your mother I can't lift a bale of hay boy."
He yielded up life and strength reluctantly. His heart kept on though all his strength had deserted him. When we visited him in what was to become his hospital deathbed, he was hoisted upright to be supported by pillows. He could only say "its nice to see you" and to my mother he said entreatingly "When are you going to take me home?"
But he did go home
to become part of the soil
he toiled so diligently.
To such men as this, land, which is so hard fought to possess and wrest a living from, must have a spiritual quality and connotation. But they speak not of any spiritual affinity with Mother Earth. My grandfather Alexander Bowie's life was spent in wresting a living from it but he never spoke of land as possessing cussed or hallowed qualities.
indigenous people of
My father was in parentage both settler
and native of
He farmed as a "sharemilker". This is the Antipodean version of share-cropping but without the connotations and ambience of poverty; of farming forty acres with sweat, plough and a mule. Instead of mules the share milker owns cows. My Dad had 180 of them. The landowner owns the land and the sharemilker owns the herd. He has to milk them and manage the property to his own and the landowner's benefit. They split the farm income and a cow owning share-farmer is referred to as a "fifty-fifty" sharemilker. Sharemilking can be a path to farm ownership for a young farmer.
Whatever the mode of farming, land demands hard work but for the robust it is a rewarding life.
He was not from a farming family so he did not take cues through them for these ambitions. He looked instead to my mother's father for his role modelling. Alexander Bowie, whom everyone came to know as Pop Bowie, taught him agricultural skills. One of these was to blast stumps with a blasting gun. This is an innocuous looking object, a piece of pipe about a foot long and about one and a half inches in diameter. Tapered and open at one end, the other end being sealed, it is filled with blasting powder then hammered into a log of wood which defies burning or splitting, This could be gum, old gum sometimes litters the farms of the Waikato and rather than let it lie on pastured territory, it can be buried or blasted. With the powder compressed by the pressure of hammering into the log, a fuse into the gun is then lit. The resulting pressure splits the log into manageable pieces and it is cleared.
This manure, superphosphate, was brought to his farm in a trailer. Because on the morrow the contractor wanted this trailer, my Dad worked late to spread the fertilizer, milking his cows in the evening then remounting his tractor. He had to shovel the `super' from the trailer into the hopper of his tractor mounted manure spreader. The ambience of his struggle was different from his father‑in‑law. It was both manual and mechanical, shovel and diesel powered. The determination was the same, and this time it was late. He shovelled manure into the night.
But usually the night brought more respite than Pop Bowie knew in his working life. Electric light and light entertainment from a black and white television set. In the summer a drive to the tennis club for friendship and recreation and in his latter farming years there was golf.
My Dad share-milked at an address
He farmed land for a man called John Buchanan, whose father had owned it and in turn passed it on to him. My father realized that possession of land was a means to economic freedom. He recounted once the ethic about what men should strive to possess or achieve in their lives, which he had acquired from one of his employers. It was that his children should be left better off in their turn than he had been himself as a younger man. It was a homely philosophy of work, for possession, for the family succession.
For these and more deep psychic reasons, land figured in his dreams. Because he was a man to strive and abide, land was pursued for both its intrinsic and its economic qualities. As to the tillerman of any millennia, possession of land could bring freedom from drudgery, the best scheme of superannuation, a maturing insurance for the evening of life. My Dad dreamed to possess land but through the vagaries of fate his dreams collapsed into a nightmare. And like that bird with a broken wing, when his dreams collapsed his spirit was grounded and desolate.
He took possession of his land when I was
seven years old. The journey was accomplished over several days as he drove his
cows the forty miles on foot from Ngarua to Hikutaia. It was like a migration
of old but over highways new. In a previous shift to the southern side of
But that was an earlier migration. After his latter migration, to Hikutaia, with his herd driven into its fold, my Dad began his task of taming his property.
Maori males, men of the Polynesian people
of Aoteoroa can sometimes feel keenly the inadequacy of their abilities.
Educationally and occupationally they figured in the lower strata of life. With
a psychological baggage of self deprecation, maori students at school can be
heard referring to themselves or each-other as `black' with conversation and
rhetoric such as "Please your black self." To to repudiate this sense
of denigration these Polynesian products of socialization to a European world
can strive to fulfil the potentialities they feel. Through sport they could
compete with the settler for their sense of self validation. A maori veteran of
the Second War, grievously wounded in a town called
My Dad was of this mettle, of those maori males of several generations ago who felt a need to acquit themselves on the fields of sport or battle. So determined was he that he bought his own fields, and toiled and tilled them into his edifice of self respect.
Because my Dad was spiritual he had a desire to possess and be fulfilled through land. As well he sometimes yearned also for recreation, for that time of being "able to take it a bit easier". These were the reasons for his labour long. The farm was on a road called Marototo which weaved its way up the course of a valley by the same name. The river which carved its way down was the Hikutaia stream. Hikutaia means `tail end of the tide'. The estuary from whence the tide came was twenty miles distant, but the stream was tidal in its lower reaches.
The first colonists who journeyed into the Marototo were miners who sought silver and gold. This continued intermittently for a century in large or small scale and recently in an adjacent valley, the Waitekauri, the Cyprus Gold Company had a huge mechanized concern, burrowing into the ore deposits there.
The land resource of the Marototo, the surface as opposed to the ore underneath it, was first worked by gum diggers and timber fellers. Then a following migration of claimants who mined the grass, open cast. By axe and by match they tamed this environment. They were a hardy breed these pioneers. Without benefit of chainsaw or bulldozer they turned it from forest to farmland. The landscape is now indelibly stamped and sectioned, into the conformation of farm units, of grass and haybarns, and `race'(farm access) tracks and, linking the farms and individually owned sections, a tar-sealed road.
These latter day miners working the Marototo mine grass, open cast, and convert it into milk or wool on a sheep's back. Milk, white gold, hundreds of gallons of it, is removed by huge trucks to huge factories each day. Cows are herded from fenced paddocks onto metalled farm tracks and into concrete floored cowsheds and milked with technology driven milking machines.
This description belies the hard work. Even though it was now lush, to my Dad the land still presented a struggle. Work milking the cows commenced at dawn, the day was broken with meals rest and other jobs, the evening milking was finished at dusk. Every day of the week was a day of labour. The first season we were there he became ill and rested for possibly only a day, sipping nourishment in his bed, his eyes staring into the future of his farm and its improvements. He once sat erect at the table consuming his dinner then the next minute he was asleep and my Mum had to steer him, in his semi‑conscious condition, into bed.
The American author John Steinbeck wrote
of the agrarian people of
He leased land adjoining his own to make
the farm more economic. He one day journeyed into the town of
My Dad's neighbour, Ed was of not such disciplined application. At night my Dad might plot new fence lines on his map and in the geography of his mind, while Ed sought other stimulus. Ed was of a musical bent and of a musical family. On a Saturday night he and his several brothers could form a band. Sitting in a row on the stage of the local hall they would play sax and clarinet while the populace of Hikutaia waltzed and fox trotted on the dance floor.
The Smith family possessed a piano, a violin, and a trumpet. Also a collection of older machines and tractors. Eddie's family were musical and mechanical.
But their different mindset was demonstrated best by their stance as they journeyed to their respective cowsheds. My Dad had a distinctive and purposeful tramp, his head inclined slightly forward, and this and the purposive stride betrayed his intensity. Eddie walked upright and I think reposed. A cigarette extended from his countenance, his face not drawn in concentration like my Dad's.
Eddy walked laconically
Eddy smoked ‘roll your owns’
and as he walked
or was it an ambience
of ambling disposition
went with him
a certain ambience
and smoke trail
marked his progress.
I never had in my youth an affinity for the farm or the dairies who grazed it, "the totem cows which our lives danced around". I focused instead on the immediate. A chore was to hose the cow manure from the cow yard with a pressure hose. Driven by an impeller pump, it had a diameter of an inch or more, choked at its nozzle to 1/2 an inch. The green stew fairly blew off the yard ahead of it. The cowshed was called a `herringbone' as this characterised the position of the cows as they were lined up, both sides of a pit, with their rear ends facing the milker with his `cups', a set of four rubber suckers that used vacuum to milk them. With these herringbone sheds and modern tractors farming was less labour than it had been in past days. It was part of the social change of this rural community. The intent of these herringbone sheds which reduced labour by presenting the cows udders all in a row to the milker and at a height that he didn't have to stoop, was to have "one man to a hundred cows".
My Dad had a hundred cows but because they were an unruly mob
they were actually the work of two men. Actually they were bloody awful. It was a grand symbiosis, They were well fed, there were no wolves or parasites to plague them, yet they rewarded my Dad by tormenting him with their ill temper, kicking him and shitting and pissing into the pit...
meant no escape
of this smelly cascade
of bovine piss.
Above are the cows and cowshed where they were milked.
My Dad's cows were an unruly mob. I
thought all cows were shitty livered then but they were not an AB bred herd. AB
is for "artificial breeding" and it means fertilizing cows with semen
collected from a bull farm where sires of high producing dairy cows are kept.
The process of `proving' the sires is by trialing their daughters on different
dairy farms, objectively assessing their progeny in different conditions, Only
the best bulls are kept as part of the `premiere sires service' team, the rest
going to hamburger. One of the criteria of assessment is temperament. Sires of
placid, good producing cows are kept on. There is a network of distribution of
their semen in refrigerated containers and in the spring part of the highway
But AB was not so long established then and my Dad had some ill tempered beasts in his herd. This was also part of the hardship of the newly established farmer who had bought his cows at a sale. Cockies of continuity who could have bought or inherited a property from parents, had had selective culling to make their life easier. One new share-milker in our locality had the worst run of all. Standing on the steps of his herringbone pit he would address his herd before milking… "Well girls ‑ the battle begins". After a hard fought hour or two, of cups kicked off, hands, fingers, and forearms slashed by sharp heifer hooves, peace broke out. Ewan was left with only the detritus of battle, a cowshed not bloodstained but green stained where they'd crapped their way in the face of his good intentions. He left after his first and last three year contract of sharemilking and faced the seas of a southern strait as a fisherman rather than these bovine heartbreakers.
After the milk had been won from the reluctant lactant it had to be cooled from body temperature to storage temperature. The ‘cooler’ was a ‘heat exchanger’. Its a futile process if the cooling water is at or near room temperature, it will only cool the milk whereas to control the bacteria in milk it has to be chilled. Once stored in the vat if a bacterial multiplication occurred this milk was a potential junket. On collection by the tanker a sample was taken. Each supply was tested daily at the factory ‘lab’ and if found to be high in bacteria the milk was 'graded', i.e. the farmer incurred financial penalty, his cheque at the end of the month was depleted.
These days a refrigeration unit attached to the vat inhibits bacterial multiplication in the milk so this is not now a problem. But as my Dad received his pinkish second grade slips he was downcast and I can remember how his shoulders slumped when one day another of these penalty certificates was found on the vat stand. Because he was a man to strive and abide he also worried, and as it meant less of little money going into the bank he was sorely tried by them.
He once paid my elder brother, who had been working on the farm, a cheque for two pounds, and it ‘bounced’, his funds in the bank could not cover it.
Facial eczema was another bugbear for farmers, it was caused by a toxic pastoral fungus which effected the cow's liver. Like a permanently jaundiced alcoholic, their vigour was affected. In the spring and the few months following is the flush of farm production but it would be then that seemingly healthy animals would reveal this debility, when calving and its attendant metabolic stress would expose their weakness. They would become a financial and farming bugbear.
Cow's urine is the agent of infection for such things as brucellosis. Another disease which farmers risk is leptospirosis. Called 'lepto' it was part of rural life then and we all heard reports and stories of farmers who had been stricken by "lepto". In later life I met a sharemilker who had had "fourteen different strains of it". It was a debilitating illness, his fatigue had slowed but not stopped him, as he worked on "leaning up against the pit wall" milking his herd.
These days there are immediate or more often preventative remedies for these bovine diseases. Herds are screened for these diseases and if found to be reacting, they can be slaughtered and the farmer compensated. A process of eradication has enabled the man on the land to farm without the age old psychic traumas of disease or pestilence which have marked man's existence. But back then my Dad farmed under pressures of simple fears of animal health and sometimes only partially effective means to deal with them.
He was at least farming in the age of science, of having veterinarians and Ministry of Ag’ types to call for their skills and advice.
One who did not have such assistance was a man who farmed in the West Coast community of Koiterangi in the 1930s. Stan Graham had no science to aid him. He bought pedigree stock which before the age of herd testing and 'sire proving', was actually faith farming, not scientific farming. He no doubt had only an elementary education. Because of the isolation, the stress and the smallness of his mindset, when animal health problems started killing his stock, he suspected ill will or evil pestilence.
His fears he focused on his neighbours. In a frenzy he shot several of them. Also a policeman and a school inspector. He retreated into the bush and in time was hunted and shot himself.
In more recent times, a farmer in my own locality and age cohort, struggled with animal health problems. They were stricken with that cloven hoof decay called footrot. His whole herd or a significant part of them limped to the cowshed.
I can see him now in my mind's eye when we were both at high school. He sits on a bench in the sun, surrounded by the mixed company of the more demurely deported. His head inclined forward, in deference to the morning sun, and as well, a simple deference to the gaggle of girls and boys around him.
I did not see it then but there was a sociology of recreation at this high school. The robust and the rugby roughnecks were to be found on the playing field. They had developed a game with elements of rugby, soccer, and ‘bullrush’. Played en‑mass and unsupervised it is stopped after a youth is cast on the ground with a broken leg. But this other youth is of a comportment suggestive of introspection. He is not of bull-rushing robustness and finds more sedate recreation.
I can see him now in my mind’s eye, faltering, like his bovines, in his walk to the cow-shed. There is an ongoing physical challenge in the milking routine. Morning and night it is several hours physical labour, despite mechanisation,. Because there is no respite, if one does not cope debility sets in. Because this is yeoman's country it is often solitary. Because his persona is not one of stolidity, to face his demands alone leads to morbidity. Without the consortium of people which is the joy of most working environments, he is unable to view the relative weight of his trials. His solitude magnifies them.
The challenge of the cowshed is like death and taxes. Although a family farm he has to work to pay the mortgage or the death duties. These ‘death duties’ were taxes introduced in an earlier time of our political culture ‑ so that land dynasties would not grow, so that this would remain a yeoman's country.
I can see him trudging under these several burdens, his gumboots rubber shackles. Oh to have a weekend off.
He hung himself in his cowshed, leaving a wife and young family.
As I write a farmer has shot himself and two generations of his family in the farming community of Paerata.
I am destined to head for the cowshed in a few minutes. The job begins when one mounts a farm trike, an all-terrain-vehicle (ATV), to bring the cows to the cowshed. The ATV is a three or four wheeled conveyance with ballooning tyres, which are inflated to only a low pressure so they distribute weight like a fleshy derriere. With this and the way the machine is sprung, one does not feel every jar and judder as one negotiates the farm. The fatigue and stress on the human frame is thus diminished. In my Dad's day he rode a horse.
These days the milk vats installed on the farms are sealed. There is mechanical cleaning of them through sprays and jetters, as is the cleaning of the milking cups which was once accomplished through carrying buckets of hot water. When I was at primary school, a farmer spilt scalding water down his gumboot and when returning to the house and removing his sock, the skin came with it.
Modern farming has different challenges.
To be economic, dairy herds have to be larger with less money available to pay
the hands that milk them. Farms are evolving into grazing factories, with several
hundred cows where before there were less than a hundred. The men who manage
these herds are ambitious intending farmers. Just like the farmers of yester‑year,
they must tithe on someone else's property. They must know the rules and
vagaries of finance and accounting and tax and `servicing' of debt. And the
knowing of the basic business of farming, it too must be intense - some young
farmers have degrees from Massey or
I never had in my youth an affinity for this 143 acres on which my Dad did tithe, strive and abide. Childlike I never sensed the spirituality and dignity of my Dad's labour as he forged a repose for his soul on his section of the Earth. For me it was just a large and poorly utilised game park. I was a philistjline in the face of plenty. There was a rhythm of life around me, an eco-system with all the wealth of nature, but all I wanted to do was shoot it.
My elder brothers had possessed shotguns. When they graduated to girlfriends or a Ford Zephyr car, I inherited the firearms. I was barely ten years old when I managed to coerce my elder brother Philip to accompany me to a site in the neighbour's property. There, two stilts or such like had made their nest high in a pine or macrocarpa tree. I brought down one of these birds by shooting from below, so the shot penetrated the branches and into the nest. The bird fell from its partner, mortally wounded but conscious of its leave taking, scrambling then falling from one branch to the next, until I secured it when it hit the ground, dead on arrival. I carried this feathered trophy home.
On successive expeditions I insinuated my right to "go shooting" unaccompanied and made the farm my hunting range. I had a beat going up the Western side of the farm and onto the 'lease', a higher upland region for grazing sheep and cattle. As the evening grew longer I would be returning down the eastern side of the farm. On one such occasion I passed by a macrocarpa tree and heard something in its lower branches. In the crook of the lower boughs was a terror stricken Mama possum, her joey, her offspring, was clinging to her back. I climbed the tree to her height and clumsily levelled the shotgun, at point blank range, and shot her in her small, maternal, and marsupial head.
I graduated to other indulgences - motorbikes, an old car, and teenage sex, but this familiarity with firearms is of pertinence to my larger story. Country kids can know how to kill and can have had practice.
THE AUTHOR ON HIS THUNDEROUS BSA MOTORCYCLE -1971
My childhood was not all such aridity. I had the company of farming men and I never heard any raise his voice to another or sneer cruelly behind his back. They were of a labouring dignity. I think the solitary challenges of farming selects men of a composed determination.
Also I had the company of those that service the farms, the milk-tanker drivers, the contractors, the shearers that worked in the woolsheds. Compared to the farmers they were of a light hearted mien, more given to conversation, crudity and a good or tasteless humour. Thus I experienced a socialisation by default. I imbibed a sense of dignity and serenity of the men and women around me, although its presence was not apparent in my life or mind.
Prior to this shift to the Marototo I had
attended a convent school in Te Aroha. There was an intensity in the regimen
which I did not find at the state school. The different portions of the day
were divided by prayer. A grace at the start of the lunch break and a
"grace after meals" at the end of it. At the end of the day we said
an Act of Contrition. Unlike the
Each Sunday brought an expedition to church in our Chevrolet, later a Morris Oxford. Thus our lives there were a round between home and convent. The nun's habits were black. One of their number was forbidding but they were mostly maternal and kind. The nuns knelt and celebrated mass every morning.
The school and church complex were virtually in the centre of town. The church had three portal type entrances, a masonry building, but modern masonry. It had a fine steeple above the centre entrance and below this a mezzanine where a choir could reside facing the alter. As one entered there were fonts where one dipped one's fingers in the `holy water', deemed to be so after blessing by a priest, then one made the sign of the cross, the moist fingers touching the forehead. My brother's marriage was consecrated in this church, it was a nuptial mass where there was a religious service complementing the wedding.
When my Dad bought his farm our family left the locality of the convent and I attended the state primary school in Hikutaia. There was a bus into the convent school in Paeroa which entailed no hardship to attend but there were ancillary expenses to enroling there, uniforms and the like. My Dad's first cheque of income from the new farm, after deductions, was two pounds so we did not attend the convent school.
The headmaster at the
If spiritual sustenance was not the same in this new locale, a physical providence still prevailed. From the farm's own grass and sunshine came food on the table. My Dad kept sheep, for the table rather than income. One was consumed each week, seven days of sustenance. They were killed in the evening, and the carcase hung overnight to "set". Delivered to the house the next morning it was a morning's effort for my Mum to cut it up and otherwise process it for consumption. Monday's meal was lamb's fry and bacon. The swill from the cow shed was fed to pigs, fattened to kill, and as well there was poultry. Thus breakfast six days a week could be bacon and eggs. All mouths thus thrived on the farm's providence, even the cat's meat came from this sheep. Until the age of ten or thereabouts when my Dad bought a freezer, I knew a staple of mutton and vegetables from the garden, for the evening meal. As we were a Catholic family Friday was a fish meal..
Behind the dairy pasture was a hill which towered and dominated the property. With it the farm had a certain symmetry - one hundred acres of rolling dairy land, a buttress of hill behind. A bold ridge extending out from the valley wall, its face steep and featured with granite. It was of a daunting gradient and had been a fortified "pa"(redoubt) in pre European times. Once he walked about it with myself and my brothers, noting how in the steep, almost precipitous parts there were no entrenchments, but in the less defensible gradient the tarn of trenches could be seen. There were several such sites in the Marototo.
My Dad, my brother Stephen and a hired contractor cut and burned the "ti-tree" scrub which covered it. There was a prescription for this process. It was felled with a hand held slasher or whirling brush cutter, then left to dry for several months. In the late summer it was fired, lit at the hill top so that a ‘back burn’ resulted, a wall of flame going against the gradient and the wind. This made for a cleaner burn and a better pasture. It was then seeded and manured and became another forty acres of grazing. The day of this burn saw the flames continuing into the night, visible for miles and a subject of remark and conversation in this community.
But the rest was not easy. It had to be fenced so the grazing of it was controlled and ‘intensive’ and now, where there was formerly scrub, came a weed called ragwort. A farmer had an obligation to control it. Because my Dad was a man to strive and abide he was not going to neglect this. He came to wage a seasonal battle on this former battleground. The weapon he used was ‘knapsack’ sprayer, filled with weed killer. This is a tank with shoulder straps, and a hand operated pump to eject the spray from a nozzle. It contained up to twenty litres.
He hoisted this burden, like a load of bricks that dripped, and carried it, determination unabating, steep or rolling though the terrain may be. The sun was hot and his back, once of a Polynesian hue, burned to a reddish complexion, and the skin flaked off it. This warrior won his battle over many days, ascending the hill to spray then returning to milk the herd in the late afternoon. This was the nature of his labour, solitary, and of unrelenting application.
Like his labour, his anger could be similarly stolid. This hill was to see the genesis of an incident that demonstrated this character.
It began over a motorcycle. It was the
period of the appearance of "farm bikes" in the rural areas. My Dad
bought one and left it, locked, in the garage on the first day after its
delivery. He was golfing. This motorcycle was too much for resourceful young
men to leave alone and we started it and toured the farm on it, but leaving
tell tale tracks on the hill where my Dad laboured. The same afternoon, as
mobile teenagers we left for
As we slowed to turn into the drive, I saw him seated in his lounge in front of the fireplace, his back to the lounge room window. For a few brief moments I could take in this view of the back of his head and torso. There was something portentous in his pose, something that I sensed about his determination. He was there for a purpose, it was unknown for him to sit so late. I sensed straightaway what it meant - that we were in the shit.
It is twenty years and more ago that I glimpsed this figure. and I, a child in this teenage company, returning from our teenage excursion, spying him and reacting quickly, telling our driver to drive on. His wait was to be thus frustrated. I can see his head and torso in my mind but more than this I can feel the feelings that moved him to sit...
there was such an inertness
in his silhouette
in his composure
and so still
did he focus his composure
This intensity was manifest in the morning. We had slept in the wool shed - having collected sleeping bags and made our way there. The morrow dawned and found us there, the school bus which I should have been on had left. We made our way to the house for some purpose, keeping to the back of the section. We did not escape attention. When called I was for further flight but my brother Shaun was not of a mind for such futility. When Dad called I ran, but he replied.
We were called inside for a talk, “a
serious one”, and informed of our fate. Shaun was to have seven days to leave
the property and "Simon, I'm arranging to send you to boarding
school." This for the miserable misdemeanour of hijacking the farm‑bike.
Duly in seven days, it was a Saturday, Shaun was conveyed to the outskirts of
Paeroa where he was to hitch‑hike to the power schemes of the upper
Because we could not be controlled, like livestock we were to be fenced off the property altogether, although my banishment to alternative schooling did not eventuate. This was the irony in my Dad's psyche. Whereas stolidity and determination enabled him to labour long to find the fulfilment of achievement, in relationships this same stolidity was bizarre and destructive.
He was an untutored intellect. He was a maori person of what psychologists might describe as ‘of low cognitive complexity’. He was literally minded, he had not been socialised to an intuitive consciousness of things or relationships. Is the result a primitive arbitrariness? This is a phenomenon I have never seen explored in the literature or popular culture of NZ. Maori values are supposedly of `haroha'(love), but in the household of a single child, and perhaps on the edge of privation, where was there gregariousness? I never knew my paternal grandmother but a photo of her with my elder brother in her arms, records a face so hard, with the colour, texture and malleability of a mahogany breadboard.
Withal, on this psychic inheritance, my Dad had built a sense of self respect and he strove to fulfil it, taking the cues for his ambition from the rural patriarchs who employed him. But the perverse unrelenting ruthlessness which can be the way of maori people, he retained. It can leave maori males with a linear mindset, their inner psyche disparate from the engaging culture around them.
One phenomenon was my Dad’s dissatisfaction that marked his attitudes to the farm and his labour long, and the perceived limited reward he got from both. This same hill on which he fought he would at other times contemplate, standing by the gate into the house section, peering up towards it and the dairy land below. I company he could speak of his chagrin, saying that it was human nature to want something better. Thus he knew not serenity.
This dismayed stolidity did not serve him well when it came to decisions about the farm and his destiny. He sold it.
He had had a preoccupation, to farm for ‘300 pounds of butterfat per acre’. Dairy farmers were paid not by the volume of milk delivered to the factory, but by the percentage of fat (referrred to as butterfat) within it. A calculation of annual production divided by the acreage of the farm obtained this figure, of butterfat produced per acre per annum.
This was the production that could be
achieved on the lush river plain in the
Land agents dealing with men looking for land, found a buyer. He was a sharemilker, like my Dad had been when he had come to the Marototo. One Sunday he stopped by, parking his car on the roadside, and talked to my Dad in the paddock outside the house section where he was cutting firewood. He had taken up the option to buy, the sale was formally in process. He was soon gone and my Dad again looked up at the buttress of hill, this promontory of toil, scene of labour, love and battle. His dissatisfaction was now to be consummated. Assured of a sale he could look for another farm, the farm to relieve his burden.
He found one in the
The sale was in process, the difficulties of relocation and re‑establishment were to be met. The new farm was in the right production zone, but it was not developed like his. Fences, drains, and buildings had been neglected.
It was a time of a new government, a time of inflation, of a `wage price spiral'. Money was worth less and assets more, but he knew not these developments when he sold. He had sold at an old price and been obliged to buy at the new. And the new farm, like his old when he bought it, was of many challenges, physical and psychological. He could see himself repeating his drudgery of development. His unease and challenges he broached with me one evening.
He spoke of the price he had sold the farm for, and how if he had been off the property more and learned the current price of land he would then have asked more for his own, seventy thousand dollars instead of fifty eight thousand. He spoke of the challenge of developing the new farm. He needed me to work behind the tractor attaching the heavy hauling chain to stumps and things that littered the paddocks. I realise now that as the only son who was to be living on the farm with him, he looked to me for assistance.
He was of such a mindset that this one off session and one like it years before was much that we shared of paternal dialogue. This dialogue from him to me was so adult and direct. Apart from voicing his fears to me on this one occasion he kept his own counsel at this time. In a few short months the time for our departure from the farm approached.
The unforeseen developments in the new farm purchase, the strain of worry and dissonance about a decision already made overtook him. That decision was revealed, more and more, as one of error and petulance. Because he had sold low the new farm was not one which could give him the financial independence he had sought, it was actually a third lesser in acreage than the Marototo farm. He had sentenced himself to repeating the drudgery of development over again, and on a property of less potential, and with a body and mind no longer youthful as when he had bought the Marototo farm. Depression, hopelessness, guilt and recrimination overcame him.
But at this time we youths of the
household did youthful things like dismantling cars and other distractive
behaviour. Like some collections of farm brothers we were always using
firearms. Stephen had had several which he would buy then trade in on a new
fancy. On this day we were amusing ourselves with his latest, a
We three disturbed the peace, firing at a target in the shallow gully behind the house. When finished cowering all the fauna around with the noise of this cannon, we scaled the style and hedge which separated our firing range from the house section.
It was then Dad appeared and said he too would like a shot. The ammunition at hand was all spent but we proceeded to search so that he also could enjoy our recreation. Mum appeared on the porch and said “he’s not very well” or otherwise raised a doubt about his frame of mind. He had gone from the house saying “its me those boys should be shooting”. Dad never made it to the firing gully. He turned while grasping the rifle in the section and returned it to us.
Moving inside he seized some pills from the sill of a kitchen window and made as if to swallow them, then twisted his face into an expression of dry tears. He was trying to communicate his unseen anguish and feelings.
Later that evening we were mostly sitting or moving in the living area of the farmhouse, Mum, Dad, and four of their offspring, all teenage years. Dad's mood hung heavy on the ambience. He had returned to his room to try and sleep but was now seated on a carpeted area of the dining room. An uncommon repose, his back rested against a wall. A terrible juncture of his and our lives was about to unfold as he, in childlike pose, surrendered to his grief.
As Kiwi kids, mostly we grow secure about the verities of life. Mums are kind and compassionate : Dads don't cry. But here for the first time in my life, my Dad cried. His face twisted into an unnatural anguish, unnatural for I had never seen grief before, and unnatural because it was my Dad who was grieving, shaking his face in a slow recrimination for his loss. Recrimination for, on some mistaken path, selling his land.
For a man whose youth burgeoned in poverty, and whose quintessential grasp of life is that it is about survival, to then to possess a means of livelihood is a great blessing. This blessing came not without toil, he had had to first strive and abide, so that the land would provide.
And providence it did provide. There was a freezer in the garage of this home that was full of cuts of meat he might not have dreamed of as a child. It was the width of a car, right across one bay of the garage, and it was the farms own grass and sunshine that filled it. From the farms own livestock came the providence in the freezer. His land had brought him what is the endless yearning of the poverty stricken - security, and the respect of the community as someone of substance, of possession and achievement. Now this providence was secured and even in death it could keep on keeping his family. As he wept he said "I'd just paid enough life insurance so that if anything happened to me the farm would have been freehold". If anything mortal happened to him, the providence that his sweat and relentless attendance at the cowshed had won, would remain.
I was raised in the household of a man who dared to have dreams, who through his waking hours of drudgery, constructed and possessed that dream, tangible and real. Yet now it slipped away before him. By his mere petulance he made it crumble, rendered into illusion. His grief and self recrimination knew no bounds.
He described his loss. How the farm he had bought was run down and he did not want to leave the one he had. In turn he turned to his spouse then his son and spoke of having failed them. How the house that we lived in, his wife's domain, was a substantial home but the one we were going into was run down, weathered and weatherboarded. How he felt that Stephen, my elder brother who had laboured on the farm should reap his reward, by farming it himself. But no he had sold it and his grief knew no bounds, and he had let them down.
I, the youngest, was the most motivated to seek help for him. I tried to ring a Doctor until cautioned by my elder brother.
I don't remember whether it was myself or
another family member who did get through to a GP in Paeroa. He travelled out
onto the highway to
Instead he was put to bed and given an injection to put him out. But he was a fit customer, of a gristle strong constitution. He fought the sedative that should have knocked most men, only dozing instead of snoring. With such an oppressive sense hanging over the household there was an unrestful night ahead of us. The next morning I arose at daylight, and went from the `bach', the sleeping outhouse, and into the home. When I found Dad was not in bed and became alarmed. My mother said "Leave him Simon, there's nothing you can do for him". Of this note of resignation I was unimpressed and sought him out. Moving from the house I found his dog whining at the gate into the section and near the garage. On entering the garage I saw him hanging from a cross member, part of the garage roof structure, at ceiling height. I turned immediately to the light switch, all the while yelling "Dad, Dad". In this moment of time he fell to the floor, remaining motionless on the concrete. I ran to him frantic and forced myself to feel for a heartbeat. I did not know if I found one or felt my own agitation coursing through my veins.
My alarm had been heard and soon elder brothers arrived and he was lifted to his feet. They were bodily `walking' him inside, supporting him round the shoulders, when he regained consciousness. He turned, dazed, to his point of self execution and when he had oriented himself, realising this was his former life, not nemesis nor the after life, he cried to be left to his death devices.
He was returned inside to bed.
The memory of the days that followed are of a mellow daze. They are of intense experiences but tempered by their own tragic gravity, they are not intense in the mind's recapturing of them. And there was the fatigue in which I lived them, the first time I had known fatigue in my youthful life. In the evening of the second day after his thwarted demise, we heard a sound at my old car which was parked below a lounge room window. There was a rope on the back seat of this and he had attempted to open the back door of the car.
I peered through the venetian blinds to see what was happening. He stared back at me without the real empathy of minds that men should have. He was of that stygian mind, of that lone Mamaku maori child, in his extremis he was once again that isolated child. In a sense we chased him inside, my elder brothers and I.
The packing was completed. On the last day a farming neighbour and his wife came to make their farewell and brought a cake for my mother, a homely gift at which she wept shortlived and shaken off tears.
Other farmers helped the loading of the furniture van. Bill maintained a decorum in their presence, right to the last handshake. The two of them, individuals and achievers in this farming world, knew him and respected him for what they knew. They knew not of the grief, of the attempt at hanging himself in the garage where they now stood looking out at the almost ready collection of vehicles. One who was of a philosophical bent said of his going "a mans got to do what a man's got to do" except he said it more thoughtfully than the way I phrase it. He was not aware that Dad now knew that he didn't want to leave, he didn't want to do any such thing.
He made his last leave taking, seated between myself and my mother, craning his neck towards that hill, scene of labour, love and battle, crying all the while. We were in the big Valiant car, which he had bought new. As we drove away he turned in his seat and said. "look at that..." gazing to the hill, the sentinel and promontory of the farm, every yard of which knew sweat, muscle and disciplined application. I comforted him as best I could, putting my youthful arm across his shoulders, but he had a grief beyond consoling. He couldn't abide that he was leaving his land, there were no gestures that could penetrate the grief, the stygian dismay of his loss. His was a psychic world as much as a cognitive world, he felt rather than experienced, he knew rather than thought. He cried at misfortune rather than become circumspect at the vagaries of fate.
At our destination, family members and friends unpacked our possessions out of the furniture van. It was parked on a large lawn, with the home parked in a corner of it. Worn weatherboard surrounded it, paint and timber decaying, such that it looked like a shack.
It was an overcast day but there was a more oppressive ambience than mere clouds. As the crow flies, the new farm was a few kilometres from a `boiling down works' where cattle which had died from whatever ailment were collected and rendered down. Here, in the heart of dairydom, this by-product and its processing was accepted by farmers.
But the stink was oppressive.
I was dismayed at the smell, it was a permeating pong, heavy and organic.
The new farm even smelt rotten.
Chapter 2 Things and Feelings
To my mind things come in two categories, real things and abstract things. Sometimes it is pleasurable to talk of abstract things, to manipulate them in our minds. To speak of karma or theosophism, some vague but perhaps fascinating mysticism, was a new experience in my youth. As well I was fascinated by political things; by populism, by a Bjelke-Petersen, by a Muldoon. By abstract concepts such as socialism.
To some men’s minds, greater pleasure is taken in real things rather than abstract things. My Dad took a lot of pleasure in things but they were most often things of utility. To a child of the depression and man of his times a thing is measured in utility rather than pleasure. My Dad did not have the education to speak much of abstract things or the trade training to manipulate mechanical things.
Some things are not technically complicated yet still have thing qualities which are rewarding to work with. A farm fence is a thing, it stands erect, traversing its landscape. If sagging, its end posts, its ‘strainers’, can be rebraced and its wires tightened. Only hard work is required to tap the thing qualities in a fence, one has to dig and sweat. A fence has less thing qualities than a machine, and a drain has less thing qualities than a fence, but still, working with a drain can be rewarding. At my father’s farm in the Marototo the drains were fast flowing and there wasn’kjt much thing quality to be reaped from them other than to clean them with a mechanical digger.
When one looks back at the newly cleaned portion is when one harvests the thing quality of a drain. Where there was sludge and weeds there is now a firm surface with a trickling flow of brown water in it.
My Dad cleaned drains with his shovel of many years and when it was broken by myself or one of my elder brothers as its handle was weathered and weakened, he remarked “I’d done a lot of work with that shovel.” A shovel which one has worked with for years must have proved its utilitarian thing quality over and over.
Sometimes a thing quality is through the feel of an object as well as other kinds of attractiveness. A shovel with a round wooden handle of an inch and a half diameter can be gripped firmly and the wood grain, unlike metal, is accommodating and warms to a human touch. It is grasped in front of the chest and becomes an extension of one’s arms and shoulders. It, like Archimedes lever, multiplies human mass as the strength and sinew of torso, shoulders and limbs go into the point as it is forced into the silt. When one lifts and throws this onto the drain bank the shovel becomes an animate proboscis of the one’s body. The load of clay and silt is dislodged from this proboscis and it is retracted back into the drain to repeat the process.
No farmer ever told me he sensed this thing quality about a shovel, but they must have enjoyed working with tools like it for this vicarious thing quality and fulfilment that came with using them.
The psychic rewards in draining are simpler than fencing or mechanicing. The cognition involved is not complicated. One needs determination with inspiration.
My Dad liked draining.
Thus, to some men’s minds, greater pleasure is taken in real things rather than abstract things. A thing is measured in utility rather than pleasure. What pleasures there are can be staid and absolute also.
was born in 1956 when my Dad was in his thirties. It was a year when the
In his biography detailing his rugby days and other days is a photo of his brother Ian scrumming down against a fencepost "on the family farm." In the background is a windmill that creaked and squeaked alongside the cowshed where my Dad later milked his cows. The farm was a sharemilking property and the Clarkes had preceded our residence there.
Our families had been neighbours as my Dad worked on an adjoining property before the Clarkes moved from theirs. When neighbours my family could hear these footballing sons practice their game. The ball would be kicked and rise above the trees bordering the farms then we would hear the impact that sent it up therek.
this gumbooted hinterland My Dad and Don Clark hailed. They were both short
back and sided men of this pastoral and parochial
Absoluteness is a terrible thing. It stifles our insight and tolerance for people who face different challenges in their lives. Sometimes these challenges could be more primal like finding the psychological space to exist in a society that oppressed because of one’s colour, that disgraces us with laws like the Group Areas Act.
Yes, absoluteness is a terrible thing. It stifles our insight and tolerance for people who have an alternative style of life. Absoluteness is a terrible thing. It stifles our insight and tolerance for people who have an alternative aspiration for their lives. People who don't share the same fulfilment in things that we do. Absoluteness is a terrible thing. It stifles our insight and tolerance for people who face different challenges in their lives than we face in our own. I wanted to fulfil my expectations of life, not of a working life, but my educational aspirations. These were simple things but more subtle and more abstract than the challenges my Dad faced in his life.
My Dad's fulfilment in things was very similar to other men of this man's country in their appreciation of things. And like their values and ideas, his were uncomplicated. And because he was a man of his times, his tolerance for different kinds of seeing things was limited compared to the tolerance of our times.
After losing his farm my Dad became a member of the urban working class. His new farm did not still his mourning for the old so he had sold it to venture his fate at a job in town. This meant labouring for a building firm. He had always taken pleasure in things, especially building things, and now he was to work assisting a builder to build things, five days a week.
His values and ideas were often absolute. He was not a man to abstractly evaluate other men's actions, he absolutely evaluated other men's actions. One of his absolute values was that men were meant to work and thus he didn't shirk at his job. One day, having taken time off for some errand, he had returned to tackle his work in greater earnest. Thus he extended himself on the scaffolding on which he stood and fell, breaking his neck.
His good sense did not caution him. In his sense of loss and longing for his farm, his sad and fierce and awful feelings; of the dazing of pride and self respect, of the squandering of his financial security, these things made caution dissipate. Recrimination burned and burdened him, but he could lose himself in labour for those working hours. Perhaps holding severe conversations with himself of the usefulness and creativity of what he was nailing, or erecting.
At weekends he erected a prefabricated garage for his mother’s house, which on her death, my mothers parents had occupied.
Because he was a builder’s labourer only and not a builder,
the rest of the construction had to be done by others or procured in sections and assembled on the site.
But first he could mark out the area it would occupy then erect boxing for a concrete slab which would be its floor. We had to establish a level at each corner then dig out the foundation at its high points, and fill it in with sand at its low points. But it was really of building blocks in his mind that we were working to mould and set. This garage floor was a thing but another quality was the feeling and pride and desire for fulfilment that had brought us here.
Once he spoke earnestly to me of the possibilities of Pythagoras, how if a triangle came in certain proportions then it implied that one corner enclosed was square. This was a "3,4,5" triangle. I think we may have been working on a farm gate, the fabricating of which he was very proficient at.
But I doubt if he had ever heard the name "Pythagoras".
But on this day on this scaffold my Dad was not a reassured fabricator of things. He was a junior in this company and in this hierarchy of men. Perhaps childlike in his yearning for validation, tremulous in the company of senior people, he worked to alleviate his feelings of doubt. Being alive is feeling and my Dad had a surfeit of feelings, he had carried with him all his working life and which now, since the loss of his land, he felt most dearly.
Thus here is another kind of scaffold from which my Dad came crashing down. Being alive is feeling and if our feelings are a yearning for fulfilment and validation, then we will extend ourselves, perhaps riskily to have them fulfilled.
Thus he extended himself and came crashing down, fracturing one of his neck vertebrate in the impact.
He became a prisoner to pain, lying in traction with an 18 lb. weight attached to his temples.
Not only is a scaffold a temporary construction to assist a builder or like tradesmen, a scaffold is also a place of execution from which the victim is hung, thus breaking his neck that way. And there was another kind of scaffold on which my Dad had stood and from which he was as well going to be cast. A scaffold of unfulfilled pride and feeling. From this scaffold he was cast into a psychological abyss rather than a mortal abyss. But this abyss was as deep as death. It merely meant that parts of him were going to be killed slowly and torturously rather than abruptly.
Death is nemesis of mind. But in this psychological abyss there was death of parts of the mind only, not a complete end of consciousness. In physical torture there is removal or maiming of parts of the body while its central sensitivity, its ability to feel pain remains. If torturers cut the ears off their victims the loss of such digits is felt most keenly by the body remaining. The lopped ears, we presume, become insensate.
The psychological abyss into which my Dad was cast was like this. Parts of his psyche were deformed by the fall and died. While his essential being remained to feel this torture and to mourn and grieve for their loss.
He had thought himself a worker but could barely function socially in an environment of working men. He thought himself a worker but then managed to fall and break rather than build something. Realising the predicament of his penury, he fell into a psychological abyss.
This death, this psychological abyss was not realised immediately, he fought for recovery. And after regaining his feet and a large measure of his health, he fought for recovery of his ability to earn a living. He must have tried too hard too soon because working in a trench for a plumber, he became dazed, struggling to labour long like he always had. But he had not the strength of before because he had to stand aside from this hole, while men cautioned him to be careful of himself.
He recovered from this daze and in life attempted to recover his composure also. He began an occupational trail of taxi driver, school cleaner, jobbing carpenter. Each job had to be abandoned in turn as he realised his limitations in it, or his ill suitedness.
As a taxi driver he had to be called out to drive in the late hours of the night. Such that his sleep was disturbed, and being an unrestful spirit, his sleep would not return. He had a residual paralysis of his right side, tormenting him as he tried to find rest. He became, he said, too tired to sleep.
Thus he would cease to be a taxi driver and become instead a cleaner, having the contract to clean a primary school in Paeroa.
one stage through his hard fought and wayward recovery, he was sent to a
psychiatric out‑patients clinic in
This disempowerment, from landed farmer, to psychiatric out patient, was not the lowest depth of the nemesis of mind that overtook him. He hardened himself from his depression and launched himself into the workforce once more. This time he was the cleaner of the powerhouse of a large dairy factory. Great boilers fed by coal on a conveyor belt, produced steam to drive generating turbines. The black coal dust must have settled over much of it, and my Dad worked with mop and bucket, to clean its floors and other things.
And like his former life when he took pleasure in things, in this life he felt this psychic need more keenly. So he devised chores for himself that would give him this thing relationship with his job. He described how he would commence to mop a floor, visualising it when it was cleaned, that this would be his focus and when it was done he could consider the satisfaction of it. It was so mundane.
But, I think, as he slopped his way with mop and bucket round the Kerepehi powerhouse, his whole spirit grieved for the past independent lifestyle that he once possessed. Within him there would be a corner of non acceptance of his loss. But without he knew he must carry on the life he had now. But it could only be bearable if he could keep some sense of self respect about himself.
But one of the other employees there had no such consciousness about things. He was more earthy and viciously boorish. In a verbal exchange with my Dad he demonstrated this. To my Dad a man of heavy heart and dark pigment he said.
"You fuckin' hori cunt". - (hori is a disparaging vernacular term for maori)
He who yearned completely for self respect and consideration had his burden made heavier with this conversation.
"You fuckin' hori cunt".
was raised in the household of a man who dared to have dreams. They were not of
astuteness or complexity, but tangible and realisable. In my youth I too had
dreams. They were more abstract than my Dad's dreams. They were of the
empowerment of education. This dream was of sense rather than substance. I was
a youth looking for something, a fulfilment ill defined in my mind. My sister
had completed a Social Sciences degree at
I determined, at the age of eighteen, to return to high school to pass this exam,
after a year in the work force. But not only was my dream and intent very
vague, so was the cognitive sophistication and application I brought to it.
After a year at
Inwardly I accepted his advice that I should admit myself to the hospital.
Chapter 3 B Ward
My Dad drove me the sixty miles to the hospital. There
I was admitted by a courteous pom (English immigrant) of middle age. He was human and humane in his deference, adopting not a functional air but using my first name and speaking in a kind and compassionate way. He had me sign a consent and indemnity form for the hospital then directed us to B Ward.
My first hours there were a mellow daze. I was in that state of passive peace that comes when placing one's fate into the hands of others. I'd finally admitted my inability to cope. This serenity of abandonment is itself healing. Like the anxiety ridden man whose ulcers of distress were killing him - when given only a limited time to live, he drew up his will, laid back and prepared to meet his maker... and promptly regained his health. He'd found peace at last, stopped worrying and, contrary to expectations, started living.
Thus I rested at ease that night, listening to the inane conversation that other patients in the dormitory carried on. We were separated only by partitions of cupboards and drawers. Perhaps until after , they lay in the dark, speaking carefree and inanely. Night staff came and told them to shut-up, but they carried on.
The first formal activity I attended was the Monday morning Ward meeting, which was an hour long gathering. The complement of B Ward, staff and patients, were all seated in a circle and when the patient numbers were high the lounge was filled with up to thirty people. Unlike most meetings there was no chairman and apologies weren't accepted, everyone had to attend. There was no agenda, any patient was free to raise their concerns. Ward meetings thus always began in the mode of general business. Silence would sometimes prevail until someone overcame their reluctance to speak.
this first meeting the content revolved around the various advice and good
wishes that a particular patient should take with him in his impending
discharge from the hospital. David Dornan was, by the standards of the
community at large, a notorious individual. He was a chronic long stayer in
hospital wards, with itinerant shifts from institution to temporary work somewhere,
only to return. He was sometimes transferred from hospital to hospital, they
functioned for him as a kind of network of long stay hostelry, with ports of
call in both the North and
He was a character like the loveable tramp himself, possessing that dark countenance of perpetual misfortune and defencelessness and with a stature like Chaplin also. Whereas Chaplin's swagger had a regular cadence, loping and leaning from side to side, David could throw his body in indeterminate ways as he walked, deliberately extemporizing a comedy of movement that never became tiresome. He had a similar comedy of musical endeavour, singing, and playing guitar with three chord accompaniment. Unlike his walk which he deliberately turned into comedy, his singing was more heartfelt but the effect was the same - he was tone deaf. He would have been awful to listen to if it hadn't been for the chronic comedy that he was generally and which his singing was also.
However today he was off on an infrequent intent to work rather than make people laugh, and his friends and associates in his society of psychiatric cronies, gave their good wishes and advice. One more staid and sensible individual who also happened to be a child molester ‑ a sometime paedophile ‑ said he should alter his appearance and conduct if he wanted to find a job. He should look "brisk and alert". One can imagine Dave's despondency. He was leaving his mates and would be in that infrequent bind of having to work and worry for his breakfast instead of rising from his fart-sack of a bed and partaking of hospital fare.
A ward mate or psychiatric mate of Dave's, was one Gerard Ibsen, who was soon to become a friend of mine. His advice was of a philosophical nature and delivered in a garrulous spiel, gesticulating with rolling hands and rolling phrases, a succession of airy homilies like "Keep your faith in God... don't become despondent if something bad happens..."
It was in their correction of Gerard's bullshitty advice that the counsellors in B Ward first demonstrated their skills. They described his contribution as verbal diarrhoea, "Keep your faith in God" was superfluous advice if he couldn't get up and catch a bus to work on time. They could recognize verbiage from substance. There were several of them, neither patients nor uniformed nurses, they wore casual dress, except John Saxby who was often in a suit. They corrected and clarified the directing of advice to David by pointing out the vague abstractness of what he'd heard.
It was the nature of this exchange itself that demonstrated the constructed microcosm that was B Ward. The context provided by B Ward, where human beings could confidently communicate about their needs and feelings and their efforts to fulfil them. This was more fully demonstrated in the group meetings.
A text book prescription for encounter groups or sensitivity groups describes one aim as "to develop greater authenticity in interpersonal relations, to feel free to be oneself and not feel compelled to play a role". In B Ward we had relinquished roles, the humdrum social mask roles at least were superfluous. Seated in our group meetings, more intimate than Ward meetings and where more intimate relationships were fostered, we could speak calmly and not in an atmosphere of defensiveness. Thus an inquiry about our own and others lives was made, our awareness and sensitivity, our listening, but most of all our ability to hear, was greater. The process which unfolded in the group meetings is technically titled "group psychotherapy".
The group meeting which I was first detailed to attend was, other than myself, an all female group. The convener was a woman named Helen Brownlee. It was held in a room, perhaps 12 feet by nine or smaller. Half a dozen of us could sit in there in a comfortably intimate distance of each other. Being thus cloistered at the top of the stairs and at the end of the female dorm, gave a comfortably intimate feeling to this gathering.
Being of only ordinary intuition about people, we have but a vague grasp of the skills of a counsellor in a psychotherapy Ward, a most patient skill as they lead or cajole people into a new intuition or new apprehension about their lives. I can recount successive experiences, of myself and of other patients I was an intimate spectator to, in this process. Their intimate problems and dramas are the stuff of real human interest.
The first case which I can remember being brought to the point of culmination and illumination was of a women of physical fragility. She cast not much of a shadow. She was anorexic. After many weeks of a non eventful dialogue in these groups, her husband came to one afternoon session.
The exchanges with him were stilted for the first few minutes, then he and the counsellors achieved a progressing dialogue. His character enabled it. He was of such an earthy open heartedness, a working class guy with a working good sense. He said of his sex prowess "I've done my best to get a women going." There was an element of snaring in the counsellor's steering of the dialogue. She was drawn into their exchanges, and drawn out on the reasons for her inability to eat. It was about control, she used her anorexia as power in the relationship.
A dowdy lady, in her late thirties perhaps, had a look akin to an opossum lit up in the headlights of a car, an intense stare suggestive of daze and incomprehension. She had been living with her mother through possibly all her spinsterhood, and at one time did not leave her room for months on end, except for obvious errands. This was a relationship of dominance, where an overbearing personality had intimidated the passive partner. In one group meeting there was an exchange between her and the counsellors.
"Its not my mother."
"It is your mother."
"Its not my mother."
"It is your mother."
Inherent in such ultimately benign examination was an ambience of confidence, that B Ward was a place where people could confidently communicate. Where people could be human in their interaction and in an especially intuitive and empathetic way if both partners in an exchange were of a mind to be. There was less defensiveness or enmity. People had got past the stage of humdrum pretension, that state in which we euphemise and compromise our feelings in this sometimes harrowing experience called life. Thus B Ward was a place they could simply be, rather than a place to live or work or worry.
It was especially so for me because I was of the youthful trust of life, I had no callouses around my heart or consciousness. I was simply willing to engage people in an attempted empathy about their lives.
Thus the group sessions satisfied a deep psychic need for companionship, for the consortium of other minds and their kindness. But the psychotherapy itself was not productive, other than this friendship. I could recount my unhappiness that had brought me to the hospital. I spoke of the outward reasons for my being there, the dashing of my academic aspirations, my distress at finding myself an unwilling member of the workforce. But when taxed about my family life, about family experience, the building blocks of personality, I was able to deflect their inquiry. Being verbally fluent I could quickly say "I had an ordinary family life.." and keep repeating it in different form, quicker than they could rephrase the question. And I was young and naive enough to believe it.
Because I was not in touch with my feelings there was no fruition of treatment in my first stay in B Ward. I was not able to get through the barrier of insensitivity in which I had lived my life.
The last group meeting I attended exemplified this numbness, this non-reactive myopia. When taxed as to how I felt personally about something I became immobile. I described my fear at the prospect of re‑entering the community, what the cynical describe as facing up to the real world. The world I was returning to had grim challenges... its grim sense of failure and senseless occupation and senseless pursuits.
Thus in this last group meeting, the group, pressing me about my feelings, caused a complete mental myopia to overtake me. I froze, presenting a picture of physical rigidity, immobile, my eyes focused on nothing. As people come into this ward "to do" something, I obviously wasn't "doing" anything. The counsellor convening our group was sympathetic to me and was prepared to wait but she shared her responsibilities with a staff nurse who had acquired or insinuated herself into the role of counsellor. Wearing a uniform and being very authoritative she brought this role into the group. She decided I should be discharged, with the proviso that I could return when I was ready "to do" something.
And I did return to the hospital, after a stay at home and work of several months. I had become listless and dull, working at night and sleeping by day. In a phone conversation with Dr Saxby's secretary, I said, "I have been languishing in bed for fourteen hours a day". The decision was made that I should come back into the hospital.
B Ward had a homely character, by way of age and design, being of the architecture and building materials of fifty years ago. It was two storey and of red brick, with a steeply gabled roof of ceramic tiles. The windows were tall, a cross between casement and colonial. It sometimes went by the name of "Villa" B and considering its countrified appearance and aspect, this countrified name was appropriate.
hospital itself was of a country aspect. It was reached by a drive south from
the provincial city of
Within, B Ward was physically modest rather than plush. On
entering one passed into a foyer with an office to the left, then through a second set of doors to the Ward day room. The furnishings were functional rather than comfortable. There was a carpet of dated design and metal framed chairs with large tin ashtrays at foot. On the left side was the dining room. A disused fireplace and a pool table bordered the right hand side. The ambience was of cleanliness from the adjoining kitchen, sterility from the adjoining dispensary, paint and carpet from the lounge and cigarette smoke from the people.
The front entrance had steps and doors that were no bigger than most suburban homes. They opened onto an asphalt area containing a single car park which was reserved for John Saxby. This gave way to lawns, broken by garden and trees, and beyond these was the mowed sports field of several acres. On weekends, cricket or softball matches were played and staff members swapped their uniform white shirts for sporting garb. Thus, unlike a city hospital, which is always confined by car parks and adjoining blocks, B Ward had a peaceful country aspect. The whole hospital hummed adjacent to and behind it, but to look north from the front entrance, one saw greenery.
I formed a friendship with a committed patient, a guy in his twenties. We had a synergy, I liked him, he was a rewarding bloke to know, although his subsequent lunacy revealed a real dearth of character. He had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals since his teens. His Dad was a Doctor, a GP. Gerard wasn't a dullard, he was bright and biddable and thus could be stimulating. Being from his family's medical milieu and being older and more experienced in this psychiatric world, he had had more life experiences and adventures to recount. I had a fine time being his crony and confidante.
Adjacent to B ward was a recreational area including a hall used for badminton, and a library. Here there were housed records and a record player for the entertainment and edification of patients. In my case it was edification, because it was the first time I ever listened to classical music. On one of those velour portable turntables we listened to an LP, Peter Tchaikovsky's `Pathetique' symphony. I strained to catch the melody in it. Being more attuned to pop and rock-and-roll from Radio Hauraki, it didn't catch my ear or turn me on.
But the whole ambience of this record and this rec' hall and this lifestyle within the confines of the hospital, was relaxing and stimulating at the same time. The biddable mien of the recreational officer who brought out the record and record player. The way one walked over to this library come temporary auditorium and sat one-self down and enjoyed being there. One was simply being and breathing, without the hubbub of everyday earnestness that normally prevails in life.
But this ambience of laconic good cheer and civility did not stop Gerard from going over the top. It began with his agitation and sleeplessness. Something was happening to him. He was getting more agitated, in walking pace, and other things At the simple chore of tying his shoes, his hands would shake and his eyes were unnervingly tense. This was unsettling for me as our good cheer dissipated and became replaced by Gerard's frenetic pace. One night I slept half aware of him wandering up and down stairs and in the dorm, at one time standing by my bed, his head down and pensive.
On a Friday morning at ward meeting he revealed his crisis. After several minutes, he made the summation of the intense dialogue he had spoken thus far. "I am the reincarnation of Peter Tchaikovsky." Alarmed the therapist drew this dialogue to a close.
I think Gerard was in a state of `psychosis'. The point at which intensity of feelings and trauma gave way to mania where he so seized on obsession it became belief. That afternoon he took his small portmanteau for carrying music and said "I'm going" to the staff who were collected in the staff room. "Bye bye Gerald" one flighty one replied. He was flouting the authority of the hospital and doomed to court its control.
In this psychotherapy ward, control over patients, other than the control and cajoling of the therapeutic process itself, was limited to the denial of weekend leave. But a committed patient was at the disposal of the hospital authority, was subject to incarceration and detention, complemented by another agency of the state, the police, who would arrest at the staff's behest, if a patient left the hospital without their assent.
And this is what happened to Gerard. Childlike, he left knowing this probable outcome, but petulant and defiant, and driven by his driven psychosis, he marched on. A few days later I saw him in the hospital grounds. He was dressed in pyjamas and dressing gown, denial of clothes being one of the strictures of the hospital `control'. He was in Ward 2, sometimes known as male security. Constrained there along with a lot of unnerving men, some intellectually backward, and some brutal and with unnerving records.
Soon Gerard was back in B Ward, subdued and sorry for his experiences.
One night a man appeared in the ward, seated alone in the lounge. Being my ingenuous self and full of the ethos of B Ward, I sat down with him and commenced a conversation. He was willing to be drawn out and recounted the succession of events that brought him here.
was of a criminal past, or at least boasted of one. He described an armed
robbery of a hotel when a team of football players had disturbed them at their
work. Wielding a sawn off shotgun, he had had to "back them into the
lift". He had other exploits to describe and had served time in Paremoremo
Ron was initiated into the group I was in. This was no doubt a foreign situation to him, but the therapist showed more timidity and enmity, being very circumspect about a character like Ron amongst his charges. The hour long discussion elicited Ron's sense of hedonism through drug use ‑ "If you feel bad, you stick a needle in your arm and everything would be better". Ron described driving home in his Mustang after a night of drugs and other indulgence and seeing the population queuing to catch buses, he couldn't understand their lives. How do they do it?
Whilst Terry Campbell (the senior social worker in B ward and the convener of our group) observed he had already lived past the life expectancy of heroin addicts (five years) Ron was the picture of health. Terry had a prescription for Ron in his participation in the group and his participation in B Ward. One element was ‑ that being part of the group would see him appraised of the ways of life, the psychological life, the `feelings', that ordinary people had.
Ron spent a constructive time in the hospital. The discussions in Ward meeting were of such poignance to him on one occasion that he became dismayed. He said he was reflecting on the things he had done in his life of criminal indulgence, the things he had done to hurt people.
enforced custody of patients under formal admission (committal) was sometimes
not absolute. A few years later when resident in a hostel in
Ron's departure from the hospital was like this, of his own timing ‑ he merely failed to return from leave. He moved out of the lives of those he knew in B Ward and became a memory. What happened to him, this outwardly decent Dick Turpin, I know not. Men such as he, with their inherent confidence, radiate a quality, a manly magnetism. This makes them good to know and can fill one with an inner glow. We enjoy the vicarious sense of sharing their lives, which are unaffected by conceit or neuroses.
Bernard, David, Ron ‑ notable for their notoriety ‑ these three eccentric characters were not typical of the patients in B Ward. The patient who was most representative, and who I presume the psychotherapy regimes were really intended for was Mr & Mrs Ordinary. Mr and Mrs You and Me. They were the abused people, the depressed people, the disturbed people, the soulful people.
Like the woman in her late forties, admitted on a Sunday evening, that time of arrival when patients return from weekend leave. A time of greeting of staff, then of goodbye, as they farewell and are farewelled by family. A staff nurse strode purposefully across the lounge carpet to show her to the female dorm, a look of purpose and control on her countenance. This patient, newly admitted, followed with purposeful tears. They were of dismay at what course in life had brought her this way. What years and what fears had brought her to this? She became a member of the group I was in at that time.
As a child she had been molested by an uncle ‑ her distress was still inhibiting her life. The process of therapy was not marked by drama such that I remember but the resolution, one of her things `to do', meant that she write to her assailant or a relative with a role in this incident of abuse. The content of the letter became subject to our examination as she read it out to the group and appealed for encouragement.
But drama, actually a psychodrama, the acting out and reliving of real trauma in one's past life, I witnessed more personally.
Janice had been caught up in an emotionally charged separation of her parents. She was seven years old when one spouse, I presume the father, had departed. Their custody battle for Janice had become a physical battle, actually a tug of war, with Janice as both the rope and the prize, on the doorstep of their home. Neither of the distressed parents wanted to relinquish Janice to the other. Each had grabbed an arm and hauled on it, saying "No Janice your coming with me..." and such like. It was adjudged by the powers that be in B Ward, that this incident was of real psychic trauma and that her process or progress of therapy would benefit if she was able to relive and revisit this incident in a role play ‑ an acting out of it. This marital match in which Janice was the ball, was to be replayed.
Thus she was to detail several members of the ward to act as cast members. I was one of them. Some were apportioned certain roles to approximate people in Janice's past life. One young women who had been admitted with depression, after thus far shagging her youth away, in her home town, and in Europe while on her OE, was apportioned the role of slut. I think my presence was desired by the therapists on my case, to see if the exhibition of the impending trauma shook me out of the myopia that surrounded me.
Janice was womanly and mature. When she asked us to attend the venue for her psychodrama, it was in a demurring vein. We assembled in the room where both Janice and myself shared the group therapy sessions. There were two staff and four or more patients. Demurring still, Janice had to be cajoled to kick off. She described the scene, the experience of the separation of her parents. And the cast, she had to describe to them their apportioned roles. A power station technician, a man of electricity and sensitivity, was the father. I forget who was the mother.
Under prompting, the combatants commenced their tug of war. One on each arm. The grim realism was resisted by Janice but not for long. She soon began to react and then began to relive this incident of possibly thirty years ago. The trauma was real and the resistance vain ‑ she soon began to react. Crying her anguish the tug of war ended when she loosened herself of their grip, snapping with terrier snaps at their hands. She lay on the floor, bashing her head against the lino. Helen Brownlee put weight on her head to stop this percussion.
A post mortem was held of this psychodrama several days later. Janice had been quiet and withdrawn in her comportment, sitting in her chair in the group session, head down and withdrawn. The observation by Terry Campbell who had attended the psychodrama was... that she had become like a child.
Most people are of sensitive substance. Loving and living with love is part of their being, and when their loving hearts are wounded or brutalized then they are, like Janice, tormented and demur. And a loving heart can be brutalized, not by overt trauma but by the clinical callousness of a relationship where sterility prevails. Janice had been subject to both kinds of bruising. As a child she had been emotionally cleaved by her parents. As a woman she had been caught up in another kind of torment. An insidious torment, of a sterile relationship, an ungiving partner.
This relationship was with her husband whom she had separated from before her admission to the hospital. He came into the ward one evening to conclude some business with her. There was an odd ungiving air about him. From his toes to his countenance crowned with a toupee, his body language, his movements, his something, had an air of aloofness and composure. He clutched a chequebook like a familiar tool and accoutrement. He was a rural type, this chequebook was part and symbol of his life and role of rural patriarch. During this valedictory meeting he wrote out a cheque ‑ as if it was the most fitting and appropriate way to conclude the drama of their lives together. It was odd given that it was a psychological drama being enacted, not a financial one. The dissolution of their bonds marital could be symbolized with this proffering of scrip.
Janice had surrendered the custody of the kids to him. As he had had a vasectomy she considered this was reason enough for him to have them. For some reason Dad was unable to care for the kids for a period and they were put into care. On hearing this Janice went AWOL from the ward. Distressed, she left the confines of the hospital and went on a farm walk, followed by a nurse who trailed her across country.
A "side room" was where patients were restrained or constrained if they were deemed to be at risk. Or if formal patients they could be disciplined by this process of confinement. Sometimes it was called seclusion. At other times patients could be given an injection of paraldehyde, which left them unconscious for many hours. On Janices's return she was shown to a lockable side room but baulked at entering it.
She stood at the doorway to this room, asking of the staff nurse who was attempting to calm her fears, "Am I going to get a needle?"
Rather than real trauma, I was of the depressed and dismayed, with unarticulated feelings which inhibited my functioning. The therapists in my first group had recognized and attempted to draw me out of this immobility of reaction. I was adjudged to be like the spinster who stayed in her room for several months, that I was subdued or overwhelmed by another personality in the house - my father. That I did not stay in my room for months on end but had stayed in a boyish mind for years on end. One staff member had occasion to remark that I had very childlike rather than adult mannerisms.
I retained a defensiveness around my feelings such that I wouldn't sense them. And this callousness had become harder, it had metastasized. Thus in this, my second stay in B Ward, this unconsciousness, this myopia, overcame me in the last Ward meeting which I attended. My dysfunctional state was thrown back at me when I broached my own case. Immobility overcame me. It was of the chronic inability of young men to be in touch with their feelings, or to have any feelings at all. Thus I repeated my first failure to get in touch with why I was so psychologically dysfunctional.
Another element was conventional wisdom which exhorts people that it is a case of mind over myopia; That you've got to pull yourself up by your psychological bootstraps; that you don't need this intervention by psychiatrists and their hospitals and their counsellors and their regimes of group therapy. That one is the master of one's own destiny. Strangely this advice came from patients whose treatment had reached a maturation and they had been able to go out into the world and pursue their own lives. I was able to retain their company when they revisited the hospital. I took this advice and rejected the exhortations of B Ward and left the hospital.
My Dad was later to mirror these collective arguments. The most literate exhortation he had was..
"The rewards of life don't come to you... you've got to go out and get them."
I was re‑admitted about six months later, a third and last admission.
This time I was euphoric, on the manic side of a depressive cycle. For a time I resumed my regime of membership of the psychotherapy groups. This came to an end when Helen Brownlee told me to go over to the Group conducted in the psychology department, saying "Morton and Dianne have something they want to work through with you." Morton Osborne and Dianne Cameron were psychologists who conducted a group in the Psychology Department. It was composed of youthful members and met at the same time as the Groups in B Ward.
C Group was fundamentally different from the practices in A or B Group. The location was different. It was conducted in the Psychology Department building. In the deference afforded patients it was different. In so many ways, it was different.
To the Professional Practices and Ethical Issues Committee, NZ Psychological Society.
DEFENSIVE REACTIONS IN PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS
My work history had begun at sixteen but I had sought to gain admission to University, by returning to the sixth form, at age eighteen. However my failure to pass the U.E. exam had been a source of acute depression and I had made a sad return to a working life, and attempted to study U.E. subjects after hours.
I saw psychiatrist Dr John Saxby after referral by GP, and came, on his advice, to his Ward In Tokanui Hospital, Ward B.
After adjustment to the regimen there I became completely trusting of the practice and purposes of B Ward. It seemed to be the kind of social milieu that I had consciously yearned for in the preceding months, when I was constantly talking about pursuing a career in some kind of social work or other, a youthful altruism. I read Peter Berger's "Invitation to Sociology" at this time and was attracted to the ethos of understanding society in a benign or `humanist' perspective. My plans of pursuing tertiary education were reaffirmed. On discharge however, returning to the same circumstances from whence I came to the hospital, I became similarly depressed and was re-admitted several months later.
The period of psychotherapy this time, became orientated towards my establishing better relations with my father; that I was `screwed down', by an unspoken enmity and reserve on his part, and an unknowing indifference on mine.
I rejected this advice and returned home to my parents.
However, after an insightful experience with him when I discovered that I didn't really know him, I realised that the advice I'd been given was correct. I returned to see John Saxby. He suggested a few days in Ward B to settle down, as I was euphoric and agitated.
This was the third admission and contrary to the first two when I'd been reserved and unmoved by things, now I lost all reserve completely and became manic. After several weeks I was transferred from the normal group therapy sessions to Morton Osborne's group, conducted by him and a recent graduate psychologist, Dianne Cameron. These people personified the things I had yearned for myself. They were products of academia, and to be with them and part of their working lives was a liberation. On my first interview with them they furnished me with the questionnaire that I describe at the beginning of my complaints draught. So I went into a further state of euphoria, as I thought with this programme and their assistance I could bridge the gap between the things I wanted to pursue and the things I was able to.
But I was not prompt in the completion of this questionnaire and upon Cameron's departure (she was a novice psychologist and had to rotate to other wards in the hospital), Osborne's method and manner changed abruptly.
On the Regimen of B Ward
B ward is a psychotherapy ward as distinct from an acute ward. There are no patients undergoing ECT. Physically it was a homely place, with carpeted floors rather than polished linoleum. The treatment revolves around group meetings, held morning and afternoon, with three Ward meetings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, in which, as implied, the whole Ward participates. The groups constituted up to a dozen members. Two of them were held in the B Ward environs and one group, consisting in the main of youthful members, was held in the Psychology Department.
In B Ward there is no use of surnames such as Nurse Smith, Jones or Brown; the staff are known by their first names. It is a benign place, and the senior staff are mature, committed people. It is this sense of "benign-ness" that I acquired when in B Ward, and thought the same rules would apply in the Psychology Department. I was wrong.
1/ My New Life
Initially Osborne began a positive treatment programme, by furnishing me with a questionnaire.
What are your aims with respect to;
(b) Your relationship with your parents?
(c) The relationship between your parents?
(d) What is wrong with you and what are the best ways of dealing with them?
(e) In what ways do you think the way your parents have effected you will continue to effect you in the future?
2/ Indoctrination ‑ Beginnings
The first aspect of Osborne's treatment I would take up with you is the power of committal (committal is when a person is adjudged by medical personnel or legal process to require constraining in a psychiatric institution for treatment or assessment) he assumes over his patients. This is a power of committal not vested in psychologists by any parliamentary statute, but one he conducts within the privacy of his own office. It was achieved by manipulation and indoctrination of myself in my attitudes towards the hospital and staff, and ensured my docility and vulnerability to his treatment. It was committal by creating and sustaining dependence, rather than a formalised process, but just as effective.
The indoctrination began with Osborne's views on Electro Convulsive Treatment. The initial lesson was one discussing the arguments of what effect ECT has on the brain in a chemical/cellular respect, which was mostly beyond me. Osborne then introduced the notion of brain damage with such things as...
"the hospital hierarchy makes a tacit admission that brain damage does occur, through their regarding an EEG(electro encephalograph), post to ECT, as invalid. Experiments with rats using similar current to that of the ECT units had demonstrated brain damage."
He mentioned an ECT unit which had `functioned' for two years, but was not actually shocking the patient. This exchange was within easy hearing of another patient, one Denis Thatcher, who had been transferred to Osborne's care, after committal to the hospital and the admission ward, where he had been administered a course of ECT (he had been given seven ECT treatments). He was at this time rigid with resentment or tension or whatever, and Osborne had been putting him through relaxation exercises, which he was doing at the time. He had been in the same room with us throughout Osborne's discourse and had even interjected (with respect to ECT) "It doesn't do you any harm". Something he had to believe for his own sake.
That the content would be disturbing to Thatcher I put to
Osborne. He gave this some thought, gazing after Thatcher who was leaving the room. Then his torso heaved somehow, there was an involuntary jerk of his diaphragm, that emerged as a visceral kind of grunt and exhalation. Almost simultaneously he said;
"It will at least serve to quieten his resentment to what's happening in the group and make him less of an intractable patient".
I cannot quote Osborne verbatim, but on this and other occasions, I reproduce what he said as best I can, and as completely as I can.
What Thatcher and myself had been treated to turned out to be the information contained in the preamble of Osborne's thesis "An Attempt At Analysis of the Effectiveness of Electro Convulsive Treatment." It was with this that Osborne began formal indoctrination a few days later.
3/ Indoctrination Proper
Osborne's first lesson had been delivered with a quiet `I'm very disturbed by all this' flavour. The next lesson delivered in the following week, was not such a timid display.
We were seated in his office when, with searching and watchful eyes, he suggested to me that I go through to an adjoining office and collect a copy of his thesis. I was left to peruse it for possibly ten minutes and read in the introduction of such things as...
A placebo effect.
A remission of depression caused by extra handling and staff‑patient contact associated with ECT.
Lower socio‑economic groups lend themselves to ECT rather than psychotherapy.
When Osborne returned to his office he clarified these verbally and continued on with a short but disquieting lesson of practices within the hospital which said, in so many words...
So much schizophrenic behaviour engendered by the hospital situation.
He ventured the opinion or observation that
Everyone in the hospital from "Bennett down" did not know what they were about with respect to ECT and psychiatric practice in general.
I am not sure of his exact words. He did say "Bennett down" (Dr Bennett was the then Hospital Superintendent) and it was in reference to both ECT and psychiatric practice.
Osborne's observations so far had been delivered with a laden breath and voice as he gazed out of his office window and over to the administration building. He now moved onto things that did not effect his demeanour in this way. He moved across the room to take a seat at his desk and, in response to some observation I had made, ventured the opinion that...
"they (the nursing staff) are just glorified custodians trained in the use of drugs and little else, and kinkiness and/or deficiencies in their own personalities can lend them to working in the hospital."
These may not have been Osborne's exact words, but the mien in which I remember them conveys the message accurately. My contacts with the nursing staff were to identify them as altruists, but in the meantime, for the purpose of redirection of resentment they had to be purged. And then the quality and sobriety of psychiatrists within the hospital.
Words to the effect that Tokanui and institutions like it, lend themselves to attracting the washed up alcoholic members of the medical profession.
Indoctrination with respect to my Doctor came at a later period of my treatment, a few days or weeks hence. His character assassination came more under the heading of
"Come and commiserate with me about what a bastard John Saxby is", rather than indoctrination proper:
"Osborne had a friend whose father had come into the hospital in a state of depression and Saxby blasted him with ECT for no reason, and when Osborne confronted him Saxby would not justify himself and since that time would not address Osborne in a direct way about anything".
‑ Dr Saxby's conception of a schizophrenic is a patient with no insight into his situation or awareness at all, which is wrong ‑ because they have been..."proved to be manipulative bastards."
4/ Indoctrination ‑ Response
Throughout Osborne's discourse I had been an attentive listener, and a gleeful listener with respect to his phrases concerning the nursing staff. When Osborne used that key phrase "they are just glorified custodians..." I experienced a reaction of glee, an hysterical kind of glee. A `holier than thou' reaction, when one finds someone or something to look down on. It was something I had never experienced before and something which psychologists themselves would be interested in. It was an unnatural heightening of humour. Of all the subjects of Osborne's indoctrination, this was the one I came to seize on and react to the most. I think - because they were almost peers ‑ I had contact with them every day.
Immediately I became a mouthpiece for his resentment
of the hospital (Osborne's success in eliciting this attitude change to effect
his own ends negates the notion that one can't alter consciousness). This
inevitably caused a degree of polarisation of my relationships within B Ward
where I was to become an object of disquiet, especially by the nursing staff.
Besides this initial primitive reaction, he also engendered an enquiry on a
more rational level. I had access to a University study by Braginsky, Braginsky
and Ring ("Methods of Madness; The Mental Hospital As a Last Resort",
"so much schizophrenic behaviour engendered by the hospital situation"
It sparked the growth of awareness about such things, but an awareness not tempered by caution in my actions within the hospital. I was subsequently to undergo my own `Szaszian' nightmare, educated about the fall then led to the edge and pushed over by Osborne. This term `Szaszian' I have coined to describe the view of psychiatry propounded by the American psychiatrist, Doctor Szasz. Thomas Szasz is an activist for what is termed the "anti psychiatry" movement. Instead of clinical concepts such as psychoses and disorders, he considered that people suffered from "problems in living" and their hospitalisation was merely a societal response to their disarray. Szasz has published many titles.
Osborne was subsequently to refer to the indoctrination in his language of self approbation, as "redirection of resentment". "I redirected your resentment towards me towards the hospital". He is arrogant to begin this business and too arrogant to be aware of what effect it had on me, with respect to my relations in B Ward and how his on‑going manipulation charted my demise within the hospital.
5/ Eliciting of Assertion
Concurrent with his "redirection of resentment" Osborne began as well a process of "eliciting of assertion". That these two antithetical ends could be combined is something only Osborne could explain. It involved the withdrawal of recognition of me within the group, in that neither Osborne or Cameron would relate to me in any positive way. This was supposed to mirror my relations with my father, and produce the same symptoms of withdrawal and depression that brought me into the hospital.
It worked. I became a demeaned and subdued and sometimes paranoid figure. But instead of assertion Osborne produced only self effacement. I had a giggling equilibrium. He had set me the questionnaire, and then abandoned it and began instead this business of "eliciting of assertion". I produced a reply right in the midst of his eliciting of assertion. We really were at cross purposes. In response he flung across his desk a seminar speech or similar text that was the rationale for his group activity. The theory was this ‑ that how people felt within themselves, was a function of how other people related to them, and Osborne was training us to engender this positive projection, thereby making us the better.
This sounds too tenuous to hold up, and its biggest flaw was that on occasion, Osborne treated patients in such a way that they could be demeaned and degraded, and consistent with his own theory, they felt awful. An example occurred on the first group session after Cameron's departure. Osborne began by enquiring of another patient ‑ Arthur Scargill ‑ had he informed any of the group of his reason for being in the hospital ‑ he hadn't (he was a patient committed by the courts after having exposed himself ‑ he was a flasher). Osborne then demanded of him.
Still Arthur couldn't confess and was distressed. Osborne's response was....
"Well then you can get out" ‑ so he got out.
In the meantime I had been defending Scargill. So after he had left, his face and comportment distressing to describe, Osborne turned to me...
And you're pissing me off too today Simon, so you can get out".
So I got out.
In such a setting where they could be treated so, Osborne set the remainder of the group to rehearsing assertion. This involved two members pulling their chairs up facing eachother and swapping assertive exchanges. In the meantime I had returned to B Ward and noted Scargill in the environs of a neighbouring ward, a female geriatric ward, in a distressed state. Two male nurses who had been attending B Ward office while the groups were in progress, were looking for Arthur. Osborne had absented himself from his group to alert them by phone of Arthur's distress and of the possibility of his doing injury to himself.
So this is the bizarre progression of events, and this can be the bizarre timbre of Osborne's treatment regimes. He threw one patient out of the group, then another, and alerted the nursing staff to act as monitors for the distress of first evicted party - then set the remaining members of the group to rehearsing assertive behaviour. It is bizarre in that assertion is about finding the space in which people can be human beings, yet he teaches assertion in a context where patients can be crudely assaulted. This bizarre nihilism is a recurring theme in my complaints about Osborne and my loathing of his treatment.
In the face of Osborne's intimidation, I had a giggling equilibrium, in an effort to deflect the situation I was in -
of being demeaned within the group, and having to perform behind a two way mirror, with Osborne's rehearsals of initiating relationships with women. Eventually Osborne was successful in this intimidation, he did produce a reaction, whereby I absented myself from the group, and in the throwing off of his constraints I went into a state of euphoria. He sought me out in B Ward and I informed him of my new found strength. He noted this, and then led me away to some place where we could talk without interruption.
6/ Eliciting of Assertion Deemed to Be Over
We entered a room used for the group psychotherapy sessions in B Ward, with chairs positioned in a circle around the room.
Osborne drew up a chair in front of me, sprawled his frame in it, and began a strange delivery.
He was rolling a cigarette and kept on rolling it, making and breaking eye contact as he talked. I couldn't understand what he said and can't reproduce it. It was a very obtuse sort of soliloquy - it was directed at me but not to me. He was making and breaking eye contact in an unnatural, un-conversational way. I must have found this situation intimidating because my giggles became more up-tempo as his phrases spilled out. Then I began to grasp what he was saying. He was delivering the crux of his treatment thus far. I was to take from it the lesson he had been building his treatment around these several weeks. That together with Cameron, he had been conducting a process of covert intimidation of me; in the way he related to me, or withdrew recognition of me within the group setting; having no response to me ‑ or only a negative response. This scenario was supposedly to parallel relations with my father and I was to go forth and assert myself out of the same situation at home. At this point the subject of Arthur Scargill came up in our exchanges and he bid me go downstairs and tell Arthur to come up and see him.
Concurrent with the inception of Osborne's treatment of myself he began a treatment process on one Arthur Scargill, another group member. I describe my observation of his treatment because...
‑ I had to share such treatment.
‑ We shared a similar fate as the result of Osborne's treatment;
‑ Osborne's treatment of Scargill, parallels and clarifies my description of Osborne's treatment of myself.
Scargill's offence which brought him into the hospital was that he had exposed himself - he was a flasher. Concurrent with the inception of my treatments, Osborne determined to force Scargill to be able to confess publicly his offence. At the suggestion of this Scargill balked. To which Osborne up‑curled his upper lip and sniggered...
"I'll pin it in two inch high letters on the wall of B Ward".
The occasion for him to confess was on the group session immediately following Cameron's departure to other duties. When he was unable to do so, as described, Osborne sent him from the group.
"Well then you can get out".
After an intense week long struggle Scargill was able to confess.
Arthur followed me back upstairs and while I resumed my seat, he addressed Osborne from the corridor saying only two things...
"I don't like the way you relate to me and the I don't like the way you relate to others in the group, and that's all I'm saying."
...and he turned and strode down the corridor. Osborne didn't reply but on Scargill's departure he rotated his head through 90 degrees to face me and began to deliver a resume of Scargill's treatment progress to date. Like his delivery to me a short time before, he effected a certain face and speech. This time he chose a pose of pure profligacy, spewing his words out like a dog masticating its dinner. His manner of delivery was an exercise in derision itself.
It contained, what I think are the quintessential elements of argument Osborne uses to debunk errant or disaffected patients. He spewed out these sentences that;
1/ Scargill had come into the hospital with specific problems;
2/ Osborne had tailored a specific treatment regime to these problems, i.e. revelation of his sexual "aberrations" and rehearsals behind two‑way mirrors;
3/ Scargill had responded to this treatment and of his rehearsals at initiating relationships "he had become quite expert at it", to the point where he was "ready to go out of the hospital, but..."
4/ "...he's cultivating other problems!!"
This spiel ended when he raised his voice to an earnest climactic crescendo;
"He's cultivating other problems!!"
There was another element in his dissemination of Scargill that was peculiar to his case, and not part of a normal constructed criticism, the situation being rather unique and personal. Arthur was committed for a furtive sexual exhibitionism, a teenage flasher who had not actually had any sexual experience. But he had formed a temporary liaison with a female patient and they had had sex. Osborne was appraised of this and it became part of the critique of Scargill's progress, and part of the loathsome style of denigration.
"He's been devirginated."
This business of dissemination, although told of Scargill is also of myself, because like Scargill I became a victim of it, and describe it to demonstrate Osborne's method and to illuminate my own fate.
Following these events I settled down to a more stable equilibrium. I enjoyed a repartee across his desk, I was a very junior partner in this symbiosis - it had its compensations, but its tensions as well. It was a very tenuous stability to be Osborne's crony, and was at a tempo too intense and disparate from more staid social relations. Rather than mix with my peers in B Ward, I would pad over to the Psychology Department twice a day.
I was an intense and insular crony. Too insular, because the nursing staff of B Ward brought the stability of myself and Scargill before a staff meeting. My reports of this came from Osborne when he called me over to see him after the staff meeting.
Upon my arrival in Osborne's office, he attempted to obtain from me a pledge that I would;
1/ dispel my insane identity, i.e. tell the nursing staff I was sane and behave accordingly; and...
2/ attend groups
He dictated this pledge which I wrote down but I repeatedly balked when it came to signing it. During this he gave a very subjective report of what had transpired during the staff meeting that morning.
" It was basically a power struggle between myself and them (the nursing staff) and what I found offensive was that the welfare of you and Arthur was not their real concern."
He continued. "I said if they didn't stop this then they could stick their ward."
Throughout all this I could still not bring myself to sign his pledge even though I got to the point of putting pen to paper. Osborne's solution was manipulation.
"...If you don't watch yourself and rely on me they will get you".
i.e. If you don't rely on me and do as I ask, the nursing staff will succeed in their plans to have you rediagnosed, your ward changed, and all the attendant treatments of psychiatry, including drugs and ECT could be imposed on you.
Immediately I signed the pledge, inserting phrases more damning of the nursing staff as I did so. Such was Osborne's method, being able to choose a phrase that would provoke an immediate `affective' response with accompanying attitude change. This suggestion, with my reaction and its accompanying hysteria, was how he achieved best results.
Such was the arrogance of Osborne with his manipulation; Although he did elicit the desired response from me i.e. group attendance, he did not care to know the other untoward effects his manipulation might have.
9/ Regurgitation of Indoctrination
These events occurred on a Friday, the Saturday found me at my parent's home on weekend leave, regurgitating his indoctrinations about ECT, drugs, and psychiatric incarceration to my parents.
The content of Osborne's indoctrination had a disturbing message for them, because my sister was at the admission ward, Ward 7 at Tokanui. She had been taken there by ambulance from her home and was getting irreparable brain damaged (ECT) twice a week, Monday and Thursday. She had begun her psychiatric history some years before with the birth of her first child. She had been profoundly depressed, and this had been diagnosed as post-natal depression. It was resolved that I would leave the hospital and seek a job in my home town and live with my parents.
This trail of untoward reaction to manipulation was an ongoing process, it had begun from day one when Osborne had started his indoctrination. On the Monday I returned to the hospital and began again this regurgitation at B Ward's ward meeting. I rounded on the nursing staff and hospital practices, with as much forwardness as Osborne was discreet. I left the hospital on a provisional discharge that week.
10/ Home Interlude
That it was a premature and precipitate discharge goes without saying, provoked only by manipulation. Prior to my admission I had been supporting myself and living elsewhere, now I was within my parents home, from where my problems had supposedly originated. I had surrendered all sensible holds on living when I became Osborne's crony. My revolution of rising expectations had not been fulfilled. I was in a worse off position than ever, living under my father's constraints.
At this time I sought legal advice from my father's solicitor, about the treatment I had undergone. It was a vain and inane pursuit and a continuation of the mischieviousness Osborne had engendered. He advised me to go and see Osborne's superiors within the hospital.
I made such arrangements to see Dr Saxby, but instead prior to the appointment I ended up in Osborne's office in tears. He accompanied me to see Dr Saxby. It was resolved that I was to return to the hospital, to Ward 8, for a period of convalescence.
Also I saw Cameron and poured out the tale of expectations that their treatment had failed to deliver. She sympathised with me in this and as I was to be in Ward 8, where she worked, we proposed a `new start'. To take up where Osborne had left off to begin his other treatments.
11/ Return to B Ward
Alas even this, my second chance at a new life, was to
be jeopardised by the untoward results of manipulation. I was to be admitted to
Tokanui on transfer from
"Dad, Dad come and help us out, it concerns you."
He looked up from the tea he was drinking and shook his head saying only...
"No Simon its nothing to do with me".
These events in my mind have an air of unreality about
them. Here was my father as large as life in B Ward when I had bid Goodbye to
him not more than an hour ago at
I was still dressed in pyjamas and dressing gown and hurried away to clothe myself, and returned to seek out my father once again. His car was fast disappearing down the hospital road entrance. I ran across grass verges to intercept him yelling "Dad Dad!".......but it was too late.
Apparently, motivated by my regurgitation of indoctrination, he had decided to preclude my admission to Ward 8, where my sister was a patient, which his actions this day had been about. Previous to this my presence in the hospital had been voluntary and my status in it, although coloured by indoctrination, had not been affected by any outside influence. Now I was on the first steps of a psychiatric misadventure. All the elements were there. The first being, that it was the determination of relatives that an errant son should be thus constrained, and the notion inherent in this was that his wishes were contrary to his own good. Although I was to be only on the periphery of the worst aspects of psychiatric incarceration and was at this stage, constrained by dependence, not committal. Nevertheless my own small `Szaszian' nightmare had begun. And a nightmare it was, because unlike 99% of the recipients of psychiatric treatment that I had met, I had insights into the treatments, courtesy of Osborne's indoctrination, and yet made subject to them by his ongoing manipulation.
Meanwhile I turned in mid stride from the vain pursuit of my father and bolted for the Psychology Department, in search of Cameron or Osborne. They were not pleased to be disturbed when I found them, nor impressed by my incoherent account of what had occurred. Typically Osborne was the least impressed, but these events were of his own making. He had chosen me to be a pawn in his professional aggrandisement, but now I had become a thorn in his professional side.
"They won't let me into Ward 8", I gasped. Cameron didn't know how to calm me and I said. "But you promised me a new start you promised, you promised. My father was over in the ward office and he has prevented my admission to Ward 8."
It was 4.30 and time for them to depart, and I ran back to B Ward, leaving them with this turn of events to think about.
In the morning there was a conciliatory line from them. Osborne called me over and proceeded with an apology for the untoward aspects of my treatment. I remember one thing he said
"I redirected your resentment towards me, towards the hospital".
I had already resumed my giggling jois‑de‑vivre before this, telling him by telephone (Ward B to Psychology Department) that I wanted to apologise for my outbursts of yesterday. So this was a conciliatory occasion.
These events had not been characterised by composure on my part and despite our mutual apologies, I became effected by this bland statement.
"I redirected your resentment towards me towards the hospital".
It must have preyed on my subconscious as I awoke on the Friday morning, twenty four hours later, in a state of euphoria, determined that if only I could raise this subject of redirection of resentment at the Ward meeting that morning ‑ and take Osborne to task over it, then my troubles would be over. I was tending to the instability I was in when admitted to the hospital six months previously. It was not an unfounded euphoria in that if I could have raised this business of `redirection of resentment' then my problems, i.e. my iatrogenic ones, would have been exposed. Osborne's slander of his colleagues would have been exposed. He was standing at the abyss of his manipulativeness.
He was absent from the Ward meeting, and Dr Saxby arrived two minutes after I had begun, and pulled me up short at what I thought was going to be the exposing of Osborne's treatment. He had heard too many incoherent outbursts from me previously (Osborne engendered) and at the end of the meeting he told me to look to another patient with whom he considered me to share a similarity. I was very high at this time and very receptive to suggestion and was placated.
I was surprised when ten minutes after the Ward meeting, Osborne appeared on the steps of B Ward. He had been conspicuously absent from the Ward meeting, but at the stroke of ten he had travelled over to the staff meeting subsequent to the Ward meeting, to hear what had transpired.
12/ Psychological Smashover ‑ Coaxing
There had been an ominous development in my status as far as Osborne's intentions were concerned. I had been duly treated and discharged, it had had its compensations for him ‑ he had an attentive listener and protege with his mischief, he had been able to work me over with his eliciting of assertion - but my consulting of lawyers had been a surprise and difficulty and my return to the hospital and my outbursts had changed whatever tolerance or use he had for me.
For Cameron to have an intention to resume with me in Ward 8 implied that his treatment was somehow inadequate. This implication was of itself a slight, but that he was slighted in the eyes of Cameron was of another concern. Osborne being intense and determined in the pursuit of his interests and Cameron's favour or disfavour had become one of his interests. He had been quite taken with her when they had worked together in C Group - refraining from profligate behaviour when she was there and his attendance and enthusiasm for the business had fallen off markedly when she left. He engaged in his own manipulation yet I had crossed him at his own game. He had let down the distrust that he has for his patients and I had crossed him thus. How he must have cursed me for it. From an attitude of tolerance for me I had crossed a threshold to that of unco‑operative and disdainful psychiatric patient, such as Scargill and Thatcher - and like them I was to get my just deserts, that very afternoon as it transpired.
That revenge for this was Osborne's intent I have no doubt and an ominous indication of this came that morning when I was in his office later that morning exchange, when once again the stealth of Osborne's method was evident. As before, it was concerned with my attending of groups. When I made some reference to Osborne's group he replied.
"Then why don't you come back?"
If ever I have heard six plain words so filled with concern, so effusive, these would be them. As well, an invitation so loaded with ominous intent I'll never receive again. Osborne was speaking with baited breathe. My response was that being still not fully recovered from effects of the anaesthesia and
the operation I had recently undergone at the ENT ward
13/ Psychological Smashover
I had been coaxed here with apologies and in a state of exultation, alternating from hostility to endearment. My euphoria and talkative verve was in no way appropriate to what ensued.
Osborne looked up at my entry into the room and held his gaze, with unmoving intensity with a short time. Then he said "Well Simon", drew himself up to his full height, inclined his head back in an imperious pose, raised his upper lip and said...
"You ask the group..." - something such as how I project myself to them in a personal or conversational sense... or a phrase such as this which I can't remember fully.
I began to ask each member of the group in turn the query that Osborne had bid me ask of them. I gave them little opportunity to reply, giggles and euphoria being not commensurate with communication, and moving quickly on to the next person. Thus I came to one of the nursing staff, seated in the circle, and bypassed her, to make my queries of another patient.
At this point Osborne pulled me up short and brought me back to make my question of the nurse. He queried me on my attitudes to the nursing staff in the hospital. I replied with a collection of attitudes gained from his original debunking (indoctrination) of them. It was a mischievous development of...
"they are just glorified custodians...trained in the use of drugs and little else".
I spoke of those who had been the victims of the nursing staff's excesses. One of them was a patient I had met in B ward who at one point during his stay in the hospital, had been abused in the back of the security wards `paddy wagon'. Then Osborne made the pointed observation ... "And where are they...?" The point being that they had left the hospital yet I was happy to be there. I was completely at ease within the hospital yet maintained a `holier than thou attitude' to the nurses in it.
Then Osborne delivered his master stroke which was to clinch his argument debunking his patient and exonerating himself.
It may have become apparent, that he was about the construction of a case to purge me with, as Scargill had been purged. He had been prompted to do so by the untoward events of the last few days. I had crossed the threshold from being a tolerable minion to that of a babbling patient, who had to be exposed. Thus we had witnessed the deception to get me here to this group meeting.
He did query me of my retrieval of notes from his office containing observations about his treatment that I had written. I replied...
"That was so I could have them as nostalgic memorabilia about my time here (my time at the hospital and with Osborne)".
"And the lawyer!!"
An observation and revelation that left me non-plussed. The point being his contrasting of my intentions of nostalgia about his treatment with my consulting of lawyers. He used the method of eye contact to ensure the lesson went home. He began a short discourse on the perfidy of my position, and with a crude flick of his wrist, he motioned me to look toward the nurse (and thus the nursing staff) for the appraising of my relationships with people.
The other participants left, leaving myself, Osborne and his nurse assistant in the room.
Osborne had assumed a position in the corner of the room, with head bent, intent on something he was fiddling with. This was the use of the fiddle stick I have described before, to abrogate the constraints of eye contact, and in this case to demonstrate that for me the show was over and my presence was no longer wanted. Thus I was left to scuttle out, leaving Osborne to continue the dissection and dissemination with his nursing assistant.
But is there not a feeling of `deja vu' aroused when contemplating this scene. He was but two doors down from the room where he had assumed a similar position, when he'd gazed over the administration building, and made such comments as...
"Everyone in the hospital from `Bennett down' doesn't know what they are about ....."
"They are just glorified custodians trained in the use of drugs and little else..."
And where, on that other occasion, I had been seated during indoctrination, his nursing assistant was now seated (in that approximate position). So there had been a reversal of roles here, whereas before I had been the recipient of Osborne's indoctrination about the hospital, now it was the nursing staff and others who were to be indoctrinated about me.
Osborne is like the boy who cried wolf, he manipulates and indoctrinates so often that I can only assume indoctrination is what occurred. I had mirrored, in my own antics, I had replicated his perfidy and how he needed to work me over for this and debunk my arguments and machinations. So dissemination is the only thing I can assume occurred on my departure from the room.
For dissemination is an integral part of dissection and a prime purpose in itself, it being Osborne's standard means of smiting his enemies, i.e. to slander them. When drawing your attention to the examples of his manipulation and indoctrination, does it not seem there is a disposition within Osborne to slander people? And when I say disposition, I mean it in both the literal sense of the word, i.e. as a trait of his personality, but also as a tool in pursuit of aggrandisement that he actively pursues a policy of dissemination thus. This is speculation on my part but not pure speculation, rather speculation borne out of my sickness and incomprehension at Osborne's capacity to tell lies and to harm people with them. Why would he engage in this systematic disinformation within his professional life unless there is a professional end to be gained by it?
Returning to Osborne's disposition to slander people as being a trait of personality, I would say it is a disposition to slander them in a special way. The illustration of this is his slandering of Arthur Scargill on the occasion when he revealed his covert intimidation process of myself. Osborne was in full fettle of his profligacy that day. After working me over with his eye contact etc, he had me go downstairs and tell Arthur that he wanted to see him. This I did and found Arthur in B Ward's day room. When informed that Osborne wanted to see him he strode purposefully upstairs to the room, faced Osborne from the door way and said but three things;
"I don't like the way you relate to me.....
I don't like the way you relate to others in the group...
and that's all I'm saying."
and he strode from the door way.
Osborne had faced Arthur through this exchange with some kind of inert cheerless smile on his face, and when Arthur left he rotated his head through 90 degrees and began his dogmasticating delivery with its attendant qualifications and observations. But apart from the content, the context, the situational context, is important in understanding his method. He but rotated his head on Arthur's departure and as if without conviction, just resignation and derision, spoke forth.
It is a special summary manner this delivery immediate upon the departure of the subject. Rather than a need to be quick, its part of the exercise of derision, to spit on the subject further when their presence has ended only seconds previously. This seeming summariness of delivery is to reinforce the finality and totality of the subject's stupidity. If his coaxing and subsequent dissemination is the plunging of the dagger, then the dissemination immediate upon their departure is the twisting of it.
So dissemination is the only thing I can assume occurred on my departure from the room. And not only is the context similar to Scargill's dissemination but as well I assume the content had the same essential elements...
1 ‑ The patient presented with specific problems...
2 ‑ The efficacy and appropriateness of the treatment to date...
3 ‑ The patient was ready to leave the hospital, or (in my case) had left the hospital on a provisional discharge...
4 ‑ The adverse ensuing events being only of the patients making ‑ "He's cultivating other problems".
For those of us whom he works over with this calculated cruelty it extirpates our ability to function as human beings as we are left only too well aware of what continues as we depart the scene. Wandering the streets of Hamilton subsequent to my treatment and no doubt filed in Osborne's mind as a past patient who is `still wandering', what he refuses to give any cognition to is that prior to his treatment, we had lives and aspirations and pursuits of our own, and that his heavy handed rearranging of them is an aberration to perform on people. Osborne would produce a resume of steps taken by the patient to his own demise, which will outwardly have some justification, but I think that if we are churlish rural wretches then why can we not be left to remain so, rather than have degradation wrought on us this way? He provided the instigation and impetus to every step in my demise, and I am especially embittered at the way his treatment meant we either become his crony, and like him, or become defensive and assaulted by him, as Scargill was.
Becoming like him and his crony meant taking his snide side in his slanders and observations of the rest of the hospital staff. Is there a term for this kind of perfidy, whereby one is assailed by an antagonist yet one joins them, as an underling, for its compensations? Such underlings must be as dishonest as the boss, let alone his direct manipulation to be devious and contemptuous. Yet Osborne can rediagnose what he instilled with his own manipulation.
This was the last time I saw Osborne, at the end of this dissection and dissemination. It had been a six month process from his first indoctrination, to the latest role reversal. However `denouement', or culmination of behaviour modification was yet to come.
15/ Culmination of Behaviour Modification
It began in B ward where I had been through several phases of iatrogenic outburst in as many weeks. Throughout the process of Osborne's manipulations my response had been complete. Now Osborne's latest reorientation had been a reversal of his former tack, and I duly responded. It was just a case of he pulled my tail and I barked.
Osborne was temporarily absent and ill at this time, but I found myself once more subject to behaviour modification, conducted by the nursing staff seconded to his group. And at last, six months too late, I began to rebel to this degrading business.
This period marked the extirpation of my chance of functioning as an ordinary person. Subsequent to this I could only be a degraded person. I tried to explain to them that to rehearse me like a circus dog, in this practising of projection, watched over by them as coaches, I was so degraded that it defeated its purpose entirely. Whenever I found myself in situations reminiscent of Osborne's rehearsals, i.e. social situations, meeting people, making light conversation, I became instantly sick with shame at what I had been put through. This acute reaction continued for several years after my discharge from the hospital.
Meanwhile in B Ward I became increasingly more agitated and watched by the nursing staff, and I know my behaviour was noted by them. They would sit up and exchange glances, then one would seem to scuttle off, I thought, to enter my latest exuberance in the nursing notes (these were a log of events and observations made by the nursing staff). How accurate were my observations of their behaviour I don't know.
A few weeks after my return to the hospital I asked Doctor Saxby for a transfer to Ward 8. I presumed that my status as his patient would remain the same but Osborne had inhibited my relations with everyone in B Ward, now it came the turn of John Saxby. I found myself transferred to the care of one Dr Fame, the Deputy Superintendent of the Hospital.
I found myself after his first interview asking the Ward charge, to see the consent forms for ECT. He did not prescribe ECT, but a tranquilliser `Mellerill' and woodwork.
I was discharged between Christmas and New Year 1977.
In my account of my time after discharge I would like to describe my attempts at protest or making of complaint concerning Osborne's treatment. This time there was not even the pretence of the maturing of therapeutic process. I was under the constraints of a psychiatrist whose profession Osborne had invested so much effort in indoctrinating me against. He was a man who personified all the attributes that Osborne's indoctrinations had heaped upon them. I attempted to make complaints to him during a post-discharge consultation. This was an encounter with the indifference of ignorance, and the indifference of bureaucracy. He gazed searchingly at me in a manner Osborne was want to do, not willing to accredit me with the ability to talk sense and trying to decide for himself if I had experienced something material to a complaint of professional misconduct. I was crying out for recognition of this trauma, but he had only one salutary statement to make.
"Put them in writing".
This was a pitiless experience. I attempted to follow his advice and have continued indefinitely to do so ‑ for the nine years since. My first efforts were angry and incoherent with phrases such as:
"We were treated like animals by Osborne".
I took these anguished phrases to a lawyer who attempted to have me couch them in more acceptable prose. This was impossible, I was incapable of coherent composition.
Instead I wrote a resume of the mistreatment I had
suffered at his hands and that such degradation reduced my ability to live and
that suicide was the inevitable outcome. I delivered it to Cameron, c/o the
The perennial piece of advice which I received when airing my grievances, was;
"Why did I not pick up the pieces of my life and get on with it."
This I was not able to do. Because Osborne had provoked my revolution in rising expectations, and thus ended my previous lifestyle so that I could not return to it. And to replace it there was nothing but disappointment and the consciousness that I had been degraded beyond belief. He had crippled me with resentment. By his own actions he indicates that resentment is an integral and expected part of his treatment, and he has all his methods of manipulation to control this. Unfortunately for me I had the ability to recall the conduct and events after I was no longer under the anaesthetising effects of his manipulation. So instead of the giggling, self‑effacing equilibrium which Osborne had imposed on me, I had to perceive these events as they were.
And I began to develop an acute and extreme revulsion for the whole process.
This is of course retrospective resentment. Because this is so means that Osborne has done his work well and covered his professional tracks well. He can consign a disaffected ex patient to the back of his consciousness and never think about it except in unguarded moments of self doubt. This he did demonstrate one day when he mentioned to a few of the group members a previous patient who had rebelled against his treatment and had threatened to commit suicide, if Osborne did not desist from a particular course. It had been some time previously and Osborne betrayed a disquiet about it still. This is the paradox of his imperiousness, as if he knows he is doing wrong yet steels himself to carry on.
His is a production line primitivism, his patients
share the same treatment, and the same dissemination, and rebel in ineffectual
ways as I did. As with Osborne's former patient I wrote to psychologists to
threaten suicide, because Osborne's treatment degraded me beyond belief. Like
Osborne's former patient I remained very much alive. This Osborne was ready for
and remained unmoved by any correspondence I dispatched to them. And when
encountering me on the streets of
I resolved to see him brought to account for his treatment, by finding any forum I could, that would hear my complaints. they had to be in writing, but I could not produce a coherent account.
To overcome this ineptness I sought a lifestyle which would be the catalyst for a composed composition. This involved seeking lodging in a hostel which provided a room with desk, pin board and the liberation from mundane chores and interruption, to enable me to devote my time, other than working hours, to writing these complaints. I envisaged myself seeking the aid of a sympathetic friend, with experience in journalism, to pursue anything which would assist me. I stumbled on effective methods only years later, but in the meantime this current effort was an abject failure.
For I was a psychological cripple, experiencing extreme reactions to Osborne's treatment. It had an ethos of assertion and had clouded my instinctive ways of relating to people. I had been swamped by it. In response I assumed an expansive jois‑de‑vivre' and effusive familiarity with people. I was wanting to find kindness.
It was a project with guaranteed failure for I had chosen a venue full of callousness. I had originally been referred there by Doctor Fame, my psychiatrist on discharge from the hospital. The patrons were mostly earthly people, but it contained other elements, not so much society's casualties but society's callousness. It could be said that I was naive and they were nasty, but I think it was a clash of consciousness. They were from a marginal kind of life that one finds in such places. I was a rural wretch at the mercy of such people, and Osborne's treatment had left me, at once both pathetically defensive and pathetically defenceless.
I could not achieve the composition, the purpose of which had originally brought me here. Thus I was foiled in that Osborne's impositions were beyond my capacity to cope. I was insane with grief at what had been made of me. I became catatonic with some kind of involuntary contorting of my frame, as memories of Osborne's treatment flashed across my mind.
Contrast this pitiless effort with my first experience of a polemicist in action. That was Osborne who I observed replying to a query on his thesis. He was able to go to an adjoining office in the Psychology Department, return clutching a typewriter, and tap out his reply... in working hours. Myself I found the process a bit more involved.
The next phase in my efforts of this composition was after an interlude of two years when I sought employment on a remote property and resided in a shearer's quarters. Over several months I successfully composed this draft complaint detailing my experiences. The psychological traumas of articulating the barbarous parts, such as Osborne's dissection and dissemination, I endured by rationing them. Writing of only one incident at a single setting. Thus this draft was built up.
Five years after my discharge saw its completion, but I dispatched it to a typist, never to have it return. The process of rewriting took two years.
The difficulties of bringing complaints forward did not end with their composition. One cannot combine a manual working life, with seeking to find access to official agencies. When one is not working, all agencies are shut. There is an isolation and difficulty of access. Just to be able to find out the current holder of the office of President of the NZ Psychological Society presented difficulties. This is part of the syndrome that Osborne imposes. He chose to manipulate someone who had no method of redress, and the complaint difficulties are inherent in the disarray he imposes on them.
The foregoing manuscript was seven years in the making, and the immediate question it poses is `what obsessive end am I pursuing in persisting with it'. No matter of life or death could remain pressing for this long.
It is a matter of life, my own. I have described myself as a young man on the threshold of life and it was a particular vision of what life could be which motivated my actions in the years prior to coming into Osborne's treatment. It was a search for academic and social fulfilment, attending a tertiary institution, as described in my introduction. This is dependent on self respect and one cannot pursue higher goals if one is lower in self respect. When Osborne began his manipulation he dealt these aspirations severe body blows. On a clinical level the indoctrination had concrete and cruel untoward results. It was the top of a slide for me from a potential adult male, on the threshold of life, to a disaffected psychiatric misfit, and my progress down it was facilitated by Osborne's ongoing manipulation.
Thus my first complaint is of Osborne's indoctrination.
1. That by a concerted campaign of polemic, both verbal and written, he slandered the psychiatric sphere in which I was being treated. (The written content of this polemic being his thesis "An Attempt At Analysis of the Effectiveness of Electro Convulsive Treatment"). Then by manipulating my reactions to this polemic he effected the following ends.
(a) He abrogated my status as a voluntary patient.
(b) That I was made a pawn in his professional aggrandisement of psychology versus psychology.
(c) He sabotaged the Doctor/patient relationship and my relations with the nursing staff in the Ward I occupied, he sabotaged the therapeutic sphere or relationship that is normally present in that environment.
Also I wish to record several other queries.
‑ Is this indoctrination a known process in clinical psychology or is it a practice peculiar to Osborne only?
‑ Does the process of revelation of questionable psychiatric practice (ECT), upon patients who could conceivably become subject to it, breach the ethical standards of clinical psychology?
‑ Does the revelation of questionable psychiatric practice(the Szaszian model) breach the ethical standards of clinical psychology, bearing in mind that I was to go through my own small `Szaszian' nightmare? This began with my father interfering with my status in Tokanui and my subsequent demise as a disturbed psychiatric misfit, who, in a period of disarray after Osborne's treatment, feared committal to the hospital and becoming subject to the attendant treatments that his indoctrination was about.
‑ Does the revelation to a patient of questionable psychiatric practice (ECT and the Szaszian model), contravene the ethics of clinical psychology, bearing in mind that I was a patient in a hospital and my peers formed a human corollary to this indoctrination? Patients who had endured forced psychiatric incarceration, ECT and seclusion.
‑ Does the process of revelation to a patient (Thatcher) of his recent brain damage, breach the standards of clinical psychology?
‑ Eliciting of Assertion
Concurrent with the inception of indoctrinations, Osborne imposed as well, his eliciting of assertion. My contention is that Osborne's ethos of assertion had a baseline motivation of violence, psychological violence. His was an aberrant urban consciousness, which was alien to my own ‑ but his was the dominant one. At a level of subconscious action and reaction, there was no way he was going to succeed in rearranging me.
Just two years previous to his efforts I had been a college student and the year was 1975. Pinned above my desk was a picture of Bill Rowling and beneath it I had written in a bold hand...
"This man is unassuming and unassertive and represents all that you wish to emulate in a person".
Bill Rowling was then
Osborne gave me some insight into the motivation for his change to intervention one afternoon. He had a conversational trait, peculiar to himself, of sitting erect in his chair and producing some self approbating dialogue. This dialogue being not directed to his conversational partner, me, but instead he spoke as if to himself, or a psychological entity I have accredited him with, his incorporeal ego valet.
"I felt that the two previous attempts by B Ward staff to give you insight into your problems, meant that on this, your third admission to the hospital, the onus was on me to try whatever means was at my disposal to achieve this end".
This content may be plausible in a clinical context, but the whole tone, body language and humbug he oozed belied what he was saying. Young minds have an ear for insincerity and I heard a lot of insincerity in his voice. He was only engaged in some self approbating exercise and I subsequently realised that the only motivations to continue what was, in the realm of everyday relationships, quite perverse, were selfish ones. Of his eliciting of assertion my complaints are...
2.(a) That he did abandon a treatment regime already in train and instead substituted a regime that served the end of expediency.
(b) That I was made a victim of his personal aggrandisement, of Morton Osborne upon myself. That what he purported to be treatment was as well, an assault of a unique kind, the annexation and aggrandisement of personality, using his skills and position as a Senior psychologist.
3. That his ongoing manipulation precipitated my premature discharge from the hospital ‑ provoked my outburst of the content of indoctrination to my parents, while my sister was subject to the same treatments ‑ this regurgitation of indoctrination moved my father to interfere with my status in the hospital when I was re‑admitted, an interference that began my own fulfilling of the fate Osborne describes in his indoctrinations. With intellectual insight goes intellectual responsibility. In this instance Osborne had disseminated his insights then engineered the scenario where I would fulfil the same role.
4. Of his methods of abrogating the constraints of normal human relations, i.e. his method of making and breaking eye contact so as to be better able to burrow into the minds and consciousness of people.
5. His erecting of walls of obfuscation to the pleas and protests of his patients, e.g. "He's cultivating other problems"
If the defence of professional exigencies in exceptional circumstances is true, one would expect Osborne to demonstrate the ability to use orthodox methods as well as his already demonstrated ability for the extreme. Thus I would ask the committee to apply this litmus test of integrity to the remaining professional methods I would illuminate. To phrase this proposition another way, Osborne's behaviour would not be continually manipulative, if such actions were only the response to professional necessity. Thus I invite you to examine his actions in the latter period of my treatment. If manipulation is not his automatic response, he will manifest other kinds of treatment.
Not that Osborne's treatment was without orthodox conduct and counselling. After the initial period of intimidation he attempted to project a different kind of image, which involved assisting me with my provisional admission to University and other directions. He was being the benign concerned confidante, an abrupt departure from his previous actions. Both these role plays by Osborne were hollow and could never have an impact on me. Being of a youthful temperament, I had an ear for insincerity and we could not have had a real rapport. Rather I think the benigness was on my part as I compromised to adjust myself to the kind of symbiosis he was imposing, I became his giggling crony. I degraded myself for him, while Scargill who comported himself well was degraded by him.
End Manipulation (Psychological Smashover)
6. That his ongoing manipulation produced inevitable and insuperable difficulties in my progress and relations with the Ward Staff, my Doctor and one of Osborne's colleagues in the Psychology Department. That when these unsettled conflicts began to cast his own treatment in a bad light, he began a campaign of structured slander upon myself in the same way he had slandered the hospital. The effects of this latest manipulation achieved his end of; ‑
(a) Covering his professional tracks.
(b) Discrediting my complaint about him to other hospital entities, namely ‑ the nursing staff
‑ my Doctor
‑ my collective Ward at Ward meeting
‑ his colleagues in the Psychology Department especially Cameron.
(c) It shut me up from pursuing these complaints further. The use of the phrase `shut me up' is deliberate. As described in the text Osborne was standing at the abyss of his manipulativeness.
Chapter 5 ECT, Psychiatry And Behaviourism.
If we are fortunate in our youth, we mature to a young adulthood with an unspoken sense of the basic benigness of the world. Young people are most often shallow people and the grim things on television screens or which happen even within our own family circle, can impact on us only shallowly. But there comes, gradual or abrupt, a more circumspect perception of life and our place in it. Policemen who were once blue and benign, are seen in different hues if we are arrested and handcuffed like a chattel.
But there is a different kind of dismay, a permanent darkening of our skies, if we misfortunately encounter the real psychic violence of the world. Trauma, short but shocking, can leave a lasting listlessness. One can travel a prolonged journey of dismay.
"Sometimes the only way to comprehend the extent of a deception is to be first thoroughly deceived and then slowly disillusioned."
This quote is from John Friedberg, a Doctor and neurologist, who has written of his personal journey of dismay which he trekked. This he recorded in his book "Shock Treatment Is Not Good For Your Brain."
John Friedberg like me, began his association with psychiatry as a patient, and possibly had a close escape himself from electro‑convulsive‑treatment. It is indicative of the trust of youth that we both admitted ourselves to hospitals and co‑operated with unquestioning faith in the regimes provided there. We had an implicit belief in the benigness of institutions in the community. Youth and cynicism don't go together. John Friedberg's fall from faith to scepticism and then thorough disillusionment, was further and harder than most.
His disillusionment and disgust was such that he wrote a book to expose and illustrate it. In this way his story and mine are the same, this book is the story of my disillusionment. My observations about ECT and psychiatric diagnosing draw from Osborne's insights, my own observation, John Friedberg's work and that of another polemicist, Dr Thomas Szasz. Our respective disillusionments happened in psychiatric hospitals. But within similar institutions our experiences diverged. Both Friedberg and I had to `adjust the economies of our souls' to the spectre of medical assault that we encountered. While his grim disillusionment was with psychiatry, my disillusionment was with psychology. These two branches of the `care‑giving' professions have in common the treatment of patients suffering from mental trauma or disarray. But their respective rationales, their underlying ethos and practice, their paradigm, is different and ultimately antagonistic.
Friedberg was a medical student and graduate in the
For these words, lifestyle, morality, ethicality, one could read `consciousness'. Different lives, different times, mean different minds, a different kind of consciousness. One could say that different people occupy different worlds depending on the conceptual tools they interpret their world with.
A man who began his own journey of self liberation or experimentation was one Leonard Frank, whose experience was recounted by Friedberg. Leonard's alternative concepts were in religion, dress and diet. Of a non‑practising Jewish family, he embraced orthodox Judaism. This has dietary proscriptions and necessitated he grow a beard. He became vegetarian. This was contrary to the lifestyle concepts of his parents who were secular. Perhaps determinedly secular and determined that their son would remain so too. For his lifestyle choice and experimentation they committed him to a psychiatric institution.
Leonard Frank remained a psychiatric patient for several years and his case is documented and described in John Friedberg's book. Not only was he deprived of his freedom and dignity, being constrained in an institution like a criminal, but his mind and memory, the very core of consciousness were assaulted in a horrible way. He was subjected to .......? number of electro convulsive treatments, which have had a lasting effect on him. He suffered memory loss, and aphasia .......? which he attributes to the ECT treatments.
His symptoms, his disease, for which these extreme treatments were imposed were not of the popular conceptions of lunatic behaviour. He did not attempt to climb walls or think he was Napoleon or George the Third. He did choose to grow a beard, maintain a vegetarian diet and explore and practice a religion of great antiquity. Indeed medical staff in their case notes, made reference to his beard and his vegetarianism.
What he was really treated for was a departure from their taken-for‑granted conceptions about living, their kind of `common sense', that amorphous mass of changing codes and collectively held insight or shibboleth. Deviation from such `common sense' can earn oneself fond affection as an eccentric, social prestige as an ascetic, or incarceration and shock treatment.
But viewed in another way, psychiatry's role can be characterised, not as the policing of deviations from behavioural norms which exist without the person, but as policing of consciousness norms within them. Leonard Frank's case was that he had simply chosen new behavioural norms and codes to live by. But the psychiatrists purporting to diagnose his behaviour presumed that Leonard was not exercising choice, that some mental change had occurred within him over which he had no control, and that he should be `treated' to arrest this process.
Leonard Frank's case was of a person, in a perhaps courageous way, opting for a kind of consciousness and lifestyle contrary to the previous one he had known. Starting with a querulous mindset he sought to investigate new modes of living and feeling and relating to people and his world. Such a process is most often called personal growth, or a change in outlook. But it ultimately means a changed or altered state of consciousness.
An altered state of consciousness(ASC) can occur spontaneously in people, not as a product of conscious decision and investigation as was the case with Leonard Frank. I experienced such myself in the initial phases of my admission to the hospital. It was a liberating and creative experience. I felt a sense of liberating insight, through simply letting go a burden of depression and self rebuke. But these phenomenon, these "ASC's", are appropriated by psychiatry, given a clinical name, of `mania' or `psychoses', and become their field of speciality and treatment. The case of Leonard Frank who electively changed his consciousness is an exception. The Doctors involved couldn't recognise that it was simply his version of going hip.
An analogy here can illustrate this point about
changes of consciousness. As with the time of the `flower children' marking a
change in the culture of the
A jogger with endorphins coursing through his system is on a high. Pain sensations are suppressed, fatigue becomes suppressed and delayed, nervous tension is dissipated, habitual thought patterns of worry and recrimination are suspended. He is on a plateau of exertion and sensation. He or she is experiencing an ASC. Sex gives a more intense, focused and psycho‑sensual buzz, the satiated phase more cosy without the fatigue and muscle strain. Be it a screaming orgasm or a just a long comfortable screw, lovers are in the midst of an altered state of consciousness. An ASC.
But the intense involuntary ASC has elements which
lend it to the description "madness". I have read of woman
experiencing a mania so intense that she ran naked from her home through
streets to a nearby beach. The buzz she was experiencing had overcome the
inhibition and awareness that suppresses impulsive behaviour. When subsequently
writing or interviewed about it she was especially mindful of being overweight
at the time. In a not so merry
In this age she was lucky not to have been diagnosed as psychotic, been committed to a psychiatric institution, and been subjected to drugs and ECT.
Psychiatry and psychiatric concepts are the means, the `institution', which a community uses to interpret bizarre behaviour. And if extremely bizarre, such as a housewife running in the buff through the suburbs, one automatically reacts querulously and alarmingly. Not only can we not comprehend it, such a spectre assails our mental world, the order in our cosmos becomes chaos. And because psychiatry is a branch of medicine, it uses medical models to understand and interpret this behaviour. It postulates the existence of disease or `mental disorder' in the `patients' mind. Thus the `explaining diseases', those intellectual constructions, psychoses and schizophrenia, were first postulated. The next step in any medical model is to provide or develop a treatment.
In times past alarm at behavioural deviance was relieved by attributing possession by the devil or witchcraft as the source. Then as now the cures to expunge the heresy were and are still extreme. Burning of the whole body at the stake then, while now only brain cells are burned.
"Psychiatry more closely resembles a religion than a science because it is based on the belief in intangible, unprovable myths" Szasz.
Psychiatry's rationale revolves around the concept of mind and consciousness being of itself, a tangible medical entity.
"The body is a thing, the mind is not" Szasz
That like other physical organs it has an identifiable mode of correct functioning, and like other organs it can be diseased. And that these diseases, having a clinical reality, can be given diagnostic names, such as paranoia and schizophrenia. Schizophrenia was the diagnosis given to Leonard Frank.
"Whereas diseases of the body can be seen, touched and measured, so called diseases of the mind cannot." Szasz
Psychiatry is not a science. Although any other branch of medicine relies on empirical method, that is observation and deduction and verifiable experiment, to prove or improve insights about medical things, psychiatry has a different epistemology. It must, of necessity, rely on intuit assumptions about phenomenon, psychiatry is about things metaphysical, intangible. Psychiatry's symptoms are behaviour, but it is substantially about imputing (and treating) causes, reasons, motivations or explanation behind behaviour. Psychiatry postulates, perhaps accurately so, perhaps not. In the absence of real empiricism, psychiatry also pontificates and gives intellectual constructions such as schizophrenia a reality they do not deserve. Pathologists have examined the brains of deceased patients looking for the lesions that could have been the explanation of schizophrenia. Thus far I think they have been unsuccessful.
"Mental illness is a metaphor, a myth , not a fact". Szasz
All people who have spent time in a psychiatric institution as either a patient or employee, have their own experience or observations to describe. The aberrant cases are outweighed by the nondescript. But amongst the minions who have passed through the psychiatric process, the Leonard Franks of this history are more poignant and more vivid in our minds. In my own experience in Tokanui I can recount my impressions of three patients who were subject to ECT.
I witnessed a short but futile sprint by a woman in flight from the prospect of ECT. She was perhaps in her early thirties. She came from a small town which I had spent some of my childhood years in. Her husband worked in a retail outlet servicing the dairy industry which I had grown up in.
She had been in the hospital for several days in a kind of disarray. Her most notable symptom in my mind was when I stood talking with her and a nurse in the ward lounge. One of us made a positive reference to the television programme that was running at the time. She rapidly moved to the television and changed the channel, communicating or making some statement all the while. The nurse said they usually calm down after a few days on drugs or whatever else they are to be treated with. She was to be treated with ECT. A few days after her admission when she had become familiar with ward routine she was summoned to the clinic, the drug dispensary in the ward. I think she queried the pills she was offered and was then told she was to receive ECT. She ran from the dispensary. In a psychiatric ward you can run but you cannot hide, and its pointless running as there is nowhere to run to. It was a futile flight, like that of a three year old running from an harassed Mum, determined on discipline.
An elderly maori man was admitted after a struggle of wills outside the Ward entrance. His family were trying to extricate him from his seat as a rear passenger of a white Ford Zephyr. He was resisting this encouragement. I was in the office at the time and one of the staff described what was happening. He had previously been admitted but did not want a repeat experience. None of the staff were allowed to approach him until he had voluntarily come into the hospital or signed an admission form. However the family of this gentleman wished to admit him or wished him to admit himself. He was acutely depressed, and must have been a problem to look after. He was grasped under his upper arm and physically pressured to leave the car.
He sat on ‑ resisting this inducement.
His family somehow won this battle of wills, as he became a new face in the male dorm. I had the opportunity to speak with him and to share some time with him.
Like my Dad, he had a spiritual and sometimes discriminating intelligence. On querying him about his people. "Where are you from, do you have family in such and such a town" ‑ "Where are your daughters now, are they still living in Otorohonga?" The answer was negative........."All married to `te pakeha'." (pakeha means European settler). When he used this latter phrase it was with the maori vowels and intonations. It was a phrase full of a depressed forbearance and defeat, "married to `te pakeha'". It was a revealing statement, it spoke volumes of a collapse of his spiritual world. He came from an era when maori community and cultural ties were still pervasive. In this latter day, maori cultural ties are of sociality and solidarity within the context of being a minority group in a larger European culture, rather than a complete cultural realm which existed when he was young. But now, as his cultural world diminished, so did his psychological one.
He woke us all from sleep one morning, with an unearthly anguished crying and moaning, as if weeping without tears. During his stay in the hospital I was to see him propped up in a chair with pillows about him, on a sundeck at the northern end of Ward 8. He was regaining consciousness and lucidity after receiving ECT. This was the great white medicine man's cure for the collapse of his spiritual world. A hundred and ten volts DC out of an insignificant looking box. The ECT unit I saw had the appearance of rustic electrical apparatus. Of a wooden construction, to my mind it could have been a pre‑war walkman radio.
Another person had come voluntarily to the hospital to receive ECT. He had discussed his admission and the possible and appropriate number of ECT treatments with his Doctor beforehand. As if talking about the prospective repairs to a car before leaving it at the service garage. He was portly and bearded, possibly in his early thirties.
This trio of candidates for ECT I saw making their way from Ward 8 to Ward 7, where ECT was administered. This was on Monday or Thursday mornings. I think the bearded bloke was in the lead, upright and positive. He could have been out for a stroll. The elderly maori gentleman was behind him, walking in his customary stance of head down. The woman was bringing up the rear, feigning indifference, with the kind of composure a child might have skipping through her day. But underneath of course she was full of trepidation. She had already made this journey several days before after her abortive sprint of escape in Ward 8.
I subsequently met the bearded bloke again on a street
In the light of Osborne's insights about ECT they made a poignant procession. The march of the damned, and one repeated every day in hundreds of psychiatric hospitals in the world and with thousands of patients. In gender, colour and occupation this trio could represent the spectrum of all peoples that receive ECT. The housewife, the elderly ethnic, and the sparkie. Neither loonies, nor depraved or demented, just ordinary people.
Psychology too has a conceptual framework unique to itself, a collection of presumptions and axioms proven or inherent in its field. Psychology and psychiatry are, in their essence, mutually exclusive perceptions of human phenomena and personality. Also, there is within both psychiatry and psychology, several different conceptual schools.
In the academic world, the term `school' can have two
meanings. It can mean a department within a college or University for
instruction within specialised fields. Thus at
Thus far I have described the `classical' school of psychiatry. This mindset, this complex of conceptions, this `conceptual framework' is founded on the medical model, of the mind functioning as an organ, that like other organs it can be diseased, and through medical therapies or surgery, this diseased organ can be cured or its `symptoms' alleviated. A medical student is initiated into this world of diagnosis and treatment of disease. In turn if he is trained as a psychiatrist he conceives of human deviance and traumatised behaviour as the product of disease.
In the same way, the behaviourist psychologist brings a characteristic mode of perception to his profession. Psychologists are products not of Medical Schools, but of Universities. They are students, not of disease, but of behaviour and cognition. I have not studied psychology, so have only a layman's conception of its theory. But I have been treated by a clinical psychologist, and wish to assert the consumer's right of appraisal and judgement of the science used.
Psychology claims for itself the distinction of being a science. Whereas psychiatry is ultimately an intuit business, based on intuit judgements of behaviour or the patient's own reporting of feelings and mental states, psychology instead is absolute science because it uses empirical methods. It states as fact only that which can be proved. A definition of the word empirical is ‑ relying upon or derived from observation or experiment. And it is this specific meaning ‑ of relying on observation or experiment, and using deductive and logical reasoning to interpret the observed experiments ‑ that it is appropriate to behaviourism.
But this word empiricism only starts to capture the special character of behaviourism. Of the conceptual schools in psychology, behaviourism seems the most bizarre and clinically rigid and because of this is very noteworthy. But note‑worthy and interesting in a negative and ultimately sordid way. Rather than make intuit assumptions about thought processes, which are invisible and intangible, psychologists of the behaviourist school observe behaviour in a controlled context, and make deductions about it. Thus the behaviourist psychologists can have the privilege of calling themselves scientists. They make scientific deductions from observed behaviour under controlled conditions, while the psychiatrist makes intuitive judgements or inferences.
Behaviourism thus considers itself a science, but because of the implications of its theory, because of the thrust of its conceptualisation, behaviourism is also an ethos, a new way of looking at the human condition. And such a radically new way it is. To start to illuminate the theory and special character of behaviourism one needs to examine the work of its most prominent activist, B F Skinner.
Skinner originally was a man of artistic endeavour, an
aspiring writer. He was an enthusiast for the works of Robert Frost and wished
to produce works of a like quality. In this he was adjudged or judged himself
unsuccessful. One can understand his sense of non-achievement. His
articulations of his theories are dry and passionless. He gravitated instead to
psychology and became a Professor of Psychology at
When Skinner turned to psychology he had a theoretical and conceptual edifice to build on. This was an inheritance from psychologists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, two of whom were Watson and Thorndike. They were men of science, and applied rational scientific method to an examination of human psychology. As the business of consciousness, perception, thought and feelings, are forever only subjective things, they wished to try to use objective methods in their field. As behaviour can be observed objectively, they turned to observation of behaviour and eschewed attempts to infer clinically what went on in the minds of men. The term behaviourist was coined.
During the development of his own theories Skinner used and gained notoriety for the development of the `Skinner box', which was a tool for controlling and observing behaviour. Pigeons and possibly chooks or small animals are put in the box, and aversive and reinforcing consequences of behaviour can be applied to it. It can be rewarded, or face contingencies i.e. punished, for exercising different options in response to a stimulus. It can receive shock or birdseed.
Remember this a bird in a box. Through its isolation, the exclusion of all uncontrolled stimuli, the scientist could observe which stimulus produced which response. This is absolute observation of behaviour rather than intuit observation.
‑ The bird pecked the food dish... because it was hungry,
This is intuit observation.
‑ The bird pecked the food dish because it received a stimulus of a coloured trace displayed in its enclosure, and had been previously rewarded (fed) for pecking when coloured traces appeared.
This is behaviourist and empirical observation.
Can we abandon for a time the sense that animals have cognition, and think of them as more simple life forms, with only a primitive nervous system to make them respond to stimuli. Such a thing could be a plant, a venus fly trap, which on cue, on the stimulus of an insect in its maw, will close its petals, its `jaws', to enclose and then devour the insect. This is, it seems, animate behaviour. One could say of the plant "it gobbled the fly up" thereby imputing animate qualities to the plant. But this can't be true because the damned weed doesn't have eyes and an appetite, to first see the fly approach and then tense itself in anticipation of dinner. It trapped the fly but it did not do so of volition. It is without cognition or consciousness. The passage of the fly on sensory cells on the plant surface was a stimulus to a response, of enclosing the fly in its petals.
Skinner must have hypothesised that human beings, as products of evolution, developed from a more primitive life form into creatures with a nervous system and a primitive brain stem, before evolving with a cerebral cortex, into beings capable of cognition. If this is so then it can be postulated we must have also developed in or from a stimulus/response mode of behaving, as do organisms which have only a primitive nervous system. And if this stimulus/response mode of function can be consistently replicated with human subjects under empirical conditions, then perhaps this mode is still the way human beings function. If, under laboratory conditions, human beings can be demonstrated to function in a stimulus/response mode then such could be `extrapolated' to apply to all conscious activity. To extrapolate means to estimate on the basis of available data, and Skinner used data from the laboratory, to formulate his behaviourist conceptions.
Immediately on hearing such a proposal one says ‑ but what of volition and cognition. Interest or impulsiveness made me pick up this book, not response to stimulus. This is where my knowledge of behaviourist theory reaches its limitations. I think ultimately behaviourism proposes that cognition and volition are merely the trappings of our primary functioning, of response to stimulus and environment. That they are a subjective experience predicated by a process of response to contingency, not overt to ourselves. That consciousness is merely the ancillary cognition that the cortex has tacked onto our functioning as a stimulus/response species. If this is what behaviourism is about then it truly is a nihilistic science.
As a scientist Skinner must have devised a series of experiments to test his hypotheses, conducted such a series of experiments and found or declared the hypotheses correct. Thus his science has gone from pigeons to human beings, from ethnology to a scientific anthropology.
Thus technically here are the tenets of behaviourism.
That rewards, contingencies, and punishment are the arbiters of human behaviour.
That the principles of reward are the facts of human nature.
That the age old conception of consciousness being theentity of humanity is incorrect.
That the proposition that human beings think, then act, is doubtful; That we in fact act without volition, and an internal feeling within us presages and accompanies that action.
That volition, choice, deduction and decision, are merely the psychological trappings of involuntary reaction to the cues of contingency.
"Behaviourism, Science and Human Nature" by Schwarz and Lacey.
The radical implication, the radical reappraisal of what it means to be a human being, and the radical intent of this theory is this ‑ the conception of human beings as independent masters of, and responsible for, their own actions is superseded and redundant. This previous conception is given the name of "autonomous man" by Skinner who uses this phrase extensively in his authorship.
An inevitable corollary of Skinner's work, that behaviour is the result, not of cognition, but of response to contingencies of reinforcement, is that behaviour can be controlled. This implication has been embraced and expounded by himself such that it has become, not a corollary but an axiom all of itself. If behaviour is predictable then an inevitable step after that conclusion is ‑ behaviour can be controlled. One need only identify the cues to determine the response, to have control of the contingency is to have control of the person. He asserts that behaviour can be controlled and predicted, and believes that a methodology and means of controlling behaviour can be used by governments for benign uses. Such as the problems of traffic deaths or pollution.
"a technology of behaviour is available". Skinner.
Through his experimentation and deduction, through his science Skinner thought he had found the keys to contingency. He had found the keys to the heart, soul and consciousness of people, it is merely a matter of contingency. He has divined the pulse of people acting together and relating together, loving together and hating together ‑ it is merely a matter of contingency. He has divined the pulse of human history, it is merely a matter of contingency. He has divined the course of human destiny, it is merely a matter of contingency.
And it is to human destiny that his books substantially address themselves. He foresaw a time when his theories were the means of determining public policy. When governments don't exhort their people to drive safer or embrace fluoridation of water, but control them to do that which will have positive ends. He laments the failure to utilise such a technology.
"We have not yet seen what man can do with man"
The ramifications of his theories have been encapsulated in his title "Beyond Freedom and Dignity". For if autonomous man is a myth then the concept of freedom is a nullity. How can there be freedom if the human being acts involuntary. And how can there be dignity if one is not responsible for one's conduct, whether sublime or sordid. His statement about freedom and dignity is recorded thus.
"The struggle for freedom and dignity has been formulated as a defence of autonomous man rather than as a revision of the contingencies of reinforcement under which people lived. A technology of behaviour is available which would more successfully reduce the aversive consequences of behaviour... and maximise the achievements of which the human organism is capable, but the defenders of freedom oppose its use. The opposition may raise certain questions concerning "values". Who is to decide what is good for man? How will a more effective technology be used? By whom and to what end? These are really questions about reinforcers. Some things have become "good" during the evolutionary history of the species and they may be used to induce people to behave "for the good of others". When used to excess they may be challenged, and the individual may turn to things only good to him. The challenge may be answered by intensifying the agencies which generate behaviour for the good of others or by pointing to previously neglected individual gains, such as those conceptualised as security, order, health , wealth or wisdom. Possibly indirectly other people bring the individual under the control of some remote consequences of his behaviour, and the good of others rebounds to the good of the individual". B F Skinner,
I think Skinner expounds the most profound shift in the ethos of American liberty, since an earlier publication, "we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among these being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". The ethos of liberty and of humanism is incommensurable with Skinnerianism.
Of course immediately that one considers the bustling social world around us, and the diverse behaviour of people within it, it is hard to consider them as merely automatons, the slavish followers of contingency. And this, Skinner recognises with his qualification that we are the products of culture. That all the contingencies and reinforcement that we respond to are of a social environment which we have interacted with and found our idiosyncratic place within. At this point Skinner and I meet. This is where people of a humanist perception can agree to parley with proponents of behaviourist theory.
"A child is born a member of the human species, with a genetic endowment, showing many idiosyncratic features, and he begins at once to acquire a repertoire of behaviour under the contingencies of reinforcement to which he is exposed.... Most of these contingencies are arranged by other people. They are in fact what is called culture, although the term is usually defined in other ways".
Skinner, as above.
So we are automatons, beating only to drums of conditioning.
And the uniqueness of personality is described this way. That for each individual the drums are uniquely different, that they have been hewn in our psychological history, our "antecedent conditioning", but their rhythms are only those of contingency, and all contingency is a product of culture. Whether he considers us a noble beast or a beast ennobled by culture, his assertion is that behaviour cannot be of volition or contrition, but of contingency. But the inherent and implicit philosophy of this business of contingency is that beasts we be.
psychology must not depict man as less than what he is lest mankind as a whole be imperilled.
Any scientist wants to have his work recognised and applied, his conceptions and their corroboration validated. Skinner lamented the lack of application of his insights. His literature, the several books he has written, proselytise the application and possibilities of behaviourism, but his work remains largely theory rather than practice. A thwarted scientist need not necessarily be a dangerous scientist and Skinner remains in influence essentially a propagandist only. However behaviourist regimes are used as part of professional practice by psychologists within institutions. It is in this context that Skinner's work has been utilised, rather than the Orwellian utilisation of it for society-wide regimes which he proselytised for.
The Department of Psychology at
A technology of behaviour is what B F Skinner had in mind to be applied to human populations. Elements of the treatment regime conducted by Osborne on myself smacked of behaviourist practice and principles. These were reinforcement and intimidation, which approximates the concepts of positive and negative contingency which are the basis of Skinnerian theory and practice. Also, the business of rehearsals, besides having their obvious rationale, of making people more socially competent, had a more calculated intent. This he indicated when he flicked a seminar speech across his desk one day. Someone had used parentheses to enclose a statement which was presumably the crux of its wisdom. I can't remember it verbatim, but I can remember its message...
"that the emotional state of an individual is a function, not of any internal cognitive process, but of the external reaction or projection of outsiders to that individual".
Thus, according to this missive, we are happy or sad, not through circumstance of our own lives or character or state of mind, but through the conduct of our social contacts. It reduced human emotion to empirically measured behaviour from entities outside the individual. I can't remember his exact words but he said or implied...
‑ "this is what I'm trying to do in the group, so that it will have application and value in your lives when you're out of the hospital".
Thus, through the ongoing rehearsals of social encounters and exchanges, Osborne was training us to elicit the positive social contacts which would elicit this internal jois-de-vivre. If not Skinnerian in its actuality, it was Skinnerian in its ethos - it reduced man to mechanism. Whether it had substance or not it was something he had made a personal and professional investment in, and C Group and the patients in it were providing the vehicle for its realisation. Osborne was applying the ethos of behaviourism and behaviour modification. Thus in style and ethos Osborne was a behaviourist.
A dictionary definition of ethos is "fundamental values or spirit". In the context above, ethos means the philosophical ambience and intent of behaviourism. Ethics are the rules and standards governing its conduct. These two elements are complementary and ultimately indivisible from eachother. If the working axiom, the prime mover of behaviourists, is that "a technology of behaviour is available..." then given such a presumptive ambience, one would expect that the ethical ambience would be coloured accordingly. Skinner does not use euphemisms to describe this ethical character, his work baldly and boldly states it.
"We have not yet seen what man can do with man."
Thus a primary axiom of behaviourists, is that man is malleable. That through intervention, using the tools and insights of behaviourism, an individual's behaviour (and inherently attitudes, consciousness and cognition) can be shaped or formed on a predetermined path. And a primary ethic of behaviourism, is that such a machiavellian manipulation of him is legitimate.
A technology of behaviour Osborne alluded to when discussing the institutions of justice and detention with or to me one day. Describing the courts and the police and prisons as being manifestations of the negative side of behaviour control, he considered that if the powers that be were cognisant of contingency as the arbiter of behaviour, there could then be a new and more effective changing or controlling of anti-social behaviour.
In the sixties and seventies there were several emergent streams, which were noteworthy as humanist alternatives to a reductionist psychology.
One of these was from Maslow who used the concept of "self actualisation", to conceptualise and explore the human being's potential for transcending the immediate and basic, to a richer kind of cognitive functioning, to more fulfilling relationships and to an achievement oriented life. And that of Carl Rogers who promoted the use of `encounter groups' to establish a transcendence of the ordinary and isolated character of people's lives, and their limited empathy with eachother, to find something richer.
Osborne would have been exposed to these schools, probably in depth, during his university education. Inherent in a personality such as his which makes an opportunist use of sources and has an inherent reservation and detachment from the milieus around him, he would have been moved to access alternative paradigms in an evaluative way. Such schools as those of Maslow and Rogers have an inherent sense of the integrity of the human being and their volitional choice in their seeking of ways to fulfilment in life. Instead he chose behaviourism.
If my interpretation is correct, Skinnerianism proposes that ultimately as people we are slaves to contingency. That we are automatons. This is absurd and Skinner is a crank, and his theories are patently untrue ‑ except for nihilistic personalities who respond only to selfishness. Then they could be considered to be functioning consistent with this theory. Such an occasion could be when Osborne assailed me with his revelations of his intimidation of me, of his eliciting of assertion and also of his derision of Scargill. Thus on this afternoon when Osborne was in his mode of selfishness, this theory was confirmed. But only on a limited sample of the population, only one, only Osborne. Only on those who relate to people with an inhuman profligacy, without the capacity for contrition or cognition. Only those people like Osborne are guilty of this behaviour. Thus, of his dogmasticating derision of Scargill, when he was demonstrably not relating to him as a human being, he was responding only to contingencies of reinforcement... his own ends. (This incident is referred to many times in this book - I ask the readers forbearance)
Through his constructed derision of Scargill he was manufacturing his own reality, he was building a self made world of reinforcement within his immediate social milieu. Thus the theory is confirmed, but only for two kinds of people, sociopaths and psychologists. Sociopaths because they will only relate to people in ways that suit them, and Osborne and like tradesmen whose ghastly ethics embrace machiavellianism.
But if a person extends themselves to cognition and contrition, rather than contingency and profligacy, then they are aberrations of behaviourist theory. Amongst Skinner's primates in the behaviourist tree, they are heresy. They are human beings. I've met many people who fit this heresy. In fact, all the people I've met in this life, with but few exceptions, are human beings. Only the nihilists, only those of an inhuman selfishness, are the exceptions. This limits the conceptions of behaviourists to them alone.
For the term which best describes Osborne is not behaviourist ‑ but nihilist. Osborne was a nihilistic personality. He too was a human being, but his humanity had been perverted by the hospital and his own inherent weakness of character. Although he behaved like an automaton this was only an elective behaviour. Consciousness does precede being and Osborne was exercising choice. Contingencies of reinforcment did not direct him to be a pig, he elected to be one. When he chose the guise of pork as his social mask for that day, it was a deliberate decision. A guise he opted for because he was too lazy to be a human being in that situation. Composure and character sometimes did not come easily to him. This is why he was full of the intense visceral reactions, those explosive exhalations and exclamations from the pit of his gut. They were non verbal but they spoke and expressed so much of the mettle that he was made of. It was a demonstration of his suppressed or repressed feelings.
One of the purposes of this book, is to plumb the depths of that pit, that violent pool of contempt and aggression which he imposed upon human beings called patients. This pool is very deep because when the detritus of malice and derision came vomiting out of it, it had travelled such a long way. It had had distance to accelerate such that it exploded out of his mouth and impact on the social world without. All of Osborne's controversial treatments were motivated by feelings found in the pit of his guts. I know this because I have heard them, erupting in his stomach, and expelled by his diaphragm.
The mind is the seat of consciousness, but by the miraculous chemistry of nerves and neurons and electricity, we can feel our feelings in our stomachs, and nearer and farther parts of our torso. Anger tends to locate in the throat or chest. Longings of another kind we feel in our groin. Sickness and revulsion we feel in our stomach. Low forms of humour I think belong to the stomach also. Osborne was very transparent in the location of his feelings because he could be very demonstrative and loud in his expression of them. At extreme times he could not help himself, his feelings welled up and over.
It was from the stomach that his treatment of having Scargill expose himself originated. When people upcurl their upper lip in a snigger or sneer, it is from a smelly rumen that their feelings spring, and Osborne had his characteristic lipcurl and sneer when he told Scargill...
"I'll pin it in 2 inch high letters on the wall of B Ward"
When he voiced his wish to destroy the consciousness of Doctors, he threw back his head and laughed with a crazed cacophonous laugh. This kind of humour is from the stomach also, we could call it "gastric transference". But more sinister than this is the instincts expelled when he retched and said of Thatcher "At least it will serve to quieten his resentment to what was going on in the (behaviour modification) group".
He was a nihilist because - he went about the process of redirection of resentment, and about the process of eliciting of assertion - at the same time.
He was a nihilist because ‑ he indoctrinated me about the nursing staff - then in turn, indoctrinated the nursing staff about me.
Logic eschews these things, but nihilism eschews logic. Osborne was not a man of deviance in the sense of criminality but he had made of himself a man of deviance through the arrogance and weakness of character he brought into the hospital. With these two attributes, with additions of brusqueness and brutality, he devised a treatment persona and practice and attitude to human beings, who also happened to be patients, which crossed a demarcation line between being different, to being deviant and destructive.
He thus was able to create the machiavellian and nihilistic detachment from the human beings that we were, and from the inhuman things he would subject us to. He had intense feelings about ECT and had to treat patients all the time who had been subjected to it. Thus his working life was a constant grating psychological challenge. Between the puerile inanity of patients who had allowed themselves to become subject to this treatment - and the doctors who had treated them. His patients had focused on their own inane preoccupations while all the while they had been running a gauntlet of brain damage. And some had been so seared. Doctors had authority over them and ultimately over Osborne, yet he recognised their inanity too, he recognised them for what he was disposed to see, medical interventionists who destroyed consciousness with electricity.
Thus he was definitely a melancholy man to whom "all the world astounds me - but I think I understand".
But as well he was a savant of egotism, making the concept of a professional life inappropriate to characterise him. A bizarre parasite attached to the corpus of a public hospital, while the rest of the staff went about their working lives the best way they knew how, he went about a sordid self aggrandisement.
And behaviour technology was a vehicle in this aggrandisement. Basic to this self realisation was the activities of C Group, the business of teaching his inane charges to project themselves, believing he could positively effect their lives - and as well, serve his own ends.
Two years after my discharge from the hospital Osborne
was quoted in the Waikato Times in reference to a case where a patient had
drowned in the swimming pool of
Because he was of demonstrable mercenariness in his life, he leaves me speculating - Where did consideration end? - and ambition and avarice begin? In my mind I had a sense of his habitual proselytising about his own bandwagon of treatment - and in the background the corpse of a patient.
The phenomenon of this century has been the
totalitarianism of regimes, an unprecedented subservience of individual lives
to ideology and in its own time the crumbling of such regimes in
Yes, consciousness does precede being, people have elective choice about their response or action in the world. The history of regimes which tried to negate this concept, and control consciousness, has been a vain one. Because consciousness precedes being, Skinner has got his ideology wrong also, it is not the other way round which is what behaviourists tell us. Because this is so then considerations of contingency are only salad dressing in people's lives. It is potentially destructive as was Osborne's effect on my life. Any offensive context in which people live their lives will ultimately be destructive to the matrix of consciousness, the fabric of their feelings and sociality. The primary impact of Osborne's initiatives on me was destructiveness, and often as a direct result of the ostensible intent of teaching me sociality. C Group so rent the fabric of my consciousness through the ultimate deceit and subliminal malaise of it all.
Discharged and divorced from C Group, the disgusting charade of it crippled my consciousness. That it was supposedly professionalism, but ultimately turned out to be about egotism and contempt for human beings, gave me permanent gastric traumas of my own. Articulateness is inadequate to describe it. In the context of health professionalism, in the context of Osborne being a salaried member of a hospital staff, he and his actions were simply repulsive. In the context of the beneficence of his tertiary education and training and empowering, in the context of my presumption that all educated men were ethical, his actions and intent were simply repulsive.
And in the context of my presumption that his intent was beneficent, that ultimately it was about decency, his actions were simply repulsive. They disgusted and sickened me completely. The loathing of his perversion of professionalism, the simple habitual selfishness of his conversations with his incorporeal ego valet, these were the stuff of a new age of dismay that I unwillingly entered.
Human beings are intractable and stubborn in their feelings and to be charged with effecting changes in their lives, with their immediate therapy and their rehabilitation, is a difficult task. If one is disposed to expedient and arbitrary interventions which are contrary to a patient's feelings, such feelings become a bugbear, a difficult obstacle, and one to be overcome rather than be cognisant of. To my mind, such feelings are their humanity. For a brutal practitioner such as Osborne one way to negate these feelings is to so denigrate them that they no longer seem to be as human as ourselves. Osborne's denigration, was actually degradation, a very functional degradation for his own and other's eyes. In the animal world, a deformed beast is shunned or killed by its peers. In Osborne's dogmasticating derision of Scargill he was making of him a pack leper, to facilitate, to more easily abuse him, to more easily disabuse him of his desire for dignity and privacy.
Such was the depth of his determination. Osborne had ventured on a course where people could be rendered less than human. Such was the stuff of a new age of dismay that I unwillingly entered.
To the Professional Practices and Ethical Issues Committee, NZ Psychological Society.
"When two people relate, as observer to observed, an individual hierarchy is established, which reduces the role of the observed to an inferior status. Psychologist confronting laboratory subject, anthropologist with his subject population, scientists in such relationships must perceive their subject and their subject's world as disparate from their own. Of necessity he falls into the category of all the stupid things of the world `out there' and inherent in this detachment are such sentiments as...
- I am not interested in the uniqueness of you or your community
‑ do not come to me for recognition; do not look to me for cognisance of such things
‑ I am ready to reduce all that you are to an integer in my science."
This critique of the social sciences was pinned to the wall of my bedroom during my provisional discharge, and prior to Osborne's dissection and dissemination. Having described such actions by Osborne, I feel it is appropriate for my case to illuminate what I think were the motivations that he had to do such things.
A starting point would be to consider his words in a `feedback' session conducted in his group one afternoon. This involved the group members being seated in a circle and saying in turn what they disliked about each group member. The two reciprocal exchanges between Osborne and Cameron were illuminating. He said of her...
"I don't like the way you become emotionally involved with the people out here."
Significantly came, she said of him...
"I don't like the way you let this place get you down."
These are not innocuous or insignificant statements because they illuminate Osborne's deliberate detachment from the hospital. His use of the words "out here" and the implied distancing is paralleled in a geographic sense.
Consider the distance from the hospital which
psychologists reside. Of the four that I encountered, they all lived in
All psychologists must possess detachment, but unique to Osborne was the ability to abrogate ordinary ethical and social constraints as he drove in the gate. His detachment was extreme and coupled with his other traits of selfishness and imperiousness, the result is his abrogation of ethics.
His capacity for deceit and self deceit are all thats needed to finish this recipe for professional primitivism. Deceit is endemic to his relations in the hospital. Start with the staff ‑ he must retain a professional composure whilst working amongst them, but he slanders them when out of earshot. Psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, and nurses must come into this category. Ditto patients. Of my allegation of self deceit, consider his dissemination of Scargill which I described in my first submission. The first observation is that such unsolicited discussion and dissemination of a patient's case history is contrary to the statutes governing clinical psychology. But the content is revealing of the nature of Osborne as well as his method. The structure and content vindicates himself and discredits Scargill and like other things Osborne says, its pure fiction. Because it is such a transparent fiction and because Osborne asserts this transparency so vehemently, I assume he was asserting it to himself as well as myself.
In my previous stays in B Ward I had been associated
with other patients under Osborne's care. I had witnessed Osborne go through
the same process of having his patient, one John Swenson, sign a programme with
reinforcements and contingencies. I last saw this patient several months later,
preparing to leave the hospital. However at that time he was a committed
patient and resident in the acute/admission Ward. There were two male nurses
quietly constraining him from attempting to leave the hospital. He was getting
ECT. Another former failed patient of Osborne's can be seen to this day on the
These anecdotes do not attempt to assert looniness being a result of Osborne's treatment, rather that he has inevitably acquired low expectations of what ends his patients will achieve and incredible arbitrariness in washing his hands of them. Thus added to his other personality traits of detachment and deceit, we must add an element of defeatism. Disgust for psychiatrists whom he can't influence becomes disdain for his patients whom he can. Thus he has evolved his callousness.
The last element I would add in this personality mix is ego inadequacy. Of his motivations for the change of my treatment regime from assistance to manipulation, he enunciated his reasons one day, whilst in conversation in his office. He was in company on this occasion, with his incorporeal ego valet, the entity he holds court with. His stance of body language gaze and tone indicated this, when he said:
"I felt that as the two previous attempts by B Ward staff to give you insight into your problems with your father had failed, the onus was on me to use whatever means was at my disposal to achieve this end." (This incident is referred to frequently in this book - I ask the readers forbearance).
This was just so much bullshit, I had already achieved this insight and had entered the hospital, in John Saxby's words "for a few days to settle down". It was just so much bullshit, because self approbation was the essence of his diction, discounting whatever assertion he was making.
The indicating element of his discussions with his incorporeal ego valet is his use of the pronoun "I". His "I" is different because he accentuates the "I" distinctively ‑ it is a drawn out syllable, with a timbre of gravity and depth.
"I shouldn't indoctrinate you too much".
He accentuates the personal pronouns of others also.
Thus he adds a negative timbre to the `you' in the above sentence. Another
example were his words one day when we were discussing University curriculum.
Of his experiences in his sociology courses at
"My pursuit of sociology studies was coloured/curtailed because I felt there was not sufficient recognition given to `my' ideas by the staff/students". (When Osborne spoke this sentence his accentuation of the pronoun "my" was perverse. This incident also is referred to frequently in this book - I ask the readers forbearance).
The incident which precipitated my admission to the
hospital had been my failure to gain entry into tertiary institutions. And they
remained, in my mind, hallowed halls of academic fulfilment. Here was Osborne
holding forth on the merits of himself versus the Sociology faculty or students
"contained the biggest bunch of wankers he'd ever seen collected together".
His derision of psychiatrists made them a specially smited group. At least smited in his own mind, only slandered in private. But patients were the only group he could get at.
Is it not a legitimate assertion to say that Osborne's treatment was a function of the disaffectedness and displacedness of his personality amongst the spheres he cannot come to terms with. Unique to him he could not work in concert with B Ward's therapeutic programme. Instead he was making a bid for self realisation with his construction of C Group, a microcosm with Skinnerian philosophies at its base. As evinced by the occasion when he flicked a seminar speech across his desk one day. It attempted to reduce human emotion to empirically measured projection from outsiders. This was rat psychology. Whether it had substance or not Osborne had made a professional investment in it and needed patients to provide the realisation of it.
Compound this self serving science with Osborne's ambivalent attitude to objectivity and the truth when assessing his conflicts with patients;
"He's cultivating other problems."
"If he can handle me in here, he'll be able to handle people on the outside".
Thus we have self serving rat psychology, with self serving assessment of his relations with the rats. Compound this with his sincerely felt sense of opportunism when presented with openings for indoctrination.
So he is a scientist and his methods of assessment and mental acrobatics make him a pathological scientist. But the application of his treatment onto me and the results of his treatment, the denouement of behaviour modification, identify him as a pathogenic scientist.
The Denouement of Behaviour Modification
Osborne's `opportunity' for treatment came through my unstable relationship with my father and I would like to examine/illuminate this relationship.
My father, in part was a very intuitive and sometimes intellectually fluent man, but also could be of low cognitive complexity, a sometimes undemonstrative and sometimes brutal and uncommunicative man. He was raised by his uneducated maori mother but he was adaptive and embraced the trappings of pakeha life, but sometimes untempered by pakeha consciousness. An identifying trait of this `primal' consciousness is his unnatural disparateness from communication with his children. So much so that on one drunken occasion, when he would hold forth on his expectations of me, he would display a vocabulary I never knew he had. I didn't know him or at least we didn't know each-other, a possibly mutual failing. He had for me a derision I did not sense.
This primal uncommunicativeness was matched by myself with an unworldly unawareness of his feelings towards me. I'd grown up with a light hearted consciousness, the callousness of people skipped right over me. So I was a callow youth, a callow rural youth, inexperienced in the callousness of urban culture that shaped Osborne.
Putting these elements together, myself, my father and
Osborne, Osborne sensed an opportunity for treatment of me, harnessing his
instinctive manipulativeness. That it was only a "Clayton's"
treatment, I would assert. (Clayton's was a non alcoholic drink sold in
Thus when finally discharged, I was completely lost. Socially isolated, degraded and with my consciousness re‑arranged by all the convoluted effects of Osborne's manipulation and treatment, I began the denouement of behaviour modification, the degraded lifestyle I led in the years after discharge.
Wandering the streets of
I wished to resolve these conflicts with bullets, one for each of them. Could Osborne have foreseen me visiting my father's house, armed with a deadly .303" rifle. Such is the denouement of his `eliciting of assertion'. I'd grown up with firearms and always had access to them, but now I sought their company all the time, inhabiting the Coromandel bush, sublimating this insane anger while shooting the goat population.
Unlike my father, Osborne did not have an armed man on his door‑step. He merrily drove about town, secure in his cocoon of detachment, so that when he encountered me on the footpath, it was with an impassive and unmoving stare. Until I appeared in the uniform of the local territorial infantry unit. Suddenly his expression altered. Here he was, imperious and impervious to patient protest ‑ and I'd suddenly found his Achilles heel. The one chink in his armour was self interest; he didn't want to stop a bullet, and the possibility of this was apparent by my jungle green clothing. This was an extreme victory, he no longer could consider to have washed his hands of me with his method of detachment.
Despite my professed readiness to kill, I was not at all stable in my intentions. I had been seeking life not death. Patricide was beyond me, but I was compelled all the time to plan and picture in mind how the deed could be done. Osborne presented greater difficulty. My modus operandi, I thought should be to stake out his house one evening and blow him away when he came out to collect the milk bottles.
This insanity was but one kind I possessed. Osborne had altered my previous conceptions of the world in too many ways. The first assault, that of indoctrinations, told of a barbarousness made possible by the clouding of integrity with expediency, whilst Osborne's own methods reduced integrity to a role play and mercenariness and expediency were a frequent recourse in his professional conduct. So if the reality of ECT was revolting, then Osborne's mercenariness was unconscionable.
The antidote for both I think I possessed in a youthful consciousness, which is more often dismissed as naivete. I felt this most precious commodity had been stripped from me and I'd been turned into a product of Osborne's malignance. There was no conscious analysis to arrive at this conclusion. Instead his assaults manifested in a kind of catatonia. It bent my neck and caused an involuntary facial tic. My personality disintegrated into aberrant components, each of which reflected some trauma I had undergone at the hands of psychologists.
There had been an occasion when I had tried to emulate the style of dress which these newly inducted members of the middle class sported. My answer to their gay pastel colours was a shirt of Hawaiian blue, complete with monogrammed palm trees. However, the season was wrong for such garb, as it was mid winter and raining dogs and cats. My arrival in the group meeting sporting my new image, produced an ill concealed guffaw from one of their number. Now six months later I became scruffier and scruffier, because I felt that if I dressed myself in a way that suggested embellishment than I would only make myself look ridiculous. So I became a ragamuffin man.
Their preoccupation with rehearsals in initiating relationships with women was, as with rehearsals in assertion, doubly negative. I became pathetically preoccupied with such things, yet pathetically inept. I began to frequent the establishments where this tentative mating ritual was played out. Here was the product of their rehearsals in positive social projection, dressed like a scare crow, peering in the half light of the hotel bars at the clusters of people there, knowing I was supposed to be a participant, but being only an unwanted spectator. A kind of reactive misfit.
This is an anguished tale of a journey of personal pain, mine own. But clinically it is merely the tale of a dysfunctional personality, and I was merely one of a procession of dysfunctional personalities that inhabited Osborne's marginal world of psychiatry, psychology, and its outpatient complement.
Prior to this hideousness I was actually a citizen.
In my mind Osborne has established a record of having patients fall under his influence, then they are snared, they are captured, i.e. he would not, like sleeping dogs, let them lie, nor relinquish them to the multidisciplinary programme of B Ward. Instead some sometimes brutal and some sometimes spurious treatment is shovelled at them for the duration of this capture, then they can be released or vomited into the outside community, or fall into a darker void of psychiatry, after his committal process, his "capture", has worked its course.
Numbering amongst Osborne's ex-patients were young men at the tender hands of psychiatry, often candidates for ECT. He would have encountered them in that part of the hospital grounds where he was want to lounge in his lunch hour. Consider, for someone without an inner serenity or spirituality, qualities which he demonstrably didn't have, the ghastly psyche which he would have had to cultivate or endure...
in such nihilism
at the asylum.
So amongst this hideousness, dysfunctional personalities could be meat and drink to Osborne. He had cultivated the brusqueness, the deviant detachment where this could be so. In my mind and in my submissions, Osborne has established a record of vomiting dysfunctional personalities out of the hospital. I was one of them.
His cultivation of dependence is of dysfunction. He didn't consider the dysfunction would be permanent, but on the alter of his egotism, he imposed on me;
- redirection of resentment,
- eliciting of assertion,
- constraining of social functioning,
- rehearsals with an implicit element of sexuality,
- and rendering the patient disparate from his milieu of origin.
I have described my initial spontaneous reaction to Osborne and Cameron, that occurred when I was waiting the fulfilment of my new life expectations. But instead of a human response Osborne wanted assertion and he'd pre‑empted this consciousness and I'd begun the phases of intimidation, giggling repartee and then perfidy which he did elicit. But I was never meant to be any such animal and because they clouded the consciousness that I had, I was left hungering for the human contact that was part of my psychological being. Hungering is the appropriate word because it was a gnawing need to be with and to contact and to be a part of a human sphere. I was a member of a large family with an in-built need for gregariousness. Osborne confused the social and psychological structures of this and I attempted to fulfil this need with an affected jois‑de‑vivre with everyone I encountered. I seized every opportunity to greet and exchange these forced pleasantries with all and sundry. I acquired a job in the kitchen of the hostel where I was resident, as if through ladling out the gruel I could exchange it for the kindness I hungered for.
So I was a ridiculously cheerful dishwasher, a truly reactive misfit. Nor did this maladjustment cease when I left that establishment. To a casual observer I was a nondescript, if somewhat scruffy young man. Within I was crazy with grief. My teeth ground on occasion, and I think the resentment I felt upset the character of my face, the set of my features. It was a continual tale of consciousness or expectations raised high, but actualities driven low. The result was a derangement of persona. The social relations in my life were a repeat of the episodes just described. I was voluntaristic with my greetings and conversation and consequently met and was mauled by the sociopathic people I encountered.
I could not psychologically commit myself to any job.
I had the gnawing anxiety throughout the work day that I should be at home,
endeavouring to write this complaint to the powers that be about my treatment.
My six months employment in a PEP gang culminated in my being beaten off the
job in Christmas 1983. (Project Employment Programmes (PEP's) were the
I think my worst occasion, was one morning when this youth, unconstrained because of his father's absence, repeated several insults ‑ although to him they seemed natural observations.
"You're a weakling Simon...
...you should have been born a women
...you're going to get the sack."
With each insult my behaviour became progressively more self conscious. Johnny Cash had popularised a song which became the theme of a movie shown on television that week. The refrain and title were along the lines of "I'm stuck in Fulsome prison, and life keeps draggin' on." So I volubly sang this, with ostentatious vigour, as one might whistle in the dark. Alas my tormenter was within earshot and confronted me... "Shut up you mic, your the only drag around here". Is this the result of Osborne's protracted programme in learning to assert oneself.
This aberrant callousness seems all part of the same syndrome; between Osborne and my thuggish "workmates", eight years after his treatment. It was a continuing story, the same callous cruelty, as if the consciousness of these people regarded such as everyday, an episodic event, the natural way to orient toward other people. To me it seemed an aberrant cruelty.
My outrage at this progression of events, from Osborne's manipulation to my degradation nine years later was because it should not have happened ‑ that Osborne's treatment was not a catalyst that sent me along this road, but that it was a cause. That his treatment meant the manufacture of a misfit. That he manipulated and misused me such that he did send me from the hospital as a disarrayed and disaffected youth who was so dismayed that I found it impossible to function socially and within the practical affairs of making one's way in the world.
His first treatment was the change of consciousness his initial positive programme had elicited, and I had thus let go my practical hold on the world in expectation of a new kind of life. His first assault had been his indoctrinations with respect to the hospital which I had embraced, and then his manipulations which had seen me run through a drugs and brain damages gauntlet, in a way synonymous with those indoctrinations. This element was compounded exponentially by his disseminations, that ensured I go from the hospital damned as a miscreant, rather than someone affected by manipulation, or at best, someone who had fallen through misadventure. Instead he had painted a facade over his own manipulativeness, and made me pay double for his mercenariness.
Thirdly there were the assaults he had made on my consciousness with respect to my family. It was one thing to indoctrinate me, it was another thing to witness my sister receiving the medication prior to the administration of ECT, then duly marching off with other unfortunates, to be given her twice weekly blast. It was one thing to be indoctrinated, it was another to be an observer and it was terrible to be discharged from the hospital aware of these assaults, but absolutely unable to communicate them to my father, who had been instrumental in this process. He'd driven ahead of me to the hospital on the day of my readmission, and precluded my admission to Ward 8, thereby delivering me back into Osborne's hands. He sought to establish his hegemony, about how my life should be run ‑ to become a member of the work force in some kind of proud proletarian tradition. Whereas I wanted growth not calluses.
These were compounding assaults. I was at once worked on to elicit assertion, then shunted from the hospital and thus provoked my father's interference. Yet I was so reduced to a state of psychological dependence, to be incapable of asserting myself against him. He had two kinds of consciousness. He'd internalised the cues and responses of urbane conduct but he retained a primal cruelty. He had embraced the concepts of discipline and self discipline, but it was unleavened by the consciousness that accompany such things.
The last and I feel most important aspect that Osborne stripped from me, was human sociality. He had reduced the social functioning of Scargill and myself so that the nursing staff could consider us candidates for alternative treatment, for acute psychiatric status rather than psychotherapy. According to them we were tending to psychosis, with auditory hallucinations.
Within B Ward; the day room, kitchen and corridor are adjacent to each other and patients would normally circulate through the day room. But Arthur Scargill used a little used side door, from the corridor into the kitchen. So that when not in his room, the only presence we would see of him was when he would make his way from his room into the kitchen, where he remained only long enough for the Zip water heater to reheat, then retreat back into his room. There he was dug in, under his bed of all places.
Whilst in the kitchen on one occasion I heard him making involuntary noises to himself, and, startled, I asked him ‑ "Did you say something?" He was just talking to himself. For myself I was queried at the Ward meeting ‑ Why did I go about talking to myself in a similar way? and I replied, "bottling things up has screwed me down ‑ I'm going to see Osborne today about this business".
Unlike Scargill I had recourse to speak with him, I had repartee with him. The choice of the term repartee rather than rapport is deliberate. It would be impossible for people to have rapport, when one party reserves the prerogative of manipulation.
Consideration of auditory hallucinations or psychoses was redundant. This agitated non‑communicativeness provokes the
question - why and how could we be reduced like this? Why had Scargill become isolated and retreating from people? Why had I ceased to be functioning socially in favour of a very tenuous one man sociality with Osborne? Rather I think the psychosis came once discharged from the hospital and without the artificial prop which Osborne supplied. A truly manufactured misfit.
So in totality this was the person whom Osborne sent from the hospital.
‑ Disarrayed by my own personal revolution of rising expectations.
‑ Disarrayed by manipulation to an insane degree.
‑ Disarrayed by disseminations to the point of insane anger.
‑ Disarrayed with respect to sociality to the point of psychosis.
‑ Revolted to an insane degree by Osborne's `rationalisations'.
My solution for this unconscionable callousness and selfishness was a killing. I systematically pursued two options. That of bringing Osborne to account by the submission of complaints such as this one - and an alternative of murder for revenge. Both he and subsequently my father were playing with fire when they established their dominance over me. I had spent my youth alternately absorbed with either shotguns or motorbikes. They were skills I had forgotten I had, yet I now reactivated my interest in firearms.
I joined the local territorial unit, and spent some
time alone in their armoury at
The code (the Code of Ethics of the Psychological Society, current at the time of Osborne's abuse) reserves the right for psychologists to "exercise his personal skill and judgement and weigh in his own mind the interests of the particular patient", and thus there is a basis for Osborne to justify his extreme or unorthodox methods. If an investigation were to proceed it would be incumbent on Osborne to justify himself in terms of the above, rather than "expediency or personal convenience". So I would draw your attention to the progressions and antithetical ends which his methods set in motion.
- My primary relationship which caused me to trust the hospital sphere was Doctor Saxby, the nursing staff and the social workers, yet he slandered the whole hospital sphere.
‑ He indoctrinated me with respect to the nursing staff, yet at the end of the treatment he re-oriented me back to the nursing staff.
‑ I was a passive and co‑operative patient, yet he wanted total dominance ‑ is dependence not enough.
‑ He was all the while training me in his perfidy yet when I turned his perfidy on him he was bent on revenge and he coaxed me back to his laboratory to exact it.
‑ He indoctrinated me and manipulated me with insights about ECT only to see me scuttling from the hospital, regurgitating these insights to my parents whose other offspring, my sister was at the time committed to an acute Ward in the hospital, and was receiving ECT.
‑ He supposedly trained me to be assertive and coping with respect to my father, yet he constructs the scenario where my father interferes with my status in the hospital, and ultimately causes me to run a drugs and brain damage gauntlet. Incidentally he indoctrinated me about drugs as well.
‑ On a more primal level of consideration, what my father did was establish dominance of me ‑ for life, ‑ and in the light of the whole psychological baggage of insight about ECT, in the light of the psychological baggage about eliciting of assertion, this was incommensurable with my consciousness. For ten years and more after this event my breathing was laboured and my throat and chest became constricted when I thought of it. So much for the exercising of personal skill and judgement in the interests of the patient. With such nihilism and summariness as is his, Osborne can ensure people live deformed lives.
‑ the test for a medical practitioner is survival of the patient. If the treatment kills it can't be considered a cure. Osborne's treatment killed the patient, because he extirpated all of me that I considered tangible and wanted to pursue in life. I wanted to pursue happiness in life, but went from a potential adult male on the threshold of life, to a disaffected psychiatric patient. As I said to Osborne "I want to be a person not a piece of psychiatric garbage".
Contrary to our former roles of psychologist and patient I would analyse Osborne's personality traits as to why he could be capable of wroughting unhappiness with ease. The best exposition I can think of is to describe his methods on one side and his rationalisations on the other, as forming a closed system. Of action (manipulation) and reaction (patient response) and then his disseminations as a kind of rationalised facade, to project to any curious bystanders. The normal psychological capacities of guilt, responsibility, and character are clouded within Osborne : He has overlaid them with habitual negating responses. He just rotates his head from one (Scargill) to the other (myself) and proceeds to rationalise and encapsulate everything crudely and succinctly, in a spiel of self approbation.
This system of self approbation can retain the same elements for every case, so if he is questioned about the complaints I have made he could have an automatic response incorporating these elements.
1/ the patient came into the hospital with specific problems.
2/ Osborne tailored specific treatment to those problems.
3/ The patient responded positively and was provisionally discharged... but...
4/ he cultivated other problems.
Thus this `system' is habitual or recurring in his professional life, and can rationalise any conflict situation, e.g. "if he can handle me in here he can handle people on the outside". Somehow the concepts of dignity for the patient and responsibility for Osborne have been left out.
I can only attempt to judge him by the psychologist’s code. I automatically judge him by what men do to other men, and instead of seeing his behaviour in terms of an exigent response to a situation, I see it as an abject assault of one person onto another. The whole business cries out for denunciation. Who amongst the employing authority, the Hospital Board or the hospital staff, or amongst the community at large, could conscience this habitual activity of lie telling and covering of one's professional tracks. To draw a salary presumes a rendering of service, not a paid exercise in aggrandisement. There is no recompense he can give but let him be informed of the damage he has done. He still remains unaware that he was treating iatrogenic disorders when he rediagnosed and reoriented me back to the nursing staff. He still remains unaware that the original depression that brought me into the hospital was because I had failed to gain admission to a tertiary institution, yet he treated me as a guinea pig of social science rather than an aspiring participant.
I have recently gained admission to
Chapter 7 Towns and Cities
To the rural community of the
After discharge from Tokanui the new phase of my life was of the experience of country meeting town. The incidental exchanges of life I experienced as this interloper. City meets country in retailing or service, and here across the counter of innumerable businesses I, as an itinerant countryman, met the city.
Business here can be intense. I was sometimes unnerved by the conduct of the staff in them. They dealt with people with such brisk efficiency it was often offensive. It was brusque efficiency. Their lives were caught in the intensity of the enterprise, of service to the customer, of work done for a dollar. Because of the element of "deindividuation", the contacts on the job, the relationships were economic and temporary, rather than those which the small town retained. This phenomenon was marked even though the environment was but forty miles from the rural service towns I had grown up or near in. But the anonymity of people prevailed rather than a sense of a mutual relationship that was to last. Thus the psychic rhythm here was not about the rhythm of life or the unfolding of life but the tempo of life.
Thus I sometimes found people in the businesses are unnerving in their conduct. One such was the car wrecker's yard which I visited. After finding the bits I sought I bumbled through the transaction, wanting to approach the counter while the mechanic held out his hand for cash on the spot. I wanted to perhaps engage them in conversation of no consequence. I wished even to pat the alsatian that attended the place. But my presumptions were all wrong. The dog had a fine coat and an engaging canine countenance, but he was there to guard the premises from the thieves that frequent car wrecker's yards. He was there to be neither friendly nor photogenic. And the woman behind the counter attended her paperwork with peculiar application. The mechanic or parts man attended his job too with an intensity. When he could do no more for me he cursorily turned and walked to his next errand.
But he didn't just turn and walk. He strode, it was a stride with purpose and motivation. Workmen walk differently in the city. They stride different. This is so because they are cognitively different. It is because their minds are attuned to the tempo of the business and their role in it. Their tenure, their livelihood hinge on delivering this role with intensity, as per the tempo of the larger business goal which they are all tithed to. In a small town workmen walk different. In a small town men move as if their bodies could turn and readily respond to greeting or distraction. Or just plain old curiosity. In the city men walk differently I am sure, and I am sure it would be confirmed if it could be tested. In the city men take more steps per minute.
One business which demonstrates best the tempo of life is the car
auction, held at Turner's Auctioneers in
On an arterial route on the periphery of
The voice of the auctioneer is compulsive, there is no time for deliberation, only the exhortatory bark of the auctioneer. He bellows with the tempo of the commentator of a race meeting. Calling for bids he steadily lowers the asking price until temptation makes some hopeful punter put up their hand. "Well maybe no else will want it". When he strikes this bid a young women on the floor below him, grasping a clipboard, raises her hand and voice. Gesturing at the bidder, she cries "bid", and as others follow in quick succession she cries again, moving her arm in an insolent semaphore.
As the price grows, bidding diminishes, hopeful buyers yield their hopes. And the auctioneer realises he must conclude the sale. Hesitating for no more than a second he shouts "selling now". A video with digital time recorder could capture the time factors of his movements. His arm then falls like an animated human hammer. Direct, uncompromising, there is a dull but resounding percussion, loud but tuneless as his hammer falls into the gavel. If bidding didn't reach the reserve price he calls to the highest bidder "Thank you Sir, we'll negotiate after the auction."
Hillcrest was named appropriately rather than with
originality. It referred to the high ground on the East side of the
There were three of these spreading themselves on and
at the foot of the hill of Hillcrest. They were the University at the summit,
But it was in a bar in the central city that I
witnessed a ghastly phenomenon, which marked the city from the small town
ambience I'd grown in. The public bar of the Commercial hotel was the haunt of
the Mongrel Mob, a maori gang of an ambience all of their own. Part of this
must have been body odour. They wore leather, rain or shine. From head to toe
they were brown skinned or black jacketed, with boots and often leather pants.
In deference to the elements, I would see one of them carrying his jacket,
making his way through the streets to this bar. It can be oppressively hot in
This mob of mongrels would congregate in a cluster in one part of the bar. Sometimes an associate would orbit round them, or stop his orbit and converse, then disperse off on some errand. He was a tall and physically resolute fellow, with army boots and I think a military green jersey. He was of dark skin and dark hair like them, but he was not of the mob's garb and not of their inner cluster. He was a `prospector', a candidate member of the gang, doing their bidding in a bid to be admitted to this inner coterie.
Also with but not of this steamy collection of humanity was an attractive young woman. She weaved around the mobsters also, and being acquainted with a guy I was talking with, she came over and spoke with us for a short time. She wasn't attractive, she was beautiful. She was so simply beautiful it was not an alluring beauty, but a statuesque beauty. To be admired rather than desired. Tall and lithe, her deportment lent her attractiveness also. When she spoke it was the trusting endearments of girlhood, not womanhood. And the simplicity of her feelings and her trust and her natural beauty, made her face and persona radiant. She was no more than seventeen but was keeping company with these mongrels. As a child she could not apprehend the dangerous disposition of these mobsters.
When I saw her again in a few weeks or a few months, she was no longer a child. Time had telescoped in her life. Her face once radiant was now set with the rigidity of grief and distress. Below this grieving countenance were the tell tale welts of her nemesis of innocence. Her neck was burnt with bruises.
There is a ritualistic raping practised by the urban
On another time but in the same town I saw the same
welts on the neck of another unfortunate. I was familiar enough with her to ask
where she had obtained these injuries. It was the Outcasts, a motorcycle gang
with their "pad" in
There can be no suggestion of sensuality or eroticism in this raping behaviour of these creatures. It is a maniacal and hideous misogyny which makes them do this. Baring their buttocks and penetrating this hapless victim. A bizarre misogyny, a rewardless raping which serves only the nihilism within them.
Its hard to be a human being in
It must be hard to be a woman in
assaults which occur in the city and its environs. These run the gamut of all kinds of callousness. The random opportunist violence, such as a woman forced into her own car and driven to an isolated location and raped. A woman answers her door to a man wishing to use the telephone, who then rapes her and makes off into the night.
In the fifteen years subsequent to my treatment, I
lived often through the largesse of the Social Welfare Department. In the
reception area of their branch on
Perhaps fifty of us were on our perennial wait for service, when two young maori males entered and began to remonstrate with a young man there. He was of indeterminate extraction, perhaps part maori, perhaps not. Whatever, these other two had a matter of contention with him that they were determined to resolve. In fact they were determined to kick him mercilessly in his torso, which they did with amazing abandon.
First they began to remonstrate with him, to persuade him to leave the building and join them on the street. This he was reluctant to do and their remonstration become more pressing.
Like the cathartic beating of the Mongrel Mobster at Te Puke, this assault had a quality of complete acumen in its execution. Their diction, their remonstration, had a quality of confidence as they swore at this unfortunate. And their movement, when they moved to their physical violence had a quality of assuredness. They moved with a deftness when they commenced to attack him. It was a determined deftness, but deftness all the same, the movements of their limbs and torso quick with an agile brutality. The strength of two combatants against one forced the latter against the window at the street front of the building. From there onto the floor, where they commenced kicking him mercilessly. A maori women who was a gang associate was pinned up against a pillar or partition of the building, and was pressed there because of the single mindedness of the attackers. Like a rabbit in a rugby scrum. Her safety was at risk, because the attention of the maulers was so focused.
One can use words like intense and visceral or primal which clinically it may be. But technical words cannot convey the musk character of it, the animal aggression that beat in their souls then haemorrhaged. They were kicking out its cathartic release, a frenzy insane for several seconds, which abated only after many kicks and they became once again mindful of the many witnesses to their savagery. First one, then the other, broke away from their kicking frenzy and exited through the door of the building.
And to mark their parting, each used a curious performance. They raised their clenched fists above their heads and screamed or chanted something incoherent, a yowl of self possession, their lives newly affirmed by this achievement. Except their victory was a hideous one and they each uttered a primeval snarl.
The key to this consummation, this self congratulation of their violence lies in ethology or zoology. With Jane Goodal or Desmond Morris. I favour Jane Goodal's interpretation first, because of the primate like guise these combatants adopt or resemble.
They were of shorter polynesian stature, short and broad of muscle, their garments all black, possibly all black leather from shoulder to shoe. This could give them the appearance of hide rather than garment. The effect of their raising of their arms and uttering a primeval yowl gave them a simian quality. It is in the eye of this beholder. I cannot remember the source of the sounds that one heard or were uttered. As this frenzy insane went on there was the thud of their leather bound humanoid hooves into human flesh. And I don't know whether I actually heard the sounds I now describe, or it is memory filling in the details. But in my own mind now I can hear grunts of visceral indulgence as these creatures reflexively fired and flailed with their limbs. It just had that character and intensity.
The peer loyalty of these two creatures was of the
zoological world, their bonding to eachother and bonding in contempt of their
victim was of a musk quality. There was a consummate confidence and team work
in what they were doing. There was both a driver and a lookout to abet their
assault and remove them quickly and anonymously from the scene. First they
parked their car, a modern Holden, a little distance from the scene. One man
stayed with the car, and another outside the premises, while the assailants
entered to do their work. And when this assault was at its climax or soon after
he whistled up the vehicle which exited its parking space, did a U turn in
In the few short seconds it had taken to wrestle to the ground
their victim a metamorphosis had occurred.
In the animus that moved them.
Previously they were verbal in their intimidation, they were mindful of the host around them, witnesses to their actions. They did not want to brawl in our presence. But the victim did not want to be persuaded of the same. They attacked him there and then in this public arena.
and as the tempo of their assault built up
the constraints of the civilisation
that surrounded them
were suddenly rendered
These assailants were only marginal members of the community that begat them, and surrounded them. Their psychological lives were so circumscribed, such that they could only be on the periphery of it, on the periphery of the common pulse of humanity that moved the rest of us. They were primates. Be they primates by choice or conditioning, this was how they lived their lives. Of them that were conditioned primates, one must speculate where did they get their conditioning. It was at the hearth and hand of the homes they sprung from. Maori homes, primitive in their socialisation to codes of the everyday human world. A primate socialisation came about through the behaviour of their parents, in their abdication of parenting. This was the cultural world that begat this primitive act.
In the few short seconds it took to wrestle their victim to the ground. A metamorphosis had occurred in the scene and the century. Had they suddenly taken us back to an age when the cerebellum and aggression ruled hominid behaviour. Their cathartic kicking rhythm betrayed this. This is why we, who were witnesses, were idle in the face of violence. We were impotent because it was not of our age. We the public are conditioned to cognition, not primitivism.
When my Dad cut a sheep's throat it gave up its life not without a struggle, but not much of a struggle all the same. It didn't throw its frame around the pen, it didn't call out or spasm in the super‑strength which one might think it could have. Immobilised by my Dads grasp and the knife through all its vital cords and arteries, it lay on the grating of the shearing shed floor and lamely kicked out its last breath. I think rhythmically rather than strongly. It appeared in the fridge and on the table that night. Lambs fry(liver) and bacon. The meat was cut up the next day after hanging to "set".
In this cathartic kicking in this modern building of
Thus it can be hard to be a human being in
If I was intimately involved in a working life in this city, then the cursoriness of business or retailer or other relationships would not have dominated my mind so much. And indeed the participation in clubs, the recreational gatherings of the people, have an intensity of their own too. Like the business of retailing, the game of recreation is played with intensity. The need for deference is here recognised and indulged, perhaps because the participants realise the lack of it in their working lives. If I had managed to be part of a community of interest such as a workplace or a club, the humanising of these kind of relationships would have been apparent. And sometimes they were. In a paternalistic kind of way I did find kindness, at work and at play.
In this urban labyrinth of lostness, I sought to find kindness. Like a child forever at one's knee, I had a cloying need for congeniality. Now I was totally dismayed at the interpersonal violence or perceived interpersonal violence that I encountered. Like the former veteran of battle who was accosted in a hotel while on leave from B Ward one Friday night; he cried upon his return.
And there was another craving ever more prominent in my mind. I craved the consortium of women, that which is best achieved horizontally. I craved to get laid. Socially isolated, and isolated from the company of women, sexuality loomed ever larger in my psyche. My mind became filled and tormented with the images of eroticism. I became an unrequited sexual satyr.
Unlike rope rapists I think most men equate sex and coupling with a woman, as an act of sensitivity as much as of sexuality and sensuality. That a loving clasp in her arms, and the loving clasp in her vagina, have much in similarity. That the psychological and emotional rewards are the same, the difference being in degree of intimacy. Sexuality is considered more personally and more emotionally by more men than popular conceptions would have it. One popular song did get it right with the refrain, "heaven is my woman's love". And I suspect most men agree and confirm it in their lives by loving their wives.
And to myself whose mind and psyche was hungering for contact and kindness from people, such that I was going through a metamorphosis of sensitivity and dependence, sex loomed larger and larger in my psyche, a hunger deeper than lust. The allurements of feminine consortium were ever greater because I was going through a withdrawal of all things convivial. As a child craves maternal comfort, I craved comforts of another kind.
In the small town environs from whence I came, one knew personally the woman one encountered. At high school "couples" would not keep secret the fact that they were making love. Of women's sex lives we could be informed, often providing the venues for their liaisons. When parents were away for a Friday or Saturday evening, we would congregate at their homes. Couples would retire into a room and into the beds. There would be a hastily made bed and smoothing of the creases when passion was appeased. One night after a drunken gathering I found myself loading linen into my Mum's washing machine.
In this previous time and environment, women were
located in my mind as personalities. In the city of
Thus in this urban labyrinth of lostness there was the physical presence of women in their sexuality and sensuality. There one does not contact women as personalities, but their feminine body confronts one visually. Their hair, their faces, their breasts, their lithe arms, their pelvis moved by a rhythm of walking. Their legs often caressed by a dress of a sensual length. This was the only intercourse I had with women, a visual and furtive one.
But eroticism, like love, is cultural and arises in a context of suggestion and socialisation. And there was provided for me at Tokanui a culture of suggestion about sexuality through the writings of Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet. He had a poignant imagery which I was introduced to when Dianne had me recite one of his poems. A self declared lover of the human race, "especially of women", his biography revealed a man determined to "rage" in many ways, sexuality being one of them.
There had been an unspoken suggestion of sexuality inherent in Osborne's rehearsals which he had had Scargill and myself perform. It only impacted slowly, what the intent and "tenor" of these rehearsals was about. Instead of a furtive non social sexuality, a "flashing" sexuality, Scargill, and by implication myself, were being trained to introduce ourselves to potential sex partners.
Because I craved feminine consortium, these rehearsals took on a poignant impetus in my mind. Such that I was prisoner to them. Inwardly I was an unexpressing and unfulfilled suitor of every attractive woman I encountered. And the non-fulfilment, of rehearsals for an opening night that never came, did so play on and sadden my mind that I considered engaging my own actresses to fulfil them.
As a youth a few years previous to this torment, I had
walked down the streets of King's Cross in
Only a few times, reluctantly, behind a two way mirror, did I rehearse this pantomime. And only thousands of times did it play on my mind such that I would wish the role to be played out so earnestly. By such wistful non‑consummation, through the shallow impositions of psychologists, did my young life ebb and decline.
Osborne did not have a dignified view of male sexuality. Of the institution of marriage he said, "Most men don't remain wankers all their lives." Osborne did not have a dignified view of women's sexuality. He described the pithy or pertinent part of treatment of sexual dysfunction in women as their being told "they have to say to their partners that they have a thing down there called a clitoris ‑ and if you give it a flick now and then I really get my rocks off."
And as well he had a negative innuendo for single men in their sexuality. Bruce Skinner was single and thus presumably celibate, and thus presumably masturbatorial, and Osborne taunted him on one occasion when we were in his group meeting. He must previously have been speaking or remonstrating or reparteeing about sex with Bruce. Skinner had been given charge of the proceedings. An occasion he could not rise to, he was simply inane or shy or defensive somehow. He kept up some half hearted attempts for about half the session then his efforts petered out. At this juncture Osborne said "I think your opting out Bruce...." he added gleefully and cheekily "..you can go and masturbate.."
There was a chilling note of derision in this advice "You can go and masturbate..." with a gleeful nuance at the end of it. A young man's burgeoning sexuality is a time when they could go blind, and Osborne was jeering Skinner in his supposed plight of imminent blindness.
This negating of the privacy of sexuality was a
feature of life when I was resident in a flat in
When a `test', the football match between the touring Lions and the Springbok rugby teams was to be relayed on TV screens in the early hours of the morning, my lady and I were to lie up late in the lounge to watch it. But there was only one sleeping bag for the two of us. At the mention of the hardship of two bodies jammed into one sleeping bag we demurred, but the ocker shocked us, demur pair that we were, by facing us and saying, "You'd both like it". He had studied at some school of ghoulish drama and would oft repeat a scene like this, making an intimidating and unnerving remark, to which one could not react or riposte, then turn his back and stride out of scene.
I don't think he ever saw Clark Gable utter "Frankly Scarlet, I don't give a damn", the dramatic sense of his scenes was too primitive.
He had eyes like a staffordshire terrier. English terriers are grim products of evolution that function in the stimulus response mode. This is the dominance their reflexes, their nervous system, has in determining their behaviour.
Part of our animal heritage is that we have a nervous system... At the simplest level, the nervous system gives us reflexes... When we touch something hot or sharp, we pull away... At this level there is no room for conscious thought in the execution of an action...
Ted Howard 92
When bull terrier pups sight their tales, they wheel and chase them continually, and this can continue when they are adult dogs. A staffordshire terrier I have seen clamp its jaws onto a piece of wood wielded by its owner, and be whirled around making circles in the air. Evolution selected this fighting dog to bite chew and tear, or otherwise "lock on", even if in the process it left terra firma. Such as this is a stimulus-response function which is hard wired into their canine brains.
And the deportment of these dogs betrays their inheritance of stupidity also. They lope along on their dog day journeys, sometimes their heads loll to one side, sometimes their tongues loll out of their mouths. These traits give them a stupid canine countenance; the shape of their head and the dullness of their eyes and expression. Their colouring is often bland or blond. They are simply not animated creatures.
This ocker creep Dave was like this. One could see the dullness in his eyes, and observe the stimulus‑response inheritance in his deportment. He had flesh and hair a matching paleness and as well he had such a native crudity, instinctive profligacy and aggression. His eye contact was that crude urban phenomenon of inert, unreacting indifference. They did not glint with aggression but were dull with a dull level of perception.
One of his remarks about sex provoked an altercation between myself and him. We had wrestled inconsequentially on the lawn of the dwelling. When his greater strength told he had got off me and set off back into this house. But with a curious ocker lope, a speeding undignified stride, the shoulders hunched down, the hips and torso swinging not rhythmically but mechanically, the head tilted forward, the arms bent at the elbows and stabbing like pistons on a steam train. Like other primates he was not averse to having filth on the pads of his feet. He was a barefoot Bigfoot disappearing into his lair.
Thus in this period I encountered several traits which I had not experienced in my previous life ‑ the negation of the notion of privacy, the habitual pursuit of derision, and the bizarre effrontery and crudity of this ocker primate. The paradox of his primitivism was that although he deliberately set out to offend, what was described in his vernacular as "stirring" people, he was intellectually feeble and could never know how successful he was at hurting human beings.
Another ghastly dominance ritual I was a reluctant participant in came through a sordid contact in my life, a smelly nigger called Sam. This was a fellow resident in the Hillcrest Hostel, my afore‑described stamping ground as a ridiculously cheerful dishwasher
Sometimes there can be seen in the faces of polynesian men an aberrantly feral aspect, as if a caricaturist had designed a mask to portray a hideous demeanour. To those whom a norm is a European face, a dark countenance need not necessarily affront one, as people we be, whether bright or dark complexioned. But scratch the surface of this consideration, when a dark figure can be perceived as an unknown other, grim connotations attach to him in our minds. I say him, as the eternal bogey entity who threatens evil is of the male gender, a bogey man. But unlike the imagined evil of a coloured countenance, the particular face I describe imparts a definite callousness, and knowing the qualities or lack of them that it indicates, it is appropriate to be affronted by them.
It is difficult to gather in one's mind the several facets that make up the whole of this unwholesomeness. The expression betrays a low cognitive complexity, but one aggravated by an implicit if intangible menace. Simplicity can be manifest in passive and unaggressive faces but in this other kind of countenance, the elements of low intelligence are complemented, not by docility, but by a menacing aggression. Sometimes amongst these maori males one finds a mouth featured by missing teeth. These are testimony to violent encounters in a person's past, the raw gums interspersed by occasional white headstones are not pretty and they are also testimony to the marginalised minds of these men who, unlike people of conventional character, will not visit a dentist to repair such damage.
Each element of countenance can be individually nondescript, it is the totality of appearance and comportment that gives the traits of a person their persona, and to be specific about each as a betoken of barbarism is perhaps invalid. A persona is a gestalt of many parts.
But a menacing face is a menacing face and the
menacing faces I describe may beggar description but they are still menacing
nonetheless. They are something between Charles Laughton as Quasimodo, and
Freddie Kruger, an actual
Consciousness is betrayed in faces, a thoughtful countenance implies a thoughtful person, dull deportment and a dull demeanour give the impression of a dull persona. On these faces is not a countenance which is a betrayer of the consciousness within, but one of a projected callousness.
Consideration of these two traits, intelligence or lack of it, and aggression or lack of it, prompts one to consider what it is that consciousness and civilisation are composed of. It is the intelligence of human beings, and the intuitive empathy and cognisance of each other's fragility, which separates the beasts of the field from the beasts of the fold. The zoological scholarship of the likes of Desmond Morris, and of biogenetics, identify the commonalities we share with our mammalian cousins. The difference is captured in the term consciousness, a capacity and quality we acquired through incremental advance from a primate past.
These elements, consciousness and consideration, are the antithesis of the zoological side of the human spectrum I sometimes encountered after my discharge from Osborne's treatment. Subsequent to his treatment, my experiences of assaults and callousness of a zoological character dominated my life. There was the afore-described ocker creeper whose baleful rhetoric was complemented by grimmer traits - and he could even walk like a Bigfoot.
Describing these encounters with zoological persona and aggression broaches an elemental paradox facing human beings - that our biological heritage and elements of our behavioural heritage, are mammalian and simian. This does not mean that within each breast resides a beast, but some people have unnervingly zoological proclivities and are unnervingly indulgent of them.
Osborne's manipulation, his ready recourse to eliciting attitude change in his patients to achieve control of them, smack of an eschewing of consciousness itself. And coupled with this he had an elemental aggression which was redolent of our zoological heritage. The way his stomach heaved with suppressed anger and disappointment when he encountered situations that vexed him. The way he threw back his head and laughed with a crazed cacophonous laughter, seemed feral also, redolent of an ape cackling in a tree. In my mind his mirth, so demonstrative and indulgent, acquired this simian aspect. He had the iconic behaviours of upcurling his upper lip in a sneer of derision and the body postures that would accompany this, the erect posture, facing and leering at the victim all the while.
But amongst the menagerie of primate personalities and traits that I encountered in him and in the years after my experience at Tokanui, he was the only educated one, and they occurred along with a sometimes urbane demeanour. Amidst his otherwise composed comportment he could call them up at will, such that it is not correct to say he was an educated primate, he was an elective primate. They occurred when he chose.
Thus this paradox and quandary for human beings is
personified within him. Despite its warts,
Getting back to the dull but menacing deportment of
these polynesian pathogens. In my home town of
This victim, Ron, was a young man notable in my time in high school for an olive skin and a certain joie de vivre. A rugby and horse playing, all American guy. And among these attributes there was manifest a certain civility. He had an elemental decency about him. After high school he worked in a bank and lived his life and it was at this stage of his life that he had the misfortune to be assaulted with this other creep.
For the youth of
When receiving medical attention in hospital after this abuse, the Doctors had to restart his heart after it paused for thirty seconds or so. He had, in this assault, suffered neurological damage as he became epileptic. These fits had elements of anger as it was recounted that it took several people to hold him down during one of his seizures. He seemed to have suffered a blunting of affect and alertness also.
When he spoke to me of the experience he relayed his feelings about his assailant, manipulating his false teeth in his mouth as he spoke. Speaking hypothetically of ever encountering his assailant in a like situation again, he said "I'd kill him". His life, once youthful and gregarious and featured by attractiveness, was now perverted by physical and neurological maiming and the hatred attendant on such an insult to the business of being human.
In this latter example, the face of the abuser I can't now picture but his bodily movements betrayed a certain character of uncomported crudeness. The face and bodies of these men is a complementary part of the comportment, the way they move which betrays the low cognitive complexity and unearthly aggression within them. In the case of the abuser of the dog he walked with the same dullard’s laboured but purposive walk. All these things are constituent parts of the whole with the imputed qualities which I describe.
It is only in the light of this zoological conceptualising that I can describe the experience I had with this smelly nigger Sam, and the resulting pain which is with me still, twenty years after the event. The feral character of the assault which ensued on this occasion hideously illustrates the primal qualities which these aberrant creatures demonstrate.
Sam had traits suggestive of a time other than the modern. His face was of that polynesian primitiveness I have attempted to describe, his body of that same bulbous fleshiness I have tried to describe also. He didn't move upright, let alone dignified. He padded like a primate. He had a certain gait, walking with his weight pitched forward on his hips. He was a brown grotesque surfeit of flesh.
Queuing for dinner one evening at the hostel, he approached me and made as if to confront me, leaning forward in an attitude of directness and proximity. He had an issue of contention which he decided to indulge. I said something in a vain attempt to brush him off.
Leaping forward he struck me a hideous telling blow that was to effect me for the years ahead and perhaps for the rest of my life, as the effects are with me still. Swinging both of his fore limbs in a wide arc he brought them to bear on my face and senses. I recoiled instantaneously from the impact, smarting with shock. But the fact is he had not made contact.
Instantaneously his arms had exploded in a detonation of movement. They were retracted back from his torso and drawn up to give striking distance, then sent flailing at me to impact blows on my face and head, except they were decelerated and stopped inches from my face, inches before my widening eyes. He was a creature who pulled his punches.
This was all accomplished in a split second
all the skills
of his crude conditioning
speed and surprise
And this was his purpose,
to shock and immobilise his victim.
it was primal dominance
and he wanted to be a primal dominant.
Every synapse in my skull fired at once, the sense of shock being beyond anything I have experienced before or since.
The war dance popularised by the New Zealand All Blacks, the national rugby football team, is a maori war chant of challenge and combat. It involves a rhythmic stamping of feet, a chanting, a slapping of hands against thighs alternating with the chest. This dance of defiance reaches a crescendo when, with arms uplifted, the combatant leaps into the air and gives a final visceral bellow. It is a ceremonial and symbolic business these days but in the time of inter-tribal conflict when defeat meant being devoured, its function was more elemental.
The phenomenon of combat in the animal world is replete with the traits of expanding the body to maximise the threat and defence potential to a protagonist. Thus the most demure household cat when confronted by an interloper, will arch its back and raise its hackles. The howling accompanying this confronting can have much foreboding, even to us humans though we be five feet taller than the feline. Desmond Morris, the zoologist and ethologist, describes at length this character of confrontation in the animal world, and draws observations of the parallels in the human realm.
This elemental threat behaviour and posturing is termed ‘iconic’, in that a dog's snarl is iconic of an attack. In this smelly nigger Sam's attack on myself, it was of a character in between the two of these. It was an attack which was not an actual physical assault, but one which achieved all the elements of an assault.
People who are familiar with the cruder traits of
maori life, their conduct that is without consciousness, may comprehend the way
this assault owes its character to lower, more primitive parts of the brain, to
elemental and evolutionary parts of the human spectrum. To think of it and
apprehend of it in an evolutionary sense is the only real way to comprehend it.
An evolutionary perspective of human cultures and
behaviour is eschewed within anthropology which was my major at
As I write it is the turn of the century and millennium, in which human consciousness will unfold as it will for another thousand years. It was perverse for me, as a supposedly empowered youth with an implicit expectation that life was a human experience, to have it turn out to be of zoological experience. Although of the past, it is constantly and integrally a part of consciousness. This part of the aftermath of Osborne's treatment rendered me thus.
Thus in this period I encountered a character of existence, that of a powerless personality in a sometimes hostile and pathological environment, such that the experience of life itself was perverted. It was two years since I had been Osborne's crony with its shallow but exhilarating character, but in psychological time the events were very very close. The juxtaposition of these two extreme roles and the intensity of the change was uncommonly cruel. Whereas before I was a youth, supposedly empowered by my association with him, now I was abjectly dependent and defenceless, because my experiences had rendered me childlike in a craving for compassionate or empathetic responses from people. Because of my dysfunctional and displaced character, in an environment where such was perceived as weakness, I was destined for extreme pain.
Such juxtaposition of roles was poignant in my relations with Dianne Cameron also, who in her participation in C Group had been an endearing and effusive contact. She looked like Vivienne Leigh in Gone with the Wind, but she wasn't a wilful Scarlet. She was elementally decent and ingenuous, such that any one who came in contact with her was treated thus, but in fantastic combination of feminine coquettishness and endearment. There is a character of youth where one first encounters older personalities with whom one has a synergy and intensity and whom one can idolise, as one first experiences adult fulfilments.
An expression - "the threshold of life" defines this time. Like most kiwi kids I was socialised to be human and the expectations of life, which are prominent in one's mind in this pregnant clime, is that life is about human experience. Instead I got feral experience. Through the process of learning to be assertive and other perverse interventions, I ended up being defenceless amongst feral personalities.
My hatred of this machination was beyond expression.
But mostly what I felt was pain. My sense of psychological hurt was extreme. In the canteen of the process engineering factory where I worked was a social milieu which I tried to turn into one complementary to my needs. As with the Hillcrest Hostel, the potentialities were there but the actuality was sometimes different. I tried hard to find kindness and found tolerance from some and derision from others.
In the end I retreated to pursue a lone fulfilment. I had as a teenager worked in school holidays picking up hay bales. Through my childhood a hay barn or a hay paddock had been a scene of heavy labour and light hearts. The sun and the pastoral scene can lighten men's hearts, the evening brings refreshment, not torpor.
I became an urban workmen of the field, trundling out to properties in my Volkswagen. The bales were heavy but they lightened my spirit. Only a few kilometres from the city limits I found an ambience to lighten my heavy heart.
An Attempt at Analysis of the Effectiveness
of Behaviour Modification treatment.
To The Ethical Issues Committee ‑ NZ Psychological Society
This submission is divided into several sections with the titles of;
This first section is divided into several subsections with titles.
(e) Arthur Scargill
(f) Skinner and Black
"The first requirement for dealing with people oppressively is to believe that they are subhuman."
From an appraisal of the activities of the `team
policing units' in
"You've got no idea the sort of human garbage we're dealing with... we're just rubbish collectors."
(These comments were sourced from a policeman quoted
in an article in the "Metro" magazine, July 1987. The "team policing units" operated in the city of
The police personnel were European)
Osborne's treatment had the same elements of barrier building and functional definition. Patients became the people "out here" who are "cultivating other problems", and thus their person‑ality is reduced to an abstracted definition. We became amorphous beings, to be provoked and prodded into shape. It was psychological carpentry overlaid with Osborne's inadequacies.
It is the nature of such carpentry and inadequacies that I wish to further explore in this submission. Also to contrast the personality type that Osborne presents with the other protagonists involved; myself, Arthur Scargill and Dianne Cameron. My rationale for such presumption of the right to report, is that Osborne's treatment had little to do with psychology and much to do with his idiosyncrasies and temperament. The inclusion of Cameron and Scargill is because of the prominent role she played in the proceedings, and that Scargill and I shared each other's treatment. The term `sociopathology' is used, not with academic specificity, but with prosaic licence. Whether it is an appropriate term clinically I would wish the committee to address after this further clarification and elucidation of my case.
I would commence my speculation about the nature of Osborne's pathology with the period of his undergraduate status. There was a caricature of a psychologist portrayed in an American TV melodrama some years ago. Detachment on the part of this psychologist were the attributes displayed in his first scene; he refused to notice a hand proffered for a handshake, he addressed the person belonging to the hand by his surname immediately they were introduced, and his body language bespoke of abruptness. The next attribute displayed was detachment and refusal to respond to human emotion. Anger and recrimination became analysed and euphemised as an "exulted sense of christian retribution."
I was subsequently to be treated by a psychologist who fitted the fiction ‑ even the hairstyle was coincidentally congruent, long black bushy head of hair and a full bushy beard. It would seem this stereotype has some substance, the body language, detachment, abruptness and arrogance were all exhibited by Osborne on occasion.
Rather than silly stereotypes, I would move onto more sinister elements of Osborne's personality. I would attempt to infer from the traits that Osborne presented ‑ what were the determinants of his pathology? He presents with many symptoms described in previous submissions. He functions beyond the constraints within which ordinary men function and I presume beyond those of the ethics of clinical psychology. How did he get that way? Given that his treatment regimes and professional persona are both a function of his consciousness, by examining this and how it contrasted with other protagonists, I could further illuminate my grievances.
I would begin by recounting my experience of two young men manifesting personality traits and mannerisms identical to Osborne's own. These were marked by aggression, arrogance and derision. These experiences led me to formulate a conception of Osborne's personality traits which I call `middle class barbarousness' or `buck honky barbarousness'.
Consider the southern redneck term for a negro male, `buck nigger', which has implications of a collection of masculine traits, including physical strength. Also a zoological element. I have formed, through grim experience, a conception of my own, of a white male type which includes traits that Osborne and others replicate. It seems to me to go a long way in explaining and characterising Osborne's behaviours and method. He was instrumental himself in forming this conception when he referred me to a psychology text - "Introduction To Social Psychology". The little content of it I can remember was the proposition that mesomorph body builds lend themselves to forthright and single minded personality types, and less to introspective and contemplative personalities, and introduced me to the concept of sociopath. The brief reference to sociopath that I remember was that the concept of sociopath is someone who is disposed or driven to harm human beings. What I am putting forward is a potted theory of personality. It has a physiological element as the term `buck honky' would imply, and a sociological element, as the term `middle class barbarousness' would imply. What follows is a description of sometimes sordid and depraved associations and incidents in my life subsequent to my discharge, in which I encounter individuals who replicate Osborne's personality traits.
In my previous submission "Violence" I
described my attempts, post discharge, to find or forge a social milieu
complementary to my needs. I described a hostel, which is in
Mark Brady was a second year `BMS'(Bachelor of Management Studies) student, who manifested personality traits parallel to Osborne's. He was of mesomorph body build, and a son of the middle class (his father was an accountant associated the Kinleith paper mill at Tokoroa). His avarice with respect to sex, he did display and articulate in the lounge of the Hillcrest Tavern, the place of my timid participation in tentative mating rituals, as described in "Violence"(Chapter 6). I had at this time formed a relationship (sexual) with a young women I had met at the Hostel. News of this must have prompted Brady, along with one other sawn off individual, to accost her in the lounge, mauling her with their hands under the table, and with Brady's salutary suggestion `We're all single around here, so why don't you spread it around'. She disappeared and when I resumed my seat, he continued the proposition through me, saying "Why don't we all go over to your room and put her on the bed and suck her cunt and have a real party?." The relevance of this anecdote is that Brady manifested such mental and physical traits and mannerisms identical to Osborne's own, that I find the avarice of one is analogous to the avarice of the other. They were both mesomorphs, big husky buck honkies, and both sons (I presume) of the middle class.
Brady continued to articulate his avarice. "Snatch", he said, and the pursuit of it, was his preoccupation. When queried he elucidated. "Snatch is cunt" he said, using a brusque tympanic diction, mouthing this last term horribly. With respect to the young women who entered the establishment, he continued how he liked them "with flaps sticking out of their tight jean crotch." He was referring to female labia.
Brady was a participant in the University milieu, where sexism is discouraged and consciousness raising on the part of Women Against Pornography (WAP) and other groups, is pursued. The impetus against sexism and the `objectifying' of women is more overt than other institutions. Yet Brady was able to harbour this callousness. It takes a certain kind of ruthlessness to be so immune to generally accepted societal feelings. Brady possessed the rigid insularity to go against the tide, and remain unmoved. In this he paralleled Osborne's insularity who worked at the hospital, but was not part of it. He did not participate in the collective ethos of B Ward. He did not have a sense of being part of a multi‑disciplinary team. He had relations of enmity with some staff and the dominant element of his indoctrinations was the debunking and condemnation of the hospital.
So Brady and Osborne go together in respect of their particular contempts and avarice. Brady manifested the same visceral reactions of contempt which Osborne did. They were both highly intelligent, their minds and mouths fluid such that they were able to play on different cadences of speech to demonstrate derision; they could chew, mince and spit out their words in a particular way, which Osborne did when denouncing Scargill, spewing out his words like a dog masticating its dinner.
Brady had the same skill, he was sharp, but he spoke not the Queen's English, but a pig's English,
"Snatch ‑ that's what women represent to me ‑ with flaps sticking out of their tight jean crotch."
To return to the occasion of Osborne's dogmasticating delivery, as described in Chapter 4 ‑ "Defensive Reactions In Psychiatric Patients". His actions that afternoon ran the whole gamut of his unique self indulgence. It commenced with him seeking me out in B Ward after my being conspicuously absent from his group that afternoon. He boldly launched himself up to the dormitory and grabbed me, pinning my arm behind my back in a cheerful display of mock retribution for my absence. As described, I had come to a crisis in my own mind vis-a-vis the intimidation that Osborne was practising "to elicit assertion".
While thus explaining a new found independence, Osborne decided this had come to fruition, and led me to a room reserved for the group psychotherapy sessions. His first action, although seemingly innocuous, bespeaks of his method. He drew up a chair from the collection placed in a circle round the room, and seated himself squarely before me. This action of itself seems a repudiation of the manner of communication practised in the psychotherapy groups. And it was deliberate on his part, it being to facilitate the next phase of this encounter. This was when he began a perverse verbal delivery to me, the content of which I did not really comprehend, only its intent was apparent. The character of delivery was part of his insolent inexplicitness. "He was rolling a cigarette and kept on rolling it, making and breaking eye contact as he talked...it was a very obtuse sort of soliloquy....making and breaking eye contact in an un‑natural and un‑conversational way."
Such methods as this are the means by which he can burrow into the minds and consciousness of people, and imprint whatever kind of lesson he is intent upon. From there he progressed to his dissemination and denigration of Scargill's progress in the hospital, working up to a theatrical crescendo ‑ "he's cultivating other problems". He then invited me to take a sniggering pleasure in an identical process (of eliciting of assertion) to be performed on Thatcher, a patient previously mentioned in Chapter 4 also.
The character of this exchange continued as we descended the stairs to B Ward's day room. Of psychiatrists and ECT he said, "If I had my way, I would have ECT given to every Doctor who has it done and stand by and laugh while it was being done."
He then displayed another element in his distinctive visceral functioning. At the thought of this image ‑ Doctors being brain damaged ‑ he threw back his head and laughed with a crazed cacophonous laugh, which roared out at a high volume and intensity, and finished only after a drawn out diminishing of frequency and wavelength, over several bars repeated.
Overall, these incidents and this exposition captures the character of Osborne's callousness. A product of contempt and aggression, that has a physiological element (his buck honky barbarousness), and a sociological element (his middle class barbarousness).
This phenomenon; of buck honkyness, of mesomorph males whose commonality of expression, of profligate traits, makes them comparable clones of each other, is put into sharper relief in the light of behaviourist conceptions. B F Skinner, the prominent propounder of behaviourism, observed that people, in combination with their genetic inheritance, are the products of culture. The physical inheritance of these buck honkies was similar and they had remarkably similar mannerisms and demeanour, and they came from the same cultural gene pool... the cultural genes of middle class kiwi male and that of the university.
Having attempted, without apology, to describe Osborne's personality thus, I would submit a description of his patient, myself, and hopefully demonstrate why I and his treatment are incommensurable.
In the introduction to "Defensive Reactions...
(Chapter 4)" I described my youth from 16 to 20, of beginning a working
life, then returning to high school supposedly to gain admission to University.
My sister was studying at
"That's what's wrong with you, you think too much". (Quote from work `mate' about my reputation as a psychiatric patient)
I had only partially successful methods of escape, I
borrowed books from the
I was a mind aching to be part of an environment that was stimulating and mirrored my self image. Thus when I joined C Group (Osborne's behaviour modification group) and encountered Morton Osborne and Dianne Cameron, my reactions were euphoric. This orientation was one sided, not reciprocated, and instead became the platform for Osborne to structure his lessons in independence and assertion. In the meantime I formed bonds which were to become the source of much unhappiness in my life.
But what of the third party in this menage‑a‑trois. She was a unique personality and not difficult to characterise. She was the antithesis of Osborne's arbitrariness as evinced by his statement to her...
"I don't like the way you become emotionally involved with the people out here."
He did once describe to me, her reaction on those occasions when people described misfortunate occurrences or situations in their lives. He referred to her eyes softening or lowering and how the character of her face altered as she abreacted or sympathised or empathised with them.
I think the elements of human consciousness which defines a quintessential human-ness, are empathy and the recognition that people are thinking feeling sensitive beings. Dianne possessed these things and actually sought to bring them into her professional life. Whereas Osborne had every human facility, but the ability to turn them off and apportion them in his professional life as it suited him. He could produce profligacy at the drop of a hat, and poise if he wanted to. However the arbiter of either profligacy or poise was just that ‑ if he wanted. If he wanted to coax me back into his group for my "final psychological smashover" then he would affect an effusive pose. "Then why don't you come back..." with an effusive nuance beyond which such a brief phrase would normally contain. Conversely, at the end of that session, when he had debunked and exposed me and I made a request of him, he physically altered the character of his face to demonstrate derision, and said " Well then you go and see Saxby".
Thus the two poles of their approach were represented by Osborne's detachment and deceit, and Dianne's empathy. She was a singularly uncomplicated character while Osborne had grimmer capacities.
The next protagonist in this affair whose traits I would like to elucidate is my father. He was the most absolutely self contained man. I had started to grasp some insight into this part of him a few days before my admission to B Ward. He had suddenly demonstrated a command of language which I never knew he possessed. We lived in the same house for twenty years, yet he had never initiated communication on a level commensurate with his intellect. Recently my sister has suggested that maori was his first language. He is at least conversant with te reo(the maori language) - that we know by deduction, rather than admission on his part. Yet I've only ever heard him say one word from this part of his bi‑lingual consciousness. Two generations have grown up since he was a young man ‑ he was raised in the depression. His mother was an uneducated maori woman. Living in the locality of their tribal community, he had relatives whom he left at the age of 19 ‑ and never went back. He chose only the Anglo Saxon side of his life, and I have never met a paternal relative.
So to this day he is a fugitive from this side of his consciousness, and this, I think, is a demonstration of his ruthlessness. He worked on farms and imbibed the Pakeha(European) notion of achievement and possession through individual effort. He had actually achieved farm ownership ‑ but lost it. Like all `maori' land it was sold precipitately, he thought he would buy elsewhere. Having realised that he'd squandered his equity, he went crazy with grief. He hung himself in his garage one morning a few days before we were to vacate the property. I discovered him there and he regained consciousness after my elder brothers and I had retrieved him and were moving him inside. Subsequent to Osborne's treatment I thought over and over of this incident ‑ Saying that had I known then what abuse I would face in the name of eliciting of assertion, and the whole gamut of Osborne's ghastliness, then I could have left him there. "Oh if only I'd known", I would say to myself.
Subsequent to this phase he has lived out a life of disappointment, inwardly grieving but often as tough as an old warrior when he wanted/needed to be.
His primary socialisation was in an environment just a few generations removed from a tribal society. Rather than gregarious, he can be the most self contained man and possesses the ruthlessness of maori consciousness that is pointedly ignored when one hears about maoritanga(maori cultural practises and mores).
Having lost his equilibrium and self respect over the land he reverted to a more primitive kind of consciousness and to an extent, surrendered his determination to maintain his self respect. I was the last of his children and another bane in his life ‑ I was a callow youth with vague aspirations he could not comprehend, like a tertiary education and an activism about politics, and he reacted with a cultural trait of shunning or ignoring me. It was into this milieu that Osborne launched himself. Blessed with the most modern tertiary education and professional accreditation, one would think he would have been compassionate. What he didn't do was think or reflect, preferring instead the mechanistic method of "treatment" and probably remains ignorant to this day of the spiritual people that we were.
The next victim in the microcosm of C Group whom I would address is Arthur Scargill.
Scargill was like me, a callow youth from a small town. Disparate from the callousness of Osborne's milieu, we were jovial and conversational. But from Osborne's point of view we were inane and `socially inept'(his own words), and required training. One day when Arthur was fiddling with a conical shaped piece of wood in a way that suggested inanity, and actually had this object in his mouth, Osborne said:
"Do you see the dirt on that? Do you know what a dilator is?"
This was delivered with the characteristic traits of Osborne's profligacy. Features lit up, his lips drawn back in a sneer. It was this kind of profligacy that I presume prompted Arthur's reaction of "I don't like the way you relate to me and I don't like the way you relate to others in the group". Having come from Waikeria Youth Detention Centre, where sexual deviants are taunted in the way that only criminals can taunt people, Arthur was defensive about his dignity. However the taunting didn't stop ‑ Osborne and criminals have this commonality. He taunted him with "I'll pin it in two inch high letters on the wall of B Ward." Another characteristic piece of profligacy, again delivered with characteristic pose ‑ features lit up, lips drawn back, teeth exposed.
As it turned out Arthur was the one who pinned things on the wall of B Ward. His missive was the popular tome "Desiderata" which had among other themes, a message of...
"Avoid loud, aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
However, Osborne held sway, and not only was HE an aggressive person, he was determined that we wouldn't avoid loud, aggressive persons like himself. We would learn to confront them. We would become part of, if not active participants, in a brusque society of belligerence. We would learn to assert ourselves.
(f) Skinner and Baldock
Two other psychologists who were on the periphery of my relations within the psychology department were Bruce Skinner and Marie Baldock. Their role in my treatment was undistinguished, especially the latter. Her only words spoken to me in a professional context occurred on an occasion when Osborne was absent from the hospital and she had attended a group meeting. Possible my gesticulation or animation on these occasions tended to a defensive kind. Baldock's reply to my discomfort was "Hand down" - I had been resting my chin in my hand or something.
The situation was reminiscent of one when I was a burgeoning three or four year old. Whilst out visiting I had been placed, through lack of some other resting place, in a toddler's high chair. This left me in an elevated and slightly ridiculous position, but my discomfort was not apparent to those adults who stared importuningly and benignly at me. In this latter day position of being placed in a high chair, my discomfort was not apparent to the importuning psychologists who stared fatuously at me. They blithely carried on.
Previous to this she had had occasion to produce some pictures out of Penthouse to display to me. This had been at the beginning of Osborne's indoctrination when he had sent me through to Skinner's and Baldock's office to collect his thesis. Psychologists are fugitives from the inanity of people and when I, as an inane person, turned up to collect this black book, she gleefully produced this other literature as an exercise in demonstrating my inanity.
Skinner was to sponsor my sociality and socially appropriate behaviour with a `programme'. This consisted of a contract setting a quota of five occasions of social comportment and deportment which I had to fill each day. This was to be verified by each conversation partner who I persuaded to oblige ‑ filling out a marking sheet appraising me on eye contact, did I sit up straight etc. In general, did I compose myself `properly'? The reward for each form completed was 50 cents to be apportioned out of my hospital "comforts" money - comforts money was a sum, at that time $9.00 a week, paid to a patient and used for the purchase of sweets or cigarettes etc. Thus $2.50 was to accrue to me each day for these posed conversations.
My mother used to say "Every man has his price". But I could not be bought so cheaply. Skinner who was conducting this programme was a graduate of recent vintage. Being the first full time employment he had, Tokanui was the first regular remuneration he had had in his life while my own working life was several years long and I'd earned and consumed thousands.
With respect to the sociality they were trying to achieve and behaviour they were trying to tear out of me. It had been but twelve or eighteen months since my first admission to the hospital when they could have observed what they wished for in terms of behaviour. Youth meant I was able to project myself well, but the role they apportioned me ‑ the lack of credibility ‑ meant I was self deprecatory in conversation and comportment. This was my giggling jois‑de‑vivre and giggling equilibrium.
In between the time of my first admissions and the current one I had read "Hitler ‑ My Part in His Downfall" by Spike Milligan and had imbibed the author's role of irreverent good humour and conversation, interspersed with four letter words, which the book portrayed. This was a nihilistic reaction to my disappointment in my quest for self fulfilment as an undergraduate. My euphoric state on my latest admission had exacerbated this silliness. I did have occasion to say to Cameron and Skinner "I didn't want to be psychotic any more." But it was too late. Osborne had me bound up in his mesh; of rehearsals in seduction, of rehearsals in learning to comport oneself, contracts in learning to comport oneself, of simultaneous processes of eliciting of assertion and redirection of resentment.
This phenomenon of misdirected concerns and treatment
bespeaks of the disabilities of psychologists rather than the disabilities of
the patient. An illiteracy inherent in their training and their consciousness
and the social milieu from whence they came. The elements of this disability
are exemplified by lifestyle, location and community. Unique to them amongst the
staff at Tokanui they did not live locally but drove from
The million dollar highway from Kihikihi to
This racing recall is not for light relief, it describes a pertinent element in the psyche of psychologists. Dianne Cameron was resident in a house at Parawera near Tokanui but in 1977 she prompted a shift of household with her husband to Hamilton and proceeded to drive a sixty kilometre round trip each day. This disparateness from the hospital as a community did not end with distance. Osborne's detachment from psychiatry I have described at length. Skinner had occasion to voice disquiet at the spectre of psychiatry. Of leucotomies and lobotomies, he said "Its the equivalent of cutting a hole in the skull, putting a stick in there and stirring it round a bit."
Overall, their sense of disparateness from both staff and patients was marked, and masked only partially successfully. There seemed an intense consciousness of ego, a self absorption which made their personal dignity a fragile and reactive element in them. This is aside from any aspect of the hospital environment, but endemic to psychologists. Osborne spent months manipulating and gainsaying the staff to me, yet when I took him on at his own game he collapsed. Imitation is the highest of flattery but he didn't see it that way.
Within the microcosm of C group, assertion reigned. People were supposed to counter the enmity of other members on their own, thus one could "learn to assert oneself", the problem we were all deemed to be suffering from. There was one member of the group whose traits more closely approximated those of Osborne ‑ she had a capacity for visceral profligacy like he had. Her humour was not a giving humour and she sniggered inwardly. A woman with a history of psychiatric trauma was being sent from B ward on weekend leave to seek a rapprochement with her husband. This other creature I heard remark...
"If she comes back (from weekend leave) pregnant I'd laugh like anything..." - and then she proceeded to indulge her visceral glee in the manner that Osborne did.
I did recount this incident to Skinner and Cameron, Osborne being absent from the hospital, and said to them, "That's human relations at the level of animals." To this Skinner produced an incredulous "Well we are animals."
This patient was a sparring partner of mine within the group. She played on occasion the game of "Hand down", as did Baldock, and an enmity had occurred between us. When such things occurred Cameron and Osborne would note my reactions. I was unaware of the contrived gladiatorial nature of this phenomenon. That it was psychological pugilism, with psychologists attentive to see who would be the winner. But subsequently I realised that the boxing metaphor is appropriate ‑ or is it? Note Skinner's statement "Well we are animals." If a zoological ethos reigned then it should not be a boxing metaphor ‑ but that of a dog or cock fight. Thus if I am to take this statement "Well we are animals" at face value, it implies there was a zoological element in their treatment.
Cameron was a fresh graduate having presented a thesis about "Defensive Reactions in Rats." Having come from an ethos of intimidation, was it easier to imbibe the ethos of Osborne's intimidation of me, his `eliciting of assertion'. From rats to psychiatric patients. That I was not exactly vermin, but some kind of rabbit. They were not seeking to trap and skin this rabbit, but to steer him, to thwart him in whatever direction he took until - unlike what rabbits normally do ‑ I turned and bit at them. Then I was to have passed the test.
The consummation of this story of psychologist's detachment and disparateness came towards the end of my stay in B Ward, when I had become Osborne's crony. I began to mirror his activities; of undermining the credibility of people by choosing some innocuous trait, and slandering them with it behind their backs. Marie Baldock had been given the job of a "work assessment" on a patient whom I had a tie with. When I heard of this business of work assessment I journeyed down to Ward 7 to see this patient and played out the role of manipulation/machiavellianism.
"Marie Baldock is a quiet and defensive person so orientate yourself to her accordingly"; and "she doesn't drink either and she's quiet and defensive about that as well."
I had a similar derision for Skinner, saying to Cameron on one occasion when complaining of the activities of C Group.
"Bruce Skinner spends his time during the activities of C group playing games ‑ he's just a school boy."
When the relations between myself and Cameron and Osborne deteriorated in late 1977, they brought these activities to the attention of Bruce and Marie Baldock. Their reaction was extreme; their body language and glare staring out from their vehicles when going to and from work and encountering me on the footpath. When I met them in the psychology department their actions were of real drama; the affronted countenance and body language, the speed with which they vacated an area when I entered it. They settled down to a studied gaze when they encountered me ‑ they just couldn't understand my perfidy.
I have thought, if I encounter Bruce again I won't be able to apologise but should direct him to Osborne. I can't be culpable for things done at his instigation and initiation, and would have to plead diminished responsibility to Bruce for this perfidious activity.
However their reaction bespeaks of the double standard and disparity between psychologists and other people. It is here I would submit a complaint. Not of the formal variety which requires reference to the full Council of the Society, but which the Ethical Issues Committee could be cognisant of. The complaint is not of one psychologist but these psychologists collectively and possibly psychologists in general.
That these psychologist's disparateness from ordinary people, from patients, was of a nature that they were not patient orientated - but psychologist orientated - in a closed community of recrimination and reinforcement. That their self esteem is of an extreme and precarious variety, as evinced by the manner of Marie Baldock and the activities of Osborne, that their social/professional relations can be an act of revenge upon the inane people in the world i.e. people other than psychologists.
In this light of their collective traits and eccentricities I would pose this question.
Can my account be of some use to the authorities responsible for the education, examination and accreditation of psychologists?
As a composite collection of misconduct and/or eccentricity, Skinner, Baldock and Osborne suggest a lot of absurdity amongst psychologists. I'm not being facetious but deadly serious. Each year I presume a number of graduates go out from NZ Universities ‑ and I presume they each in their own way, manifest such presumption as Cameron
‑ that she was to be a confessor for my sexual aberrations seemed the natural order of things;
‑ such as Bruce Skinner ‑ when
he went out from
‑ the offensiveness of Marie Baldock,
‑ and the absurdity of Morton Osborne who seems beyond the pale altogether.
I don't know if my submissions are compulsive reading ‑ but unless there are better sources of patient feed-back I think they should be compulsory reading for candidates for the Diploma in Clinical Psychology ‑ they should be cautioned from going out and repeating the same aberrations.
When I alluded to one sided bonds which were the source of great unhappiness in my life, they were the bonds I formed with Dianne Cameron. I have described her as a captivating character/creature/personality, and it was in respect of character that made her a unique personality. Character, kindness and comeliness made her a prominent protagonist in my relations in B Ward and C group. She could reach into the life of a sad person who'd been to a psychiatric hell ‑ and bring them back. She could communicate and participate with the psychiatric patriarchy in the decisions affecting her patients lives ‑ and not become austere or arbitrary in manner or method.
However, in my case she displayed conspicuous naivety. When Osborne drew up the battle lines with respect to Scargill's confession of his sexual aberrations, he decided we, as Arthur's fellow group members, would demonstrate the ease with which this could be accomplished. I discovered the group, including herself were to be privy to these confessions, a most emasculating experience, despite the fact that they elicited little or no "aberrations" from my sexual life. She had me go through the rehearsal ritual after the amusement of it had palled, and the degradation had begun. This would be accomplished with myself sitting in the group session, with head bent studying the carpet. I would be instructed to go behind the two way mirror and perform this ritual. A rehearsal in one shallow irrelevant sense but mostly a degradation. Of how young men could be used to perform for the indulgence of some intellectual preoccupation with the dynamics of intersex contact. I would seat myself and go through a minute long routine with a young woman patient of 17, all the time studying the carpet, and then come back for some fatuous congratulation when seated again ‑ still with head bent, studying the carpet. This was during the phase of "eliciting of assertion", so any resistance on my part was considered part of the dynamics of that process, and they would not be cognisant of it.
But that was to be in the future. In the initial weeks I was in a euphoric state. But my `Spike Milliganesque' activities collided with a sense of my own lack of dignity and achievement in life, in comparison with Cameron. She also went through a crisis concerning her participation in such activities as rehearsals, or revelations of one's sexual aberrations, and terminated her attendance, I presume because of this, at a stage when she was a part time participant, and otherwise working in Ward 8. This was after I managed to communicate to her my distress at these activities, and despite the fact that she'd fought tooth and claw for the possibility of retaining some ties and participation with C Group.
We settled down to a more formal respect, very pointedly greeting each other when I encountered her on my way to or from Osborne's office. She did intimate to me on one of these occasions that she was hostile to his activities at this point. Just an odd phrase that seemed to have more nuances than the verbal message ostensibly contained. Her tone, the fact that she used Osborne's surname which was a habit of mine. That she was a little alarmed at having been an active participant in intimidation, then discovering that it was a potentially fraught situation, which she'd taken lightly. However, the trauma of this must have diminished because she and Osborne seemed to get on like a house on fire. They were kindred spirits and would could spend the lunch hour lolling or strolling about the hospital grounds together or in the company of patients from B Ward.
The elements of her character were thrown into a less edifying light in respect of the events that occurred towards the end of my treatment. I made an appeal to her about the negative aspects of Osborne's treatment. We resolved that as John Saxby had recommended I return to the hospital to Ward 8, and as she was working there, we could resume some kind of treatment regime.
This was not to be, because as described, my father pre‑empted my admission to ward 8. Then in what I described as the `Culmination of Behaviour Modification', I went through the phase of disarray which was characterised by my floating about in a euphoric state ‑ unaware of the `reality' of my situation, not self conscious. This was a mild dose of what I think psychosis is. In this mania I chanced to encounter Cameron, who lost her composure, I've always thought, because of my psychosis. She was alarmed at what I had become and alarmed at what Osborne had made of me with his latest "treatment". Whatever, it was an imputation in my mind, that her alarmed countenance was caused by my instability. This may seem an alarmist story, but very real to me. So much that it was a final degradation. It marked my transition from a potential adult male to a degraded person, to a degraded individual.
So much so that I dispatched an `anniversary' note to her home five years after the event. Saying that this was an anniversary of the `culmination of behaviour modification'. i.e. That here was the culmination of Osborne's treatment ‑ this episode of myself in an aberrant mental state which provoked her alarm, whereas months before I was a bona‑fide functioning human being. That I'd gone from a functioning person to a degraded person, with herself as the locus of each phase. Thus is the tragedy in my life and why I talk of "bonds that were the source of great tragedy in my life." I have known only a forced sociality since.
Osborne seems to live by his professional wits and chicanery, and in this instance; of a thesis about ECT, about relatives who subsequently become subject to ECT, about psychologists who subsequently constrain me to run a gauntlet of drugs and ECT, about novice psychologists who are protagonists in my life in transition from young man to degraded man, the chicanery had gone too far ‑ he'd pressed the accelerator of manipulation too far, the chicane had turned into an S bend, and I'd become the psychological wreck. A tawdry lot of metaphors I know but such as it is, here is the degradation he caused me.
The rationale for Osborne's rehearsals was that I should learn to `behave appropriately', to project myself in a positive way which would engender a positive social response. After his treatment I projected myself in a way unique from my former personality, I was degraded and defeated and my social world was irrevocably altered by this fact. I continued the self deprecation and derision that marked my relations in C Group. I tried to keep my morale up with booze and bravado. Like another method described, of using a forced and cheerful sociality, it worked for a while. But I was really struggling. Underneath I was evermore hysterical ‑ I was sick with grief at what had become of me.
For self deprecation works only amongst charitable
people, whereas I was in another kind of milieu ‑ full of odd urban
creatures. One lad of tender years had a face that could contort into a rictus
smile, despite his youth. He was cruel beyond his years. Doyle, like Mark
Brady, a buck honky student from the
"You need some treatment."
This was remarkably similar to Osborne's actions 12 months previously. He would fix me with his eye contact and enunciate...
"I shouldn't indoctrinate you too much."
This milieu included crude maori males, whose primal
consciousness was unleavened ‑ they had not much abstract thought ‑
they had insults to which I could not retort. In my role as a ridiculously
cheerful dishwasher I served the owner/manager of the hostel who had the
distinction of being the original Outcast bikie in
"Sure Dennis ‑ I'll be glad to."
Eventually I struck out of there, but in the company
of a graduate from Waikeria Youth Prison, who possessed that insularity and illiterateness
of the needs of other human beings that is the mark of a criminal
consciousness. It is sad that I chose such friends ‑ I lacked that middle
class sense of discretion about the company I kept. I went to the other extreme
‑ I took my friends wholeheartedly and wherever I could find them.
Because I chose the wrong company I was merely changing location, from
Hillcrest to Silverdale, from
The anti‑social experiences I describe
constituted a re-socialisation from my former consciousness into a world of
sinister and sick social experience ‑ I never knew such a spectrum of
aberrant human consciousness could exist in this
In this period I encountered several traits which I
had not experienced in my previous life; the negation of the notion of privacy,
the habitual pursuit of derision, the instinctive opportunism of the `criminal'
consciousness. On an occasion when I vacated the house in
His demeanour and aggression thus fired up, we commenced wrestling on the lawn. There is a pugilism distinctive to primates which focuses on the skull. A "punch in the head" is distinctive from a punch in the nose, there's a dominance attached amongst primate men to giving someone `a punch in the head' as opposed to other parts of the anatomy. Thus when his greater strength told on this encounter, he started this pugilism on the skull, and left me with a headache. So much for eliciting of assertion.
I endured a similar situation several years later when I was working in a PEP gang. I have acquired the impression that criminals gain ready access to such employment, whereas I was unemployed or under‑employed for about five years before being taken on. Here were a sometimes callous collection, two illiterate (in the literal sense of the word) white males, one who had a charge of false pretences pending against him, and the other distinguished in my mind by having bitten a police dog. There were maori males, one of whom went off to court one morning and got six months. Their mischief was sometimes primitive but there was a rapport whereby their intimidation was muted. There were only a few days to go before Christmas when the incident which ended my employment there occurred.
A young university student was employed with the same
Department over the holidays and on his arrival an intimidation of him had
begun. He was obviously from a different side of life ‑ he was part of a
work experience programme, training at University for a career in Lands and
Survey or the Forest Service or other. His language bespoke of kindness and
possibly inanity ‑ consequently he became a target. In this incident some
ugly youth was taunting him. The facial pose was ‑ lips drawn back, teeth
exposed. The physical stance was also of menace. "Pick those battens up
Although I had lived years since my discharge, my mind was still rigidly focused on behaviour modification. On the previous night to this incident I'd been sleeping fitfully, my mind and metabolism racing, and would begin the day mentally unstable, because of the endocrinological exhaustion that resulted. I would on occasion explode out of bed in the middle of the night, wanting to break or assault everything in sight, knowing all the while the futility of it. On this occasion I was at work with that mental incapacity that followed such a night, like a bear out of hibernation. My endocrinological exertion, of simultaneous sleep and tension, had meant my loathing and distaste of this intimidation was extreme. A few weeks before I'd been offered a permanent job with the department employing the PEP gang. This would have seen the end of my habitual under employment and I could have supported my wife Jean instead of vice versa. The completion of the PEP employment (two days to go) would have seen me commence this employment in the New year.
But my mind focused only on Osborne and co', and the aberrant aspects of human relations which his treatment was preoccupied with. Thus when this child/man began his intimidation, I was determined to finally apply Osborne's prescription, to confront people with their own medicine. So I started to reciprocate in this business of intimidation and insult. Being unpractised I did not know the limits, or risk of escalation amongst this company. I attempted to call the bluff of the tormentor by matching his insults. With the con‑man's sense of opportunism, another party (the passer of dud cheques) intervened. Sensing what was happening and with an instinctive manipulative impulse he began to play us off, extending each reciprocal exchange of insult. They now passed between us only because this middleman exacerbated each one, and taunted each of us with it. The exchanges increased in tempo, the pace matched and increased with lightning speed by the odious matchmaker. He was quick, eliciting the right responses, with just the correct phrase, taunting and timing. The response he elicited from my protagonist was,
"Shut up Simon or I'll smack‑ya‑over".
The loathing I had for this cretinous message and the whole cretinous business was too much. All the accumulated frustration of behaviour modification poured forth in a cursing of this callow callous creature. In the inevitable physical confrontation that followed, I was once again (predictably) second best ‑ and was again subjected to this pugilism on the skull.
Our struggles were accompanied by the baying of spectators, which lent a gladiatorial element to the proceedings.
Such confrontations were not rare, in the environments I encountered. Although they were rarely physical, the psychological violence of them was extreme. In the worst assault I encountered no blows were struck at all. I endured some odd confrontations.
"What’s your wife doing now".
"She's a full time mother".
"Who's kid?" 1st party.
"Ha ha ‑ the milk man" 3rd party.
The latter protagonist, the 3rd party, was an
individual I described in "Violence", a graduate of
"You fuck'n wanker."
"You fuck'n wanker."
"You fuck'n wanker."
"You fuck'n wanker."
There was an unearthly veracity in his hatred and contempt. Hatred borne deep in his bones ‑ I hardly knew him or impacted on his life but his hatred or unearthly contempt gave his phrase an unearthly timbre and snarl.
"You fuck'n wanker."
Being determined to inhabit a world full of human beings, I would have drawn away from a conception of these people as being only creatures of callousness.
I always learnt belatedly when this was the case.
Digression - Sociality
There seems a pattern of composition waiting to emerge in my recounting of this ugliness. It is the notion that social worlds exist for individual's, being not so much variable in their composition by way of the different people that effect one in life, but are variable and varied by way of the individual's effect within it. That a positive projection by an individual creates for him or her a different social world than a cynical, snide social actor would. Thus Tokanui presented to Cameron a social world of professional responsibility, challenge and self respect. To Osborne who was agin much of it, it was an often onerous drag and I know people there who reciprocated his feelings. By way of the attributes his treatment imbued me with, I created for myself a social world of pathological unhappiness, unfulfillment and sometimes primitivism. But another undefeated, undefensive personality could have found the going completely different.
So the determinant of social worlds can be, not where
you are at in fact, but where you are at in mind. People of serenity and self
respect can negotiate their way through difficulties. Besides who we are
inside, it matters who we are with of course, and my location in the Hillcrest
Hostel versus the
Thus the reaction I had to these people was in itself, a reaction to the protagonists in my treatment. It was the personality of Osborne himself and the other respondent, my father, that broke the ground for this latter thuggery and whose actions taunted and tormented my mind, making me a complete misfit. Consider how the actions of both were a paternalistic pre‑emption of volition and imposition of their will on my own destiny ‑ for my own(their) good.
What were the credentials of these two creatures to do this, and what was the disability of the patient that rendered him incapable of determining his own destiny. My youth was not a factor I was the age of majority ‑ my status was not a factor ‑ I was a voluntary patient ‑ I had committed no crime to incur the attention of the courts. I had offended their conceptions of what was good for young men however, and their determination to impose their will was the motivation ‑ not any disability on my part. Their will, their patriarchal primitivism which both of their characters were replete with, was the determinant of my destiny. Osborne was determined that I would assert, while my father was determined that I would work. They couldn't both be right and I know they were both completely wrong.
In this "treatment" it was my father Osborne focused on, and in doing so I was rendered dependent, degraded and abused by him.
For coincidentally my father turned out to be as cruel as Osborne was selfish. I say coincidentally because it was only after the treatment that I was rendered defenceless against him, it being a self serving imputation, the requirement for treatment in the first place. So this iatrogenic phenomenon of paternal violence was avoidable. But the unique character of this cruelty requires elucidation.
He was often a functioning will rather than a functioning intellect. Like Osborne my father would not be cognisant of, or responsible for, his actions. Thus my father could twenty years ago pre‑empt the purchase of a home by my elder brother and his wife. While they all slept one Sunday afternoon (he couldn't sleep, he said) - my father stole out of their rented home and journeyed round to the vendor's address to tell him the deal was off. Twenty years later my brother has just purchased his first home ‑ his wife's employment pays the mortgage ‑ $300 per week. In the meantime he's had marital break‑ups and reconciliations. The connection between the first event and the later events is not proved. But there is a pertinent issue of one presumptuous prick poking around with the destiny of others, having indirect effects beyond his awareness. In my case the poking about with my destiny had indirect effects beyond his comprehension.
When I attempted to confront him in the manner of Cameron's prescription, of steadily escalating the manner and method of the exchange if you can't get a response, he replied.
"I don't know about (whatever the issue was) but you better not keep going."
"Because I'm working long and hard and I could get mad pretty quick."
The resonance with which he used the word quick was hideous. If you'd ever seen him beating a disobedient or vexing dog, one could fully comprehend its timbre and what "getting mad pretty quick" implied. The ostensible issue I was trying to take him to task over didn't matter, it was at the time of my defeated determination to be treated like a human being. So rather than fulfil 6 months of protracted training in assertion ‑ I wept tears of bitter unhappiness.
It was a living nightmare. It was only after he became landless and a casualty of his own inadequacies in the world of employment and his new found urban world, that he had regressed into a primal consciousness. Yet I had been socialised into being a human being. Now I was going through a second socialisation.
I entered a second phase of dependence through
Osborne's indoctrination upon my discharge. I would habituate the
Access to firearms is a non issue in this business. During the six months of my treatment at Osborne's hands, there was, in a cupboard in my bedroom in my parent's home, the paraphernalia of my youth ‑ school text books, ties I never wore, and an ex army .303 rifle. I used to shoot goats with it and on one occasion banged away at eels in the Hikutaia Stream.
Meanwhile, now I endured a psychological enslavement, from voluntary status to indoctrination and now fear of psychiatric committal and incarceration.
I would seek to illuminate the nonsensical nature of Osborne's possible assertion that his treatment was extreme because he feared I may become a candidate for ECT etc, and he felt he had a better alternative. There was a predominance of informal (voluntary) patients in B Ward although I have known a few who crossed the barrier from voluntary to committed. John Saxby believed strongly in the concept of B Ward's human and therapeutic environment. Being a benign personality he had evolved the therapeutic programme of B Ward in the face of traditional psychiatric methods, and it will be another example of Osborne's manufactured nonsense if he disseminates such a story to the committee.
Frequently when he has his practices questioned he switches into his obfuscating/rationalising mode and ad-libs a load of nonsense by way of rebuttal, making it up as he goes along. Replies to the committee will require a more reasoned response, it may be contrition, or it may be a constructed justification.
Thus I was enslaved not by any actions or effect of those in the psychiatric sphere, but by indoctrination or actions of Osborne. However, it was the psychiatric sphere that inherited an unstable patient from Osborne and I was thus placed under risk of intervention from them.
Osborne seemed to have sought my admission to his group from the therapy groups in B Ward - he chose me to be his patient. The presumption when I had been admitted to B Ward was that this was a convalescing period, as a consummation of the insights I had had had about my father. But Osborne had used my presence in his group to launch on his intervention regime and had manipulated me to the point of instability.
The business of being a disaffected psychiatric patient, a processed piece of psychiatric garbage, I consider bitterly. To a man off the street it might seem an extreme demise but to Osborne it was a standard progression. As described in "Violence"(Chapter 6) he had patients who became confirmed nutters or re‑appear as acute patients.
And with his special kind of nihilism he had fitted me into the mould.
There began a slavery in a more conventional sense of the
term, in my life post discharge. Being unable to achieve the spheres of life I
was truly interested in, I focused on the occupations of my brothers who were
respectively - a builder, a shearer, a contractor etc, thinking I could lose
myself in labour. However I was never meant to be a navvy, having neither the
bulk or the bone structure. I was exhausted by the jobs I got, my arms seeming
to grow in length after a day of wheeling barrow loads of concrete. Rather than
being a capable working man, the weight of work boots exhausted me ‑ let
alone the mud that clings to them and dragged me down further. This occurrence
in the shitty environments of dairy farming, my family's occupation,
demonstrated that I wasn't tough enough to be a
I encountered the brutal self will of my father as I
blundered from job to job. He had a special orientation to work which he
slavishly pursued, and which he slavishly condemned me for not following. His
self inflicted slavery had extreme ends. Not employed in the company of others
during most of his working life, he had been slow to gain social maturity and
had a childlike sense of loyalty to the boss. Such that he would push himself
on the building site where he was employed and managed to push himself over the
edge of the scaffolding he was standing on - and broke his neck in the fall.
Lying in traction with an eighteen pound weight secured to his head was his next
trial in life. Recovery was slow and he sought to hasten it by removing his
neck brace and helping the ward domestics serve tea. But he was such a dumb
impetuous maori that he succeeded in refracturing his vertebrate and was
actually wandering around
Such was the man who was determining my destiny.
He fought back from his injuries, perhaps more strong and potentially cruel. All his inadequacy with respect to self respect and occupational fulfilment he transferred onto me as I blundered from job to job. The maxim of such men is that work never did anyone any harm, yet when applied to me it was a sickening assertion. There was a physiological element to my instability. I had an underlying depression at my demise and this was exacerbated by exhaustion, as if some kind of glucose debt or fatigue toxins drained me of psychological balance.
So I was caught in a terrible bind. The social expectation on me was work ‑ yet work left me blind with anger and sick with depression. In respect of this particular kind of enslavement, this stimulation, then psychological exhaustion, it had its beginnings in the initial period of my admission and becoming a participant in Osborne's group. My euphoria was intense and undulating so that it had a manic or psychotic element. In respect of this, Cameron and Osborne and myself discussed a relaxation regime ‑ Dianne's patients were left inert in an armchair by this treatment. Because she was determined to be a human being, her patients benefited thus from any remedy in her armoury. However, several days later when I had occasion to mention it again, Osborne's inaction through forgetting prompted me to speculate on the nature of this forgetfulness. Dianne clarified the issue with the term "motivated forgetting".
Osborne progressed from motivated forgetting to malignant manipulation. Instead of relaxation I got "redirection of resentment". The result was the exacerbating of this mania such that now, ten years after, I am a prisoner to it. For redirection of resentment is just euphemistic cant, it being the imposition of alternative trauma to swamp and supplant whatever treatment Osborne has planned. These respective unsettling agencies compound each other, both unresolved.
Chapter 9 ‑ Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Makes Free)
Rudolph Hoess, philosopher and Commandant of Auschwitz concentration
camp, was once a blood thirsty member of that incipient scourge, that brand of
German Nationalism that later fed and fostered the Nazi Party. In the 1920's,
bloodshed of the perceived enemies of
Sentenced to prison for his part in such a murder, Hoess, whose consciousness was low and uncomplicated, served out his time. Here, even his dull senses were not stimulated enough to prevent a case of "prison psychosis", that state I think where morbidity and lack of stimulation, of "sensory input", makes men unstable, their limbs shake, their minds in trauma. But work reclaimed him. Whether it was mail bags or clothes pegs, Hoess came to stolidly and stupidly value work. His autobiography written from another prison cell, after trial for crimes against humanity, tells us this.
But as well as that document there is another record of Hoess's
appreciation of work. It is cast in metal and erected above the entrance to
Auschwitz Concentration Camp in
My Dad too had a presumption that all men were destined to work. Like Hoess's presumption, work was an object all of itself, and like Hoess, his concept of freedom was limited and stunted. My
Dad had a special presumption for the seven sons he fathered. Work itself was the object which he would will for their lives. They were meant to work, particularly hard, so that such work would be fulfilling for himself. The concept of autonomy, of volition in their choice of lifestyle and objectives, he didn't entertain so much.
It does not ring true to me, this notion of work. It is of a lower pitch than the concept of endeavour which is about fulfilment. Work is about work, Hoess was about work, My Dad was about work. I was about endeavour, or at least when it came to work I asked "what for?" One works to pay the rent or the power bill, then life has a myriad variety of fulfilments, perhaps occupational, perhaps not.
Resentment rose up in my chest and caught and lodged in my throat. My breathing was laboured, and my face often inert. I had had this affliction called "eliciting of assertion" imposed on me, that left me educated about the business of dominance, but I had been implicitly tutored in the ways of dependence.
Dependence had then struck a chord with me, I was ever a person who found fulfilment vicariously. But now I could strike or strum no chords with the people around me. They were those to whom Osborne had orientated his treatment. Through his tutoring I had outgrown these other contacts. I was alone in a world of insight about dominance and about psychiatric incarceration.
Thus imprisoned in this bizarre bind, this bizarre torment, I contracted the prison psychosis that is the lot of the afflicted prisoner. My face and mind was numb with torpor and resentment.
I found one hard fought relief. That is to be involved physically in an activity, and to grab hold of some staid distraction that I can call my own. I became a born again worker. I embraced a work ethic. But for my own ends. I thought I could lose myself in labour.
Having been vomited out of Osborne's influence I was allergic to work. I needed to articulate this tale and trail: I needed to begin this book. But I couldn't because I needed to retain and maintain a semblance of life, of actually doing something between morning and night, I should work. Imprisoned, I had prison psychosis, it was a revolting prison and I was a revolted prisoner.
So alone I must work, it is one way to grab fulfilments that lighten my torment. Amongst my many contradictions of intent and impulse are the ones that I must write and the one that I must work.
But outwardly I grow giggly, vocal and gauchely conversational. I seek distraction. I am a sometimes successful indulgent, a sometimes successful jester. I work, laugh, drink, and tell jokes. But sometimes at night or at times snatched from working, laughing, drinking and joke telling, I write. I write humble petitions to the powers that be. I know not where they are, whether they be in psychology or psychiatry, or some other agency. I write humble petitions that I be set free to be me, instead of this working, laughing, drinking, joke telling caricature of a consciousness. Unpublished and unmailed these humble petitions accumulate. Once when in a semblance of order they were sent to a typist, never to return.
I commence again, at night or at times snatched from working, laughing, drinking, and joke telling, to write them anew.
"The family reproduces in its own unique fashion, the relations that exist in society as a whole. The subordination of women is the most notorious aspect of this process, but there is another equally crucial dimension: the ritual socialisation of men. Male initiation rites stretch back to the dawn of history. The father-son relationship enshrines and symbolises male domination. Violence is always there, lurking in the background, sometimes hidden, sometimes openly practised. The bruises inflicted are invisible. Even when the actual pain has gone, the suppressed anger and resentment can stay with the victim for the rest of his life."
Ali, An Indian Dynasty. G P Putnam and sons,
There was, implicit in my Dad's possessive pride of his sons, a presumption that our achievements were part of the edifice of his own life and ego.
"I brought my sons into the world and gave them the necessities of life, the rest is up to them."
This he told me one evening. It was a narrow and one sided view of procreation. He didn't bring his sons into the world, my mother did, all seven of them, with me the last issue. There is a ghastly paradox in his choice of words, "the rest is up to them." The grim implication in his drunken diction and rhetoric, was that ‑ the rest was not "up to them." If they could not accomplish what HE thought THEIR lives should be about they could face a grim primal imposition ‑ his brutal self will that, in life's mission, we had failed him.
Thus our achievements were directly his achievements. And our non‑achievements as HE perceived non‑achievement slighted and soured his own self perception. He did venture to let me know this also. "Simon I'm not proud of you" he did drunkenly chant on the same occasion.
"I'm not proud of you."
"I'm not proud of you."
To my youthful mind at the time, such presumption
didn't sour me. But as a man my life was soured by his presumptive possession.
In a narrow chronological sense, I became a man when I reached the age of
majority, which is twenty one years. In
If assertion is about preserving the integrity of our lives, and is sometimes presumed to be a life and death matter, this is when my life ended and my death began. Instead of my being a functioning creature of will and volition, my Dad had established dominance... for life. As I became a man, my Dad determined the status of my manhood. He established an immutable dominance, a seemingly permanent scar on my psyche. A dominance for life.
And he could not know this, because the sense that me, a psychiatric dischargee, was also a creature of autonomy escaped him. He who was an automaton in major spheres of his own life could not accredit me with autonomy in mine own. This sense, that I, his seventh son, was a creature of autonomy escaped him for years after. And, because of the dominance his actions had exercised in my psyche since I first became a man, I was what he defined.
"Simon I'm not proud of you, I'm not proud of you."
Because my revulsion of him, of his feral will and of his actions, was so great, he possessed me continually. His actions possessed my fate in the hospital that day and for a decade after he possessed me still. This possession localised in my throat, so that if even for a fleeting second his actions came to mind, my breathing became laboured. Loathing for what he had done tightened my larynx and diaphragm. I was sick with resentment of it.
And this paternal possession, established in the hospital that day, was reinforced in a bizarre and ghastly way. Returning to my parent's home as a listless prisoner of this unhappiness, I was seated unanimatedly at his table.
My Dad wished to attend his paternal relationship. His expression of this had the tenor of a patriarch of old. It was addressed rather than communicated. After some preliminary phrases he cleared his throat and addressed me.
"We love you... and you are always welcome in this home."
Because he was a patriarch of old he spoke for both he and she of the household.
"We love you."