Friday, 8 October 2010

The Rule of Law

The Rule of Law is a very readable little book by Baron Bingham of Cornhill, who was Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and Senior Law Lord of the United Kingdom.
The cover of the book is quite sexy and also provocative in other ways. I like the crown drawn on the head of statue of Justice in gold colour. It makes me think of The Rule of Law as a bit of a joke and also as a very serious comment on injustice all of us have experienced.
Baron Bingham writes well and I appreciated his historical introduction to the concept of the rule of the law. The passages on Magna Carta show passion as Baron Bingham writes that Chapters 39 and 40 of Magna Carta have the power to make the blood race:
39. No free man shall be seized or imprisoned or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.
40. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
Baron Bingham really appears to have the point that this should be inscribed on the stationary of Ministry of Justice and the Home Office until one considers such things as the fact that now people travel freely and there has to be some limit as to who can seek justice and for what in UK.
Now, what about wars and the fact that UK is always at war somewhere? Baron Bingham states that war in Iraq is illegal and gives his reasons as to why this is the case. This issue is of interest to many people.
When I enrolled for a course in politics with a great title "Power and Dissent" I learned that, in fact, a country could wage a war for economical reasons only and that this is legal, but the exact circumstances were not outlined during my course. I guess the assumption is: only legally so... Everybody knows that Iraq has plenty of oil, but not many people know that having adequate oil supply is what determines the outcome of other wars as fuel is required for vehicles, tanks, airplanes etc. The fact that one country alone has been involved in at least 40 military actions in 25 years all over the world says something of its need for fuel and the need to control the supply in order to maintain its power. It is believed that one of the reasons why the Second World War was won is because Russians had their oil supply and Germans lacked sufficient supplies. Those who know the history of the oil wars would also know that many English people did die trying to get Russian oil too, in the past. This is not in Baron Bingham's book, of course. Today, the relationships are different between superpowers.
It is thought that English people originate from Saxons. The word Saxons originates from word sac which means quarrel. During old Persian Empire Saxons were regarded as lawless and quarrelsome lot. In Azerbaijan there is even a town called Sac. It is thought by some that this is where Saxons lived before their migration to Europe. The origin of world Saxon is not discussed in the book by Baron Bingham and I do not say writer should have done it. However, it is fascinating to me that people who have been regarded as lawless and quarrelsome for thousands of years have also been very successful materially, at least. It seems to show that one can get away with murders on a largish scale. Eventually, one remembers that law can be used occasionally when it suits, I guess.
There are many things one can learn from this book and I would recommend it, of course.
One also learns from things not in the book as the reader can choose to examine oneself or remember own experiences of seeking justice. I did this in a number of areas. The most obvious is that as a doctor I always did what was in the best interests of my patients and public. When as a whistleblower I became the target of reprisals and humiliations (and medical regulator gladly took part in it), I went to the courts for protection in the most honest belief that there was such a thing as the rule of law. I did not find it and neither did many others, as it is mob (in the case of medical whistleblowers) that wins in England. Today, mob does not throw stones or sticks or rotten garbage at the accused. They have courts to protect them and to kill the target for them with false allegations, nicely coordinated for the purpose of cover ups of e.g. medical errors or their own selfishness or politics of the day.
There is no Rule of Law in UK today, as far as I can see from my own experiences and efforts to get justice for about 11 years now. The High Court is servile to The General Medical Council (GMC), for example, and its own prejudices. It rubber stamps GMC decisions because that is the easiest thing to do and maybe, it is good for judges' career to please political masters of the day rather than comply with law. The Royal Courts of Justice allow Human Rights abuses to go on for many years and so does medical profession, their defence bodies and union. Everybody is so thoroughly institutionalised that one is tempted to come to the wrong conclusion that there are no intelligent people left in UK. The Royal Courts of Justice are also sexist, racist and religiously biased just like medical regulators. We know that and they know that we know that. The Royal Courts of Justice are forced to function in outdated buildings with outdated procedures matching the outdated attitudes. Did I miss reading about that in Baron Bingham's book?
The Rule of Law is very readable book and the issues are well presented and I would recommend you buy it. You may wish to read it again. It is the most readable law book I read so far. You will enjoy some of his recommendations for changes and smile wryly (as he does on the back cover) at his comment that European Court of Human Rights has many cases: "The most pressing problem now, however, is not whether the scope of the Convention should be enlarged but whether the Strasbourg court can handle the huge volume of cases currently brought before it". Well, a good measure of punishment could make courts function better. Should the judges be fined too when they mess up big time with attitudinal problems in full knowledge of the law and facts? If doctors are responsible for mistakes they make and have to compensate their victims why not judges?

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Political Dissidents and Psychiatric Examinations

It is extremely easy to become a political dissident. It requires no desire to be so and no decision to become it. One can quite simply do one's job and find that one has become a political dissident. It can happen to people who regard themselves as apolitical.

Contrary to the view of many people in the West who imagine, for example, that all Russian dissidents were opposing Communism, some were very committed to it in a way that others thought was rather naive. Major-General Pyotr Grigorenko, a much decorated Red Army commander (photo on left) did annoy the authorities when he objected to lavish lifestyle and jobs for life in case of senior communist party officials. He was diagnosed as: "psychological illness in the form of paranoid development of personality....His psychological condition was characterised by the presence of reformist ideas, particularly for the reorganisation of the state apparatus." He was hospitalised for one year and on release his mind not cleared from reformist delusions he got into human rights protests. He was warned by KGB General Svetlichny: "If you go out into the street, even without disturbing the traffic, with banners reading "Long Live the Central Committee!", we shall still put you in lunatic asylums."

As General Grigorenko continued his activities he was tricked to a meeting, put into a cell and subjected to three hour psychiatric examination which was normal according to Professor Detengof. KGB men unhappy with this absence of psychiatric diagnosis decided that they can only rely on Serbsky Institute in Moscow, where Dr Morozov and Professor Lunts subsequently obliged by making diagnosis of paranoid personality development and confined him for five years of compulsory inpatient treatment.

Not all psychiatrists worked in Paranoia Factory as Frances Wheen calls it in his excellent book "Strange Days Indeed, The Golden Age of Paranoia". There was some resistance with gross sarcasm as in the case of a Latvian farmer who was hospitalised because he said that Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was bad for communist image. His psychiatrist wrote:

"He states that never under any circumstances will he abandon the idea of fighting for a communist system and socialism. On the basis of the above, the commission finds that Yakhimovich displays paranoid development of psychopathic personality".

Very much the same themes have been occurring in British psychiatry for at least the last twelve years, in the attempts of the medical regulators to control political dissent amongst medical doctors. Doctors' crimes are a bit like that of General Grigorenko in that they just want things to be better for their patients. Sometimes, they want things to be better for junior doctors' training too.

The regulators are fond of forensic psychiatrists who tend to be authoritarian and thus more suitable for use in intimidation of eg whistleblowers.

When psychiatric examinations are used for political dissidents the purpose is the same as in Stalinist Russia: to install fear, undermine confidence and ultimately discredit and bring under control while preserving the power base of the less competent. It is really simple.

Even if one finds support from independent psychiatrists, the medical regulator is not happy just like KGB was not happy in the case of Grigorenko. Long term psychiatric monitoring for years is used in the form of sanctions on professional practice. So doctor may not be hospitalised, but is unemployed, staying at home and under obligation to be supervised by psychiatrists despite never having any mental illness whatsoever. If they write blogs, these are monitored, articles read, downloaded and filed, like this one will be.
Humiliating requests are made for the doctor to write his/her own Personal Development Programme with respect to Anger Management, Team working and Improvements in Communication Skills. One is essentially asked to conform to poor practices one protested about in order not to demand any social change. In my case, I objected to the wearing of religious uniforms when working with mentally ill.
Thus, absence of psychiatric symptomatology is made up for by the regulator into pseudo psychological personality/relationship problems that do not exist.

Doctors' perfectly normal language expression is said to be showing the evidence of psychotic thought disorder. In my case, Professor of Psychiatry recently honoured by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London stated that starting a sentence with a word "but" was evidence of a psychotic thought disorder. According to this criteria, all the best (and not the best) English writers from William Shakespeare to others are psychotic. My favourite example is from Mark Twain who started at least five sentences on two pages in one of his books with a word "but".

Sadistic behaviour by some psychiatrists is allowed to continue for many years despite the complaints by professionals and the person doing it is even honoured by the establishment.

Laughable diagnosis are resurected from the ashes on the floor of Paranoia Factory in England such as Querolous Paranoia for the dissdent doctors. Disagreeing with hospital managment eg on the issue of junior doctors' training can lead to it. In fact, anything.

So what is new? Well, Internet is new. Russian dissidents had to publish themselves their work in print and then had to distribute it. Later on Grigorenko founded organisation for the study of the totalitarian regimes which is in New York where he was exiled. I do not know if there is such a thing in England.