Friday, January 18, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid Town Hill, 1994, Eh! Kwa! Dammit!

Town Hill madhouse superintendent Dr. Ross replied to my drumming in September 1994, acknowledging that efforts to place Fraser in Durban institutions were unsuccessful. He then stated Town Hill madhouse keepers would try to place Fraser in an Eastern Cape psychiatric institution closer to us in East London. He suggested I also try to place Fraser in an institution near us.

I thought social workers were thick! This numskull ignored the facts that I was emigrating to NZ, and that Fraser had lived his whole life in Natal. Town Hill wanted to get rid of Fraser whatever the costs to Fraser or his kin. Over nearly six years, Town Hill hadn't encouraged me to be involved in Fraser's "rehabilitation." Instead, Town Hill had several times sneakily tried to use Fraser's curator to find a placement for Fraser, like Fraser's family didn't matter. The curator's legal job was to manage Fraser's finances. Legally, the curator had nothing to do with placement. He did it out of loyalty to Fraser, as our families went back to mom's varsity and teaching days, and Fraser, the curator and I were schooled at Durban North Primary and Northlands BH together.

Dr. Ross attached a patronising, heavily underlined, hotchpotch report concocted by Indian Dr. Nar, reporting on Fraser's old 1989 mental status nearly five years before, which told me nothing new about Fraser. Dr. Nar referred to Fraser like Fraser was a Skinner's rat learning to press buttons for food rewards in a maze.

Dr. Nar avoided answering why Fraser was battling during 1994. Dr. Nar stated old labels irrelevant to Fraser's 1994 condition. He failed to say how Town Hill was rehabilitating Fraser emotionally, socially and for daily living conditions away from Town Hill. Dr. Nar who'd known Fraser only two months, stated that Town Hill couldn't offer anything more than what Fraser was currently receiving. Dr Nar then recommended I explore other treatments and placement institutions for Fraser.

Fraser's "rehabilitation" had been neglected by Town Hill for nearly six years. Clearly madhouse keepers' "rehabilitation" of Fraser had failed. Fraser was obviously demented due to brain damage. He was disabled as he couldn't think straight. Drug therapy sedated Fraser, stopping aggression and seizures.

Fraser had tried "rehabilitating" himself by doing the most natural thing in the world, trying to integrate himself in Maritzburg's "normal" community, by shambling or "jogging" out of Town Hill gates. (Despite thousands of people being slaughtered in KwaZulu -Natal's civil war).

Town Hill madhouse keepers, deeming Fraser unnatural and abnormal, detained him in closed wards for months. Other "rehabilitation" was slave labour at OT, and unsupervised shambling around Town Hill grounds picking fruit.

Despite being brain damaged, Fraser was still literate and numerate, better than millions of black SA citizens, victims of Verwoerd's useless Bantu Education. Fraser had worked for a decade as a Standard Bank clerk, yet Town Hill didn't use his clerical skills. Fraser was disabled, not by his actions, but by negative attitudes and low expectations of his madhouse keepers.

A 01.06.94 Daily Dispatch article reported that a Grahamstown Rhodes University professor, also clinical head of Fort England Hospital, had said the following in his inaugural lecture: "South African psychiatry has been tolerating 'a system of infringement of fundamental human rights'... referring to detention of thousands of patients each year, 'many of whom have been treated without voluntary committal' [Like Fraser.]

Prof... advocated a move from the present system of involuntary admission and detention under a legal reception order to 'a more transparent, appropriate, less legalistic system.'

At present, South Africa had only 300 practising psychiatrists, while more than that had emigrated.

The situation was more than critical in the Eastern Cape, where there was only one registered psychiatrist for more than half a million people."

And Dr. Ross wanted to exile Fraser to Eastern Cape's Komani or Fort England madhouses. "...Eh! Kwa! Dammit!"

I wondered how many involuntary patients had been certified during recent States-of-Terror? While the enlightened professor criticized fellow psychiatrists willy-nilly certifying citizens, Town Hill madhouse keepers were trying to expel Fraser to Fort England - from mad to worse, about 800 kays away to a hostile border region of devious English, Xhosa, Afrikaner, Coloured inhabitants who'd been killing each other ever since Bushmen were exterminated; then Boers Great Trekked from cattle-rustling Xhosa and slavery-abolishing English; then eight Kaffir Wars slaughtered multitudes during the nineteenth century.

My 19.09.94 drumming to Dr. Ross: "Dr. Nar's report confirms what I've previously been informed about Fraser's neuropsychological status and prognosis. Fraser has been off clozapine since 1993. He was on clozapine and carbamazapine since his arrival at Town Hill in 1989. He remains on carbamazapine only. I suggest that an updated neuropsychological assessment be done to assess the 1994 period, which has irked Town Hill and Fraser so much, while Fraser was off clozapine.

I still need answers to my letter questions, which will enable my family to decide upon the suggestion that Fraser temporarily leaves Town Hill for a Durban Mental Health place.

Your 21.07.94 letter informed me that you and Town Hill staff suggested to Fraser that he could be going to live in Durban for a while at Durban Mental Health. The social worker informed my wife telephonically that she and Fraser had visited Durban Mental Health places. Fraser's hopes were built up. Your last letter said that plan had fallen through and you suggested he should go to the Eastern Cape. I trust that Fraser has not been told of this conclusion as it will crush him.

Your last letter says it appears that I'm dissatisfied with the management of Fraser at Town Hill. You then provide your opinion as justification for Town Hill's latest proposal that Fraser should be sent to the Eastern Cape. My asking reasonable questions about Fraser's management at Town Hill and expecting professional answers, should not be used as leverage to dismiss Fraser to the Eastern Cape. I'm disturbed by your response.

I informed you of my intention to emigrate to NZ, in the copy of my letter to Dr. Kaf. Referring to my last letter, I reiterate that we will be emigrating to NZ, in the near future, once our residence visas have been confirmed.

Fraser has lived all his life in Natal. It would be senseless and destructive to Fraser if he was dismissed from Town Hill to the Eastern Cape. You're assuming our family intends spending the rest of our lives in the Eastern Cape. This assumption is paternalistic and false.

We informed you months ago of our intention to emigrate.

Therefore, I have no intention of organising nor agreeing to Fraser's departure from Town Hill to the Eastern Cape.

Fraser must stay in Natal! Fraser must not be sent from Natal!

My family wants the best for Fraser. We want him to be happy and fulfilled.

Natal is Fraser's life!

My reasonable questions concern Fraser's 'quality of life.' Please give me frank answers to all my questions asked in previous letters."

Trying for transparency from Dr. Ross and his madhouse keepers was like slogging across Maritzburg's Umsinduzi River mud at night.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Town Hill Hospital, Pietermaritzburg.

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