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David Guthrie – My first episode of psychosis

January 20, 2018


On Easter Tuesday in 1978, I was informed that my friend Sam had been killed in a car crash on Easter Sunday. He had been hitchhiking in Tasmania and had apparently been picked up by a drunken driver. The funeral was in a couple of days. Mick rang me to tell me when and where the funeral was. I put a death notice in the Age – “Like a true nature child, Sam was born, born to be wild”. The night before the funeral I went to John’s house and smoked joints. Next day John and I drove to the funeral at Maryknoll church near Garfield.


I wore a white jumper, brown corduroy jeans and leather sandals with no socks. We smoked more joints on the way. Most of the other blokes wore dark suits. There was a big crowd at the funeral with many of the people I went to Xavier with and many women. It was a full Catholic requiem mass with Jesuit priests from Xavier. I thought that Sam would have preferred a non-denominational service. I volunteered to be one of the pallbearers. All the others were wearing dark suits. On the way from the church to the graveyard John and I smoked another joint. When we carried the coffin to the hole in the ground, my foot nearly went in.


We went back to the farmhouse for the wake. Andrew told me off for some reason. Peter commented favourably about the death notice. I also talked to Helen about something. We left the wake and I have never seen those people again.


In a month or so I had missed a deadline for an auditing assignment and for that reason failed Auditing at RMIT, which I was doing part-time while doing philosophy full-time at Melbourne Uni. I was preoccupied with Sam’s death and the fact he died on Easter Sunday. I was smoking lots of dope and reading occult, parapsychology and mystical books. I was writing short notes and ideas. I came to stay up most of the night smoking dope and reading these books. In early August, I completed a short four-page essay called ‘Interactionism, a Theory of Parapsychology.


It had, at its core; a process called ‘matching’ which made mind interact with other minds and with matter. Matching occurred between structures, which were nearly identical. I thought that the essay was a major philosophical and scientific breakthrough which, when applied, would give all of us magical powers. Another tenet of the theory was that conscious experience lasted forever so all the experiences of everyone who had ever lived were available and could be tapped into and transferred to film or videotape. This was a consolation for Sam’s death – the idea that his experiences were still in existence and could be recovered.


So on August the fourth, which was a Friday, I went to Melbourne University and handed copies of the essay to some of the staff I knew in Philosophy and Linguistics departments. I told them to read it and they would understand. That Sunday was August the Sixth, Hiroshima Day. There was a demonstration in the City Square. I gave copies of my essay to a few people and told them to keep it. Then I got the idea that the Catholic Church needed to be informed of my work.


I went up tho the Catholic Offices at the rear of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The door was open but there was nobody there. I saw a picture of the pope on the wall. It was Pope Paul 6th. On an impulse, I pulled the picture off the wall and put it face up on the carpet with a copy of my essay on it marked for “Paulus Sextus”. When the picture came off the wall, I felt a great jolt of energy like an earthquake.


I rang John, he came and picked me up, and we went back to his place and smoked joints. That night there was a documentary about the
Vatican on TV, which we watched. I told John that I had made a great philosophical breakthrough; and that the present epoch was finished and that things would be different from now on. I also told him I would win the Nobel Prize for physics and be appointed Pope soon.


Then I went back to Medley Hall and had a normal night’s sleep. I woke up next morning and put on the radio news. Paul 6th was dead. So I decided that I had assassinated him by sorcery, pulling his picture off the wall and putting my essay on it. Since I was the victor in a wizard’s duel I would, by right of conquest, become the next Pope. The co-incidences of Sam dying on Easter Sunday and the Pope dying, about when I pulled his picture off the wall, had made me floridly psychotic.


I walked around Melbourne City giving people copies of my essay and telling them I was going to be Pope. I told some police and they asked me where I lived and offered to take me home. They looked at my room, which was neat and tidy, and left. Then a bit later the Warden, Graham, asked me what the Police were doing. He called me into his apartment. I started raving about how I had occult and magic powers and how I was about to be appointed Pope. He had a female there who was probably his girlfriend. I put my arm around her waist and paced up and down the room with her while I was talking. At one stage I said I was strong enough to kick the building down. He did not like me touching his girlfriend and was scared by my raving. So he went next door and called the police. Half a dozen uniformed police turned up and took me to the station.


They called my father and tried to get me to talk to him but I refused, saying he would hear the announcement that I was Pope. Then they took me to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. I waited in casualty for a while and then got taken to Ward One North (the psychiatric ward). I was put in a small room and Dr. L.B. appeared with four others, probably all nurses. I raved my rave about being all-powerful and the next Pope and showed her a copy of the essay. She asked me whether I would stay in hospital for a while and I said “yes, but no drugs” Then the five of them jumped on me and gave me an injection in the buttocks.


They then put me in a small room and the side effects of the Haloperidol come on. My shoulders started contracting and my tongue and mouth rolled around and, worst of all I could not sit still (this is called akathisia). This side effect was a form of torture. After about 5 weeks they let me out during the day to attend lectures at Uni. This was especially difficult because of the akathisia.


So I started my career as a psychiatric patient.


If you haven’t already done so, I am inviting you to submit your Consumer or Carer story on your personal experiences with: - Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, PTSD, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Anorexia, Post Natal Depression, Hearing Voices or any other MI I have overlooked.


The average length of stories are 6 to 15 pages. However I do have those that are 4 pages.


Minimum accepted is 4 pages, narrow margins, size 12 Arial font and single line spacing. Send them through to in a MS Word document as per the above settings.

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