Saturday, 6 March 2021

'The pen is mightier than the sword'

"Who first said 'The pen is mightier than the sword'?"   by Alison Gee, BBC News, 9 January 2015



"The English words "The pen is mightier than the sword" were first written by novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu.

Richelieu, chief minister to King Louis XIII, discovers a plot to kill him, but as a priest he is unable to take up arms against his enemies.

His page, Francois, points out: But now, at your command are other weapons, my good Lord.

Richelieu agrees: The pen is mightier than the sword... Take away the sword; States can be saved without it!

The saying quickly gained currency, says Susan Ratcliffe, associate editor of the Oxford Quotations Dictionaries. "By the 1840s it was a commonplace."

Today it is used in many languages, mostly translated from the English. The French version is: "La plume est plus forte que l'epee."'


"According to the Cambridge Dictionaries website the saying emphasises that "thinking and writing have more influence on people and events than the use of force or violence"."


"Robert Burton, in The Anatomy of Melancholy, published in the early 17th Century, describes how bitter jests and satire can cause distress - and he suggests that "A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword" was already, even in his day, an "old saying".


"... When Napoleon came to power there were dozens of newspapers in France but he suppressed most of them, sanctioning just a handful of publications.

He also realised that the pen, in his own hand could be a weapon, says Broers. "He knew that he could undermine the allies who had defeated him through his memoirs and he did."'


Monday, 5 October 2020

the Muirhead/Patterson experiment - on being sane in insane places

"The Rosenhan experiment or Thud experiment was conducted to determine the validity of psychiatric diagnosis. The experimenters feigned hallucinations to enter psychiatric hospitals, and acted normally afterwards. They were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and were given antipsychotic drugs. The study was conducted by psychologist David Rosenhan, a Stanford University professor, and published by the journal Science in 1973 under the title "On being sane in insane places".[1][2] It is considered an important and influential criticism of psychiatric diagnosis, and broached the topic of wrongful involuntary commitment." Wikipedia

 "While listening to a lecture by R. D. Laing, who was associated with the anti-psychiatry movement, Rosenhan conceived of the experiment as a way to test the reliability of psychiatric diagnoses.[4] The study concluded "it is clear that we cannot distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals" and also illustrated the dangers of dehumanization and labeling in psychiatric institutions. It suggested that the use of community mental health facilities which concentrated on specific problems and behaviors rather than psychiatric labels might be a solution, and recommended education to make psychiatric workers more aware of the social psychology of their facilities."

"Once admitted and diagnosed, the pseudopatients were not able to obtain their release until they agreed with the psychiatrists that they were mentally ill and began taking antipsychotic medications, which they flushed down the toilet. No staff member reported that the pseudopatients were flushing their medication down the toilets"

The only difference when I voluntarily went into psychiatric settings in 1978, 1984 and 2002 is that I swallowed the antipsychotics after being forcibly injected (1978/84, Hartwoodhill) or coerced to take them (2002, Lomond Ward, Stratheden).  It just meant that I had to be careful when coming off the neurotoxins, plan the taper, most difficult after the 2002 menopausal episode as they had me on a drug cocktail within a short period of time, the Venlafaxine max dose being the most iatrogenic to my system (suicidal impulse, overdose 2002; 3 fractures right fibula, bone loss, 2005).

me in 1980 on Gigha with oldest son, year I got on the Krypton Factor

Krypton Factor assault course 1980, all heats together


[I had made a full recovery after coercive psychiatric treatment in September 1978, escaping ECT, tapering and getting off the Chlorpromazine within the year]

I call this post Muirhead/Patterson because I first became aware of my Mother Anne Patterson resisting going into Murray Royal mental Hospital, Perth, in 1966 after my wee sister was born. I was 14 years old and my Dad, Willie Patterson (Jeff Hawke sci-fi comic strip writer) asked me what we should when my Mum wasn't sleeping, had what was called then "a nervous breakdown".  I said that she would have to go into the hospital for that's where I went aged 7 with a broken leg, to Bridge of Earn, to get a plaster on it.  Of course I didn't know about her getting courses of shock treatment/ECT against her will or forced drug treatment, although she may not have got the latter because of getting the former, and so could have more children.

My Mother died in 1998 so I can't verify the coercive regime she experienced in the 1960's and 1970's, and she didn't speak of it afterwards, just resumed her usual good mothering and housekeeping.  

Mum c1964

Mum with middle sister & Fergus our Grandparent's dog c1963

These two photos were taken by my Dad and you can see the difference, in the second photo my Mother looks as if she has recently been given a course of ECT/shock treatment.  She appears sedated, has a ladder in her tights and her hair is not stylish, her clothes frumpy, her face expressionless.

Here's a blurry photo taken by my middle son at Murray Royal mental Hospital in 1985 when we visited my wee sister in blue jumper who was an inpatient there at the time. Both of us with expressionless faces, hard to smile when coercively drugged.  My middle sister and husband are smiling away.

When I first scanned in this photo it was hard for me to share on social media as I haven't broadcast this image even in photo albums, I don't look at my best and it was a painful time, clinically depressed by the strong antipsychotic drugs, punished by psychiatry for externalising my distress at a traumatic birth and being coerced by our local doctor to go voluntarily by ambulance into the mental hospital to again be abused.

I was forcibly, internally examined after giving birth to my 3rd son a week before.  In this photo you can see I am drugged up, my hair is not stylish, my outfit unco-ordinated, I felt zombie-like, and again I got off the drugs within the year, having tapered under a psychiatrist, making a full recovery.

To be continued ....




Saturday, 12 January 2019

wee trip on bus to Granite City revisiting the past

After swimming yesterday morning at Olympia I decided on spur of moment to take Citylink bus to Aberdeen, and jogged to Seagate where Megabus was about to set off. Only 3 passengers on the 1hr 20min journey. Front seat top deck:

I was heading for Devanha Terrace where I stayed in digs 1st year on MA Accountancy degree. My Auntie Margaret, Dad's big sister, organised this accommodation and went with me to visit, summer of 1970. I didn't know who my room-mate would be or that the others in the digs were 2 men who had trained for the priesthood in another twin bedded room and 2 Catholic women in single bedrooms. I only found this out after starting at university on my 18th birthday, 28 September 1970.

That first freshers week I joined the weightlifting club and the OTC (Officers Training Corps). These were the activities which appealed to me from all the ones on offer. My Mother was in Murray Royal mental hospital Perth all that summer and my Granny had died in the July. My Dad was sequestered in London since 1969 after his contract was terminated at the Daily Express scriptwriting Jeff Hawke. So my Auntie had brought the Social Work into our family and wee sisters were fostered temporarily, 9 and 14yrs younger than I. No-one consulted me about it.

On Devanha Terrace recalling student digs experiences 1970/1.

View from McDonalds on Union Street having lunch.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

spilling the beans

I remember attending a mental health event in Edinburgh, March last year, where Norman Lamb MP was a speaker and he said to Chris O'Sullivan, Mental Health Foundation: "spill the beans!".  Mr Lamb also spoke to me at the teabreak with an encouragement to "keep up the good work", sharing personal experience of his own family's mental health challenges.

[Norman Lamb: My sister's suicide and son's mental health problems made me determined to push for change; Telegraph 19May16]


I've filed for a divorce at Dundee Sheriff Court after being separated from my husband since the summer of 2011, when he left our house, and before that for about 18mths in the home.  

10.13am on 17Dec18 leaving Dundee Sheriff Court having sworn before JP & lodged divorce myself

14.51 on 17Dec18 at Claypotts Castle after lunch at Jolly's Hotel, Broughty Ferry

I had already divorced my husband, the father of my 3 sons, in around 2001 when working FT in Perth, managing volunteers at the Princess Royal Trust for Carers Centre, Gateway, NMethven St, doing it through a Solicitor, paid for it myself, took no pension rights or made any demands financially.  I expected to have a career from that point on, had a management degree, a postgrad in Community Education, in my 50th year, doing well at the job.  However in March 2002 I experienced a spiritual or existential crisis or menopausal psychosis, and remarried my ex-husband for his support as he is anti-psychiatry.  

My two older sons had taken me into Lomond Ward, Stratheden Hospital, 2002,and it was a very risky place for me as I'd raised complaints in 1996 when my oldest son was an inpatient and had a critical incident due to ECT, rushed to Ninewells Hospital, we were called for, my husband writing many notes for taking to the Mental Welfare Commission if required.  I still have a copy of his notes and of my complaint response from 1996, written by the Charge Nurse, the wife of the General Manager at Stratheden Hospital, 2012, when my youngest son had his human rights abused in the locked seclusion room of the old IPCU/Ward 4.

After going in voluntarily to Lomond Ward, March 2002, I was detained for 72hrs and coerced to swallow Risperidone.  I did this, not wanting to be forcibly injected and at more risk of reduced agency in an unsafe mixed gender ward.  I actually phoned my ex-husband from the ward that week when I was an inpatient.  We remarried on our 30th anniversary, 4 July 2002, and he often came with me to psychiatrist appointments, witnessing Dr Stephen Carey asking me if I was "tearful", no I'm flat, said I (correct answer).  I had swallowed a bottle of Venlafaxine on impulse, getting rushed to Ninewells Hospital, in the summer of 2002, experiencing convulsions.  I didn't know that suicidal ideation was a side effect of this antidepressant.  Carey never warned me and I wasn't well enough to read the long list of possible side affects.  Risperidone had clinically depressed me leading to Carey prescribing a cocktail of psychiatric drugs, the relentless road into mental illness, from which I fortunately managed to claw myself out of.

My middle son (himself a mental health service user since 1999) didn't want me to contact his Dad in Spring 2002 when I was unwell but I ignored his advice, knowing that my ex-husband would support me to recover from psychiatric treatment, for he'd done this twice before, after coercive neurotoxin drugging following puerperal psychoses in 1978 and 1984.  I knew that I could depend on him.  So he moved in with me to our Springfield house, giving up his flat in Ladybank and his cars.  My youngest son by this time had started first year at Edinburgh University, studying Psychology.  However by 2003 he had experienced his first collapsed lung, then another two pneumothorax, painful procedures, his first Lomond Ward inpatient treatment in 2005.  By this time I had made a full recovery from "mental illness" and had a PT job in Cupar Library after fracturing my right fibula in 3 places at the job interview in the March 2005.  My Grandson was born in Ninewells Hospital when I was also an inpatient getting a 6in Titanium plate inserted on fibula and metal screw through ankle, later removed.

I think it's important to "spill the beans", to tell the whole story, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as I had to swear when presenting my divorce form to the Justice of the Peace on 17 December 2018 at Dundee Sheriff Court.  The JP joked to me, asking would I be marrying him for a third time?  I didn't find this funny.  I had expected my second marriage to last, it wasn't me who ended it.  The difficulties in seeing our grandchildren was a major factor but also our differing interests, my work in mental health and caring responsibilities which increased over the years as my youngest son became a "revolving door patient" of Lomond Ward, Stratheden Hospital.  

Fortunately my youngest son is in better mental health these days, despite his Bipolar diagnosis, no thanks to Fife health care or social work who didn't give us any support, rather they tried to blame me for Nurse abuse in an Adult Protection Investigation Report in 2012 after I raised complaints.  Targeting me rather than the real culprits.  The only support from NHS Fife was the consultant psychiatrist Dr David Reid until his retirement and now another psychiatrist who meets up with my son occasionally. 

My youngest son was very angry with his Dad in 2011 after finding out what he'd been up to, and so was I, however I forgave him and supported him in finding accommodation in Cupar.  It was very challenging living so near especially when my son would see his father locally, and I did try in various ways to get a move to Dundee but this didn't transpire.  However the anger has dissipated over the years, time is a healer, wounds scar over. 

My husband has supported me financially since our separation, generously, and I know that he will continue to help me if I need it, even after our divorce.  I would also do the same for him, and have said so.  He's the father of my sons and has twice agreed to marry me for it was both times that I proposed, 1972 and 2002.  I have no regrets and I have no intention of marrying him a third time.  I don't expect to be a mental patient again and would resist it with all my might. 

St Andrews Castle 16Dec18

Thursday, 3 January 2019

starting up the wee cat diaries blog on 9 March 2008

The "wee cat diaries" was my first venture into blogging and I started it up because of the overwhelming hurt I felt when we weren't allowed to have our Grandson stay overnight with us, his 3rd birthday at the end of March 2008.  

launch of the wee cat diaries

This cut to the bone and both my husband and I were very sad about it as we loved our Grandson very much and enjoyed spending time with him.  His other grandparents often had him to stay from when he was a baby.  It wasn't fair that we were discriminated against, for whatever reason, although I think it was to do with me, for in the July after my Granddaughter was born my daughter-in-law said that she had never liked me.  

We had to always negotiate times for taking out our Grandson, it was continually difficult and got more so as time went on.  My son's father-in-law used to pick on me, continually sparring, and I eventually had enough of it, said that I would retaliate if it happened again, for he had put his hand on my arm after baiting me when I was doing an activity with my Granddaughter, at a get-together, in around 2013.  This was after my husband and I separated in the summer of 2011.  By this time I was being treated even more disrespectfully by the inlaws.  I was ignored by my daughter-in-law often when I visited, tolerated and no more, and put up with it to see my grandchildren.

When our marriage broke up in 2011, due to bad behaviour over 18mths by my husband, he said it was because he had "given up on seeing the grandchildren".  Our other grandson was in Louisiana, USA.  It was like a punishment towards me for being disliked by my daughter-in-law and us and the difficulties in seeing our grandchildren.  The other challenge was our youngest son becoming a revolving door patient in Lomond Ward Stratheden Hospital and by 2011 was experiencing suicidal thoughts.  I'm not surprised when I consider what his Dad was getting up to.  It disturbed the peace of our house and resulted in my son going into severe emotional crisis at Christmas 2011, 6 months after we put his Dad out of the house.  For the month of January 2012 my son was suicidal, didn't get any help, I'm just glad he survived it and the psychiatric abuse that followed.

It's been a challenging 7 years of surviving, for both of us.