Derek Hutchinson is a survivor. He has been subjected to some of the most barbaric psychiatric treatments but is still here to tell the tale. Here’s his true story.
It wasn’t long before the brutality started. He was subjected to eight shots of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and was prescribed psychotropic drugs.
Three weeks later, it was suggested he have a brain operation called a hypothalamotomy, a procedure that had never been done in Britain. The psychiatrist told him it would help to control his aggression. Derek admits that in the past, he’d got into a lot of fights, had been a joy rider, and had been sent to borstal. He’d also served a six-month sentence for assault.
The hypothalomotomy was done in two stages. At this point, it’s important that readers are warned – the details of the procedure are disturbing and graphic.
The first stage involved pulling back the skin on Derek’s forehead. Two holes were then drilled into his skull. A nylon ball was stuck in each hole.
Nine days later, an electrode was pushed through a hole in each of the balls until it reached his hypothalamus, located in the centre of the brain. According to psychiatrists, the hypothalamus is associated with rage and aggression.
During the operation, Derek was conscious. He was asked whether he felt any fear while the electrodes were in the vicinity of the hypothalamus. The psychiatric theory was that the fear, located in the hypothalamus, should be destroyed.
A different electrode was then put into his brain, causing him to feel hot, as if he was melting. What was actually happening was part of his hypothalamus was being coagulated (to turn from a liquid into a substance resembling jelly). Derek described this as though being in a coffin and being cremated alive. He was discharged a week later.
If the brutal operation was supposed to deal with his aggression, it didn’t work. At times, he became more violent. At one point, Derek was put in a padded cell for three days, drugged and shocked.
Twenty years later, Derek had what he called a spiritual awakening, waking up from a nightmare and returning from what he thought of as the land of the living dead. Derek began to gather his medical notes, and began to understand what had happened. The notes said he would be ideal for surgery because he had “no gross psychiatric abnormality.” He feels like he was used like an animal.
With his wife Carol beside him to give him moral and practical support, Derek went on a journey, and became one of the most active anti electro-shock and anti-lobotomy campaigners in the UK with regular appearances on TV and in the print media.
Derek also took action to remember those who died in High Royds Hospital. As chair of the Friends of High Royds Memorial Garden, the group restored the site of a former paupers’ cemetery in the grounds of the disused High Royds Hospital. It is a Memorial Garden in memory of all those who died while incarcerated.
The last words are from Derek himself:
“I want to explain what psychiatry does to a person. It kills the will to live, the will to smile; it takes away what it is to be a human being.
“Words cannot describe what I have lost at the hands of psychiatry. The real madness exists in the psychiatrist and his practices. All I wanted was a rest, but they destroyed my life. What kind of people are they?
“I support all of what CCHR is doing, because I know they are the best hope I have to protect my grandchildren, who I have sworn no psychiatrist will ever get their hands on.”