Subjected to the most brutal psychiatric treatment, but he’s still here to tell the tale

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.

Derek was admitted to High Royds Hospital near Leeds, in September 1973. He describes how he was depressed, as if fireworks were going off in his head, and he couldn’t think properly.

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.

Memorial Garden – Menston, W Yorkshire

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.”

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  1. It does not stop. Chair of the patient forum Hellesdon low secure psychiatric unit 2012. Dr joseph Mundoh calls me to see him. Thomas I am not going to put up with your complaining anymore, I am going to teach you a lesson you will not forget in a hurry. The next day called to the only room in the hospital without CCTV. Eight nurses follow me in. So you think your’e a big man Thomas. I take all my clothes off. The last garments removed and the order sounds. Get him and a fight breaks out. Result – I lose four teeth and the hearing in my right ear. Wake only to be injected again. Five days, 10 injections, yet still they want more. Finally awake. Call the police, I wish to make a complaint of assaults. Twenty one days passed, but no police came. The Doctor now red misted adds a mood stabilizer and another antipsychotic on top of the two already proscribed. What’s it like Thomas, having no power while I hold it all? Do you want more Mr Campbell would you like some more?

  2. To tell the story is important. It is everything. Not statistics, and societal trends. Because people become faceless and everything is for the best . For your own good.
    I have my own experience, I had no advocates and for 6 years i took medication, tried to reason with my benefactors, and felt like a failure. I keep my distance from the medical field. One thing. Brian Jones, founder of the Rolling Stones and brilliant artist, was forced to undergo psychiatric treatment for 3 years in lieu of 9 months imprisonment for second cannabis conviction. UK 1968.
    He drowned under influence of thorazine and i believe ECT. His story.

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