I don’t like bashing the dead but I’m going to! My first psychiatrist was Professor Burrows. RIP. This was the shrink who diagnosed me with schizophrenia when I was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Melbourne clinic. I’m on the fence as to what I feel towards this chap. He was responsible for getting to the bottom of my illness but I question as to how he did it.
So the shit hit the fan with mental state. After my GP was unable to provide the professional help I needed he got me a bed at the clinic. The ICU was a small 6 bedroom ward for those at risk of hurting themselves. I was monitored 24 hours a day. My shoelaces were removed, plastic cutlery etc. This was a very scary and confusing time for me. I was soon somehow put under the care of ‘the prof’. He popped his head in and briefly introduced himself and gave me a questionnaire for me fill out overnight. What some of these questions had to do with psychiatry I still don’t understand. A lot were sexual based where I wrote ‘ask me in person’ which he never did. The following day was my first day as a schizophrenic (along with depression but I’d been medicated for this since I was 16). This is when I learnt what medication was really about. He put me on HUGE amounts of drugs. Apparently he was well known to do this. My first psych med was Serequel. The average dose is between 100mg and 400mg. Burrows put me on 2400mg! That was 800mg three times a day! There were other meds too but I’ve forgotten what they were. At that stage I had no knowledge of pharmacology.
After a week I was released from ICU to the general ward where I was to spend a further six weeks. I was still a patient under the Prof and I would see him twice a day. You’re probably thinking that this guy had a lot of concern for me but here’s the thing. Each consultation was no longer than thirty seconds. I kid you not! He would pop his head into my room at 7am every morning and basically say ‘Have a good day and I’ll see you tonight.” That night he would come into the cafeteria where I was eating tea, put his hand on my shoulder and tell me he’s see me in the morning. This guy was being paid for each of these ‘consultations’ and he literally had hundreds of patients. This isn’t to mention the funds he was being paid by the drug companies. Do the math!
He was still my psychiatrist once I was released home. One of the problems was that the Melbourne Clinic is in Richmond so I had to travel for hours each week to have my 5 minute appointments. My parents, especially my mum, had a lot to do with my health. Because I was so unwell and heavily medicated there were a lot decisions I couldn’t make for myself. They never liked Burrows and started looking around for a different doctor. They came across another professor who was also based at the clinic who they thought may have done a better job. They were right.
Not long after I had a melt down and was once again admitted to the clinic. It turned out that Burrows was doing his (30 seconds) consultations and he heard I had arrived. I was settling in and filling out paperwork when he burst in the doors and was obviously pissed. He told my old man that he was wrong with the decision and that it didn’t matter who I was under – I would never get better. Then he stormed out. He hardly gave my dad or I a chance to speak. That was the last I saw of him until years later when I saw him pass when I was an inpatient under another shrink. I said hello and he didn’t know who I was.
I recently heard he had a fall and died. He was in his eighties (and still practising)