Father Munchausen, I Presume!


Editorial Note: This is the fourth of seven Doctor Munchausen posts – Doctor Munchausen, I PresumeDying for a CureDear Louise, and the forthcoming Doctor Munchausen as a Sense About Science Trustee, and Doctor Munchausen Joins Your Local Hospital Board.

I’ve had some criticism of the recent Doctor Munchausen posts. They’re not fair on doctors. Many people have told me of lives saved by good doctors. It’s not fair to tar these good doctors with the brush of a few Dr Munchausens here and there.

Ascent to Golgotha

In recent months the movie Calvary has done the rounds in Ireland and the UK and moved to North America.

It opens with a confessional scene. Someone enters and tells the priest that he is going to kill him the following Sunday on the beach. The priest’s week is spent meeting people around the parish near Sligo in the West of Ireland, sizing them up as the possible killer, and debating with himself about what to do – cut and run or face the music.


The story is highly stylized, cliched and implausible but it has its moments. You might visit Ireland because of the scenery on show but you’d steer clear of its small towns if you thought this was an accurate portrayal of small town life there.

The plot is fueled by the abuse of children by Catholic clergy in Ireland. This issue appears overtly and briefly in the opening scene and at the end. In between is a good thriller. The killer has decided to pick a good priest – a good German – in order to shock people awake. There is little point killing a monster – no one will be surprised or bothered.

The priest he’s picked is clearly good – was previously married but his wife died, so he’s normal. He has an attractive daughter. He lives a very frugal life. He has a gorgeous dog who keeps him company. He mixes in with the locals in the pub but doesn’t drink because of past difficulties with the alcohol.


As we approach the climax there are a number of ever more dramatic Passion Week moments. In a key scene the priest finds his dog dead with its throat cut. He is distraught.

In the penultimate scene, faced with the person who might kill him, he is asked how he felt when he found his dog and he explains. He is then asked how he felt when he read or heard about episodes of abuse of children – did he cry the same way. He answers honestly – no – and recognizes his detachment from these children compared to his feelings for his dog.

Taking Clozapine

If you’re the mother of a son taking Clozapine for instance – or it could be any other drug or problem – and you feel your son is not right, you will complain to the doctor. They are likely to swat away your complaint.

Your sense that something is wrong might be backed up by your son’s pulse rate running at 140 per minute – a recognized effect of clozapine. The doctor might or might not have checked the pulse rate ever, but even if she had checked she would likely be detached. So what. Whereas if you were told the pulse rate, you would likely freak.

It can be useful for doctors and nurses to be able to remain detached in order to help you – to be able to step back and take “rational” decisions on your behalf. In an interesting, perhaps deliberate twist to the movie, this detachment makes the doctor in Calvary a freak of some sort – the least human person in the story.

You’re a young boy put on clozapine who gets very anxious in the middle of the night, perhaps feeling like you are going to die. You can feel your heart beat and it appears to be racing. You don’t know that it’s running at 140 beats per minute. You tell the doctor the next day about these worries. You might not have the word available to you to use but you will likely get the sense she regards you as “neurotic.”

A patient of mine some years ago after starting clozapine felt unwell and approached staff on several occasions to say this. He was swatted away by very good staff as neurotic. I was saved from finding out if I’d have done the same by being away. I came back to find the patient in intensive care, expected to die. He had renal failure linked to an interstitial nephritis. He lived and the label for clozapine in the UK now includes interstitial nephritis as a complication of clozapine treatment.

Bad Doctors, Good Doctors & Great Doctors

So there’s bad doctoring and good doctoring and great doctoring. What would great doctoring mean? Well in terms of a great priest it would mean being able to imagine what it must have been like to be a child and be abused – what the betrayal of trust was like. A great priest would not shut up just because most of the priests he knew were decent men or because the Vatican told him to shut up.

Almost everyone has been thrilled by Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) almost precisely because he seemed to have some imagination. He didn’t seem to be a box-ticker in the way Josef Ratzinger was before him. Except on the issue of abuse where imagination seems to have failed him.

Why call these men Jorge and Josef? Because of Chekov’s extraordinary story The Bishop which shows how at ultimate moments someone has to discover that The Bishop or The Doctor was once a boy called Peter or a girl called Petra. Unless that discovery is made, the person remains imprisoned inside the role and their imagination is taken over by others.

Jorge Mario has apparently recently said that one in fifty priests are likely to be pedophiles. Who knows what this means – it does not mean that one in fifty are abusers.

A Failure of Nerve?

I’d bet there are more Doctor than Father Munchausens around the place. There is far, far more scope for a doctor to be abusive than for a priest.

When it comes to handling abuse, whatever about Jorge Mario’s failure of imagination, the Vatican is miles ahead of the British establishment and both are way ahead of medicine where, perhaps because of all the good doctors, abuse is rampant.

The penultimate scene in Calvary is quite remarkable. But what on earth or in heaven is going on in the final scene? Does the movie lose the plot? What would you say if you were the man about to speak into the phone?

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David Healy, MD
David Healy is a founder of Data Based Medicine and RxISK.org and has authored of over 240 peer reviewed articles, 300 other pieces, and 25 books. His main areas of research are adverse effects of treatment, clinical trials in psychopharmacology, the history of psychopharmacology, and the impact of both trials and psychotropic drugs on our culture.


  1. You hit the nail on the head. The majority of “good” (not great) doctors are ready to admit the “bad” doctors are committing malpractice, harming patients etc in private but their ethics does not reach as far as to speak up about it or testify in court. In this way they are essentially complicit in the crime.

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    • The medical “wall of silence” really is destroying the credibility of the entire medical community. “A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link,” this is why medical “mistakes” are the third largest killer of Americans.

      Thank you, Dr. Healy, for being ethical enough to confess to a truly enormous societal problem. And I like your analogy, since my family dealt with the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” How sick to learn the psychiatric industry’s historic, and continuing function, is to cover up easily recognized iatrogenesis for the incompetent doctors, and sexual abuse of little children for the religions. My subsequent pastor was kind enough to confess this to me.

      Perhaps, if the medical community starts getting rid of its weakest links (instead of covering up their incompetence by shipping innocent patients off to the psychiatrists to be defamed, tranquilized, and poisoned), we might see a decrease in the massive number of patient deaths?

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    • Doctors also don’t speak out against their colleagues out of fear of being ostracized and having their careers ruined. Even though I agree with you that they are complicit in the malpractice/crime, until that culture is completely changed, this will continue to be a big time problem.

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      • Of course it’s a culture but it only speaks volumes about the human nature in general. I’ve recently heard of a story where the law enforcement and justice system covered up the faulty hair recognition testing which led to many people being in prison for years and some even on death row (a few of them were already executed) based on false evidence. But the good people working there were more concerned about their reputation and that of their peers than justice and lives of others.
        So you’re right – the only way is to construct the system in such a way that minimizes initiatives to act this way.

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  2. Parents are complicit when they treat their children’s psychiatrist like a God so a dysfunction in the family or trauma experienced by their child patient is medicalized or covered up. Abuse by doctors wouldn’t be as rampant without the patient’s family members reinforcing the abuse and delegimatizing the child’s experiences. Ditto for NAMI and other pseudo advocacy organizations that take money from Big Pharma.

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    • It is simply amazing to me that the entire psychiatric industry is still touting their belief that all real life problems are irrelevant, and all distress symptoms are the result of genetic “chemical imbalances” in people’s brains (especially since the “chemical imbalance” theory had been disproven 25 years ago) that must be treated with their toxic drugs. Such a belief system is so inanely and insanely simplistic, and obviously wrong from a common sense perspective, it’s staggering to me that so many “professionals” are still touting belief in the DSM disorders.

      And then they misinform their patients’ families, based on their illogical belief system. It’s heartbreaking so many children, and families, are being destroyed by this “scientific” fraud.

      Seemingly everyone, including the religions, has gone off worshipping only money and Satan, the real bible predicts this will happen some day. Although, we have Pharmageddon, rather than Armageddon. I do so hope we can prevent today’s delusional eugenics touting psychiatrists, and the evil institutions backing their scientifically invalid belief system, from completely destroying the human race. It seems quite obvious to me that the greed only inspired lunatics currently ruling the world are the wrong people to have in charge.

      I’m sorry your children, and the millions more, were and still are, being harmed by what some are touting as “chemical warfare” by the medical industrial complex, against the masses. The doctors do need to be awoken to the fact that preventable and unrepentant slaughter of patients is not “appropriate medical care.”

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  3. I am a parent who believed a psychiatrist and the system pushing the drugs behind him. It does not help me to wish for the time back (pre drug forcing), but to help as I can as my child struggles with being physiologically addicted to antipsychotic drugs. There need to be honest doctors, nurses, neighbors,

    and as a society when we see someone struggle we should recognize the need to care and put oneself in the others shoes. This difficult path…I wish it were over, but all I can do is keep talking about what the drugs do to people and keep talking about the compassionate alternatives that we have decided in some way are too wishy washy for a modern drug convinced society.
    Take the time to share these struggles and what they cause for our human society.

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  4. I was just watching this video about the reproductive strategy of emerald wasps (it’s pretty creepy and not for the feeble minded):
    and found it interesting that the wasp uses the strategy of blocking dopamine signalling to “zombify” the host to prevent it from defending itself or escaping. Guess what also blocks dopamine signalling, and is not used by wasps on cockroaches but rather by psychiatrists on patients?

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  5. “So there’s bad doctoring and good doctoring and great doctoring. What would great doctoring mean?”

    “Chemical imbalance” treatment in Psychiatry was carefully, permanently suppressed at the Dawn of the golden Age of Psychopharmacology in Psychiatry. The NIMH, APA and drug companies crafted the 1973 58 page A.P.A. Task Force 7 Report which stated that it represented a scientific peer review and that all the work ddone by their own best people was wrong for all time past, present and future. Out casting into the outer darkness the biochemists and doctors with their tests for biochemicals and their targeted treatments.

    They suppressed NAPA and crafted NAMI in the 70’s, they created the DSM-3 project which expunged all post Freudian argot from the DSM (no more words like neurosis, ego and complex) and made everything “medical model,” “scientific evidence based.” R.D. Laing told us that Psychiatry is a fake science. Psychopharma stated that the DSM-3 syndrome descriptions of abnormality were created by authorities and were “reliable”. The DSM-3 nosology categories have no known pathology or etiology – but – important, significant well-funded research is underway! This blurb is actually found in Task Force 3! Thus important research underway is a propaganda device they have been employing since 1973.

    The Golden Age of scientific treatment and modern medicines had arrived as announced by John F. Kennedy in 1973.

    Leonardo da Vinci: ‘And many have made a trade in deceits and feigned miracles, cozening the foolish herd, and if no one showed himself cognizant of their deceits they would impose them upon all.’ .. ( https://www.facebook.com/NinaHagen/posts/10203020024953850 )

    I recently received 6 editions of the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine ( http://www.orthomed.org/jom/jomhistory.html ) and opening one today saw something relevant to, “What would great doctoring mean?”

    JOM Second Quarter 2000 Volume 15, Number 2


    Page 86

    “The doctor has no reason for existing other than the betteringness of the patient, and, hence, has Moral Authority. This is always the attribute of a good doctor. Of course when a doctor takes advantage of a patient for his or her own selfish ends then the Moral Authority is violated, and society rightly expects severe punishment for such a transgression.

    But often a doctor uses her or his personal qualities to enhance the effectiveness of the management of the patient’s problems, and hence has Personal Authority too. However a doctor may have the personality of a limp dish rag and still be an excellent member of his profession. By contrast charlatans rely on the force of their personalities to feign Sapiential Authority.”

    Synchronicity — I read that excerpt immediately on opening it. The force of personalities may be replaced by the “authority voice” which is a propaganda device where they stridently state that they or their fellows are the authority, that what they write is authoritative, they write in an authority voice where the words they write are correct because they wrote them. (“The renowned preeminent Harvard Psychiatrist…” “laypersons, consumers and those of us of the Profession…”)

    Daniel Burdick Eugene, Oregon


    David Moyer, LCSW Beyond Mental Illness

    Vincent Bellonzi, D.O. Functional Medicine

    A.P.A. Task Force 7 Report

    45 Years of Clinical Experience Treating Psychiatric Disorders
    Hugh D. Riordan, M.D.

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  6. Robert Sealey writes of the import of true differential diagnosis, and valid individualized treatments. Robert Sealey is in the promotional documentary “Masks of Madness” that actress Margot Kidder helped them with, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMMzS6tLnOE .

    Dan Stradford of Alternative Mental Health, SAFE HARBOR (a candle in the dark) also writes of the importance of differential diagnosis.

    Eva Edelman author of the books, Natural Healing for Bipolar, and Natural Healing for Schizophrenia writes a short introduction on the topic why we should even think that nutrients as treatment are relevant, why they would even work…

    Stand Up.

    Daniel Burdick, Springfield Eugene Antipsychiatry

    Oregon USA

    One Person’s WRAP Plan: Recovery Using Restorative Orthomolecular Medicine
    by Robert Sealey, BSc, CA

    Finding the Medical Causes of Severe Mental Symptoms: The Extraordinary Walker Exam

    by Dan Stradford
    Founder, Safe Harbor Project


    Eva Edelman

    Dr. Walsh, renowned expert on treating mental disorders with nutrition. He discusses Autism, Criminal Behavior, Nutritional Medicine, Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, and Depression.

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  7. The professional AMA (AmericanMedicalAssociation) doctor unbeknownst to many, like the psychiatrist would like us all to believe in what they don’t understand. The AMA has itself immersed itself in unrepentant massive pseudo-science since it’s inception. It has set a solid example of deception in place for the psychiatrists to follow , which they have done (The Pharma Industrial Complex Plus) with gusto.Helping the 1% fly pseudo-science at warp speed threatening to mostly without effective opposition engulf the entire planet.The danger of an army of psychiatrist true believers we have already had a look at.Before and during world war ll 40% of Germany’s psychiatrists volunteered to become members of Hitler’s SS .
    Check out Robert Young’s book ” Sick and Tired ” and see how medical doctors forming the AMA went for pseudo- science big time for profit from day one . How they destroyed and defamed the real scientists like Royal Rife, and Antoine BeCamp MD . The only way out I know is an individual path along the lines of honest fearless inquiry .Fortunately there are others along this path.

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