I was born in the beautiful country South Africa, where a lot of my inherent values were fostered. I did not realise how indoctrinated and one-sided my secondary education had been. My Medical Degree, (M.B. B.Ch.) is unique to my Alma Mater-University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. This University, in my time, was extremely liberal but I experienced the banning of Black South African people from University as I went into first year. We were living under “Apartheid” (hated by all reasonably educated “whites” & supported by most “white Afrikaners“). Who knew or cared what the black people thought?
For the first time in my life I started to question the “privileged” life I had led at the expense of the Native South African people.
I completed my degree, and worked my Internship in a huge “Native Only” hospital. I experienced, first hand, discrimination that mere words cannot express.
The only thing left for me was to give back to the country of my birth, my education as a doctor. I worked for eight years in Zululand.
I did not believe that apartheid would ever end. I could not support the politics. I immigrated to Canada, via England.
In Canada I worked as a GP Anesthesiologist in the “Great White North” of Saskatchewan. In Saskatoon I completed my Residency in Psychiatry.
I moved to Victoria, where I was self-employed as a Private Practise Psychiatrist. This role I followed for twenty years.
I enjoyed my work but gradually saw numerous patients “slipping through the cracks” with inadequate treatment after “pills” had been prescribed.
Mentally ill people, by the very nature of their illnesses, have few advocates and do not know where to find help unless they have been hospitalized. Most stumble along, with their stigma and with little or often no help for their Psychosocial problems. Here the “System” fails them.
I became more and more disillusioned by the system of “pills” and not being able to see my patients for a longer period. I started to focus more on the psychosocial issues of these individuals. I saw dramatic improvement.
I had studied Psychiatry to help all mentally ill patients. Psychosocial factors, being addressed, did make a difference.
I really wanted to get to know them.
All ill have their story. I hoped to be trusted. I listened more and spoke less and these patients became empowered even living within the bounds of apartheid. I became more and more disillusioned by the Psychiatric System. Often I was ashamed to acknowledge that I worked as a Psychiatrist.
I made the almost unprecedented move, from Psychiatry to Counselling.
I believe I have genuinely connected with and helped people find their own inner strengths to lead them to a happier and more fulfilled life.