Friday, 9 October 2009

Ones That Got Away Part II

Gerry was a 19 year old young man whose father was a banker. He had attended a private school and had done very well academically. He was in the middle of his gap year prior to commencing a degree in Art History at university when his behaviour became more and more erratic and grandiose. He used his new credit card to pay for the publication of a book of (truly awful) poetry from a vanity publisher, made plans to hire a recording studio and session musicians to record a rap album, and had announced to his parents that he no longer needed to sleep because his brain was receiving energy directly from the cosmos.

I first became involved with him when I was asked to write a report for an appeal tribunal after he was detained under Sec.2 MHA for assessment. When I interviewed him he was still plainly hypomanic, with grandiose delusions, although the medication was beginning to take effect.

By the time of the hearing (two weeks after detention) he stood a fighting chance of being discharged from hospital – as long as he kept his delusions to himself. Indeed, he did manage to keep himself under control for most of the hearing, right up until the point where the chairman of the tribunal asked him if he had anything he wished to say to them.

“As a matter of fact,” he said, “I would like you to know that Aphrodite is smiling on you all, you are all blessed by the light of the goddess of love, beauty and sexual rapture. Tonight you will feel the power of her love and beneficence.”

Since the Tribunal decided not to discharge him, he remained as a detained patient, and I was asked to assess him for detention under Sec.3 for treatment. This seemed like a reasonable request.


Gerry may have been acutely mentally unwell, but he had not lost his intellectual capacity. He realised that he was likely to be detained for a longer period if assessed, so he arranged not to be assessed. He absconded from the ward the very morning I was due to assess him. However, unlike most absconded patients, who tend to turn up at home, there was no sign of him, until a day or so later, when his parents received a call from him – in Paris.

He stayed in a 4 star hotel in Paris until the Sec.2 had expired, then returned to this country. He clearly knew something about the Mental Health Act – going to a foreign country is a good way of avoiding it. He managed to remain free for several months, before he completely lost control of his illness and was inevitably detained for treatment.