The Hypocritic Corpus

As I stand over this:

Amphetamine fuelled
Pulsing rage,

With a syringe of midazolam

Invoking the Mental Health Act,
As if I believe in it
-The gospel according to psychiatry

I realise this does not rest easy
Beside the mumbled Greek of Hippocrates,

Sworn in a marbled hall in another life,
When we all believed in it.

Old letter

Literary Medicine


Specialist Emergency Physician from Ireland currently based in Tasmania, Australia


  1. Lady Cordelia Flyte [corr] (Brideshead) felt that such people were very ‘near and dear to God’. Her creator, Evelyn Waugh, was in a position to judge, wasted as he was by alcohol and barbiturates. Acts of Parliament notwithstanding, is not the act of intervening in the suffering of these crazed, scarred souls a measure of our own humanity?

      • Flyte. It’s as well that Mr Waugh died (on the lavatory) some years since; such a slip is enough to topple him from his throne all over again.

        The only people who do always measure up are those who walk on water, and never get invited to dinner because their presence complicates the seating arrangements and kills the conversation.

        How to deal with those for whom ‘First, do no harm’ is breathtakingly irrelevant, as they’ve already done the lot to themselves? Perhaps by remembering the behaviour one owes to oneself.

        That first, visceral rush of anger and frustration slaps into us all. However, on a good day, we can wait for and ride the second wave of sorrow and compassion that is the expression of our better selves.

        Two quotes come to mind: Emma Woodhouse reflected that one ‘should not expect miracles of virtue from those for whom birth and education had done so little.’ In the best of all adaptations of that work for the screen, (Clueless) Mr Woodhouse, transformed for Hollywood, remarks, ‘I have a gun and a shovel…… nobody will ever mis[sic] you’.’
        Ah, sometimes so tempting……..

        • I appreciate your comments, Julie, especially because they challenge me. I shall pay particular attention to the precision of my non-medical references, and to my grammar! Thanks for reading, see you at the coal face!

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