Sunday, 12 March 2006

Churchill in straitjacket!

The offensive statue
Here we go again. This time it will be Tories rioting in the streets. The BBC is already whipping up a furore over the new statue of Sir Winston Churchill in a straitjacket, commissioned by some bright sparks working for a mental health charity who believe that a cheap publicity stunt is good business. The BBC begs to differ. "Absurd and pathetic", "disrespectful", "appalling", "insults his memory" are some of the quotes it has selected as reactions to the 9ft high glass-fibre and bronze sculpture erected in Norwich city centre.
The charity defends itself by the feeble claim that it wants to "portray a more positive image of people with mental illness". If its management thinks putting people in straitjackets conveys a positive image of the NHS, let alone of mental illness, its managers are insane and its charity licence should be revoked. If I had given money to this charity, I would furious to discover how it had been wasted.
What I gather from the sloppy piece of writing on the BBC News website is that Sir Winston Churchill suffered from bouts of depression, which he referred to as his "straitjacket". The charity, it seems, has chosen to play silly games with Sir Winston's metaphor.
It would be foolish, counterproductive and unethical to put a depressive into a straitjacket. This method of restraint is reserved for violent patients who offer a threat to others or to themselves. The seriously ill depressive stares into the middle distance as if in a trance and can hardly be persuaded to speak, eat or do anything. Put a patient like this into a straitjacket? No way!
Nor should we jump to the conclusion that someone who has good cause to be depressed - his dog has been run over or his wife has cancer - should be labelled as mentally ill. Depression is a normal reaction to sad events. Clinical depression is another matter. This requires psychiatric intervention, but not straitjackets.
A few lunatics earning more than they are worth should lose their jobs over this fiasco, which makes NHS treatment for the mentally ill look like something out of the Dark Ages and will deter many prospective patients from seeking treatment. But the anonymous artist who created the statue must be complimented on a lifelike head.
If Tory rioters don't destroy it, the statue will remain in Norwich city centre until the end of March.


Post a Comment

<< Home