Cultural ignorance and psychiatric labeling

Naphtali Titus Chondol

I was admitted to hospital in 1988 against my will and coerced into receiving medication that I did not need.  At the time of admission, I was a student of Northumbria Bible College (formerly Lebanon Missionary Bible College) and also undertaking a moral crusade against vices in British society. But my views and beliefs were wrongly interpreted as an illness. If the professionals concerned had taken the trouble to consult with people from my own cultural background the facts would have been perfectly clear to them.

After release from hospital, under heavy medication, I was escorted on an aircraft by a British doctor and returned to Nigeria, where I was not seen as ill but received the spiritual help I needed and weaned off medication. I finally returned to UK in August 1989 and now am a practicing itinerant pastor/Evangelist.

More recently, I have read about psychiatric practice and realise that the mental health professionals including the psychiatrists and also my general practitioner at the time who were in charge of my medical care in 1988 wrongly diagnosed illness, failed to consult with people of my cultural background and dealt with me as ‘case’ rather than a person. The way I was treated was a grave injustice and I have been trying to get the hospital authorities to acknowledge this fact and take appropriate action. So far I have not been successful. 

I would not wish this to happen again to anyone again from any background, religious persuasion or racial origin.