‘Battle for the Mind’

Dr William Sargant (1907-1988) was a British psychiatrist who is remembered for the evangelical zeal with which he promoted physical methods of treatments in psychiatry. The text book he co-wrote with Dr Eliot Slater ran for many editions and “informed” generations of British Psychiatrists:

In 1957 Dr Sargant’s book “Battle for the mind: a physiology of conversion and brainwashing” was published. A review of this book at the time of publication, by a fellow British Psychiatrist, began:

Two feature length documentaries about Dr William Sargant were shown in 1987. This was how they were listed at the time in the Aberdeen Press and Journal (28th March and the 11th April):


I have written this poem about Dr Sargant, it follows on from my poem P O R S O L T:

 

In Defence of War

Dr Sargant has issued a command
to be learned by heart
before entering
his laboratory-treatment room:
“it is moral cowardice not to go along with my
S U P E R I O R
A C C U R A T E
F A C T S”

This is a “rule of science”
hollers Dr Sargant, and
Vivendo discimus
nothing more than “propaganda”.

“Choice of words” is not relevant
yells Dr Sargant
in his  Defence of War.

 

Notes:

PORSOLT is the name I have given to Dr Sargant's 'laboratory-treatment' room

I have written this poem from the perspective of a fearful rat  shortly before leaving PORSOLT for disposal. Attached to the rat’s foot was this label “Anti-Sargant 01984”

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