Narcissistic personality disorder; bipolar disorder,
depression, chronic anger, paranoia – these are just some of the psychological
conditions being bandied about to explain Mark Latham’s splenetic outburst
against the party and the people who gave him his career, his income and,
indeed, paradoxically – the wife and family into which he’s now retreated.
(Janine was a Liberal staffer when she and Mark Latham met).

According to Mark himself, on Enough Rope,
he’s never suffered a day of depression in his life. Testicular cancer, yes;
pancreatitis, yes – both life-threatening diseases – but depression, no. Nothing
wrong with his mind.

So what is this “Lathamland,” as Kevin Rudd calls it –
where all friends and colleagues eventually turn into Judases and betray him;
where what some claim was advice and guidance was, in Latham’s mind, a personal
attack? Where the universally-liked Kim Beazley is an indecent plotter,
peddling lies behind Latham’s back?

As his diaries are digested, more and more
colleagues are coming forward to dispute Latham’s version of events. Time and
time again, the Latham version is dismissed as a gross distortion or

Latham has been very ill. He’s seen specialists in
pancreatitis, who’ve no doubt treated his damaged pancreas to the best of their
expert ability. The pain he suffered was just a symptom, something to be
mitigated, if possible and, if not, to be endured. Latham’s a tough guy. So no
problem, then.

But if Latham had consulted a pain specialist he’d hear
a different story. He’d hear that catastrophic pain is a condition in its own
right, with symptoms and repercussions. He’d hear that it’s very poorly dealt
with in the general medical community who’ve sometimes had as little as two
lectures on the subject during their university training (according to figures cited at the
World Pain Congress in Sydney earlier this month). He’d hear that
pain is inextricably linked with fatigue and depression – which are simply
different expressions of the very same neurochemicals sending the signal we call

And had Latham presented a pain specialist with his
version of events he’d be told about a syndrome called

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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