Newspaper account of Coroner’s report, June 1973
THE POET WHO KEPT ON HATING HIMSELF
[newspaper headline] Sunday Mirror, June, 1973
Paragraph 1 follows:
A brilliant young Australian poet and author killed himself because he loved the whole world but hated himself, a leading psychiatrist said this week.
“He never learned to criticise or show any hostile feelings toward others,” the psychiatrist said.
“He abhorred violence and wrote in his poetry a great deal of beauty.”
“But, at the same time, he would admit feeling very murderous toward himself.”
Dr. D.E. Lawrence, staff psychiatrist at the Canberra Community Hospital, was giving evidence at the City Coroner’s Court into the death of Michael John Dransfield, 24, in the Mater Hospital, on April 20.
Dransfield, author of three books and on a Commonwealth scholarship to write a novel, died a month after injecting an unknown substance into his jugular vein.
“Not exactly surprised”
Dr Lawrence told the court, in a written statement, he was “not exactly surprised” at Dransfield’s death.
Dr Lawrence said he had been treating Dransfield for some months, at Canberra Hospital, for a depressed condition.
“Michael never learned to express hostile feelings in the context of a loving, warm relationship without the fear that, in doing so, the relationship would be destroyed,” the psychiatrist said.
“He thought the whole world was beautiful.”
“But, from early adolescence, Michael found himself harboring suicidal thoughts.”
Dr Lawrence said Dransfield had made many attempts to harm himself, with tablets, a knife and, on one occasion, a gun.”
His sister, Frances Elizabeth Dransfield, of Ben Boyd Road, Neutral Bay, said Dransfield had arrived from Canberra for the weekend and stayed with her and their mother.
“I arrived home from work about 5 pm on March 20,” Miss Dransfield said.
“I went to the kitchen, then had a feeling he still in the unit.
“I found him apparently asleep, fully clothed. I did not realise for about 10 minutes that he was unconscious.
The Senior Coroner, Mr K. M. Waller, SM, said there was evidence that Dransfield had been using drugs during 1966/67.
“But his mother, a medical secretary, is quite firm he was not using drugs at the time of his death,” Mr Waller said.
“However, needle marks show he certainly injected himself with something.”
Mr Waller found that Dransfield had died a month later, without regaining consciousness, from pneumonia and acute brain damage following a self-injection of [an] unknown substance.