Naked Sleepwalker Wins Libel Case
Naked sleepwalker wins €10m in record-breaking Irish libel case Man wins Ireland’s largest ever libel payout over implication he made advances to company secretary while on business trip. The 18th of November the Guardian published this article on the outcome of the libel case.
Donal Kinsella, 67, from Dunleer in County Louth, Ireland, took the case against his employer, Kenmare Resources, after the firm issued a press release that, he claimed, suggested he had made inappropriate advances to a female colleague while on a business trip to Africa in 2007. Donal is a regular sleepwalker and on the night in question he allegedly attempted to enter his secretary’s bedroom, naked on 3 occasions only to be told go back to bed by the MD. Later, the company issued a press-release, according Donal, suggesting that he had made improper advances towards his colleague. He was also subject to ridicule within the firm which eventually made him sue for libel. The inquiry issued by the company exonerated him from any improper behaviour and the sum 10 million euros was awarded as compensation. So far he has only been paid 500,000, the remainder will be paid out pending an expected appeal. This is the largest award ever to be awarded in Ireland in a libel case.
There is a huge difference laughing with someone and laughing at someone. Making jokes on the expense of a colleague, who is acting in a socially bizarre manner is easy especially when sleep is involved because there is a humourous side to the incident. For example, even if Donal had not been awarded a record amount in compensation, it would still have made the news because it is bizarre/ unacceptable behaviour for an adult to behave in such a way. Behaviour that makes people stick out from the norm/socially accepted behaviour frightens and fascinates the media and its readers (and it sells!) . Frightens, because human beings essentially are tribe animals who work and function in groups rather than isolation and therefore it acts to keep the tribe healthy. The ridicule also helps to glue the already established bond in the tribe (in this case the work colleagues/work) so if you don’t join in you are seen as strange as the ridiculed. It fascinates because the behaviour is unusual bordering onto the grotesque, bordering onto the unknown and to loss of control. Perhaps one reader would say: “Look at him what a weirdo!” or “that would never happen to me” or “I used to sleep walk but I grew out of it”. Then there is a group of people who would probably feel sorry for him too. Sleepwalking in this case has turned into ostracization, belittling, ridicule and pitying. Which one would you choose? Some people might have thought: He is being impossible! Why is he suing? Doesn’t he have a sense of humour? I wouldn’t expect so because they are laughing at him not with him. He doesn’t remember and he could not be accountable for something he can’t control. I guess he could have locked his door. He probably did. I guess he could have asked a friend to lock his door but what he have done if there was a fire? He did not hurt anyone and the inquiry cleared him of improper behaviour towards his secretary as he did not try to enter her room or make any improper advances. Still, having a naked man wandering a round a hotel while your business is trying to negotiate a new deal etc might not be ideal, even frightening, but how do you solve the situation without causing hurt to the sleepwalker or the business? (He could have tried to wear a pyjamas – it could have reduced the drama considerably)
If you suffer from somnambulism, Stanford University Centre of Excellence for the diagnosis and treatment of sleeping disorders , recommends the following:
- Make sure you get plenty of rest; being overtired can trigger a sleepwalking episode.
- Develop a calming bedtime ritual. Some people meditate or do relaxation exercises; stress can be another trigger for sleepwalking.
- Remove anything from the bedroom that could be hazardous or harmful.
- The sleepwalker’s bedroom should be on the ground floor of the house. The possibility of the patient opening windows or doors should be eliminated
- An assessment of the sleepwalker should include a careful review of the current medication so that modifications can be made if necessary.
- Hypnosis has been found to be helpful for both children and adults.
- An accurate psychiatric evaluation could help to decide the need for psychiatric intervention.
- Benzodiazepines have been proven to be useful in the treatment of this disorder. A small dose of diazepam or lorazepam eliminates the episodes or considerably reduces them.
Finally, if you suffer from somanabulism get an appointment with your GP today because there have been serious tragedies involving sleep walkers. Read more here: http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/para.html#sw