Worker Training- Workshop#1: Accepting Voices – Fri 21 Nov 2014

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If, in your work, you encounter people who hear voices – and who might be struggling with the experience – then this workshop is designed for you.
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Get your weird on

This piece is a response to Louise Gillet’s So, How Can I Tell If My Kids Are Weird?  [see link below] in which she is responding to parent calling their kids “weird”.

There are no weird kids 
There are no weird kids – what is weird is growing up in a world where adults call kids – especially their own kids -names like “weird”.

I’ve been called “weird” a lot – especially when I was young. It used to hurt – a lot.

Nowadays I realize that when someone says to me:

“you’re weird”

It just means :

“you’re really not like me”

so I say:

“thank you”.

Weird is just:
Wired: differently.

- and we all are: wired differently. If you’re not weird then you’re either boring – or else dead.

When it comes to children and weird, Hunter S Thompson had it about right:

“Weird behaviour is natural in smart children, like curiosity is to a kitten.”

Hunter S Thompson - weird 2


…and it’s worth highlighting and emphasizing and even labouring over how he talks of weird behaviour, not the kids.

we-are-all-weird-seth-godin1We are all weird
Seth Godin predicted the future of marketing relies on recognizing that “we are all weird now” and wrote a book about embracing weird.

We Are All Weird: The Myth of Mass and The End of Compliance.



Nietzsche showed us where “weird”  really resides:

Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.

Weirdness and madness reside not in  individuals – and certainly not in children – but in the absurd norms of a world created by so called grown-ups.

The language we use to describe others always will say much more about us that it can possibly say about them.

So when we call kids “weird” what does that say of us?
– especially when all they are doing is responding to the environment we have created for them.

Who wants to live in a boring world?
Who wants to live their life conforming to someone else’s narrow-minded idea of what is not weird?

Want to get a life?
-get your weird on.


This came to me whilst  reading Louise Gillet’s piece at her blog  : So, How Can I Tell If My Kids Are Weird?  [and also published at Hufington Post].

Related posts:

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wish you were here – Pink Floyd

PINK-Storm-Wish-You-Were-Here-Pink-Floyd-detailSo, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Wish You Were Here

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.


Posted in music | 2 Comments

Toronto mayoral candidates debate – Wed Oct 15th – PARC


mayoral debate

Awesome people at PARC and local associations have come together to host a real Mayoral Candidates’ debate at which you have chance to at least to make sure the candidates hear the questions they need to hear – even if they do still try their damnedest to not answer.

Anyone taking bets on which of our esteemed mayoral candidates will have the balls to turn up?

2014 Mayoral Election
Candidates Debate

When :

Wed, October 15th
6:00pm to 8:00pm


Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre
1499 Queen St West, 

- Queen St W. and Sauroren Ave

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Radio GaGa

radio gagaAll we hear is radio ga ga
radio goo goo
radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
radio blah blah






Radio – radio
I’d sit alone and watch your light
My only friend through teenage nights
And everything I had to know
I heard it on my radio

You gave them all those old time stars
Through wars of worlds – invaded by Mars
You made ‘em laugh – you made ‘em cry
You made us feel like we could fly

So don’t become some background noise
A backdrop for the girls and boys
Who just don’t know or just don’t care
And just complain when you’re not there
You had your time, you had the power
You’ve yet to have your finest hour
Radio – radio

All we hear is radio ga ga
radio goo goo
radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
radio blah blah
Radio what’s new?
Radio, someone still loves you

We watch the shows – we watch the stars
On videos for hours and hours
We hardly need to use our ears
How music changes through the years

Let’s hope you never leave old friend
Like all good things on you we depend
So stick around ‘cos we might miss you
When we grow tired of all this visual
You had your time – you had the power
You’ve yet to have your finest hour
Radio – radio

All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio blah blah
Radio what’s new ?
Someone still loves you

Radio ga ga (ga ga)
Radio ga ga (ga ga)
Radio ga ga (ga ga)

You had your time – you had the power
You’ve yet to have your finest hour
Radio – radio

Posted in ideas, music | 2 Comments

“Stigma”? – Time to call it by its true name


There will be, can be no end to “stigma’ till we find within us the courage to call it by its true name.

“Stigma” is one of: deliberate, concerted and institutionalised misuse of language – the epitome of Orwellian “newspeak”; misguided enthusiasm for the latest buzzword; or else it is a simple mispronunciation.

It matters little how many “anti-stigma”, “defeat the stigma” or “end stigma” dollars we spend, no one “stigma”-fighter  can wash us whiter than any other, because no brand/ rebranding can remove the real problem.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that many of those “stigma” dollars end up spent with the same advertising companies that brand the same drugs pushed upon us as magical cures for whatever we can be convinced ails us.

All this talk of “stigma” is simply deploying that most modern of modern approaches –advertising away of all our anxieties, selling us fake solutions that do not adress the underlying problem. There is truly an elephant in this room – and the success of anti-“stigma” purveyors is being measured by how many of us buy their brand, use their words – and continue to turn a blind eye to that.

It is time to name this elephant, time to call this spade the spade that it clearly is.

The Doctoring profession recognises this though they have devised a far more clever-sounding name – “diagnostic overshadowing” – to refer to how, once a person has been diagnosed, doctors can tend to view any and everything that happens within a patient’s experience as confirmation of the diagnosis, or else dismiss it as a consequence or figment caused by the very “condition” identified by that very diagnosis. The person disappears and every subsequent piece of data is evidence that Doc has the “right diagnosis”. Thus is constructed the vicious cycle – the mental health vortex in which so many find themselves trapped.

People so diagnosed and such-ly “diagnostically overshadowed” die, research shows repeatedly,  20 years earlier than the rest of us – and not because of “the stigma” but because they are denied the same services as everyone else – in short, because intentionally or not, they are discriminated against.

It matters little how benign or fancy-sounding are the words we choose to name it, the thing we currently call “stigma” remains the very real act and especially the real effect of one group discriminating against another simply because they are different.

“Stigma” cannot arise within one person or within one brain – it cannot because it is the act by a society of placing a mark upon one of its own to denote that they are now categorized and deemed less-than-the-rest and deserving of, or requiring special “treatment”.

Is it any wonder that so many people do not come forward to ask for help when the “help” can, clearly, suck this much?

Yet, and all the while, we hear pontificators pontificate on how it is “the stigma” that prevents people asking for help, even of how it is their own “self-stigma” holding them back, and all we need do is stamp out the “stigma”.

“All we need is radio GAGA” – Queen

Bollocks, more bollocks and yet more bollocks.

The preferred downloading method de jour is to divert attention away from the real problem to the stigma-washing and advertising-speak of “stigma” and send us to social media like the good little ad-bait clickers we are. This is symptomatic of how stuck and lost and bereft of ideas we are that all we can think to do is spend money talking of “stigma” and offer highly clickable websites. Look beyond the strap lines and clicks and – mostly-  what we see is more messaging that blame-storms those very same people who have been marked for feeling the effects of having been marked – when we could use the same dollars to actually make a difference, to provide some services that actually help. 

Never has so much bollocks been spoken by so many with so little thought, such paucity of ideas – and so much of other peoples’ money to throw around.

Reluctance to come forward, confess to the sin of struggling, admit to being less than perfect and to bare ourselves as imperfectly human is not to feel “stigma- tised”. It is simply the very real, very understandable, very reasonable and even very sensible fear of being discriminated against should we do so.

Human history is full of vile and horrific examples of what happens when a society separates out one minority group to mark them, monster-ize them and other them; then having indoctrinated enough of us so we turn a blind eye or even collude, uses their propaganda and accumulated power to systematically reduce and remove legal rights, confine, trap, torture, encage them- and of course even worse.

There is undoubtedly an elephant in this room, and it is time to talk – time to talk about the true nature of this beast; and it is time to call it by its true name.

“Stigma” is merely the rebranding of good old-fashioned discrimination – the licensing by society of one group to discriminate against another and to mark them as less-than the rest of us.

If we do truly want an end to this then we will first need to recognise that talk of “stigma”- no matter how much we intellectualise it; no matter how well-intentioned; and no matter how much money we throw at it – is nought but hot air and hogwash.

“Perhaps there is a beast after all…  maybe it is us.”

-William Golding

The sooner we face up to this and face up to the fact that it comes from within the collective beast that is us, the sooner we can start to tame that beast.

Discrimination by any other word is but discrimination.

“Stigma” begins with a D and is pronounced “Discrimination”.

%22Stigma - F and D



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They say time changes things…

warhol 1

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I always feel like I’m guilty of something – Albert Camus.

Camus - the rules of the clan



Sometimes it’s our very being not exactly like them that leads our accusers to regard us as guilty.
Sometimes it is our very existence that, as Camus said: “seems to be breaking one of the rules of the clan”.

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Perhaps there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.

Three score years ago today saw the publication of Lord of The Flies, William Golding’s allegorical tale about who we are, especially when we get together.

I don’t know what he would have made of that modern question that is only ever asked rhetorically: “What are we like”? but William Golding shows us his version and it makes for uncomfortable reading.

Thank you Mr Lowe for introducing me to this, one of my favourite books.

On beasts and where beasts are to be found…perhaps there is a beast

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”

On beasts and fear and fear of ourselves and each other.

“I know there isn’t no beast—not with claws and all that, I mean—but I know there isn’t no fear, either.

Unless we get frightened of people. “

unless we get frightened of people

On how to build a world that can really, really suck…

we did everything adults would do“We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?”

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Living With My Voices – Kevin Healey

Living With My VoicesBrief film interview with some bloke named Kevin Healey – released today by The Trauma and Mental Health Report.

Big thanks from me – and my voices – to P.B. and the filmmakers for inviting me to do this – tis a great job you did .

Posted in adversity, hearing voices, ideas, psychosis | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

do you pop a pill when you’re feeling ill?

It can be difficult to remember or even recognize but  what, in westernized cultires, we call “Medicine” is not the only medicine but merely one way of practising medicine that is more properly called “allopathic medicine”.
Allopathic Medicine might dress itself up in a cloak of invincible science, look down upon and call all other practices “alternative’ but is actually both a newcomer and a minority.

“Medicines are everywhere.”

Choose and use your medicine wisely.

Do you pop a pillDo you pop a pill when you’re feeling ill?

If you do, you’re in the minority.

In fact, 80% of the world depends on traditional methods and medicinal plants to treat illness.In North America, First Nations healers use almost 3,000 plants.

Detailed knowledge of plants is part of their tradition. Its also essential.

To use plants safely and effectively, you need to know when to harvest them, which parts to use and how to prepare and administer them. 

…and from another panel in the same exhibit…

Food is medicineFood is medicine

Food is the first line of defence in traditional Chinese medicine.

Classified as yin and yang properties, food helps balance qi (“chee”)- your vital life force.
For example., a “warm” yang food such as barbecued chicken wings balances excess yin by stimulating circulation and heating the body. “Cool”  yin foods such as raw carrots, celery and lettuce balance excess yang by helping secrete fluids and cooling the body,

What if food fails to prevent illness?.
The next step is herbal medicine – often as teas or broths.

These examples are both from the exhibition at the Toronto Science Centre – “A Question of Truth” which asks questions like “is science objective” and illustrates that many of the things we regard as certainties or the one truth, are merely one interpretation, and often a minority one at that.
 Science does not give us one objective truth but is a process of inquiring into,  describing and interpreting our world and of how culture shapes that process we call science.

As one of the greatest of all scientists recognized:

“there are no data – all is interpretation”

-Albert Einstein

So when we talk about scientific “truth its worth asking “which one?” or “in which culture?” . 

Can you handle the truth?

“Join Dr. Hooley McLaughlin, Chief Science Officer at the Ontario Science Centre, as he tours the “A Question of Truth” exhibit, which highlights the role of culture, race, gender and social bias in scientific research.”

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