Choose your language…

This is not offered as a piece about “right language” and “wrong language”. It is clearly about language but it is really about choice- and the many choices we make whenever we use language to describe another person.

Especially, for instance, a person some might choose to call:

“Schizo”,  “the schizo”, “a schizo”.

It is so very easy to download and repeat the terms we see and hear being used around us without thinking much, following-along, using the same language we find ourselves immersed in, subtly imposed upon us.

How can we unknowingly participate in systems of oppression?- because that is how it works, by relying on us being unaware, doing our part, not noticing and not thinking.

Like many others, this term dehumanizes any person we attach it to: any person upon whom we put this mark. Doing so removes consideration that they are a human being: they become non-human, nonbeing even.

We might not realize that it also dehumanizes us too. When we use terms like this, we make the mark that we put on others our mark. Our mark we put upon them. If we talk of wanting an end to “stigma” it’s worth asking where the mark – the “stigma” -comes from.  “Stigma” begins when we choose to put our mark upon others.

Some people might be aware of the pain this can cause not just to an individual but to whole groups of people we might similarly mark, and instead try to offer a little more respect, use a few more words.

And you will hear some remark something along the lines of…

“but that’s so many words!”

but really, is it..?

And is it enough?

Each of these here is a real examples of language I heard people using both in a one-day workshop, and again a few days later in a gathering at a HV café.

It’s not my role to tell you which language is “right” or “wrong”, and I won’t do that. Because I don’t know.

I will offer this observation:  it seems to me that  each subsequent example here offers the person being described a little more dignity, a little more space in  which to be human, a little more generosity on the part of the person choosing their language, a little more willingness to hold open connection with another human being. Maybe because each subsequent example creates a little more space between the person and the term we use to describe them and the difficulty they are experiencing in the world.

Each also invites us to approach the person being described in a different way, reminds us we can understand a little more, can be more curious about what it is the other person is experiencing, reminds us that we can be more supportive, reminds us we can be more human.

I believe we each have the same right to name our world, to name ourselves in whatever terms we choose. I’m learning how, when it comes to naming others, it pays to be as respectful, to offer as much respect as we can.

The language we choose to describe another says way more about us than it can ever say about them.


Also available as free printable and shareable resource:

choose your language…13May2019


Posted in Ideas | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pharmacists sent into care homes amid fears pensioners are being put at risk by drugs cocktail

“Healthcare” has become all about drugs.
Time to make it about care and about people and about living a life worth living.

Here’s a small and welcome change happening in UK.

Where 400, 000 people living in “care homes” take on average seven different types of medications each.
Now, pharmacists are being sent it to check.

“Health chiefs are concerned that vulnerable people are being left for years on a cocktail of such drugs, leaving them heavily sedated or exposed to dangerous side-effects. They fear over-medication is risking lives and fuelling hospital admissions among frail pensioners.”

A pilot scheme resulted in a 44% drop in meds use.
That’ a pretty big drop.
And, therefore,  a pretty big overprescription.

Drugs can have a useful role but don’t and can’t ever replace care.

Pharmacists sent into care homes amid fears pensioners are being put at risk by drugs cocktail

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blackbird – Emma Stephens

Emma Stephen sings the Beatles song Blackbird in her native language, Mi’kmaq.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FUCKHEAD – Wormland





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Midsummer MADx – Sat 8th June, 2019

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , ,

Barrie MacVicar

Barrie MacVicar, by whom I’m greatly honored to have been called “friend” passed from this earthly life on Friday 9 Mar 2019. Barrie was born in unusual circumstances – on a ferry to the mainland – and from his early years endured hardship that many can’t even imagine, and yet came through, stood tall and not only cheered himself to good spirits but brought many along for the ride with him.

Some time ago Barrie trusted me enough to ask me to help him tell his story. He asked me to tell it for him, I remember saying how he would do a better job. He went on to share it in blogs and podcasts in ways that many people round the world found comforting, encouraging and inspiring.

Below I share an outline of Barrie’s story, of his experience, mostly in my words but as he relayed it tto me.

Like many, Barrie endured violence in his childhood home, and was regarded by others as a problem from early years – in school he was marked-out and singled-out and made to sit by himself out in the corridor.

As soon as he could, Barrie went to sea as a fisherman, going on to Cap’n the vessel and then a lead small flotilla of vessels in some of the roughest seas in the world, hauling fish to feed thousands and keeping alive his fellow crewmen.

When health problems meant he could no longer go to sea he found himself landlocked in a flat in the port lands of Leith to east of Edinburgh, the same landscape and same times portrayed in the movie we shared a love for: Trainspotting.

Barrie found himself entangled with police and the legal system when a beloved relative visiting with him died. Barrie was held under suspicion of murder until the interminably lengthy autopsy cleared him: his uncle had died of a rare condition. The extended stress of these circumstances led to many people he knew separating from him and as a result he went, in his words,  “a bit nuts’  too – as might you or I in similar or even lesser circumstances.

By then it was too late – Barrie was forced violently into hospitalization and remained in the grip of psychiatric services for many years, and it was in hospital that he started hearing the voice he called “the devil”. After some years he was assigned a new worker, Shirley,  who introduced him to the Hearing Voices movement, which he liked the sound of and together they visited World Hearing Voices Congress in Cardiff. It was there that Barrie had a small, walk-on part in a movie: Healing Voices, he is uncredited but can be seen in the background as “cigarette smoking, walking man” in the back of interviews filmed outside Congress.

If you ever met Barrie then you likely will not forget him. I never got to meet him in person, but I didn’t need to. I met Barrie in the facebook forum for the hearing voices movement- a community of people round the world offering each other acceptance and understanding and sharing.

Barrie always gave credit to having found this community and to many of the individuals he found there – including me. What he found harder was to accept that he gave us at least as much and more.

Barrie started an online support group “Positive Mental Health” that single-handedly he enabled to grow to over 5,000 members in under two years, sharing information, stories and joking around. Barrie’s work drew attention from round the web and was featured in blogs and broadcasts.

Then Barrie was suckered. And suckered by an individual who he’d come to regard highly and who had been lionised and given power and privilege by the very community he had come to regard as safe for him.

Persuaded by a great and empty promise from a person whom he – and many others – had come to admire and revere, a false promise of opportunity to “work on his recovery” and a fake promise of employment – of lucrative talking, training and consulting engagements- of a better life. Barrie and his partner were persuaded by this false promise of hope that it was worth going along with the stipulation that they give up everything: an idyllic home with new family on small farm next to a lake, to shut down his groups and break contact with the many thousands he’s come to know, and go to work for someone who’d been an inspiration and, promoted as hero by the community that he was now part of.

This did not end well.

Barrie was declared “Victim of Human Trafficking / Modern Slavery” by legal authories in UK, his family broke up and he found himself rendered homeless and living in a hostel.

For much of the last few years Barrie was bound by lawyers working with him to keep secret this information. Then, after about a year of this imprisonment, he pleaded with lawyers to allow him to tell someone. I am honored to have been one of a very small few people he told, whom he felt he could tell and could trust.

Barrie was released from psychiatry many years ago and again just last month was given a completely clean slate from a different psychiatrist as part of legal proceedings.

Not for the first time Barrie found his life enmeshed in overwhelming legal proceedings, non of it of his own making. and surrounded by doctors giving him fancy technical sounding names for conditions they said he had but had no idea how to alleviate let alone help him heal from. He was living with a great deal of pain, his body was failing him in many, basic ways.

Through all this Barrie remained a tremendous spirit. Sometimes it was clear he was working hard to remain so, but he managed, somehow.
Until Saturday.

Barrie wanted so much for an opportunity to tell his story, to tell of and warn others of the circumstances into which he’d found himself. He wanted so much to protect the community in which he’d found his community. Beyond that he wanted to be free from waiting on Doctors, Lawyers and others to fulfill the promises they were making to him and not keeping on constant, weekly and sometimes daily basis. He wanted to be free from pain and he wanted opportunity to remain connected with and to be able to provide for his son.

Barrie talked with me many times about how he felt let down by the small coordinating body at centre of that community – INTERVOICE. Barrie appreciated the individual efforts of board chair Rai and later Lisa to talk with him – he felt frustrated and  let down by the organisation and did not understand how they could not take more visible steps. To this day, though it has taken action in private, INTERVOICE has yet to make any statement, either to its membership or in its public forum or in public.

Barrie did not choose to become a victim of human slavery but was victimised and made one and held up as a leading light, “inspiration”, “hero” of the HV community, a person who was been hagiographied by som ein the wider hearing voices movement , and is still today by many in that community.

BArrie fought all his life to be allowed to be who he was.
Many, many of us are grateful he did.

Barrie wanted nothing from his efforts but to protect the community in which he found his and to warn other vulnerable people to be careful about in whom they might place their trust.

Barrie MacVicar- Barrie Wylie – Bazinga-  was not one to be silenced.
He will not be.
Barrie’s body may no longer be with us, his tremendous spirit is strong and lives on.

Some time ago Barrie talked of how “since my arse went global”.
Well, this weekend Barrie’s arse went fucking cosmic.

My hope is that now that Barrie is free from the pain -the many forms of pain that he held inside.

And I  hope he’s found a faster wheelie bin and a fuckin big fridge.

Barrie MacVicar is with me, and with us.

Here’s to you, mate.

To read Barrie’s own words keep going to the bottom where you’ll find some links…

a useful diagnosis-Barrie W

Image may contain: 2 people, text

Related – some links…

Positive Mental Health Support Group

Barrie Wylie’s blog @Tumblr

A useful diagnosis

Never mind the [diagnostical] bollocks, here’s Barrie Wylie…

Barrie’s Mental Tempest: Barrie featured as guest in editionn of Here Be Monsters podcast.



Posted in Crazy World | 1 Comment

The Immutable Law of Interminable Bollocks

There’s a lorra lorra  bollocks in this world, and sure is a lot of bollocks in mental health world.

From another world that too has a lorra lorra bollocks – football – here’s a wee bit of inter-cross-diciplinary sharing and learning for you:

Dr Arseblog’s Immutable Law of Interminable Bollocks

“You can download the 64 page PDF which explains this in great detail from the world renowned Academy of High Science Stuff and That.”



Posted in bollocks, Ideas

ACB – an “evidence based practice”

ACB – an “evidence based practice”

Assertive Community Borrowing

Quote | Posted on by

Spot The Difference: Sewage and Mental Health

The language we use is powerful.

The language of mental health and the language of sewage treatment ar euncannily similar.

Can you spot the difference?

Here’s one observation:
It could be said that that the first is about treating shit from humans…
and the second is about treating people like shit.

Posted in bollocks, Ideas

That’s not ‘trauma’ that’s ‘traumatic’…

We have come to think and talk of “trauma” as evil things that happened to us, perpetrated by evil people.

That’s a fairly new way of thinking about it, made up on the back of an envelope by a small number of people, as a way through specific circumstances to meet a specific need of three powerful institutions, in a weird, weird time.

And if you’re one of the many who think and talk of trauma as shit-that-happened or as its refered to in some quarters, “trauma-as-event”, then you might be surprised where it actually comes from.

And you might begin to see how mistaken it is and how unhelpful it can be too for so many, and how its even at root [together with other bad ideas] of why services often suck so much.

“Trauma” is ancient Greek  for “wound” and is – even today – a direct synonym.

Trauma is not a story of what happened, it is the effect left within us.

…particularly when we’re left to deal with it alone.
…and the more so when we’re constantly inured, cajoled and conned and coerced into telling over, and over, and over, our story of what happened…
…so others can tell themselves they’re helping us…
…and tick boxes on management reports to demonstrate whatever it is they need demonstrate so they can keep getting funded
…to tick boxes.

If you want to understand better how trauma really works then here’s a simple thing you can try:

Try this: whenever you talk of trauma switch out “trauma” for “wound”, “injury”, “pain”  and see if your sentence makes sense, see if it sounds grammatically correct.

If it does not then, as Gabor Mate says…

“That’s not trauma that’s traumatic” [events].

Posted in Colonialism, Emancipate yourself..., Healing, Ideas, Trauma | Tagged , ,