A Midsummer MADx – Sat 8th June, 2019

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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”

via Umbongoworld.com:
ACB – an “evidence based practice”

Assertive Community Borrowing

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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 , ,

Hearing Voices Workshop #1 Accepting Voices – Thu, 02 May, 2019

Limited Spaces Available.

Tilt your universe blowing your mind and / or gaining a whole new perspective on experiences that we’re taught to fear and to believe that we can’t possibly understand in simple, human terms.

We’ll be joined by some cool folks working at the intersections of trauma, psychosis, homelessness and in a system that many can see is overwhelmed and creaking at the seams.
More of the same will never be enough so how do we do different?

You can start here.

Pleased to announce, in community partnership with Inner City Family Health Team, this special opportunity to participate in our highly valued “liberating” , emancipatory”,  even “universe-tilting” Workshop #1: Accepting Voices.

“You gave me a whole new way of thinking about voices”

This workshop offers a beginning, an introduction to a non-diagnostic, non-medical,  human experience perspective understanding of the kinds of experiences – like difficult-to-hear voices- that are often categorised as “psychosis”.

A key part is making connections between pain, trauma psychosis powerlessness and disconnectedness we can experience when we find ourselves feared and discarded by society.

Hearing Voices Workshop#1

Accepting Voice
Thursday  2nd May  2019

9.30am to 430pm
69 Queen St East

Spaces are limited
and registration is required.

Worker          $150
Community  $125

Register Now

Online at Eventbrite:


Full description below. There’s also a [pdf] printer friendly version.

Full Workshop Description

Do you…?

  • Work with people who hear voices and who struggle with their experience of that?
  • Have someone in your life who hears voices and struggles with difficult experiences that get called “psychosis
  • Feel limited in your ability to understand and support them?
  • Feel frustrated at how the story that voices must mean illness limits us – not only the lives of people who hear voices, but all of us?
  • Feel weary of the notion that we must fear ourselves and fear each other?
  • Want to understand connections between adverse events, trauma , injury woundedness, pain and diffcult-to-hear voices.
  • Want to minimise the trauma you deepen or generate in your work with those who face being rendered powerlessness and disconected from society?
  • Feel ready to learn more, ask yourself “what else can I do?”.
  • Want to know more about how you can be part of the future, join us in enacting a world that understands ?

Are Ready to “tilt your universe”?

If so, then this workshop might help you tilt your universe and emancipate yourself with very simple and very human ways to understand and begin to act to support a person who struggles with difficult experiences that get called names like “psychosis”.

Our aim is that you can feel more confident in your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space to people who hear voices and struggle.

Note: If you’re looking for a workshop on how to diagnose and categorise your friends, family and colleagues and what dehumanizing names to call yourself and them, then know that this is not that workshop.

Our aim is that you can feel more confident in your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space to people who live with experiences that get called names like “psychosis” and that can be difficult to live with and more difficult to talk about.

Join us in enacting a world that understands voice hearing, supports the needs of people who hear voices and regards them as full citizens.


This Workshop is part of a structured and modular approach to learning, and is a  first step that is designed to offer a basic grounding but also foundation for further, deeper learning and practice in supporting people who struggle with experiences like difficult-to-hear voices that get called “psychosis”.
Participation in this workshop is prerequisite to other more advanced and learning opportunities, eg…

  • Working With Voices
  • Starting and Sustaining Hearing Voices Groups In Your Community
  • Carnival des Voix [running your own]
  • Working with Maastricht Interview
  • Facilitating Voice Dialogue

Note: If you prefer a print version of this description, try the pdf version:

Full Workshop Description

Workshop #1 Accepting Voices

This unique and innovative workshop offers you a non-diagnostic understanding of the kinds of experience like hearing voices that are that are sometimes called “psychosis”.

We offer you simple,  everyday language to show you how you can understand such experiences not as “disconnected from” but intimately connected with reality and in ways that can be overwhelming, painful, frustrating, sometimes terrifying response to the reality we share,

It also offers a framework you can use to connect and draw from your own experiences to help you truly empathize and understand how better to support people who might be undergoing such difficult experiences.

You’ll leave feeling more at ease with both yourself and your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle.

Join us in enacting a society that understands voice hearing, supports individuals who hear voices and views them as full citizens…

What you can expect and connect yourself with a community of people doing just that.

This workshop will enable you better to …

  • Understand hearing voices [and other experiences] as a normal human experience, that can become problematic when a person is left to struggle without support.
  • Share simple data and stories about just how common it is to hear voices- how it is not in itself a problem and many people do – some cultures regard it as bringing great benefit.
  • Peer through and beyond diagnostic frameworks – resist the urge to catalogue and categorize everything you witness as “symptom”.and instead.
  • take an interest in the person struggling with their experience of voices and other experiences called “psychosis” as a human being having a hard time.
  • Begin to accept even the most difficult of human experiences as something that can be understood, explored and even valued.
  • Look within your own experience and relate with different experiences like hearing voices, visions, unshared beliefs.
  • Explore how you can be at ease in your role and be more real with people who have difficult experiences.
  • Offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle with experiences like hearing voices.

Who this workshop is designed for…

We believe the hearing voices approach is emancipatory for all.

If, in your work, you work with you come into contact with people who hear voices and who struggle with that; and you have experienced how that can leave you feeling uncomfortable or worse, then we think you’ll find this one day workshop useful.

So, if you’re a doctor, nurse, social worker, community worker, housing worker, peer support worker, psychologist, therapist, police officer, etc. then it may be for you.

Families, carers, everyone. 
The workshop is also highly suitable for you if you love, live with, care for people in your life who hear voices and struggle with that – and you have come to realise the limitations of an approach that limits understanding to illness-brain chemicals and you are curious about how else you may understand, and what else you can do…

Workshop design…

This is an intensive workshop covering a lot of ground, together we will :

  • Gain insights from people who hear voices, and from others who work with people who hear voices.
  • Learn how we can think differently about voices and other experiences that are sometimes called “psychosis”.
  • Explore how, as workers, we can accept ourselves and each other, relax and enjoy our work: the better to offer support for people who hear voices.
  • Interact – with deep personal reflection,  shared sense-making and dialogue.
  • We will also share some simple, practical approaches that you can use in your practice on return to work.
  • Connect with resources and both local network and the global hearing voices community.

This workshop is designed to leave you feeling more competent and confident in your own ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space for people who hear voices.

You will not become an expert in one day but you’ll have a good basis for starting and feeling more comfortable – and more human – as you do.



Please feel free to help us let people know about this workshop by printing, posting, distributing, however you can with your networks…

Or, hand to your worker, colleague, or boss, and ask…

“Q. When are you going to do this training?”

Printer-friendly poster [pdf]
HV Wrkshp#1-Accepting Voices-Poster-02MAY2019



About the Presenters, Facilitators, Designers

Kkevin-healey-action figureevin Healey hears more voices than you can shake a stick at, so many that even his voices hear voices, and has done so for longer than either he – or they -care to remember.

Founder and coordinator of www.recoverynet.ca, Toronto Hearing Voices group, Anglophone Canada’s longest running, and of the Hearing Voices Café.

Creates and delivers innovative, taboo-busting talks, trainings and workshops that enable people to find new language, and simpler ways to understand surprisingly common human experiences that we’ve made fearful and taboo, so making life even harder both for those who struggle and also for the rest of us to understand.

Shows how we can make simple sense of trauma, pain, psychosis, taboo, and butt-hurt voices, and how they interweave and interconnect our inner-struggle with living in an outer-world that is fast becoming unfit for humans who built it and in which we keep creating results that nobody wants. 

After you’ve heard him talk you may join those who say they don’t hear voices but now wish they could.

Also Coordinator for the Toronto branch of ISPS-US International Society for Social Psychological Approaches to Psychosis.

Picture1Dave Umbongo
For many years Dave would only say only one word, now he authors articles at http://www.recoverynet.ca and moderates online support groups for voices to talk directly with each other round the world, and he coaches and co-presents in workshops for approaches like voice dialogue.

Enjoys creating memes: out of things voices say, about living in a universe that mostly comprises what he refers to as The Weird, and his own wry observations on the human obsession with calling each other horrible names, categorizing and crushing each other into boxes that don’t fit.

Voices have stories too: His favourite pastime is pretending to be a jelly bean, second is remarking upon how “voices” and “humans” behave in ways that are often very much the-one-is–like-the-other. Dave doesn’t really have a bio – like other superheroes he has an “Origins Story”, and like “The Truth…”, at least some of it, “is Out there…”

Mark Roininen
Mark has many years experience as “worker” with a major social services agency, and has worked with many who struggle with the kind of experiences that get called “psychosis”.
He shares his personal perspective of how being confronted with his own dark side enabled him to relate more simply and authentically with difficult experiences of the people he works with, in-process, freeing himself from merely following “the script” and playing “invisible worker” so that he can be both more professional and more human.
His ability to share stories of his own experience of learning how to do this work offers others hope that they can too.

About Hearing Voices

  • Hearing voices is intentional, ordinary language descriptive of a range of human experiences that in Western cultures has been mystified and made taboo, and that we have been taught to fear – and yet which are also remarkably common, likely much more common than you think.
  • Hearing Voices as Approach also refers to broadly emancipatory ideas and ways of working that accepts such experiences as very real and meaningful- if sometimes difficult to live with, and that seeks to share ways we can learn to live with such difficult experiences and support and connect with each other.
    This approach also includes many other similar experiences that can be hard to live with and harder to talk about and make sense of.

When we learn to put aside our fear of both ourselves and each other we generate possibilities, to create new roles, to connect with each other, and to find richer experiences of being human and co-create a world that’s easier to live in for all of us.


Posted in Event, hearing voices, psychosis

Wide Open- Chemical Brothers ft. Beck

Wide Open

The Chemical Brothers


I’m wide open
But don’t I please you anymore?
You’re slipping away from me
You’re drifting away from me
I’m wide open
But don’t I please you anymore?
You’re slipping away from me
You’re slipping away from me
Slow me down
It’s getting away from me
It’s getting away from me
It’s getting away from me
Slow me down
It’s getting away from me
It’s getting away from me
It’s getting away from me
I’m wide open
But I couldn’t see it anymore
You’re drifting away from me
You’re slipping away from me
I’m wide open
I’m wide open
I’m wide open
One day just gonna see me
Look back and forth from the ceiling
(I’m wide open) some day love’s gonna hurt me
Turn back and soon I’ll believe it
Posted in Ideas, music

Patient Medicated is NOT a Health Outcome

You wouldn’t know it sometimes, but…
Patient Medicated is NOT a Health Outcome.

Whetever else it might be, “PAtient MEdicted” is not a health outcome.

Even if services are designed to ensure workers can write, or tick the box for “patient medicated” that really is not enough
it will only ever be one step, one offering  that might be helpful.

What else can we offer ?

Even for those individuals who do find the drugs they are offered useful, it can only ever be one step.

Whetere we determine that something works or not for us, it can only be a prelude to the next question:

What else can I do?

Posted in Ideas, making sense of "mental illlness"

Is Vic There? Department S

Is Vic There?
Deptartment S

The night is young
The mood is mellow
And there’s music in my ears
Say, is Vic there?

I hear ringing in the air
So I answer the phone
A voice comes over clear
Say, is Vic there?

The night is young
The mood is mellow
And there’s music in my ears
Say, is Vic there?

I hear ringing in the air
So I answer the phone
A voice comes over clear
Say, is Vic there?

The night is young
The mood is mellow
And there’s music in my ears
Say, is Vic there?

Is Vic there?

Is Vic there?

Is Vic there?

Is Vic there?

Is Vic there?

Posted in music