Workshop – Healing Our Woundedness – Fri 26th May 2017


healing-our-woundedness-fri26may2017posterA one-day workshop

  • For those ready to go beyond diagnoses and categories to begin healing the wounds that life has left within…
  • The central experience of “trauma” is being left feeling powerless and disconnected- from self, others and the world.
  • This workshop is about exploring ways we might begin to find and reclaim our power and to reconnect.

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Hyperactive – Thomas Dolby

Tell me about your childhood…

Hyperactive – Thomas dolby

At the tender age of three
I was hooked to a machine
Just to keep my mouth from spouting junk.
Ha! Must have took me for a fool
When they chucked me out of school
‘Cause the teacher knew I had the funk.
But tonight I’m on the edge –
Fellas, shut me in the fridge
‘Cause I’m burning up! (I’m burning up.)
With the vision in my brain
And the music in my veins
And the dirty rhythm in my blood!
They are messing with my heart…
And they’re messing with my heart
And they’re messing with my heart
Won’t stop messing with my… ohh!
Ripping me apart!
Hyperactive: when I’m small
Hyperactive: now I’m grown
Hyperactive: and the night is young
(And in a minute I’ll blow!)
Semaphore out on the floor
Messages from outer space
Deep heat for the feet
And the
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Indomitable – DJ Shub






Stream or buy DJ Shub’s debut EP, entitled
(December 2, 2016)
Apple Music:
Google Play:



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no leaders please – Charles Bukowski

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can
categorize you.


No Leaders Please
Charles Bukowski

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
don’t swim in the same slough.
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can
categorize you.

reinvigorate yourself and
accept what is
but only on the terms that you have invented
and reinvented.

be self-taught.

and reinvent your life because you must;
it is your life and
its history
and the present
belong only to

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revealing the trauma of war

Excellent article in National Geographic about application of very simple, powerful approach of encouraging vets to make and paint masks as a way to express their pain, their woundedness.

As one says…

I THOUGHT THIS WAS A JOKE, I wanted no part of it because, number one, I’m a man, and I don’t like holding a dainty little paintbrush. Number two, I’m not an artist. And number three, I’m not in kindergarten.
Well, I was ignorant, and I was wrong, because it’s great. I think this is what started me kind of opening up and talking about stuff and actually trying to get better.”
– Staff Sgt. Perry Hopman, who served as a flight medic in Iraq.

and from elsewhere…

“We don’t call it post traumatic stress disorder, we call it post traumatic stress injury– because thats what it feel like – an injury”

– Iraqi war vets talking with Peter Levine

Sometimes – in fact most times – words cannot express the wounds within because our talking, thinking word-based brain shuts down.

“All trauma is pre-verbal.”
-Bessel van der kolk

When we find it difficult to muster words to adequately convey what we’re struggling to hold within we can find that others impose their words upon us, using words that lead to us being defined and categorised by those whose chief concern is defining and categorising and forget that there are no categories that exist outside the minds of those who observe and categorise.

Lets face it, words are overrated as a means of communicating.


“I had this muzzle on with all these wounds and I couldn’t tell anybody about them.”

– Marine Cpl. Chris McNair (Ret.)


We can instead turn to other forms of expressing and communicating what words cant and that predate words.
Mask making is trivialised in western culture yet remains a  deeply human way of expressing very human experiences.

Now we need extend the same and similar approaches to include all living with pain that words offer limited  inadequate  – the civilians and kids especially.

And lets not limit this kind of approach to those caught up in wars – as Bessel van der Kolk says:

“there are four or five times as many kids in grade schools affected as there are veterans returning from war.”

Original article and photos here




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What does “trauma informed” really mean?

Trauma does not mean “that shit that happened”.

Trauma means “wound”.

Trauma is the effect left within us.

The essential experience of that effect- “trauma” – is being left feeling disempowered and disconnected .

That’s the nature of wound.

Thorns in The Spirit
“Thorns in the Spirit” – that’s what William James called it.

It can lead to all kinds of shit. Which of course leads to more wounding, wounds woundedness.

Freezing the conversation in talking about events – those that either do or do not qualify as trauma – or,  more accurately, that qualify us for treatment-  is itself traumatizing. It freezes us in a state of disempowered and disconnected state.

Sometimes what happens – is happening to affect us that way is so subtle, pervasive, endemic that we forget or blind ourselves and each other to awareness that it affecting us that way.

We can’t do much about what happened.

We can stop telling lies.
We can stop telling people who are struggling to feel safe in the world that they have a disorder, illness, biological deficit

We can learn to accept and understand how what did happen and especially how left us feeling unsafe in this world.
We can understand how that leaves us experiencing this world as one in which it is difficult to feel safe. 

The essential experience of living with trauma is being left feeling disempowered and disconnected – and when we feel like that it is difficult to feel safe. 

We can heal.

It takes time but we can
It takes as long as it takes.
We can learn to heal the wounds- our own.
And we can learn to support others in healing theirs,
at their own pace.

Pushing Trauma
Pushing “trauma” – goading us into telling retelling what happened to us  is itself traumatising.

Pushing people to fix themselves without first addressing what they need to feel safe- whatever that is-  that really is not “help”.

If you’re seeking to support someone who’s struggling to feel safe in the world then one thing you can do is stop making it about you and stop making it about what you can do and how you can fix them.

Then, you can recognize your desire to fix them as a sign
– of the woundedness within you and of your own need for healing.

That’s what “trauma informed” really means.

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To all the creatures within us…

Star Trek The Next Generation
Season 5 episode 20 “The Cost of Living”

Alexander, son of Worf, on Holodeck 2 enjoying a mudbath with Lwaxana Troi…

“To all the creatures within us”




“to all the creatures within us?”




“Of Course!”

“Everyone of us has a thousand different kinds of
little people inside of us
some of them want to get out and be w-i-l-d
and some want to be a bit sad, or happy, or inventive
or even just go dancing
and that’s why we all have so many different urges at different times”

The mind opens and wisdom enters…

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The Mad Ones – Jack Kerouac



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We Are The Halluci Nation – A Tribe Called Red ft. John Trudell & Northern Voice

We are the human beings
The callers of names cannot see us but we can see them
We are the Halluci Nation




We Are The Halluci Nation
A Tribe Called Red

Featuring Northern Voice & John Trudell

We are the tribe that they cannot see
We live on an industrial reservation
We are the Halluci Nation
We have been called the Indians
We have been called Native American
We have been called hostile
We have been called Pagan
We have been called militant
We have been called many names
We are the Halluci Nation
We are the human beings
The callers of names cannot see us but we can see them
We are the Halluci Nation
Our DNA is of earth and sky
Our DNA is of past and future
We are the Halluci Nation
We are the evolution, the continuation
The Halluci Nation
We are the Halluci Nation
We are the Halluci Nation

You Tube:
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Why did I go Mad?

BBC Horizon documentary aired in UK on 2nd May, 2017.

Why Did I Go Mad?

It starts us off in familiar territory, deep within the orthodox belief – the story that that people who hear voices have a thing called “schit-so-free-nya” because the brain in their head ‘produces too much dopamine’- but hang in there because it takes a turn and goes where maybe you think they wouldn’t dare go.

Things are changing- they did dare and they did go.

What if the story that if you hear voices then you have a thing called “schizophrenia” which means that the brain in your head “produces too much dopamine ” is not the only way to understand?

BBC Horizon is a “popular science show” and this episode illustrates how science is not about claiming power to claim to be be right in order to sell us stuff but is actually a process of exploration.

Having set out the current state of “treatment” at about 18mins in we get to go exploring. We get to see glimpses of where the the real frontier of understanding is: not where the lion’s share of research money goes – looking at neurons and brain chemicals to find more drugs – but exploring the meaning of difficult experiences; making new meaning; learning new skills; learning new ways of interpreting our world;  and yes using “new” understanding of how our brains constantly change to find ways we might aid our own brains to interpret the world in ways that can help make life worth living.

We see glimpses of some ways being tested for supporting a person using technology that can help them play key role in their own healing.

Data Sampling
One is with Richard Bentall, data sampling: “a form of electronic diary keeping” that focuses on “how a person feels in everyday life” and taking notice of the situations in which a person feels unsafe.

Rather than the clinician use their power to diagnose and prescribe the person gets a phone app to collect their own personal data.

This to aid in noticing, naming and making sense of their own patterns of experience and that also helps them bring hard data, personal information into a therapy session so that the two people can explore and work with it together.

Avatar Therapy
Second we see a glimpse of “avatar therapy” that maybe has potential to help a person practice new ways of relating with a shitty voice a person might find disempowering to find and build both new skills and confidence.
In both cases we see not new aproach but really quite old approaches that are being augmented by adding technology which might make them more appealing and sciencey seeming, for a bit more on “data sampling” kind of approach see Jim van  Os’ TEDx talk [here].

These are not the quick fixes or invasive technology-insertion common to allopathic [ie western] medicine but tech-enabled approaches that, done skilfully by the therapist , can assist in enabling a person to find their power to act in their own lives.

They are adaptions of approaches people have been using themselves or supporting each other in for some time. For example that “avatar therapy”  is a tech-laden version of an approach that can also work with a friend you trust and finger puppets you’ve made with craft and even dollar store store supplies. You may not need the technology nor need to wait for a professor of psychiatry- or even a therapist- to assist you but if you feel you do then it’s good to know some are learning how to work with approaches like these.

Voice Dialogue
At the end we also have a glimpse of voice dialogue as “therapy”. An adaption of an approach devised by Hal and Sidra Stone – which they say is ‘not a therapy’, perhaps best not practised by a therapist , but like any other it kinda depends on the therapist, and so we get to see Rachel and one of her “Not Yets” in voice dialogue with Dirk Corstens.  The aim is to better understand eth relationship between “voice” and “voice hearer” in ways that might lead to improving that relationship.
Dirk: “Our experience and research shows that if you on;ly suppress your voices then they become stronger”

For those who do want to choose the path of exploring and changing their own difficult experiences and learn to live with whatever they do live with, the options are increasing. We need to make them more available.

This 56 minutes shows us that the best most useful hypothesis is:
This crazy shit might just work
let’s give it a go – and see what happens.

Exploring and making sense of terrifying experiences

We see it is very possible to explore our experience and make meaning out of even terrifying experiences and new approaches to support an individual in their process. 

We also learn a few simple tips on how we might find cunning ways to have professionals not ask us [yet again!] those invasive questions we’re not ready to answer, or because there isnt an answer,  or we know they wont understand or because it’s just too bloody , you know…
like Rai’s “The Not Yets”.

Once the dopamine fog clears it’s good to see find information being presented about how adverse experiences especially in early years leave us many times more likely to struggle in adulthood in ways that we find ourselves being told we “have psychosis”.

For example, David Strange gives us a vivid portrait of some of his frightening experiences and how he feels his life is constantly under threat,  he cheerfully shows us his “drugs for the night” later we also find out how he’d been violently bullied in his childhood.

“Having psychosis is like this, being continually frightened and scared all the time.”

Having psychosis is like this, being continually frightened and scared all the time.

Swaran Singh:
And, even more rare at about 40mins we some on how it’s not just stochastic shock type of like experiences that can lead us to place but that where we live can  have a huge impact also finding ourselves trapped disconnected and disempowered unable to escape pernicious, soul-crushing, life-sapping environments where we are dehumanized and marginalized.
For instance around city dwellers are more likely to be diagnosed. Beyond urban living our ethnic background affects our chances – around the world “migrant populations” have higher rates of diagnosis than the “host populations”.  

As Swaran Singh tells us,

“what these groups have in common is social discrimination and adversity”. There is something about  “social defeat”, “repeated experiences of marginalisation, exclusion, and discrimination”.

This also happens when, for instance we move schools, the more times we do it the more likely we are to end up diagnosed.  We “leave behind our support network and start again,  as an outsider”.

“That chronic experience as an outsider is, we think related to development of psychosis” .

That chronic experience as an outsider is, we think related to development of psychosis

Traumatizing experiences have powerful impact.

Jacqui Dillon takes us to a neighbourhood that holds some “terrible memories”. There is strong evidence linking childhood abuse with a range of diagnoses.

Richard Bentall talking with David: “Dissociating is a way of handling threat. In a situation when you cant escape, it’s a way of escaping” David shares how from age of four or five to thirteen lived in constant fear of one of the adults supposed to be caring for him launching a brutal attack. “The atmosphere at home was terrifying” and would “pretend not to be there”.

Then we come to the nub of the problem for us as a society, when in conversation with David Robyn Murray, having told of the dangers to health of long-term use of the drugs,  tells David:

“The medications you are taking are much cheaper than psychological therapy”.

“Psychosis has many names but research suggests it’s primarily the brain’s response to [traumatic] events.”

If, for no other reason then choose to watch this because we get to see a very cool thing about hearing voices that is often overlooked – how it’s an example of doing things very differently. Like how leadership comes from not only of people who hear voices but also from awesome women: Rachel Waddingham and Jacqui Dillon, Eleanor Longden are all featured.

Thank you all – and thank you David Strange too.

This used to be the future.
This -meaning right now- used to be the future.

The future is coming to what we currently called “mental health services” too. It wont be perfect but we get a glimpse hear of a few steps we can take now.

If you’re ready for a glimpse of what it can be like if only we choose to let it, then spend an hour of your life watching this.

BBC info page: Why Did I Go Mad
If you’re in UK you may be able to watch it there.

If you’re not then this link might work.

Posted in Difference and Diversity, Healing, hearing voices, skin I'm in, Trauma, Trauma | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Psychiatry’s Identity Crisis ?

Op-Ed piece in New York Times by Psychiatrist and Psychopharmacologist Richard A. Friedman on the limitations of his own profession’s claims to being the world’s foremost authority and body of knowledge  but yet limits its own understanding of the struggles that emerge out of being human as simply “diseases of the brain” and also limits its own approach to soul-healing [the meaning of the word “psychiatry”] to highly experimental use of and drugs [toxic chemicals…] and electricity.

In the face of a rapidly declining number of patients who are offered anything other than drugs he calls for a broader approach and in particular more balanced funding towards research into psychotherapeutic approaches.

No wonder, as he reports, patients are three times more likely to want and request psychotherapy than psychotropic drugs.

It is part of the tragedy that if you can afford to pay then you will have no trouble finding the kind of support you think you need – even more so in Canada where “universal healthcare” means “universal” only for some.

From NYT:


Psychiatry’s Identity Crisis

by leonardi sonnoli

Image by Leonardi Sonnoli

AMERICAN psychiatry is facing a quandary: Despite a vast investment in basic neuroscience research and its rich intellectual promise, we have little to show for it on the treatment front.

With few exceptions, every major class of current psychotropic drugs — antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications — basically targets the same receptors and neurotransmitters in the brain as did their precursors, which were developed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Sure, the newer drugs are generally safer and more tolerable than the older ones, but they are no more effective.

Even the new brain stimulatory treatments like repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation don’t come close to the efficacy of electroconvulsive treatment, developed in the 1940s. (Deep brain stimulation is promising as a treatment for intractable depression, but it is an invasive treatment and little is known about its long-term safety or efficacy.)

At the same time, judging from research funding priorities, it seems that leaders in my field are turning their backs on psychotherapy and psychotherapy research. In 2015, 10 percent of the overall National Institute of Mental Health research funding has been allocated to clinical trials research, of which slightly more than half — a mere 5.4 percent of the whole research allotment — goes to psychotherapy clinical trials research.

As a psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist who loves neuroscience, I find this trend very disturbing. First, psychotherapy has been shown in scores of well-controlled clinical trials to be as effective as psychotropic medication for very common psychiatric illnesses like major depression and anxiety disorders; second, a majority of Americans clearly prefer psychotherapy to taking medication. For example, in a meta-analysis of 34 studies, Dr. R. Kathryn McHugh at McLean Hospital found that patients were three times more likely to want psychotherapy than psychotropic drugs.

Finally, many of our patients have histories of trauma, sexual abuse, the stress of poverty or deprivation. There is obviously no quick biological fix for these complex problems.

Still, there has been a steady decline in the number of Americans receiving psychotherapy along with a concomitant increase in the use of psychotropic medication in those who are treated in the outpatient setting. These trends are most likely driven by many factors, including cost and the limited availability that most Americans have to mental health practitioners. It is clearly cheaper and faster to give a pill than deliver psychotherapy.

The doubling down on basic neuroscience research seems to reflect the premise that if we can unravel the function of the brain, we will have a definitive understanding of the mind and the causes of major psychiatric disorders. Indeed, an editorial in May in one of the most respected journals in our field, JAMA Psychiatry, echoed this view: “The diseases that we treat are diseases of the brain,” the authors wrote.

Even if this premise were true — and many would consider it reductionist and simplistic — an undertaking as ambitious as unraveling the function of the brain would most likely take many years. Moreover, a complete understanding of neurobiology is unlikely to elucidate the complex interactions between genes and the environment that lie at the heart of many mental disorders. Anyone who thinks otherwise should remember the Decade of the Brain, which ended 15 years ago without yielding a significant clue about the underlying causes of psychiatric illnesses.

Sure, we now have astounding new techniques for studying the brain, like optogenetics, in which neurons can be controlled by light, allowing researchers to understand how neurons work alone and in networks. But no one thinks breakthrough biological treatments are just around the corner.

More fundamentally, the fact that all feelings, thoughts and behavior require brain activity to happen does not mean that the only or best way to change — or understand — them is with medicine. We know, for instance, that not all psychiatric disorders can be adequately treated with biological therapy. Personality disorders, like borderline and narcissistic personality disorders, which are common and can cause impairment and suffering comparable to that of severe depression, are generally poorly responsive to psychotropic drugs, but are very treatable with various types of psychotherapy.

There is often no substitute for the self-understanding that comes with therapy. Sure, as a psychiatrist, I can quell a patient’s anxiety, improve mood and clear psychosis with the right medication. But there is no pill — and probably never will be — for any number of painful and disruptive emotional problems we are heir to, like narcissistic rage and paralyzing ambivalence, to name just two.

Anyone who doubts the need for psychotherapy research should consider the case of post-traumatic stress disorder, for which the mainstay of treatment has been exposure therapy.

This requires patients to re-experience the circumstances of their traumatic event, which is meant to desensitize them and teach them that their belief that they are in danger is no longer true.

But we know that many patients with PTSD do not respond to exposure, and many of them find the process emotionally upsetting or intolerable.

Dr. John C. Markowitz, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, recently showed for the first time that PTSD is treatable with a psychotherapy that does not involve exposure. Dr. Markowitz and his colleagues randomly assigned a group of patients with PTSD to one of three treatments: prolonged exposure, relaxation therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy, which focuses on patients’ emotional responses to interpersonal relationships and helps them to solve problems and improve these relationships. His federally funded study, published in May’s American Journal of Psychiatry, reported that the response rate to interpersonal therapy (63 percent) was comparable to that of exposure therapy (47 percent).

PTSD is a serious public mental health problem, particularly given the rates of PTSD in our veterans returning from war. This study now gives clinicians a powerful new therapy for this difficult-to-treat disorder. Imagine how many more studies like Dr. Markowitz’s might be possible if the federal funding of psychotherapy research were not so stingy.

The brain is notoriously hard to study and won’t give up its secrets easily. In contrast, psychotherapy research can yield relatively quick and powerful results. Given the critically important value — and popularity — of therapy, psychotherapy research deserves a much larger share of research dollars than it currently receives.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for cutting-edge neuroscience research — and lots of it. But we are more than a brain in a jar. Just ask anyone who has benefited from psychotherapy.

Original here:

Posted in Crazy World, mental illness? or..., Psychiatry, sh!t is f#cked | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment