The conversational nature of reality – David Whyte

David Whyte on the conversational nature of reality at the frontier of that which we call “me” and that which we call  “not me”, where “self” and “the world” are entwined,  in constant enfoldment and emergence with each other…

David Whyte speaks at TED2017 – The Future You, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED


Posted in Ideas

Voices – Lauren Sanderson

We fight hate with hate
We fight love with fear
We fight dreams with doubts and we disappear



Lauren Sanderson


I think sometimes we see the right signs
Hate that they’re right
Claim we’re still blind
Ignore the day time

We fear the night time
Crave the right time
Fill the blanks with the empty words

Empty promises that won’t be fulfilled
Empty people we could never fill
We fight hate with hate
We fight love with fear
We fight dreams with doubts and we disappear

We fight logic over what our heart says
Demons who ain’t even there
I really sat there and replaced my goals
With a girl who showed me she didn’t care

I played myself
I blamed myself
I let ’em downplay just how I became myself

But just know that I made myself
All by myself
I faced myself
When they said I wouldn’t

No more time to backtrack
Sorry, thought I told you that
Warned you that

I gotta get back on the road
Cause you’re immune to me
And now this space here in my heart is opportunity
These spaces in my head

I hear voices in my head
They tell me you should go
Voices in my head

I hear voices in my head
They say leave you alone
Won’t you leave me alone?

(Gotta get back home)

I hear voices in my head
I hear voices in my head
All these voices in my head

Warned you that, warned you that
Voices in my

Posted in Uncategorized

What if we could learn to listen, really listen, to feel and to hold each other’s pain…?

Hearing voices is in our society typically regarded as unusual and only experienced when a person is said to have a “mental illness” when it is in fact very common human experience, and one that is both infinitely varied and deeply personal.

Three-in-four of us will have a period in our life when we hear a voice or voices that no one else hears, often around significant life events like loss of a loved one. Hearing voices regularly is about as common as left handedness. That’s about one in seven:  a billion or more people hearing voices that no one else hears, right now. We don’t hear about that because – well, you know why or you can figure it out.

It is worth noting, especially in a city like Toronto where half of people come from elsewhere, that in many other cultures around the world it is those who do not who hear voices – or “spirits” as they may be termed – who are the ones regarded with some measure of concern for their well-being.

Most people don’t struggle with voices they hear, or else most people find their experience somehow useful to them. Often the bigger part of any struggle is not being able to share talk about it because it is taboo. But it is true that some people do struggle, and some struggle a great deal and hold within themselves a great deal of pain.

People who do struggle with difficult-to-hear voices tend to feel powerless, to believe that the voices hear have power over them, and are rendered more powerless because they have to deal with it alone…

…because when we do choose to share our pain, those we choose to share with don’t understand, don’t want to understand or don’t know how to even begin to understand, or are too busy just hanging in there with their own struggle to spare us any of their energy.

So, collectively we tend to resort to simplistic explanations and easy, one-word stories, calling  names and dehumanizing us and demonizing those already in pain and struggling …

When that us
we find ourselves cut off from and set apart from other humans, disconnected from discarded by a society that almost daily becomes more fragmented, caught in a spiralling cycle of pain and violence.

Yet, any sense of powerlessness a person feels with difficult-to-hear voices tends to be reflective of a larger powerlessness that they experience in other aspects of their life.

Sometimes the connection between the two is startlingly obvious, more often it’s more complex, buried deep and trickier to figure out, sometimes individual parts of the picture are obvious bit no one has enough to make connections and make sense of what is happening. But, understanding how the way a person is experiencing pain and struggle in context of their whole life, making sense of that and working to bring about some change can transform an individual’s private personal experiences with voices and other painful and difficult experiences of the kind that get referred to as “psychosis”.

Incidentally, we can also choose to understand that those who shout and call names also do that out of their own sense of powerlessness, seeking to impose themselves, their will, and their beliefs as their own way a coping with their own sense of powerlessness too… And, I’d further suggest, those who do that might, at some time, usefully reflect personally upon how they sound just like the very kind of difficult-to-hear voices that can leave people feeling so powerless and fucked-over by life.

Research shows over and over that the overwhelming majority of people who are told they have any “serious mental illness”, and especially those told they have “psychosis” , have lived with much pain within themselves for many years, often since early childhood, and that they have often sought help over and over but found over and over that the ‘help’ they were offered didn’t help much.

Lately, we talk a lot of “trauma” – and “trauma informed care” and yet we also throw the word around without really understanding it’s meaning. Trauma is not what happened but the effect left within us from how we experience whatever happened. 

Many would have us believe we can’t possibly understand unless we have spent decades in college and have several degrees proudly displayed upon our office wall – but we can. 

Trauma is easy to understand in very simple terms.

Trauma means wound. 

Trauma is pain locked with in us, powerful energy that can leave us feeling trapped and trying to contain it, until we learn to harness it gently so we can heal.

Trauma is the pain we hold inside “in absence of empathetic witnesses”, in absence of supportive, nurturing, healing, connection with other humans.

If we learned to listen and to feel and hold each other’s pain then, perhaps, fewer of us would get to the point where we become convinced that acting in ways that cause yet more violence and pain is our best, or only option…

Posted in hearing voices, Ideas, violence | Tagged | 2 Comments

How some humans listen…

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Whenever we take it upon ourselves to decide for another…

Whenever we take it upon ourselves to decide for another of us what they need
we take away their power to decide for themselves.

We reduce the space in which they can be human.

We reduce the space the space in which they can be free to make their own choices.

We reduce the space in which they get to be who they can be.

We reduce the space in which they get to make the kind of choices we value being able to make in our own lives.

And, we deny them opportunity in which they might learn to reclaim their power and learn to use it to live a life worth living and on their own terms…

Posted in Ideas

The Rain Song – Jimmy Page and Robert Plant

Upon us all, upon us all a little rain must fall
Just a little rain, oh
Ooh, yeah-yeah-yeah…



The Rain Song- Lyrics

It is the springtime of my loving
The second season I am to know
You are the sunlight in my growing
So little warmth I’ve felt before
It isn’t hard to feel me glowing
I watched the fire that grew so low, oh
It is the summer of my smiles
Flee from me, keepers of the gloom
Speak to me only with your eyes
It is to you I give this tune
Ain’t so hard to recognize, oh
These things are clear to all from time to time, ooh
Oh, oh
Oh, oh
Talk talk, talk, talk
Hey, I felt the coldness of my winter
I never thought it would ever go
I cursed the gloom that set upon us, ‘pon us, ‘pon us, ‘pon us
But I know that I love you so
Oh, but I know
That I love you so
These are the seasons of emotion
And like the wind, they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion
I see the torch
We all must hold
This is the mystery of the quotient, quotient
Upon us all, upon us all a little rain must fall
Just a little rain, oh
Ooh, yeah-yeah-yeah
Songwriters: Jimmy Page / Robert Plant
Posted in music | Tagged ,

Trauma and the Goldilocks zone…

Are you traumatized enough?
…too much?
… or just the right amount?

…”to qualify for services”

“…to qualify for inclusion” in a study being conducted into into a new therapeutic approach advertising itself as “trauma informed therapy”.

What it means…

… for me and my way of understanding trauma.
… for me and my bag of treat[ment]s for people who have been traumatized.
… for it to be worth my while sitting listening to you and your pain.

What it meant personally to a friend who’d tried many times over a decade and a half to “qualify”,  and who had for the for the fifth time found enough strength to subject themselves to undergoing the ritual humiliation of applying for such treatments and being told, again…

“You’re not worth it.”

“Trauma informed” my ass.

Posted in Crazy World, sh!t is f#cked, what's going on? | Tagged ,

Remembering is not required – Babette Rothschild

From Babette Rothschild…

No3 in Series from the book:  8 Keys to safe trauma recovery.
This below is from the series of short videos summarising the book.


#3 Remembering is Not Required

“One of the holes we have in offerings from professionals and in self help books books is that every process requires that we process revue, revisit the memories of whatever the horrible thing [or things]  was that happened to them as part of a trauma recovery program.

And, more and more I think it’s being recognised that for some people that is not a good strategy. There are several reasons why it might not be…

The first reason, maybe the most important reason is that not everyone wants to do that. And there’s no reason why someone should be forced to revisit  memories if that does not appeal to them.

An other very important reason is some people become worse rather than better from revisiting, reliving, trauma memories. It doesn’t serve everybody well.

And so I wanted to reinforce and maybe introduce for some people that is not necessary to remember and relive and revisit in order to recover.

For some people its useful.
For others its not, and they need other options.
For the people who don’t want to, they also need other options.

In general, people who recover from trauma on their own don’t flood themselves with memories again and again.
They may review for short periods of time or review in bits and pieces
but they go on..
and their memories naturally drift  into the past.

Often people who are still struggling will obsess with trying to figure out,
and then the therapy models reinforce that obsession with tracking down details and reviewing.

We can celebrate our survival and move on.

This is about options from which people can choose
I want a big smorgasboard  I want to add more dishes to the table.”



Posted in Emancipate yourself..., Healing, Trauma, woundedness | Tagged , , , ,

Bodies with voices, and voices without bodies

It is not the case that some people with bodies are “voice hearers” and some are “not-voice hearers” .

The categorization is false –  #fake, made up.

Are you an “air breather” or a not-air breather? Its similar.

Everyone can hear voices. And not all voices have bodies – especially human bodies.

Most people with bodies will hear a voice without a body at some point in their life. How they experience that is very individual, and intimate, even intensely personal, and it is as varied as the whole gamut of human experiences.

Every person you meet will leave some kind of “impression” in/on you.
As too, you will leave some kind of impression in/on them.

Sometimes its subtle, sometimes bloody obvious, sometimes it feels helpful, supportive, sometimes it feels downright scary.

Whether you acknowledge it or even notice it [and not saying you’re required to], it is there.

Some might call that “spirit”.

The difference in how we might experience what we experience is within what it all means to the person hearing what they hear, especially how it relates to ideas about self and how we fit with the culture we find ourselves immersed in,  surrounded by.

If we have meanings imposed upon us by our culture that we find unhelpful then we can find ourselves trapped, isolated, powerless, called all kinds of names, vilified, discriminated against, etc etc….

As Dr Marius [and Intervoice] puts it “the problem” is not hearing voices, but that some people struggle and are left to deal with it alone, offered no opportunity to explore and make sense of whatever they do experience and no opportunity to learn ways of living with difficult experiences in ways they can be ok and live their life…

…this renders the person more powerless, more isolated.. etc
trapped in a vicious cycle.

It’s not really about the voices, or about hearing them – it’s about how some people are separated off and rendered powerlessness by their culture /society
– and one way we can experience the pain of that.

So how about we make a choice and stick with it
– to stop separating people off, categorizing them, calling them names and rendering them powerless,


Posted in Healing, Ideas | Tagged , , ,

you are not alone…

This post is, in part, a response to an excellent article in Asylum magazine in which Akiko Hart expresses some concerns about the nature of the discourse in “mental health”, and makes a call for less concern with being right and more concern for offering vulnerable people who struggle more choice.

You can read Akiko Hart’s article here:

I’m with you Akiko.

The way out of this mess is not going to be more of the same: fighting about who’s right and who’s wrong. All that does is dig a deeper hole.

It might just be that we can find a way out by offering options and choice – real choice – and then letting people exercise their right to choose whatever works for them.

Simply replacing one single story – “that your struggle is caused by a chemical imbalance and that needs to be fixed with drugs”  – with another: ” Trauma, innit?” is not much help – and is for some itself  traumatising and disempowering.

Especially when the currently held notion of trauma is limited to a narrow single story orthodoxy that was generated to satisfy the needs of a triumvirate of powerful institutions namely, the US Military, the US  Veterans’ Association and the American Psychiatric Association  especially it’s DSM-III task force headed by Elliot Spitzer that designed and bestowed upon us the new diagnostic disorder.

That single story – that orthodoxy – is harmful too.

Trauma is not a list of horrible, bad things that happened to us – it is the pain we live with now. Trauma does not mean “bad things done to me by evil people”. “Trauma”  means “wound”.

It is also entirely possible that we could look at the DSM as chock full with descriptions – about three hundred-or-so ways that trauma or as I nind more useful: “woundedness” can be observed to manifest in humans. I don’t see why we need that many, but there you go.

A diagnosis is a [partial] story too
A “diagnosis” is also a story -usually a pretty thin story and, for sure, incomplete.

The first part of a diagnosis is some description of some observable pattern of noticeable “symptoms”. At least since DSM III, this has been designed to obviate need for clinical judgement so be observable by pretty much anyone in a couple of minutes, meaning they are necessarily superficial.  They are also for the most part, basically made up on the back of a golf scorecard and then voted for round a table: that is often the  “evidence” they’re based in so they don’t really amount to anything much that has any solid claim to be scientific if that’s important to you.

What it’s worth is what it means to you
A diagnosis is supposed to be useful. The test is whether a diagnosis  [or more] means something to you, as a description, a partial story [if you like]  of what you experience, and if that helps you find your way to live your life then t can be useful. And only you get to decide if it is useful to you.

And it is possible to find common ground here.
This pattern of struggle can be read as manifestation of a person living with pain and struggle struggle.

What of those who believe in a lie ?
It woudln’t be the first time politicians large corporations- institutions of state including “independently regulated  institutions have lied to us, or have have colluded to lie to us- it kinda is what they kinda do.

The “lie” part – not so secretly embedded within most psychiatric diagnoses – is with regard to the why- why you struggle – that “single story” referred to by Akiko in her article – because there’s something wrong with YOU.

Typically that’s embellished with a tale that you have a chemical imbalance and therefore you need chemicals- drugs – to fix what’s wrong with you and you need take them for the rest of your life.

That is some pretty big-time telling of big porkies.

And that’s why you’ll find hardly any doc saying it in a way they believe it but instead say it something like my doc did “they say…”
It’s one of those things where no one takes responsibility for saying it but is happy to report how “they” say it…
Part of why they do this is that for many years they’ve been at serious risk of being sued for malpractice  if they don’t.
On the other hand, another is that it takes longer to give a fuller explanation that empowers people to make their choices- but not that much longer.

I know…eh?

Its not about drugs
Like anything else a psychiatric drug will “work” somewhat some of the time for some people.
Not there a “work” is whatever effect you happen to be looking for.  Whether or not you find a particular drug helpful to you is down to you to decide- because only you know what its like living in your body, inside your life.

We’ve made it all about drugs.

We need to make it about people.

Lies, lies, lies
As for what it means for an individual  person that they believed an elaborately constructed lie, seriously where have you been?

We live in an age of high on its own mendacity, in which pulling-the-wool over people’s eyes is celebrated and rewarded almost as much as the ability to strike a ball. We’re at the point where politicians no longer even pretend that they’re not lying, and instead constantly push boundaries of what is the biggest lie they can tell today.

If you have never believed a lie then you are alone.

Human history is a story: of people telling and believing-in lies.
It’s hardly a new thing.

And if you have ever believed in a lie then you are not alone.

I doubt though if there is a person alive who does not believe now in some story they intuit or well know to be untrue.

What any of us believe is always our personal choice – and no one else has any right to tell us they know better about what we do with our own body.

Each of us has that right to choose. And if we want to retain our own right we honor the right of others to make their choice too.

Shot by both sides…
I  really don’t know who or what is served by the locked-in-false-certitude nature of the discourse with each side seeking to dominate, have its single story be yhe one accepted as ”The Truth”, The One Truth, and the only truth.

If we strip away whatever content there is in each side’s argument and focus on the dynamic of how the arguments are made, then they look and sound much the same. There is a horrible, moralising, holier-than-thou ugliness to it all.

It is tiring being yelled at by both sides. It is tiresome that there is more yelling than listening.
And it is suffocating us all by sucking the air from the room.

And whom it ill-serves the most are those who are already hurting and those diagnosed, de-humanized and discarded by our society and left to deal with their pain alone.

Stuck in suckingness
For me it is this very attitude that underlies the stuck-in-suckingness that we’re in and have been in now for decades – and it is the exact same attitude displayed on both sides of the divide.

“I’m right you’re wrong and you have no right to speak.”

I would -only half-jokingly – like to propose that the two sides got suited up in giant Sumo-wrester suits and bounced each other right off the mat so we can get on with co-creating a better world together without them.

I’m right there alongside Akiko Hart, I want people to be offered choice: more choice and real choice- and that necessarily includes real information that allows and enables them to make their choices.

Part of providing real information includes making personal choice to not repeat lies- and that means for every person who works in MH and social services. What is sad is that it is too often too rare.

I know it’s possible because I’ve seen I’ve it and seen its effect – I was offered just this when I needed it most.

Your opposable brain…
We humans are blessed with having opposable thumbs so we can hold a coffee cup but also other less advisable activities like texting while driving.

We are also blessed with opposable brains – it is entirely possible for us at one and the same both time challenge and hold to account those powerful institutions and individuals members of those institutions for using their power to lie to us and cover up lies made to vulnerable people –  and also at the same time – allow individuals to believe whatever they choose with regards what works for them and do what they choose with their bodies and their lives.

That is their right – and it happens to be the same right that you enjoy too.

It is entirely possible that we can do both,
and it is entirely necessary that we do do both.


Go on, you can do it,  give it a try. Today

Your opposable brain is waiting for you to let go of needing to be right and the different future that can emerge if you do is waiting for you too.


Posted in Healing, Ideas, shit is f#cked | Tagged , , ,