Friday, 25 December 2009

Grief, By Catriona

Grief is a different experience for everyone, and there are no right and wrong ways of dealing with it. Often the ‘cycle of loss’ is evident in someone who has experienced a loss – feelings of denial, loneliness, anger, grief, and finally, letting go. But of course, it’s not the same for everyone, and whilst some people may take weeks or months to move through the process, others may take years.

Being such a personal, unique ordeal, it’s hard to find a universal way to help those going through it. But no matter what other methods the sufferer finds comforting, there is one that is undoubtedly essential and important for everyone – talking. Bottling things up and burying feelings will only lead to more problems further down the line, and the grief will never be fully dealt with.

It may take some time for the bereaved to be able to talk about their feelings – often it can simply be too painful and cause too much hurt. But eventually, in their own time, people will want to open up, and let go of their grief and keep the happy memories.

Often, people are reluctant to talk about their feelings. It can be particularly difficult when relating to bereavement, as it can be hard to find someone to turn to who is also not dealing with the same bereavement, and someone who can provide enough support.

Who to speak to is important, and affects how the bereaved goes through the cycle of loss. Sometimes a stranger can provide more help and support than those nearest and dearest.

Counselling offers a non-judgemental, safe and relaxing environment to discuss problems and feelings out loud, with the help of a trained professional. Underlying issues can be exposed and dealt with, and grief and all its associated feelings can be released.

The counsellor works with what their client tells them, dealing with the issues central to the grief, and offering practical solutions to working through the most difficult days and coming out the other side. They can also help the person adjust to their life without their loved one in it.

Depression can often develop after grief, and a counsellor is able to identify this and take measures to either try and prevent it or deal with it.

Counselling can also help with what happens after grief – coming to terms with how life has changed for those left behind, and how to honour the memory but not become hung up on it. Mourning can, in some cases, develop into depression, and a counsellor will be able to detect if this is happening, or prevent it.

Dealing with grief is one of the hardest experiences a person will have to go through. But there are people on hand to help, and though many people have reservations, counselling can be a hugely helping healing and cathartic process.

Counselling Directory provides an easy, worry-free way of connecting those that need help with those that provide it. Simply type in a location and a list of counsellors in the area are displayed, showing the distance from the original location. Each counsellor has their own profile, detailing at bit about themselves, their qualifications, and what areas they deal with. Many counsellors also list their fees. There is then the option to contact the counsellor directly.

To find a counsellor in your area, (UK) as well as information about grief and other types of distress, go to Counselling Directory.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Hearing Voices and Social Contexts

I recently read a couple of websites on the Internet, with supposedly new research on hearing voices, which stated a small fragment of what had previously occurred to me. These two websites, said that hearing voices, were caused by social isolation, and deprivation from actual social communication. These two websites also said, that if a person was isolated socially, then this would cause over activity inside the persons mind, and that there was also a lack of integration, between the thinking part of the person’s brain - which creates thoughts - and the part of the brain which receives and interprets, actual social verbal communication.

This doesn’t explain, why some voice hearer’s, such as myself, are aware on one level, that the voices are their own thoughts, and that they are aware of both the thinking and actual social communication parts of their brain, and the ways that they are connected, both inside their minds or brains, in actual reality, and in society.

This theory, model, and so-called new research, on the hearing voices websites I mention, also assumes, that actual present social communication, is satisfactory for most people - that it involves free and creative relationships - and that so-called sane society and people, don’t need or don’t have a strong wish and desire, to communicate with psychiatric diagnosed people and/or voice hearers.

There is obviously denial and defences, by so-called sane people and society, about communicating with psychiatric diagnosed people, but the wish and desire to do this is also very strong, both in terms of learning, and in terms of needing and wanting, a certain sounding board or muse. This tension, and inner and social conflict, can also cause mental health problems, in so-called sane people and society, and in psychiatric diagnosed people, as a secondary causal or influential factor.

Many social and mental health professionals, and psychiatric diagnosed people - especially those who regard themselves as psychiatric survivors - put a lot of emphasis, on individuals being responsible for their own thoughts, emotions, and actions, but particularly emphasis on being responsible for one’s own thoughts. What is never mentioned, in this context, and as a separate thing, is the way that society and others, sometimes believe that psychiatric diagnosed people, and other minorities and oppressed groups, are responsible for their own thoughts (and emotions and actions), which they then try to blame and punish psychiatric diagnosed people and others for.

It’s very important, to experiences hearing voices, in a way, to understand different aspects of reality, and different worlds, universes, and realities, but it’s also important to take responsibility for one’s own thoughts, as others see it, and to agree or go along with the consensus of reality, which is widely accepted and encouraged, and taught by most people.

I once did a mysticism course, and then a sociology course, at college, and I sometimes have both mystical and sociological experiences and knowledge, as well as psychological ones. The mystical experiences that I have are sort of inexplicable, but in time, I can explain, and articulate what I see and experience, and work out what is truth, and what is delusion. This applies to the sociological and psychological insights that I have too. What I do very much believe in, is sharing my insights and knowledge with others, but I often need some time, to explain, articulate, and work things out.

I think it’s important, in some ways, to realise, or understand hearing voices, as a social context in a way, which exists both inside the voice hearer’s head, and within and in society. The conventional psychiatric and mental health view, is that this social context, in the voice hearer's head, does not represent or correspond, in any way, to actual material and social reality. One thing that social isolation can cause, or can be seen to cause, is an intensified and supersensitive, awareness of others in society, and their verbal and non-verbal communication, body language, and behaviours, although some voices hearer’s already have this ability, which is sanctioned by the social and mental health theory and dogma.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Original Facebook Email on Recovery

Thank you for the facebook email and message, on recovery from so-called mental health problems. Recovery, is a reciprocal relationship, between both abstract and especially applied knowledge, data, and information, within both mental health services and society, and which involves shared learning between the service users, mental health systems, and society. This reciprocal relationship, is a democratic activity and process. On the matter or question, of whether recovery offers people false hopes, or whether we should fight and argue for better lives, this is all linked to how and what we learn from those psychiatric diagnosed people who have recovered, and those who haven't, and which discrepancies and links are provided between the two groups, within services, and society. If false hopes, are those hopes and needs, which are not recoginsed or integrated within society, then they may be considered as false. On the other hand, if these hopes are based upon thorough and objective practice, education, and research, and the continuing process of that, and applied and put into action within services and society, then they are according to that process, very achievable and realistic.


The user forum sent a message to the members of Rethink and the user Forum.

The Recovery Approach – Right or Wrong?

Opinion is divided into those who believe encouragement to recover is the way forward and some who say this approach gives false hope as the majority of service users do not recover.

I support the Recovery Approach! I was told I’d need anti psychotic medication for life and I said, No Way! I reduced my medication and eventually came off it. That was 9 years ago. It wasn’t easy at first. I had several mini relapses before I stabilised and it’s now been over 3 years since I took any medication and I feel great.

Now we’d like to know what YOU think. Do you think we should just give up and think we will never recover? Or should we fight back and tell ourselves we will recover and lead full and happy lives, free of medication and mental health problems?

Please write in and let us know. If you have a recovery story and would like us to publish it in the next newsletter sent it in to us. If you feel strongly that the Recovery Approach does give false hope then do write in to us. We will publish a selection of your letters and stories in the next newsletter.

Recent Email Correspondence with a Liberal Democrat

Thank you for being honest about being "a true liberal", and the difficulty you refer to, related to compromise and agreement. This is a matter of authenticity, and which is slightly complex.

Yes, compromise and agreement for progress, is very important, and sometimes we have to deny our principles and true nature - up to a point - in order to achieve this. However, compromise doesn't have to involve blatant denial, personal and mutual deciet, and inauthenticity - as an extreme, totalistic approach and end result - and all too often bad and harmful compromise and agreement, is done by liberals and others, out of habit, or an excuse or false belief in the over-deterministic notion of the inevitable, and because people don't have the knowledge, wisdom, insight, courage, imagination, desire, political, interpersonal, and social skills, in order to achieve compromise, agreement, and progress in other ways.

You refer to extremism, but some people, do see liberals as extremists, and the problem is one of extreme and/or very one-sided libertarianism, and appeasing the outright evil, violence, and human rights abuses of extremism, and this is what a lot of people don't like about liberals, and which needs to be changed and corrected, through compromise, and agreement for progress.

It's one thing to compromise with extremists, in order to come to some agreement and make progress. It's another thing to merge with those people, to the point where it leads to loss of individual and social reality and identity, and to the point where other forms of compromise, agreement, differentness, and progress, are left out of this activity and process.

Liberals have very sadly, blindly, and coldly accepted and adopted various types of extreme so-called libertarianism, such as agreeing with the violent and abusive views of people like the Marquis De Sade, without having any concern for the most beautiful, loving, passionate, and socially imaginative and courageous nature of so-called masochism.

You talk about moderate agreement and compromise, but will you please tell me, why the local liberal democrats, are the only main local political party, who have blocked my articles, and won't reply or respond to them? Will you have the decency, authenticity, and courage, to email them, and tell them to remove the block, and will you comment on the vital and important issues I raise here?



Dear Peter,

Thank you for taking the trouble to pass your thoughts to me, thoughts which largely I go along with. You write interestingly on the word "liberal" but I doubt if you are correct in attributing it to the fascists or, for that matter the socialists.

The trouble is that "liberal" is a word with many meanings and uses, some of them abuses. I will not bore you with the vast list in the Oxford Dictionary, but you will see what I mean. For me the first three definitions are the ones that matter: "1. given freely, ample, abundant 2. generous, not sparing 3. open minded, not prejudiced." None of these fit the facists and extremists in politics. To be a true liberal in politics is difficult because of the inevitable need to compromise in order to come to agreement and make progress.

With best wishes,
Dick Perry

Friday, 13 November 2009

Facism and its Socialist and Liberal elements

As fascist, and similar racist political parties like the BNP, have gained some popularity, during these times of economic recession and unemployment, I thought it was important to write about fascism, and to understand why it has gained some popularity.

It’s sometimes assumed, by people of a liberal political persuasion, that fascism, is similar to socialism, and has a strong element of socialist thinking and polices behind it. Whilst there is some truth in this (evident by the fact that unions and socialist groups supported and joined the Nazi party, in 1930s Germany, that the British unions marched in the streets in the 1970s, supporting the racist right-wing conservative politician Enoch Powell, and that the unions complain about unemployed immigrants on benefits, and about the decreasing white British population in the country), there is also a strong element of liberalism in fascism. As well as incorporating racist socialist views and policies into Nazism, Hitler also had a strong popular belief, that the Nazi party, where a marginalised and oppressed minority, who had gained power, both as a socially integrated, and as a separate minority group.

Whilst the BNP are undoubtedly, in some ways fascist and very racist, it is also a form of fascism to superiorise any minorities, racially, socially, or culturally, and/or to give them unequal state power, over the same and other minorities with less money and power, and which again is a form of fascism.

The whole matter of marginalised and oppressed minorities and groups, and social integration, is a slightly complex one, which I feel needs to be further understood and addressed. Whilst I accept, that minorities or oppressed groups, such as people with diagnosed mental health problems, may have a higher awareness or abilities - as well as having some disabilities - I do not overall believe that anyone, is simply or overall superior, in that they deserve to have oppressive or unequal state power over others, and crush and destroy other people’s social potential, in terms of social integration, and in terms of other people’s individual and collective uniqueness.

On the matter of social integration, I do feel that integration of minorities and oppressed groups, into society - in terms of equal choices and opportunities - is very important, whilst it is also true, that some minorities or oppressed groups, disagree with the actual nature of present society, and don’t want to be a part of present society, or to be completely absorbed and utilised by society, in a way that limits or destroys their wider social integration, and/or their individual and collective uniqueness.

I also feel and think that, that it is important, in some ways, to challenge the view that all human beings are overall unimportant or inferior, and that it is also important to challenge the present mundane nature of society, which limits and tries to prevent us all from realising and achieving, all our importance and potential, to be a better human race, individuals, and people.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Syd Barrett Part IIII

In order to understand Syd Barrett’s so-called madness, we last but not least, need to have a fairly good understanding, of his visions - or his creative and innovative perceptions - and how he experienced them with his mind, and with other people.

His visions, were first and foremost visual, as before he became a musician and songwriter, he was an art student at university. These visions - or at least some of them - were assumed by others, that he assumed that others could see these visions, and experience them, in much the same way that he could experience and see them - visually - and in terms of different people, places, and conceptions of spatial meanings and time. He never made such an assumption though, although it’s easy in some ways to see, how and why some other people assumed this.

His visions, therefore developed into a form of autism, where he made his visions into symbols, and sign posts, to identify certain people, and places, which were either positive or negative for him, and conducive or not conducive to creativity.

His visions, were initially, communicated very well, with others, who were interested in his genuine work and creativity, but when his visions and their potential interaction, was unrequited, he then started to verbalise his visions socially, in a way that could not be understood by those around him.

His visions, where of shapes, and were like maps or various languages to him, and identifications of different types of love, power, and territory. The confusion between his visual mind, and his verbal faculties (and which is sometimes assumed to be a huge factor in hearing voices) - and his failure to integrate these socially - meant that he could only express his visions, in terms of identifications of present certain places, and events, which started off as timeless and overlapping, but which then became fixed and ordered, too much in his communication and awareness.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Australian Radio programme, All in the Mind, on Hearing Voices

I just listened to All in the Mind, on Hearing Voices. What first occurred to me, was that Ron Colman from The Hearing Voices Network, said that his voices, which initially controlled and overwhelmed him, didn’t understand him, but that some of his latter voices, did understand him, due to better activity and communication, and that this gave him more shared and/or more individual control over the voices.

Another voice hearer, said that her voices were an interpreter, but that they were very negative voices. It's important to realise or consider here, that this is all very much connected or related, to how much we are made to accept, deny, or otherwise have choices, over other people’s (including mental health professionals, and those with much more power than us) interpretations of our experiences, and especially of reality.

It’s important to listen to, or in some ways, to know, or be aware of different interpretations of reality, but this needs to be a collective and an individual or participatory choice, within either a static or changing life-context or process - albeit possibly some kind of objective choice - and both a realistic and a possible understanding, or consideration and interpretation, but it is detrimental to impose this in a way, where it limits our individual and shared potential and understanding.

Understanding, sharing some kind of understanding, and having better, or no hearing voices, is often in this respect, again, also a process of events and learning in one’s life and within other people’s. In order to achieve this, a voice hearer or carer, doesn’t have to immediately accept or believe either the reality, or unreality, of the voices, or to complicate, or oversimplify this too much.

I agree with the Radio programme, that an important part of that, might be learning what makes the voices worse, and especially normalising the voices experiences in some way, because a major problem, is related to other people’s fear, ignorance, and misunderstanding about the voices; and the denial or distortion of, the future and life-wishes of the voice hearer, to thrive, or be free, in some substantial way, from or with the voices.

It is here that I have some disagreements with the programme, because whilst I agree that life-events or memories of that, are in some important ways, influential with voices, I also think that voices are much more to do with people’s future desires and wishes, for freedom, liberation, and equality in their lives, as Ron Colman has also often said and stated in his talks.

On Hearing Voices, and Counselling

I had a conversation recently, with a care worker, about my so-called hearing voices experiences. The care worker asked me, what I thought the voices actually were, to which I replied, that the voices, are a part of my own thoughts and feelings, that they are my (and others) social experiences of other people, and that they are actually other people - both in a spiritual - and in a real material, individual, and social sense. The care worker said that he agreed with me, and that this was common sense.

What also occurred to me, after speaking to the care worker, was that people who have passed on, or deceased, have one way or another, more of an influence materially, and as reflective, or regenerative in life, and that those people who are still alive in this world, have in some very relevant and significant ways, more of an influence spiritually.

This is a spiritual, psychological, and political truth and reality, which I share in some way, as the role of a good student and teacher, is to make knowledge accessible, and understandable, to as wide a range of different types of people as possible. An aspect, of the reality of hearing voices, is that they are the spirits of people who are still alive, in this world, and not only or purely the spirits of those who have passed on.

I also told the care worker, that I have been thinking lately, that I should or could shut the voices down, and that I have learnt how to do this, using a form of focusing, distraction, and a suspension of belief that the voices are in some way real.

The care worker then asked me, why I felt I needed to do that, as I am more than likely helping the voices, as well as them helping me in some ways. I replied to the care worker, that although I often have very good discussions with the voices, that they give a form of counselling, and ask me some very good basic or practical questions, that I also occasionally felt that sometimes the voices didn’t understand me, because they occasionally say this, although on their further thought and reflection, they probably do understand what I write and communicate. I said that this could perhaps, be a reflection on the fact, that others sometimes don’t understand me socially, or that there is possibly a part of myself, that sometimes doesn’t understand myself, although the former explanation is more than likely the case, because I and most people, do overall understand what I communicate and write.

I have been trying to receive counselling for quite a while now, but have been messed around a lot with it. My voices, offer me a form of counselling, as do some care workers. I’m not denying the professionalism, or expertise, necessary with some counselling, as I am very much aware of this, but I do also think that counselling, should be a skill applied in actual sexual-love and/or love relationships, also between friends, and actually between social relations, and integrated within free association and/or society.

What occurs to me about the bereavement counsellors Cruse, who have messed me around a lot on the offer counselling, is that they are supposedly people who have experienced grief themselves, but they are sort of taught or told, that they must only help others, and so what they then do, is impose a version of bereavement counselling upon others, to try to make people accept a false idea of death or loss, and a false idea of social and political injustice. Cruse don’t apply this learnt model, or method, to themselves, and so they are authoritarian, in some ways very misled by their training, and very hypocritical or hypocritically influenced in that way.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Octopus Ride, by Syd Barrett

Trip to heave and ho, up down, to and fro'
you have no word (non communication)
trip, trip to a dream dragon
hide your wings in a ghost tower
sails cackling at every plate we break (visions, hallucinations, and so-called splits)
cracked by scattered needles (reference to the fact that he took heroin, although this is also generally unknown about him)
the little minute gong
coughs and clears his throat
madam you see before you stand
hey ho, never be still (desire for interaction and communication with women)
the old original favourite grand
grasshoppers green Herbarian band (his spiritual/wiccan/paganistic views, and the way this related to music and creativity)
and the tune they play is "In Us Confide" (the reference to people in general, the collective idea of the goddess in nature and human beings)
so trip to heave and ho, up down, to and fro'
you have no word
Please leave us here
close our eyes to the octopus ride! (the shutting off of creativity from it’s mad and sane social processes and functions)

Isn't it good to be lost in the wood
isn't it bad so quiet there, in the wood (another reference to others so-called non-communication, and his forced desire, to be made to accept and believe this)
meant even less to me than I thought
with a honey plough of yellow prickly seeds (this is a reference to crops, and nature, which he believed was related to the love and sexuality, between people, particularly, between men and women)
clover honey pots and mystic shining feed... (this is reference to the fact that he believed that crops and seasons were related to human sexual interaction, experience, behaviour, and love, and that food was an offering from the goddess. He believed that God was the Goddess, but the Goddess was not an entity, but was a general, or a collection idea or experience for him)
well, the madcap laughed at the man on the border (this is the men who tried to confuse him, or stop him from fully loving and understanding women, and the Goddess in all human beings)
hey ho, huff the Talbot
"Cheat" he cried shouting kangaroo (this is a reference to the fact that he realised that he was not cheated on by women, but that they wanted a new kind of spiritual, sexual, and social relationship with him, and that his visions and creativity, were very much a part of that in his lyrics and music)
it's true in their tree they cried (another reference, to nature, society, and sexuality, related to his and others idea of truth)
Please leave us here
close our eyes to the octopus ride!

The madcap laughed at the man on the border
hey ho, huff the Talbot
the winds they blew and the leaves did wag
they'll never put me in their bag (this was his very clear idea, that the Goddess, as he saw it, was potentially enclosed within human male and female genitalia, and again related to nature and society - as was the devil - but the devil was not considered by to be male or female, and was much more related to split and fragmented social meanings)
the seas will reach and always seep
so high you go, so low you creep
the wind it blows in tropical heat
the drones they throng on mossy seats (reference to the changing of the seasons, crops, and the well-being of human beings in society. Could be seen as ecological)
the squeaking door will always squeak
two up, two down we'll never meet (this describes the disconnections, and connections that he made, at the point at where he became insane)
so merrily trip forgo my side (this describes, what some people call the projection, or understanding he had, of the distorted and disconnected visions and language in others socially)
Please leave us here
close our eyes to the octopus ride!

Analysis and revelations by Peter H. Donnelly

My Dream about Syd Barrett Part III

With Syd Barrett, at some significant stage, there was a disconnection, between those who thought he was insane and who couldn’t love him - and in some ways who's language and communication he copied and mimicked socially (unlike myself who can differentiate about this, and can communicate socially, creatively, constructively, and flexibly) - and those who potentially loved him - whether he was regarded as sane or insane by them - but who did not communicate this with him, at least in a verbal or shared context or way; but which did not encourage or allow such a specific disconnection within him, although he also copied and mimicked this non-verbal way of understanding, interacting, and communicating socially with others.

This was also often how he communicated his visions socially with others, although again, these visions were communicated much better, and much more constructively, in his lyrics and music. This is not the case with myself, as I am very able, and often do, communicate my visions or findings very well and concisely, socially with others, as well communicating and teaching this very well and concisely, in my articles.

What did happen with Syd though - and which is the very central point here - was that after he disconnected between these two things, experiences, or languages, the stage at which he became insane, was when he then connected or fused the two things or experiences, and tried to communicate or verbalise this socially. This is one reason why the other members of his band, Pink Floyd, kicked him out of the band, because his social behaviour, and communication (for want of a better word) particularly live on stage, became increasingly awkward, non-communicative, and irrational.

Syd Barrett, was schizophrenic, in the modern psychiatric sense, in that he created a so-called split identity in himself, and he did have some visual and auditory hallucinations, but which were actually visions, and although this split was in some ways created socially, his perception and experiences of others was not potentially split or confused in any way, and socially he was not ignorant or misguided about the madness or so-called identity splits in other people.

Syd Barrett, even at the stage where he became very insane, could have been treated, and his insanity prevented, and I could have treated him effectively in this way, had I been around at the time, and was in a position where he could have received treatment from me.

I will write more on all of this very soon, or as soon as I am able.

More about my Sleep-Dream last night about Syd Barrett

I just heard my female friendly voices, early this evening, for about a minute, sort of plead with me, and ask me about Syd Barrett’s so-called madness, and the events and causes within and surrounding it, and I explained what I wanted or could tell them about it, for the time being, in about five minutes of conversation. I can’t at the moment, reveal everything about the knowledge and information from the dream, because I have other things on my mind and to prioritise and attend to, but I think it’s possibly wrong to keep other people in too much suspense about the dream, or to give the impression that I am misleading or teasing people.

I have now realised, that all the events, details, and factors in the dream, which describe everything about Syd’s life and so-called madness, are actually all enclosed in Syd’s song, The Octopus Ride, and there is no secret or mystery about this.

Some people say that music isn’t socially, and psychologically important, and whilst there is a lot of seemingly banal, or meaningless, lyrics and music about these days, a lot of music is indeed very meaningful, relevant, and important. At first, Syd’s music and lyrics, seem rambling, somewhat disconnected, and fairly non-sensical, but in fact his lyrics and music - whilst very imaginative, metaphorical, and creative - are indeed very logical, and describe both what he and others around him, were both doing and experiencing, throughout his life.

The events and causes of his life and so-called madness, are in some ways very detailed and complex, but they can also be understood fairly easily, and as I promised, I will write soon about this fully, and to everyone’s understanding and satisfaction.

Firstly, it’s important to realise about Syd, that there was a disconnection, and a conflict set-up by others, between his artistic and creative receptivity, communication, and interaction, and his and others social receptivity, communication, and interaction, but there are certain other reasons for this, which I will now explain. (This isn’t the case with myself, as with me, no disconnection or inner conflict exists, between the two things, although others have at times tried to set-up a conflict about it, but my creative and social awareness and communication, remain connected, and more or less psychologically and socially intact and integrated. This article, contrary to some misguided professional opinion, is not purely about me, and there are some very important and definitive, differences between myself and Syd Barrett, as well as some similarities).

Firstly, Syd Barrett was assumed to be insane, before he actually went insane, and he himself at some stage actually believed, or was forced to believe this. If people think a person is insane, and the person is forced in some ways to believe this, or to conform to it, then it is in some ways, very likely that the person will at some stage soon after that, actually go insane, if this control or socially dysfunctional and conflicting situation continues. This is what the Hearing Voices network and Ron Colman, call The Maintenance Model, which keeps people as mentally unwell, in order to mystify and cover-up the real social and psychological processes, influences, or causes of it. In order to recover from mental health problems, you have to in some ways believe, that it’s possible to recover, in order to in some ways achieve it.

The other related matter to this, and which slightly complicates matters, is that he never received any treatment, actual community and social care, or therapy, for his and others social and so-called mental health problems, until it was too late, and then he spent the last stages of his life in many psychiatric hospitals as a patient. This is quite common, and has actually happened to me, at some stage of my life, and so in that way, I share a similarity with Syd, although again, I am a a survivor up to a point, as I have stayed out of psychiatric hospitals for nine years, and this is again, where myself and Syd’s experiences and lives significantly differ.

This is just the very basics, of what was revealed to me in the dream, which came from the song, The Octopus Ride, but I will explain the more complex or detailed aspects of it all soon.

My Dream About Syd Barrett

Last night, when I slept for a good ten hours, I had the most amazing and fantastic dream. I dreamt about the almost entire life-story and psychology, of the progressive rock band, Pink Floyd’s original singer/songwriter, Syd Barrett, which previous to this dream, I knew virtually nothing about.

This epic, detailed, and most revealing dream about Syd, may not have been a completely accurate, factual, life-story of things and events, in Syd’s life, but it was a version of that, which was fairly socially, psychologically, and factually accurate, and I learnt a tremendous amount from it. In time, I will write about all this, and other related matters, but for the time being, I need counselling, and to focus on my own well-being, which is both related to Syd’s, and completely different and separate.

I haven’t been interested in Syd Barrett, or listened to his very good solo music, for many years, and so I don’t know why I should dream about him to this significance, depth, and degree. I also don’t really know, where I am getting all this vast and precious information from, regarding things like Syd, and the influences or causes of his so-called madness.

I don’t really know whether this type of knowledge and information, comes from some spiritual/divine being or energy, or God/Goddess, because I’m not sure I really believe in those things as such (I tend to oscillate between spiritual views and humanism/atheism). Another explanation, which seems much more likely to me. Is that it all comes from a kind of sensitive receptivity, and a creative transformation/filtering, or greater understanding from society (the knowledge I uniquely experience, perceive, and/or receive socially and psychologically from other people).

I will now listen, to one of my favourite Syd Barrett songs, The Octopus Ride, from my favourite album of his, called Opel, and then forget about it all, until I have had some therapy, and dealt with the grief I have been experiencing, over the sad loss of my mum.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Counselling and Bereavement

There are two issues I want to talk about here, in relation to grieving and bereavement. Firstly, the way grief and bereavement can affect children, the present poor nature and lack of counselling services for children, and secondly, the lack of good and available counselling services, for people with moderate to severe mental health problems, as a possible factor in prevention of them committing suicide.

Today, on the 8th of October, 2009, I went for counselling with my mum’s partner Bill, at the renal unit of my local hospital, where both me and Bill were promised and supposed to receive counselling, from a counsellor who came from another town. However, Bill was called in first to see the counsellor, and towards the end of his session with her, he was told that the counsellor wanted to give priority to Bill for counselling, because the hospital she came from in another town, had told her, that Bill had recently recovered from a physical illness.

This approach, defines grieving and bereavement, and mental health problems, purely as a physical illness, and not also as a social, mental, and emotional matter, of equal care, concern, relevance and importance. After the counsellor said, that she wanted to give counselling priority to Bill, instead of equally for me, the counsellor then said to Bill, that she didn’t have time to see me, as she had a call from her office in her home town, and had to give counselling to someone else there.

I was annoyed and upset, that I had to wait over an hour, whilst Bill had his counselling session, and that it was a wasted time, and wasted journey, when the counsellor could have phoned and told me or Bill, before we arrived there to see her, that she wasn’t going to see me, and not have to lie to us, that she had run out of time, and had to see a client in her home town. However, she did give Bill a contact phone number, towards the end of her counselling session with him, which was a possible choice and option, for us to contact the bereavement counselling group Cruise - from again another town - where I or Bill could arrange a counselling session at my local doctors surgery.

I asked Bill, about his counselling session with the counsellor, and he said that the counsellor was a nice woman, and that basically, most of the time, she just listened, and didn’t say anything, but that occasionally she would ask a question, about what had happened since my mum committed suicide, and about how he was feeling.

Bill said that he cried during the counselling session, and that some of the questions the counsellor asked, made him think about some things that he was feeling, that he didn’t know he was feeling. I asked Bill what it was, that he realised he was feeling, which he didn’t realise he was feeling before the counselling session, and he said that he couldn’t remember, because he had been in the counselling session for a whole hour, and which was all too much to remember. Bill then said, that he felt better for having the counselling session, and he said that this was probably because he cried during the session, but that he wouldn’t want to have any more counselling sessions, from that particular counsellor.

When sitting in the renal unit waiting room, whilst Bill saw the counsellor for a session, I read a poster on the wall, explaining what counselling was, and what it was for, and I then picked up and took a leaflet on counselling. The poster on the renal unit room wall, basically said, that counselling was for people with a physical illness, or suffering from depression, and that it was to help the person, understand their experiences more clearly, put them into perspective, and to support them in dealing with their own problems.

Where I disagree with this explanation, is that this only helps the person deal with their own problems, and not also to understand, the problems of the deceased person, whilst they were alive, and what led them to take their own lives. This counselling model and approach, also doesn’t consider, realise, or accept, that society has problems itself, in understanding or accepting grief and bereavement in others, and that this can be in some ways, very relevant to how well, or in what ways, the bereaved person survives and copes. Also, the social attitudes, problems, and prejudices about grief and bereavement in others, affect and influence the counsellors feelings, thoughts, therapeutic model and view, that people need to understand ‘the real truth of the situation’ (as described in the counselling leaflet), and to accept that they will never see the deceased person again.

Whilst accepting the real truth of the situation, or dealing with the purely personal problem, as these counsellors see it, may for some people - at some stage - be necessary in some way, it is wrong and very harmful, for many reasons, for society, mental health professionals, and others, to try and impose this on bereaved people, falsely, or straight away - not least - because some people, can have ways of connecting in some way, to the person who has passed on, and that this experience can go through some changes and transformations, and is a part of the grieving process.

For my mum’s partner Bill, this emotional, intellectual, and social and spiritual connection, is through and with his belief-system of spiritualism, in that he believes my mum is still alive somewhere, and that it is not true, that he won’t see or hear from her again. For me, this connection, is through my hearing voices experiences, where I have so far, twice heard the voice of my mum, at first crying, and then speaking with me. This connection, also works through, and is experienced with, my humanistic approach, where I try to understand the feelings and thoughts of my mum, whilst she was still alive, and leading up to when she took her life, so I can in some important ways, understand, learn, and relate to it on some kind of positive or constructive, human and personal level.

Another part of, or aspect of my humanistic approach, and way or surviving and coping, is to try to understand, speak out about, and change, the very poor, unequal, coercive, and discriminatory, local mental health services my mum received, when she was suffering a lot, and when she was very mentally and emotionally distressed. The so-called treatment my mum received during this time, from the local mental health services, only gave her psychiatric drugs, told her she could only attend the local day centre, with the threat of being observed by professionals, for further psychiatric treatment - and more importantly - she was not offered any actual counselling, when in a way, she obviously needed counselling much more than me and Bill do now. When I mentioned the sad irony of this to my mum’s partner Bill, when we got home from the renal unit, he agreed with me, that it was a case of too little too late, and that it was unjust and wrong, to deny counselling to people who really needed it.

Also, the outdated model and approach, of these counselling services - that are only available to some people - actually encourage and tell people, that the loss of their loved one, and the way this affects them, is a natural process of life and truth, as these counsellors and some others see it - when suicide is obviously not natural - and that societies inability, to love, care, and support people with mental health problems, and the neglect and poverty of current mental health services, are a factor in what made the person take their own life. What’s more, the loved one’s suicide, is a social injustice - in truth - and not a natural thing or occurrence, to be simply accepted, in the rather narrow, ignorant, and prejudiced way, that the counsellor very falsely sees and believes it.

Another thing, about the poverty and neglect of mental health services, is that counselling is never offered to children who have suffered a loss of a loved one, as if they don’t have thoughts and feelings, and are not also suffering from grief and bereavement. If counselling was ever offered to, or available for children, for bereavement, these counsellors would again, have to rethink their very limited, inaccurate, and inappropriate, current model and approach, and make at least some effort and sincere concern, to consider that the child is suffering too, and that he or she, may need some general or special care, concern, consideration, and support.

My older brother and his wife, have a five year old daughter - my niece - called Jasmine, and my brother told me, that shortly after my mum took her own life, he and his wife told Jasmine, that granny had been very ill, and that she had gone to heaven. Jasmine then cried for a whole hour, and which is longer than either I or Bill have grieved and cried, at one moment in time. I am not judging my brother and his wife, for what they said to Jasmine about her granny, because in some ways they may know no better, but to my knowledge, they did not further discuss this with her, although my brother also told me, that Jasmine put a photo of my mum and herself in her handbag, and that for some reason, she was being a bit naughty lately, in not doing as she was told.

It’s possible, that Jasmine was not doing as she was told, because she was hurt, angry, and/or disagreed with the way, that she had been treated and related to on this matter. Also, in my brother and his wife’s car, later on, Jasmine saw an ice-cream van, and blurted out "Granny took me to that ice-cream van!", and so my mum is obviously still more or less on her mind, and she is obviously in some ways, still connected to her granny emotionally and mentally, as a human being.

Jasmine has spoken about my mum, to my brother and his wife, but other than saying my mum was ill and has gone to heaven, as far as I know, they haven’t further spoken or communicated to her about it. Maybe my brother and his wife, don’t have the emotional, intellectual, and social skills to do this, but I can’t help feeling, that this is like the present model of counselling services - denying that the child is suffering from grief and bereavement - and that it represents and reflects the old outdated view, that children should be seen and not heard. My brother also said to me, that Jasmine is taking it all in a bad way, and so he is in part aware of this, but he also said to me, that Jasmine is not really aware of what has happened, and that it has affected her, and it is here that I disagree with him.

About a week ago, my brother brought Jasmine round to see me at our house. She came into the room to see me, whilst my brother and my mum’s partner Bill, were in the other room talking. Jasmine then asked me, why the birdcage in the room we were in, was empty, suggesting that she knew someone or some thing was missing from our house, and that this was on her mind, and that she was in some way thinking about this. I told Jasmine, that we used to have zebra finches in the cage, and explained to her what they were, and when she asked me what happened to them, I told her that they flew away. She asked me how they flew away, and I said through the drawer of the cabinet. She then said, that she thought they flew away through the cabinet door.

I then told Jasmine, that actually the birds died, because I felt it was wrong to lie to her about this, when she more than likely had a good idea, what had happened to the birds. I also felt, that it was important to give her the choice, of deciding for herself what had happened to her granny, whilst I didn’t tell her that it was untrue, that my mum had gone to heaven.

The way that I felt it was appropriate, to tell Jasmine that she could make this choice for herself, about how she felt, thought, and communicated about the loss of her granny, is I asked her if she could paint me a picture, to put on our fridge door, because she likes painting, and for a five year old, is very good at it. Jasmine then asked me, what colours I would like her to paint - suggesting that she thought that I could also choose and decide, how to interpret, respond, and communicate with her about this - and I then said to her, "I would like some blue in the painting, but you can also decide for yourself", and she then made some suggestions as to what colours she might choose.

Jasmine then pointed to the fridge door, where I suggested I would put her painting, and she said "Look, that fridge door is a pointed triangular shape". She was obviously, making her own free perception about material reality, and the fact that in a skilled and careful way, I had suggested to her, that she is capable and free to do this. This might possibly help her in some way, to decide for herself about her granny, as well as needing support and advice from others.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Differences, and Uniqueness of Diagnosed and Non-Diagnosed Mad People

It is very important, to explain, feel, and understand, the differences, between diagnosed, and non-diagnosed mad people, and the ways that so-called sane people respond to these differences and uniqueness. In my experience, of most so-called ordinary people these days, they do not have prejudices about people with mental health problems - they are for some reason or another, a bit sceptical and mistrustful of psychiatrists - although in some ways, they just lack some vital and important information, about mental health problems.

The knowledge and information, about mental health problems, is not taught much in schools and society, because, although mental health problems are due to both biological and social factors, the social and environmental causes of mental health problems, would be in a way a criticism of the system, and some aspects of society, and the system and society would have to change, which for all kinds of reasons, they don’t want to progress or change, in that respect or area.

In context to the differences and uniqueness, of people with, or diagnosed with mental health problems, so-called sane society, is still in some ways very sadistic and cruel, towards people with mental health problems, and in terms of the treatment of people with mental health problems, psychologically with so-called sane people, we are still very much stuck in the past with this.

A big part of the problem, with the way that so-called sane people relate to diagnosed and non-diagnosed mad people, is that society likes to sometimes sweep us under the carpet, in psychiatric hospitals, along with marginalisation and ghettoisation, and in some ways completely separate themselves from us, because this is a way of covering up and hiding their own mental health problems, which for all kinds of reasons, they find hard to connect to, relate, and empathise with people with overt mental health problems.

There is also, some jealousy and ignorance, about the uniqueness of people with mental health problems, and the fact that, whilst people with mental health problems, are not all reformers or radicals, it is very true, that one way or another, that what in some ways drives and motivates people with mental health problems, is that they very much want to - and indeed do - transform, and transcend reality subjectively, and that this is a big part of the pain and dissatisfaction, with the current nature of society and/or the world, that people with mental health problems, in one way or another, need some social stability, but also want to create some objective social change.

Clearly, there are some people, with mental health problems, who cannot transform their experiences, and transcend reality, but they do try one way or another, and whilst so-called sane society, sees this as either weakness, or a unrealistic or inappropriate response, it is obviously, in many ways valid, and no different in a way, from what drives many people who have made major contributions, towards changing society for the better.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

My Mum's Funeral, and Post Funeral Thoughts, Feelings, and Responses

On the 18th of September 2009, at 3.00pm, I attended my mum's funeral, with her partner Bill who drove us there and back, and with my mum's friends Gwen and Joy, who came with us. All of my relatives and family, were very kind and supportive, especially my older brother. I was helped the most by talking with my mum's partner, Bill's friend, Danny, who attended, and who I afterwards chatted with for nearly an hour. For some reason, at that time, it seemed easier in a way, talking to someone outside the family, about the experience and after thoughts of my mum's funeral, and Danny spoke about his father's funeral, and we shared and exchanged those and other experiences.

I am glad that I attended my mum's funeral, I learnt some new things about my mum from some of her friends, and from her younger sister - my aunt Pauline's speech, and her latter conversations with me - the ceremony and event helped me to accept and understand her loss a bit better, and to bring my thoughts and emotions out more - and together - into some kind of more open, shared, and more connected or integrated social and personal perspective. I don't think I will ever forget my mum's funeral, and it was in some ways conducive to a healing experience, but the closure of the event, is also a big weight off of my and Bill's shoulders and minds.

Certain things I experienced, during the funeral ceremony and event, were very revealing and significant for me, and which along with the rest of this article, are very important for me to share with others.

My mum's partner Bill, had told me a couple of days before, that the funeral, was there for me to say goodbye to my mum, rather than her saying goodbye to me. However, I got a very strong sense and feeling at the funeral, that she had and was saying goodbye to me, as well as me to her, and during the last and third song we played (one of her favourite songs, I will always love You, by Whitney Housten), at some stage, the context and emphasis shifted, from the sadness we all felt at her loss, to the sadness she must have felt, before, and when she took her life, knowing that she loved us, and would never see us again. I realised this clearer, understood and empathised with my mum more, and can now see how this is an important part of the grieving process.

It was very important, for me to realise this, that my mum's sadness too was realised and acknowledged, and that it mattered as well. Otherwise, our sadness and grief, would have been in some ways a very selfish thing, if we did not also remember, and be conscious and aware of my mum's sadness, which was of equal consideration, relevance, and importance. It was important, relevant, and crucial to me, that all our emotions and sadness - including my mum's - were valid, and in a way, that we all expressed and/or shared all of our emotions and sadness together. This is an important area of spirituality, and mental, emotional, and social connectedness and sharing, which is not at odds with either an atheist or religious and/or spiritualist understanding and perspective.

Whilst I had been weeping a bit, during the first and second songs (Only You by The Flying Pickets, and All Kinds of Everything by Dana), the third song, really touched and moved me, because the lyrics of the Whitney Housten song made me again realise, the very strong love my mum had for me, and which I will miss the most - although in a way, the positive influence of which - also continues to live in my heart and mind. Indeed, my mum's younger sister, my aunt Pauline, said the day after, that the Whitney Housten song, was my mum talking to us, and that was how I experienced it too. During this song, and walking out from the building, I cried heavily, and then my brother hugged me with one arm, and Bill put his hand upon me. It was important for me to cry publicly in a way, because this was healthy and out in the open, but then I needed to sit in Bill's car, and cry alone or privately for a bit too.

After my mum's funeral, me and Bill went home for a while, and then we went round Bill's sister Doris's, and stayed until quite late. Me, Doris, and Bill, at some stage got on to the subject of spirituality, and Doris and Bill told me about the beliefs of spiritualism, which they hold, pertaining to an after-life. I felt it was very important here, to explain to Doris, where I stood on that perspective, understanding, and interpretation, and the kind of agnosticism I hold, and which my mum more or less held, and which was in a way very similar.

I explained to Doris, that the kind of agnosticism that I hold, does not exist as a purely middle and neutral area and ground, but which oscillates or shifts, and in some ways simultaneously operates, between atheism, and spirituality/spiritualism/belief in an after-life. I find that I need to take both possibilities, perspectives, understandings, and interpretations, into consideration. In my ways of experiencing and understanding things, the atheistic, and the spiritual, divine, or mystical, are in some ways both valid ways of coping and understanding things.

There are times when I need to consider, accept, and understand, that there is no after-life, mystical/natural law, and/or God, because it is important for some reasons, I shall further explain, to consider that possibility and reality, in order to come to terms, cope, and give a different kind of vital meaning to life - especially in context to the physical and material loss, of a loved one - which in some ways takes some initial primacy, and importance, over the overall spiritual, religious, divine, or mystical.

The spiritual perspective and understanding, is also in one way or another, very important and relevant, and as a dialectical agnostic, I have to consider that it might or could be, real and true in some way or other, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. Indeed, the spiritual and/or religious view and understanding, or at least part of that - whether it is true or not - has or can have some important, vital, meaning, and is an important integrative part of our understanding of the psychological, personal, and social awareness, knowledge, and human understanding, as indeed the atheist and/or humanist view and understanding, can have some relevance and importance to the spiritual and/or religious.

However, the physical and material loss of a loved one, still has to be taken into consideration, and dealt with, both in combination with the spiritual, and as a completely separate thing. All of these things, are one way or another, very relevant and important.

In a way, my own experience, understanding, and approach to all of this, was again very similar to my mum. There were times on the odd occasion, when my mum would say, that she believed in an after-life and spirit world, and that you can receive messages from those who have passed on - and she obviously believed in that up to a point, or on one level - because she used to attend the spiritualist church now and then, although she also went there for friendship, company, and support. There were also times, when my mum would quite firmly, and clearly tell me, that there wasn't an after-life and/or God, and she told me not to believe any of the strong spiritualist beliefs, of her partner Bill.

All in all, I think the atheist and/or humanist, and the spiritual, divine, or mystical understandings and approaches, are both in some ways, very important and relevant, and in that way me and my mum, held some clear similarities of dialectical and diverse understanding, scepticism, and open-mindedness.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Hearing Voices - The Real Joan of Arc

I saw a Channel 4 programme about The Real Joan of Arc, and it explained how Joan of Arc, a young peasant woman who grew up poor, powerless, friendless, and illiterate, heard voices which she believed or claimed were from God, and that the content of these voices fulfilled a cultural and religious myth at the time, of a prophesy that a peasant girl would through divine intervention lead the monarchy into a successful war against the English occupation of France. Hearing voices were part of the local rural oral tradition, of spreading knowledge and understanding by word of mouth, especially amongst the largely illiterate peasant community, and her voices were seen as fulfilling a prophesy and myth, which was legitimised by the powers of the French Catholic Monarchy and State.

Joan of Arc led the French into a successful war against English occupation, but was finally executed by the Church and State, because she refused to give up her status as an authority on military matters, because her identity or relationship with the King was getting too close for status, and because she claimed that her voices came straight to her from God, and not through the authorities of the religious hierarchy, authority, and State. Whilst the content-meaning of her voices were initially legitimised by the religious, cultural, social, local and national mythological powers and meanings of that place and time, she was then thrown into disrepute and defamed, because her voices were then seen by the religious authorities as resulting from a satanic angel that was giving her instructions of deception and defiance against their social power, political and religious authority and status.

Some of those outdated myths and superstitions gladly no longer exist in society, but some of the old social and cultural myths might continue, or replace the old myths, such as that "men are strong, and women are weak", that "traditional relationships or marriages are about love", that there is such a thing as "care in the community", or that "we are living in a modern or sane society that understands, supports, relates or communicates with other people in an emotionally open, knowledgeable, or mentally healthy manner".

Such outdated or anachronistic myths are enforced and upheld by all kinds of people, including the religious and political establishment, and by some psychotherapists or others who see mental illness as existing within individuals or families, and not within the society at large. Although in virtually every town or area there now exits a mental health unit, Mental Health in structural and educational terms is seen as such a small or insignificant aspect of society, and no one is much bothered or aware of it, until they, a friend, partner, or relative, has direct experience of the mental health system. Whilst the World Health Organisation tells us that mental illness in society is on the increase, due to job insecurity, and the chaotic stresses and fast technological pace of present society, there still seems very little awareness or concern for the mental health of society at large, and no one questions much whether or not we are living in a sane society or a sane world.

Hearing voices or the content-meaning or if, would then would be accepted or frowned upon, according to who or what would want to legitimise or accept the outdated myths or repressive ideologies within our culture and society, and whether what we are trying to communicate and express is understood or rejected in relation to it. Due to our social and cultural environments, there may be a discrepancy of what is accepted in terms of the meaning-content of hearing voices, according to the current outdated roles and myths in culture and society, and in terms of people's life-experiences, past and present situations, and the many ways we relate to others in different social roles or identities, and different contexts or situations. Even though there may be direct similarities, our voice hearing experiences are not linked to things like the styles or methods of creative literary culture, nor to other people's creative or educational aspirations, but are seen as separate from the society at large. We are not in a new or modern society, in terms of new relationships, political reforms, and so on, we are merely in a transitional stage, and so many of the old myths still remain.

Thus, much psychiatry may support current religious, cultural, and social myths of a place or time, such as the current views of the church, extreme ends of the political establishment, and patriarchal relationships or power, and because most psychiatrists are part of a self-serving or subdivided establishment and the majority are male. Psychiatry in reality therefore discriminatorily labels as an illness anything which exposes or goes against that, whilst legitimising anything which supports its own ideological, mythological, or patriarchal position. In rhetoric and style, much psychiatry appears to be democratic, supporting social diversity and equal rights, or defending the freedom and equal rights of women, but in method and structure, it often does the opposite.

In style and mythological content, Joan of Arc was empowered and elevated by the male powers of the time, who legitimised the content of her voices as coming from God, but in reality, she was used as an instrument of unrestrained warfare, persecuted, and executed by the male authority she'd made a pact with, and with the result of turning her into an ironic martyr or emblem for other mythological representations and mystification of her experiences, aspirations, educational, social, and economic life-struggles, and of poor and uneducated women at large who may also hear voices. The psychiatric illness model, as a model, might very well be helpful to some people who experience voices, in order to control or negate the negative experiences of it, although the coercion and forced medication is questionable, and especially if the issues raised in terms of the interpersonal, social, and cultural causes or influences, are being denied by psychiatrists, who in matters of interpersonal, social, and cultural matters, often have an outdate or philistine mentality, which supports the interpersonal, social, and cultural control-mechanisms or behaviours of whatever current or outdated social or cultural myth prevails.

For my Local Mistress

I am the millions and multitudes,
That bow down to you and worship you.
I am democracy, and humility, and pride,
For I have internalised the dominatrix,
But remain submissive in my arrogance and splendour.
Many women trample upon me,
With their hearts in their boots,
But you give me a handshake with a warm smile,
With your intermittent continuity,
And pert dancing eyes.
For like me, you are many,
Yet we remain as lowly creatures and divine beings,
Of individuality, solidarity, and uniqueness.
From star to star,
From glove to glove,
From filtering imagination to reaffirmation,
I charm the subtle and carefree ghost,
Of materialised and returned interconnection.

Creativity and Learning

I'm very interested in creativity, and which I believe is a knowable and conscious process, and very central to good and sound knowledge, wisdom, and learning. When I asked a friend his definition of creativity, he said that to him it means not being stuck down to one routine, but having a choice and variety of different activities. Another friend described creativity as being able to see things from different perspectives.

Both these definitions are very important to learning and education, and should both be a part of our schooling and education system. Whilst it's conventional to think that if we learn, then we can be creative, I believe that if we are creative, then we can learn more constructively and effectively.

My friend Luke described my friend Bill's artwork as starting from randomness and random colours and shapes, and that Bill then makes faces and images out of the random shapes, and merges the whole thing into a coherent and yet still remaining somewhat abstract picture.

I do indeed believe that randomness is a very important part of creativity, as is having a variety of activities, and seeing things from different perspectives. Some people on the Left of politics say that whilst they admit that certain individuals can be very creative, they say that it's better if we are all equal, and then we can be strong and creative together, and without having someone else's power and control over us.

I agree with this in a way, and want to focus on everybody's creativity, and do not want to be elitist and focus on just so-called gifted individuals. This is why I want to see more creative teaching and learning in schools, and not least because the peak of creativity can start at a young age, as well as sometimes developing later on in life intellectually, and which is why creative learning and teaching in adult education are very important too.

What occurs to me, is that some people who teach don't see creativity as important to learning, and the creative fields such as music and the arts, are sometimes separated from academic and intellectual development and activity, as are sometimes religion or spirituality, but which are also creative to varying degrees.

One other aspect of creativity, apart from randomness, is the reordering and restructuring of things. I see this as political as well as intellectual, and which is why I want to see liberal, social, and radical reform in society. The reordering and restructuring of society is in itself creative, and is very important to produce and create creative, individual, and human potential.

Another important aspect of creativity is emptiness, openness, and receptivity of mind, as well as having critical abilities and faculties. Prayer, meditation, and relaxation, enable a person to be more receptive, and to temporarily empty our minds, so we see things fresh and new again, and with new inspiration and ideas.

A great deal of learning, is about creating a frame of mind and environment where a person or group can have receptivity, randomness, and restructuring and reordering of processed information, in order to focus and concentrate on details, notes, and key concepts and phrases. This is what the education system should be teaching, and not bombarding the mind with masses of information, and using old and outdated methods of pure dictation, and which are not conducive to effective and creative learning.

I hope this article is read by our politicians, and that they will try to achieve a more creative learning environment for our children, and for our society at large.

Diagnosed Schizophrenia and Belief and Intention Interpretation

A friend of mine recently emailed me three articles written by academics, based upon tests and trials of diagnosed schizophrenics, and from the perspective of using ToM (theory of mind) analysis. I didn't like the articles very much because they seemed to be saying that diagnosed schizophrenia stems from a lower kind of consciousness, and I find that very psychiatric, mentalist, and simply not true. Diagnosed schizophrenia, like human nature, has both lower and higher levels of awareness to it, simultaneously, and at different intervals. I also didn't like the way the articles talked about so-called delusions, as if they are entirely false belief systems. So-called delusions can be based upon facts and experiences, even though they may not be literally true in the ordinary sense or on a surface level.

Also, for example, the first article mentioned that supposedly people with diagnosed schizophrenia have great problems with interpreting their own and other people's intentions, but it didn't mention that other groups can also have great problems with this such as science, religion, and especially psychiatry.

This view that people with diagnosed schizophrenia have a special great difficulty in understanding their own and other people's intentions, mitigates the fact that oppression and repression can suppress intention interpretation, or deprive people of seeing things as they really are, especially if they are marginalized, socially isolated, and not integrated into society.

I think it is a very common, dangerous, and pernicious belief and ideology in psychiatry, social work, and mental health, that people with mental health problems have a special and great problem with understanding their own and other people's intentions. It also takes away choice and freewill, because if you assume that a person doesn't have any awareness of their own intentions, then you can very easily deprive them of the freedom and rights to express their choices and intentions. If you assume that diagnosed schizophrenics have a problem understanding other people's intentions, then you can also justify bullying, terrorism, and oppression and suppress any criticism or protest that the person may have about those things.

The view that diagnosed schizophrenics have a great difficulty in understanding other people's beliefs, assumes that everyone must or should have the same belief systems. What of the Conservative, Liberal, and Labour parties? Do they have great difficulty in understanding each other's belief systems? Of course not, they just hold different ideological opinions and which separate them as different parties. To say that a person doesn't understand other people's beliefs, is to want to proselytize them and impose one person or groups values upon another person or group, when we can agree to differ, or part ways in our beliefs and thinking. If everyone believed the same thing it could amount to totalitarianism. Also, not understanding someone else's beliefs, can mean not agreeing with a false consensus, and making that inference about it that it is just not understanding someone else's beliefs, can be a way of suppressing radicalism or individualism of any sort.

The view that diagnosed schizophrenics have great difficulty in understanding other people's intentions is simply not true, as many people with mental health problems (including myself) are very good at identifying the prejudices and intentions of other people. Not least, this includes an awareness of things like double-effect. Double effect means that there can be both an effect and a cause of an action. For example, someone might carry out harmful and destructive actions, with good intentions, even though this has bad or harmful results and consequences. In this way, the person or persons justify the harmful act or actions. On the other hand, a person can carry out bad or harmful intentions and actions even though the result is good (this is what psychiatry does).

I don't believe that people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia have a great problem with understanding their own or other people's intentions. It's a matter of human nature and human error, and doesn't specially or specifically apply to any isolated minority or oppressed group in society.

I disagree with one of the first statements in the articles that hallucinations are perceptions that occur with the absence of external stimuli. I think that is completely false and nonsense, because hallucinations can be based upon things like traumatic events, being abused, and upon external stimuli of some sort such as loud noises, forced images, or stress. It's not my experience of hearing voices that there's no external stimuli, and certainly not the view of the Hearing Voices Network.

I also find the view that schizophrenics have delusions that people are lying to them or out to harm them ridiculous. Who says that people are not lying to them or out to harm them? It depends on your view of human nature. Maybe biological and social psychiatry has a very idealistic and utopian idea of human nature, but in my opinion human beings can lie and can be very harmful, and because there can be marginalisation and discrimination and some people are used and abused as non-participants in the system.

Different Approaches to Knowledge

There are different types of knowledge and approaches to knowledge. The main approach used by social and mental health professionals, is not genuinely experimental, collective, nor individual, but is demonstrative knowledge, based upon abstract findings or one-sided learnt theory.

Any learnt or invented theory can be proved correct, if the subject, patient, or client, is oppressed and/or threatened enough to conform to it. Just because a subject, patient, or client conforms to a demonstrated theory and instructions, it doesn't mean that the theory is accurate or true. It just proves that people will become compliant and agreeable if enough oppression or coercion is inflicted or enforced upon them.

If a patient or client doesn't wish to conform to demonstrative knowledge, violence, and coercion, and chooses to become unpredictable, random, and unexpected, then he or she can be labelled as uncooperative, irrational, and psychotic.

Demonstrative knowledge is robotic, whereas truly individual approaches, encourage free-thinking, and an experimental approach which encourages genuine interaction, and learning with and from the patient or client. Genuine collective knowledge also includes personal perspectives and a diversity of approaches and opinions.

For Ronnie Laing (A Song)

Just to make some kind of connection,
To share the language of poetry and song.
Your ideas of family madness analysis,
Were taken up by the Police state,
But it's the double-bind of abusive power relations which are wrong.

You said there was a split
Of the self, and not in social sub class systems.
Descartes would have had a fit
Delirious with the metaphysics of symptoms.

Oh Ronnie, you come to me in my sleeping dreams,
Drunk, homeless, and abandoned by your family.
Oh Ronnie, you tell me to carry on your good work,
And you send me subliminal messages of information.

Mysterious energies download data to my mind,
And like the film Superman Returns says,
The celestial beings see through my eyes,
And I see through their eyes.
You see through my eyes Ronnie,
But by you I am not star struck, possessed, or blind.

Oh Ronnie, maybe you are my spirit guide,
Or a tourist through the universe, and beyond the great divides.
I have my own findings and ideas, and know that if you're still alive,
That you would support me,
As you were a good Samaritan for me and my kind.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Talking Therapies in Mental Health

Nine years ago, and some years before that, I received counselling, from professional counsellors and psychotherapists. Before all that, I received counselling from a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse), who was not professionally trained to be a counsellor or psychotherapist, but who had a humanistic approach, based upon occasionally summarising, and offering suggestions, but mostly listening, and drawing out the clients happiness and positivity.

The counsellors I received counselling from, and who claimed they had a cognitive-behavioural, and Rogerian theory and training, just wanted to impose their own ideas of me and my mental health problems, onto me, but the psychotherapists were much interested in my own ideas and findings. I feel in hindsight though, that whilst the psychotherapists learnt from my some of my ideas, they kept this knowledge to further their social roles and status, in their case-studies and careers, and did not share the knowledge with politicians or the public.

This is why I decided to give up counselling and psychotherapy, because I felt that I received better empathetic communication from friends, and from the mental health chat room on the Internet that I frequent. I created my web log, to share my own ideas and findings with the public, and with those in power, so they can create policies, for things like preventing child abuse and school bullying, and create health and safety work rights in law and legislation. It remains to be seen, whether these policies will be created and implemented.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Freedom of Thought, Emotion, and Communication

There’s a fear amongst some people, that if we expressed our true thoughts and feelings, then it would lead to some violence or chaos. The repression of freedom of thought and communication, can itself lead to a violence, chaos, or a deliberate attempt to confuse and mislead people, as to our true thoughts and feelings, but real freedom of expression is important, and can be achieved within some reason.

Freedom of expression, becomes problematic, when there is some kind of rigid hierarchy, or power imbalance between two people or more, and usually this involves the most extrovert or charismatic person, taking over, or dominating the group. This is why it’s also so important to protect and promote, the freedom of expression, of those who are less intelligent or charismatic in society, as they usually get treated as not worthy of democratic and equal free expression, and human rights.

A typical example of this, is in William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, where the child survivors of a plane crash, stranded on a desert island, become like savages, when civilised law and order breaks down, and is replaced by dictatorship and mob rule. The most charismatic and extroverted boy becomes the leader, whilst the boy named Piggy, who is physically disabled, but an intellectual, has the best ideas for the groups social stability and survival, but who is bullied, physically attacked, and eventually killed by some of the other children.

I agree, that there has to be some kind of order and/or reciprocity in communication, but I also believe in some natural expressions of our thoughts and feelings, whilst I realise that some of our thoughts and feelings need to remain private, because that is how we develop our thoughts and feelings, more progressively and humanely in our minds, as well as outwardly and socially with others. Without this element of privacy, freedom of expression, socially, could just lead to another kind of mind control. Still, to be open socially in our communication, and to be both constructive and creative, is very important.

When I am with a close friend of mine, a lot of the time, I can freely express myself, but if a certain friend of his is present, who is very extrovert and charismatic, I feel very controlled and inhibited, because I feel that he dictates his views, and that I am in some ways, at the bottom of the hierarchy between him and my friend. In that situation, I can feel emotions or tensions, blocking the free flow, and constructive and associative expression of my thoughts and communication.

Because of this negative social control, when I am in that situation, it makes me want to express myself more creatively, and speak in associative thoughts and lateral metaphors, which seem to be more spontaneous. I do wonder though, if creative (associative and metaphorical thinking) is more spontaneous and authentic than more constructed social communication, and I think there’s a dividing line there, between the views of the artistic or creative, and the views of the rational or scientific. Some sociologists, may say that creative communication is just a deviation from shared meanings, whilst creative people might say that purely logical communication was emotionally repressive.

In this situation, with my friend and his friend, I have also tried to think and speak, in stream-of-consciousness, and which sometimes leads to more connectedness between my thoughts, and more constructive and shared communication, and it sometimes leads to fragmentation from logic and shared meanings. I think that creative communication, has to be combined with constructive social communication and shared meanings, and that there is an art and science to achieving this with others.

I now want to talk about the matter of appropriate speech, and individual and social communication inhibition. It's sometimes hard, for some people at least, to know what is appropriate speech, as this can change to quite some drastic degree, according to what company you are in.

With very dysfunctional, and usually very unintelligent or uneducated people in a group, there is a strong pressure to conform to very dysfunctional communication, such as wild digression, macho boasting about sex and/or violence, and talking at the same time as others, with cross-communication. If a person doesn’t conform to this, they tend to get left out of the social communication, and in that way, are in those situations, at the bottom of the power and communication relation hierarchy. With authoritarian people, any free and equal expression or communication, can be seen as inappropriate, if it doesn’t conform to violent or unreasonable, dictatorial demands, and in that way, the authoritarians, such as some social workers, are on the same mental level as very unintelligent and/or dysfunctional people.

It seems to me, that most people don't say much, about what is on their mind, but they just interact with reciprocal external or social communication, as in what is termed conformism, but to me, this seems worrying or problematic, because they may not be in touch, or connected to others, with their true thoughts and feelings, unless they are just in touch and connected internally, or in a private way. It therefore depends, on what ideological position a person takes, on connectivity and authenticity of thought and emotions, whether external social communication is how people connect to their true thoughts and feelings, or whether that is purely internal and private, but to me both things can be valid and important.

What I don't agree with, is being pressurised or coerced, to say what is on your mind, or what you are feeling, as these things must be freely chosen, unlike the group therapy, in the novel and film One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, and which was the kind of therapy originally used in the old psychiatric asylums. In One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, people are pressurised to express all their private thoughts, interrogated with questions pertaining to this, and their private situations in their social lives, or made to sit in silence, until one of them says something to this effect.

People should be compassionate towards other people, who are in distress and suffering, and help them. However, it is very wrong, unethical, and immoral, for so-called advocates of the distressed and suffering, such as some social workers - who are not oppressed, distressed, and suffering themselves - to assume that others don’t have compassion or care, and it is very contradictory, selfish, and hypocritical to use punishment, oppression, violence, threats, terrorism, incarceration, or coercion, to force people to be altruistic, especially if that altruism doesn’t involve any compassion, healing, appropriate and humane treatment, or love. It is however, understandable that people who are in distress and suffering themselves, demand love and/or help from others, including their advocates, in ways that are non-violent, and we should all respond to their pleas, expression, actions, and attempts at human interaction, and for support, help, love, and communicative inter connectivity.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Poetry, Musical Lyrics, and Hearing Voices

Whilst overall I experience positive voices, which are caring and compassionate, I still sometimes get negative and intrusive voices, if I am very stressed or tired. The negative and intrusive voices, constantly say things, and interrupt my train of thought, or peace of mind. They don't always say nasty things, but they impose and harass me with stupid questions, and they sometimes repeat what they say, over and over again. They also sometimes repeat what I am thinking, and which is most annoying.

For my birthday this year, my friend gave me an ipod (an mp3/computer music file player), with a nice set of headphones. I used to be able to meditate, but I can't meditate anymore due to the voices, and because I just experience boredom, when I chant or meditate on nothing, and so I use music to meditate upon, for relaxation, and for lifting my mood. Music is the main and best therapeutic tool for me, and I can store up to a thousand songs on my ipod. I listen to my ipod on quite a regular basis, as it blots the voices out, and gives me creative inspiration. Whilst the music blots out the voices, strangely enough, it doesn't blot out my own thoughts, and I can still think and write well, whilst listening to music. This proves in a way, that some aspects of the voices, are completely separate from my thinking.

Poetic, complex, and metaphorical language, also has some relevance to blotting out negative and intrusive voices for me. The negative and intrusive voices, are like very common people, who are slightly ignorant and prejudiced, and they in some ways represent a lower aspect or part of my personality. If I raise my consciousness to a higher level, with my thinking in a very poetic, complex, and metaphorical language, the voices are not able to follow and keep up with this, and remain silent.

This poetic, complex, and very metaphorical language, would itself be seen as mad, if it was spoken out loud (as I sometimes do when with friends), but it is in itself a cure to the negative and intrusive voices, and proves that artistic and creative thinking, is a higher form of consciousness. The positive voices, which are intelligent and caring, are also a higher form of personality and consciousness.

Another coping strategy I have for dealing with the negative and intrusive voices, is imagining hearing a song, and thinking of the tune and lyrics to the song. The voices sing along to the lyrics, but they do not disturb my train of thought, and I can still think OK.

All in all, the voices have both lower and higher levels of personality and consciousness to them, and they are both part of my thoughts, and also completely separate from my thinking, feeling, and being.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Label Busting

Some therapists focus on dispelling labelling, because they believe that self-identification is something which has been negatively socially conditioned or imposed upon individuals, through things like abuse, domestic violence, and psychiatric oppression, and that those things become internalised through negative self-identification. By labels, a therapist may mean diagnostic terms like "schizophrenia" and "psychotic", and not symptomatic terms such as "anxious" or "depressed", but which may still be negative labels about our perceptions and experiences, if the therapist is saying that we are misperceiving psychologically damaging treatment as simply poor judgment.

It's a good thing to dispel labelling, in order to regard people as changing and evolving individuals, but if label-busting doesn't make a discrepancy between negative and positive labelling, then it is just a negative enterprise, and which in itself may be negatively labelling the client in supposedly neutral terms. One reason for some therapists opposing all labelling, including positive labelling, is that the therapist wants territorial control over the whole labelling processes, and in terms of the client's intellectual and emotional responses.

If people have had very bad experiences of things like abuse, domestic violence, and psychiatric oppression, then obviously the experiences of those things are not positive, but are very negative experiences, whilst the therapy may be positive in its treatment of the person. If a person is suffering or injured, then we have to in some ways label the person's state of mind or well-being, in order to treat or care for the person, or else we wouldn't be concerned with them at all. This is about care or treatment, and not necessarily about coercion. Labelling therefore has an emotional dimension, and enables us to gauge human suffering, in order to care for or treat a person or group within society. This is a human area, and which is not necessarily confined to psychotherapy or mental health.

For example, if a person were to fall off her or his bicycle, and graze their elbow, we would be labelling them by saying that the person is hurt and in need of a plaster, but this would be a positive use of labelling, because it would be a positive response to a physical problem, in much the same way that a positive emotional response may be applied to mental health.

Any term might be considered as a label, and we might need a basic understanding of linguistics to know about the different types of labelling that exist, because on a much wider scale, all words and terms are labels, including descriptions of human beings. I'm not attempting to go into this now, but a basic understanding of linguistics is important, as language or the use of language, often underlies or interrelates with labelling processes, behaviours, and responses.

Opposing all labelling, may not distinguish between positive self-labelling which opposes negative social conditioning, and positive labelling, which is about individuals asserting themselves against the negative labelling which has been misappropriated onto individuals through things like abuse and domestic violence. Too much individualising of negative and positive labelling, might also omit the social dimension of labelling, and how this operates within society at large, and within psychotherapy and mental health.

Some therapists attempts at label-busting, might label a person with even bigger labels, or with much more subtler and insidious ones, and we can't always believe a therapist when they say that they are just going for busting the bigger or huge labels, because there's a distinction between diagnosis and symptoms in terms of labelling. For example, a label like "schizophrenia" is a diagnosis, and would constitute a big label, whereas a symptom like "anxious" or "depressed", would amount to a symptom, but both may be a form of labelling, if it is only focusing on negative terms within actual therapeutic treatment.

There's also a distinction between a label which denominates a person from a group, and a stereotype which demonstrates a person with a derogatory group characteristic. In this way, what may appear to be an individual label or labelling process, may actually be a denomination of a negative or positive group characteristic, and what may appear to be social labelling, via social conditioning, may just be a case of individual labelling, perhaps operating at a more interpersonal level. It is this area which is most beneficial to any counselling or psychotherapy, which seeks to focus on label-busting in terms of a refined but non-stereotypical enterprise and therapeutic practice, and to create a positive social and self-image of the client.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Michael Radford's Film version of George Orwell's Novel Nineteen Eighty Four

I just watched the film Nineteen Eighty Four, and whilst it is about totalitarianism, I thought the film also had some potential criticisms of psychiatry, and non-participatory democracy, because the way the totalitarian state - or Big Brother - thinks, is in some ways very similar to medical psychiatry, and Orwell makes some references to state-labelled delusions, madness, and sanity, as the torture and abuse that the state imposes and then denies, creates a psychosis of mental and social utopianism, within a dystopian society.

Liberals have tended to mock George Orwell - the author of the novel Nineteen Eight Four - as irrelevant to modern times, in order to justify the spectator society and objectification, but I think his criticism of totalitarianism and bad democratic governments, is very relavant to modern times, and still has a lot of validity, as we are moving closer to more of a surveillance and controlling society and world, along with an area of national and world society, which dialectically at the same time creates more freedom. Until we understand the dialectic of this, and the underlying psychological, political, and social factors influencing it, we will not be able to move towards a more equal and freer society and world.

Our present society, may not be a totalitarian one, and with some aspects of surveillance properly used, may have helped reduce theft and violent crime, but all it takes, is for some extremist dictatorship or group to take over, and they would have complete control. There is also a similarity, in 1984, with the way that the state and media, always have to create some enemy for us to go to war with, as the governments of the world have created terrorism. Terrorism, is not human nature, and it does not grow on trees. It is socially, politically, psychologically, and historically created.

The kind of society in Nineteen Eight Four, that Orwell envisaged, is for some poor and powerless people, already here now. What we need, is less poverty and inequality of power, more genuine and participatory democracy, and more civil and human rights in society, without the hypocrisy and hate-week of criticising other countries for this. Until we have full civil and human rights, we are in no position to criticise other cultures and societies. Having full civil and human rights, is now problematic, because of the rise in terrorism, but that does not excuse society to mistreat poor and powerless people, who rebel against abuse, oppression, and injustice, and who are just as much victims of social and political torture, as that which we criticise in other countries, cultures, and societies.

In the book and film, "hate week", is where the pent-up repressions and frustrations of society, are released, as a kind of therapy, to cathart the emotions, through hating a fabricated subversive called O'Brian, who's drowned out image and spoken words, are played on a large screen. O'Brian had supposedly written a book, of rebellion against the totalitarian state, or Big Brother, but it is later revealed, that the state itself created that book and the rebellion.

Rebellion can take many forms, including authoritarian, and libertarian - and like psychotic utopianism and dystopianism - and a more enslaved and freer society - all this operates and atomises within a dialectic. The synthesis of that dialectic, is an unfolding social, psychological, and political process and outcome, that we must understand, before it leads to a less freer and equal society and world, and to an end of the modern world.

As George Orwell's main character, Winston, says in 1984: "If there is hope, it is in the proles" (the proletarians/working classes), who whilst being the collective willing instruments of the state, are not collectively or individually polluted or corrupted, by the state's political, moral, and intellectual reductionism and elitism.