Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Disorder

The discovery / realisation of severe mental disorder in a close relative.

I'm delicate – perhaps ridiculously – about posting on the subject here, yet want to put links to MySpace blogs on the matter. The outdated browser, all I can put on this old computer, is now so jumpy that I can't stay on a MySpace page long enough to copy the url!

For those who are interested enough to go to the trouble, the link in my previous post will get you there. Then you need to click on the link at the bottom of that to the next post, and then the next and the next. They are "Professional Opinion", 22 October; "It Gets Worse", 26 October; and "Views", 27 October.

For material on the disorder itself, this is the best I've found, and leaves me in no doubt of the diagnosis. There's a lot of reading, all spot-on. I found the "Now We Are Six" link particularly illuminating.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Brainwashing

Having had brainwashing attempted on me and almost succeeding, I'd like to do my best to make others aware of the techniques just in case you ever need to be fore-armed.  (Hoping I'm not also putting weapons into the hands of the unscrupulous! But if they want weapons, I expect they can find them without my help.)

I don't know where the following document came from. A concerned friend sent it to me at a time I badly needed it. It was illuminating and empowering.

Brainwashing Techniques

1.      Assault on identity
2.      Guilt
3.      Self-betrayal
4.      Breaking point
5.      Leniency
6.      Compulsion to confess
7.      Channeling of guilt
8.      Releasing of guilt
9.      Progress and harmony
10.    Final confession and rebirth

•         Assault on identity: You are not who you think you are.
 This is a systematic attack on a target's sense of self (also called his identity or ego) and his core belief system. The agent denies everything that makes the target who he is: "You are not a soldier." "You are not a man." "You are not defending freedom." The target is under constant attack for days, weeks or months, to the point that he becomes exhausted, confused and disoriented. In this state, his beliefs seem less solid.

•         Guilt: You are bad.
 While the identity crisis is setting in, the agent is simultaneously creating an overwhelming sense of guilt in the target. He repeatedly and mercilessly attacks the subject for any "sin" the target has committed, large or small. He may criticize the target for everything from the "evilness" of his beliefs to the way he eats too slowly. The target begins to feel a general sense of shame, that everything he does is wrong.

•         Self-betrayal: Agree with me that you are bad.
 Once the subject is disoriented and drowning in guilt, the agent forces him (either with the threat of physical harm or of continuance of the mental attack) to denounce his family, friends and peers who share the same "wrong" belief system that he holds. This betrayal of his own beliefs and of people he feels a sense of loyalty to increases the shame and loss of identity the target is already experiencing.

•         Breaking point: Who am I, where am I and what am I supposed to do?
 With his identity in crisis, experiencing deep shame and having betrayed what he has always believed in, the target may undergo what in the lay community is referred to as a "nervous breakdown." In psychology, "nervous breakdown" is really just a collection of severe symptoms that can indicate any number of psychological disturbances. It may involve uncontrollable sobbing, deep depression and general disorientation. The target may have lost his grip on reality and have the feeling of being completely lost and alone.

When the target reaches his breaking point, his sense of self is pretty much up for grabs -- he has no clear understanding of who he is or what is happening to him. At this point, the agent sets up the temptation to convert to another belief system that will save the target from his misery.

•         Leniency: I can help you.
 With the target in a state of crisis, the agent offers some small kindness or reprieve from the abuse. He may offer the target a drink of water, or take a moment to ask the target what he misses about home. In a state of breakdown resulting from an endless psychological attack, the small kindness seems huge, and the target may experience a sense of relief and gratitude completely out of proportion to the offering, as if the agent has saved his life.

•         Compulsion to confession: You can help yourself.
 For the first time in the brainwashing process, the target is faced with the contrast between the guilt and pain of identity assault and the sudden relief of leniency. The target may feel a desire to reciprocate the kindness offered to him, and at this point, the agent may present the possibility of confession as a means to relieving guilt and pain.

•         Channeling of guilt: This is why you're in pain.
 After weeks or months of assault, confusion, breakdown and moments of leniency, the target's guilt has lost all meaning -- he's not sure what he has done wrong, he just knows he is wrong. This creates something of a blank slate that lets the agent fill in the blanks: He can attach that guilt, that sense of "wrongness," to whatever he wants. The agent attaches the target's guilt to the belief system the agent is trying to replace. The target comes to believe it is his belief system that is the cause of his shame. The contrast between old and new has been established: The old belief system is associated with psychological (and usually physical) agony; and the new belief system is associated with the possibility of escaping that agony.

•         Releasing of guilt: It's not me; it's my beliefs.
 The embattled target is relieved to learn there is an external cause of his wrongness, that it is not he himself that is inescapably bad -- this means he can escape his wrongness by escaping the wrong belief system. All he has to do is denounce the people and institutions associated with that belief system, and he won't be in pain anymore. The target has the power to release himself from wrongness by confessing to acts associated with his old belief system.

With his full confessions, the target has completed his psychological rejection of his former identity. It is now up to the agent to offer the target a new one.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No More Fatted Calf

Those who recall the traumas of the last visit home of my Youngest (the son formerly known as The Prodigal) may be interested in the final chapter.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change

Is it real or isn’t it? 

We are certainly seeing a lot of extreme weather all over the world in recent years, and it does seem to be getting worse. Tsunamis, dust storms, floods, earthquakes, tropical cyclones, droughts….

But hang on – hasn’t the earth always experienced these conditions? There have been some huge climatic changes in the past. It wasn’t human polluters who caused the Ice Age, for instance. There’s a theory that our earliest agrarian ancestors may actually have helped delay the onset of another ice age a few thousand years ago. Read all about it in Wikipedia.

Um, hang on again. If that is so, it does make sense to think we may have gone too far in that direction by now. It’s not all bad: we didn’t really want another ice age, did we? Maybe the planet needs that balance, but it wouldn’t be very good for us human beings. On the other hand, we don’t really want to be inundated by rising seas either. The inhabitants of small Pacific islands particularly don’t want to be!

But is it all a myth?  I have a friend who believes that it is a lie. He says 1998 was the hottest year on record, so clearly the earth has been cooling down, not warming up, in the last decade. (I must say, in terms of planetary time, that doesn’t seem very long actually.) He bases his opinion on this story. Not actually conclusive as far as I can see.

He also thinks it’s a ploy to institute “a global tax (Cap and Trade)  to pay for a New World Order, or One World Government whichever the turnout if we allow it to happen.”  He’s by no means alone in that view!

Another friend counters:

Here's a condensed version of an article just published.  No politics. Just thought it was interesting.

Global Warming Could Cool N. America
Kate Ravilious, National Geographic
September 16, 2009 06:16 AM


Global warming could actually chill down North America within just a few decades, according to a new study that says a sudden cooling event gripped the region about 8,300 years ago. Analysis of ancient moss from Newfoundland, Canada, links an injection of freshwater from a burst glacial lake to a rapid drop in air temperatures by a few degrees Celsius along North America's East Coast.
This event created a colder year-round climate with a much shorter growing season for about 150 years, from northern Canada to what is now Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The results suggest that North America's climate is highly sensitive to meltwater flowing into the ocean, said lead study author Tim Daley of Swansea University in the U.K. The work also means that history could repeat itself: Currently Greenland's ice sheet is melting at a rapid clip, releasing freshwater into the North Atlantic. 

Article continues


And where do I stand? I think climate change is real, that we have contributed to it, and we’d better find a solution very, very soon. The earth will survive all right; it’s likely we won’t. That’s why I’m participating in Blog Action Day. Anything that might conceivably help….

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Praising Bad Poets

Well, I don't, but many do – particularly online. On MySpace a man who would have trouble getting a job writing greeting-card verses is fawned over by dozens of online friends who make gushing comments about every one of his sentimental effusions with their poor spelling, atrocious rhymes and pathetic attempts at metre. And so he believes himself to be an excellent poet, and gives advice to others on ways to improve their work.

On facebook is a very nice, intelligent woman who has befriended me. She tagged me to read one of her poems. I refrained from comment. What could I have said? She's not like the man at MySpace. It's free verse, and she can spell. But if I had said anything, it might have been, "What a lot of words you know." (Meaning, "You've chucked every one of them in here.") And she's bright; she'd have got it immediately, and probably been offended.

In truth, I nearly jumped right in on first reading to congratulate her on being so funny. I thought it was hilarious on purpose, and brilliantly so. Then I read others' comments, and here were all these GOOD poets praising her wonderful, incisive language, her taut imagery, and so forth. They were serious. If she was having a joke with them, she was keeping awfully quiet about it. I re-read the piece and realised she probably didn't mean to be funny. Oh dear.

I think I should shout out, "The Emperor's got no clothes!" But I'm not as free or as game or as clear as that little boy. I am like the courtiers and the populace. Everyone else is saying how beautiful the new clothes are, and so I'm afraid to open my mouth for fear of looking like a fool. Besides, I like her as a person and I really don't want to upset her. So I say nothing, and hope she doesn't notice.

Her poetry is image piled on image with little in the way of context or connection. Well, OK, that's perhaps a valid way of making poems. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me – and maybe that's just me being dumb. But here's the clincher: say it aloud, it sounds horrible! There's no music at all; there's hideous dissonance, but not even intentional dissonance which can be interesting – it's just a complete lack of attention to that aspect of poetry. Ugh!