Bye bye Instagram!

Instagram was beautiful, stimulating and surprising. Then MZ bought it and it was all of the above, with ads and intrusiveness. Then MZ failed to prevent his platforms being used to promote violence. I’m happier being out of the Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp stable, and the inconvenience will be worth it for me.

Now I’ll post my photos here. Here’s one for starters. At my favourite beach near Anglesea

Sky ropes

 

Once I work out how to make this site look all pretty, I’ll post more.

Dreadlock

Dictionary-

Dreadlock

/ˈdrɛdlɒk/

noun
noun: dreadlock
  1. The experience of dread leading to an experience of freezing up. Occurs in a threatening situation or when encountering a person who often microbullies (v). Usage. After my holiday, I walked into our toxic office, saw Gerry and went into dreadlock.

    What do you think?

Doppression

In 1998 I wrote about something I called “doppression”. Here’s an update inspired by an article in Medical Republic today  #doppression

DOPPRESSION

There are several models for viewing the experience that is popularly known as “depression”. The current dominant model consists of a collection of popular memes combined in a narrative something like this…

  1. Our natural state is not to be distressed
  2. Deviation from the natural state is a disease (pathology)
  3. Disease is predominantly caused by internal factors (genes, predisposition, biochemical disturbance)
  4. Although depression can be precipitated, the development of the disease reflects some internal deficiency or lack of coping skills.
  5. The deficiency can, to some extent, be treated with medication’ and the coping skills can, to some extent be leamt
  6. The best way of learning coping skills is through intellectual processes (cognitive behavioural therapy)

Some benefits of this model are that there is a widespread faith in the view that “a suitable medication, when found, can bring relief of suffering”. Many medications have been found that are helpful. The process of prescribing is viewed by doctor and patient alike as a significant step toward “recovery”.

Some drawbacks of the chemical deficiency model are that the person for whom medications are prescribed, or cognitive therapy instructed, are left with the idea that the illness was consequent to them being deficient or abnormal or misinformed or crazy. Context is acknowledged, but kept at a distance.

Strangely, this model dominates the landscape, despite lots of evidence that the microbiome might be more important than the brain in regulating emotions and neurotransmitters. Finally the connection between stress (particularly at work) is being made, and the complex interaction between sleep, stress, eating and activity is being explored.

In order to make meaning from the experience, there are many alternative models:

  • Depression is a spiritual crisis and an opportunity for spiritual growth or awareness
  • Depression is the result of some karmic misdemeanour
  • Depression is a test of one’s mettle
  • Depression has no meaning and is a consequence of the random occurrence of pain and Suffering.
  • Depression is consequent to loss and represents to some extent a personal loss of self
  • Depression is consequent to oppression (physical, verbal) , by either people or bypeople’s critical ideas which have been internalised as self-truths.

Being highly interested in language and its effects, and being disillusioned by the application for 10 years of the dominant model and my belief that it disempowers the “sufferer”, I have devoted much of my time in recent years to exploration of the latter model which has been articulated by several people. Most cogent for me is the modem articulation of these ideas in the context of so-called “narrative therapy”.

The strengths of this narrative model are that they give rise to options for any individuals who have contact with someone with depression to look at their own possible contribution to the perpetuation of the “disease”, by inadvertent oppression through the use of advice, judgement, inability to understand or accept what the “sufferer” is reporting, and give us also a chance to consider the possibility that in a dominant culture we are all trained so well to dominate that we often oppress others. Hence “doppression”.

Consideration of this model provides many answers, and might help us move past a current “obstacle in thinking” about depression; We seem to be way behind the eight ball in detecting, and modifying microbullying which I believe is a root cause of depression through explicitly delivered oppressive narratives (work performance review anyone?) and more subtly internalised self-oppressive narratives .

As Michael White points out, our culture has moved towards this acknowledgement by putting the “post traumatic” in “post traumatic stress disorder” which was previously known by several labels which pathologised the individual including “war neurosis”.

If you accept that the narrative model may have some merit, then I would invite you to consider the possibility that the ways that we usually relate to someone who is “doppressed”, actually generate and keep alive the condition. These ways include.. Pitying, advice giving, rescuing, refraining, ‘ criticising, confronting, neutral listening, reflecting back (without checking), indulging, ignoring, labelling (officially with “diagnosis” or unofficially with pathologising lay judgements (laybels [sic]) including “immature”, “weak”, “fragile”, “overemotional”, “angry” amongst a multitude of other labels.

I have become less interested in criticisms of the narrative model, as they often rely on dominant paradigms such as “evidence leads to truth” and “of all explanations, one must be more true than others” which is extended to “unless model A can be demonstrated to be more watertight than Model B, it is not valid”. I am not disinterested in such criticism because I think the underlying assumptions are flawed, but because they are unhelpful. inasmuch as they may lead to the dismissal of possible options for change. My assumption is that any approach which broadens options for action is worth privileging.

Much about the possibility that the way we treat others, especially by the language we use (“power words” such as “too” “but” “just”, “actually” and many more). More about Power words soon. I hope you find, as I did, that serious consideration of our language opens new doors for you and the people you relate to, and opens doors to freedom from doppression.

 

Bullying is now so common it’s normalised. Let’s solve this now.

For the sake of our mental health, we need to redefine bullying in the workplace.

Here’s one proposed definition:

Bullying is asking, expecting or telling someone to do something that you wouldn’t feel comfortable requesting if you weren’t in the position you are in.

And here’s a definition to help ascertain if you are being bullied.

Are you on balance spending more than acceptable time or energy, doing or supporting something that you feel morally uncomfortable with, compared with activities that create good, bring joy, or align with your values, because to do otherwise would be too scary?

Hang on. Have I just defined the modern workplace, the political or education systems or even maybe patriarchal society itself?

Maybe that’s why we elect leaders based on all other criteria than morality and compassion? To do otherwise would bring on a disruptive rebuild.

Houston we have a problem.

The slow death of Universities?

There’s a lot going on in education at the moment. As someone who home schooled our son I spent a lot of time looking at the pros and cons of a traditional education. As parents we didn’t come to a solid conclusion..one of our children was schooled traditionally and the other wasn’t.

There have been many people recently bemoaning the cuts to higher education. Consider the contracting job market, the availability of high quality online resources and the realisation that genius is only loosely associated with educational achievement. You don’t need a college degree to work out that college degrees have diminishing relevance. Enter Google and Apple to make that conclusion a valid one:

https://www.axios.com/google-apple-college-degree-hiring-a290bca8-65a7-4de2-8fa9-d93b4c30457a.html

If we are serious about suicide prevention… what about this conversation?

I find myself constantly despairing about the missed opportunities to change our ways of thinking in order to prevent mental illness and suicide.

I’m worried we are taking a less than optimally effective approach to suicide prevention.

I was reading about Australia’s  “you can talk about suicide” launch.

I found no reference to shame in the document and that concerns me, as shame, I think, isn’t far from self-loathing if it’s not talked about, shared and normalised.

What about “How to have conversations which disclose and normalise the experience of shame, and self shaming internal dialogue?”

I don’t believe we can have an effective conversation about suicide until we are skilled up in having this conversation. 

I think it’s not that hard, but the principles of the conversation are counter-cultural.. let’s start on that project ASAP rather than conversations which assume that depression or anxiety have an internal locus (diagnostic model) with a biochemical basis, on top of causal genetics and experiences and therefore respond to fortification or medication.

The diagnostic model is struggling to achieve great results in primary prevention. It’s had an OK effect on secondary prevention but I strongly believe that looking at the social construction of mental illness might be more fruitful. 

Let’s start the conversation with the question “We all suffer from shame in some form or another. What would I need to do differently so that you and I/we all can talk about our shame and work together against its effects?”

What do you think?

Unorthodocs beliefs- prove me wrong.

I’m watching medicine undergo a transformation as we reach an explosion of new understandings. Unfortunately it’s later than it could have been because of the diligent and dogged attachment to evidence based medicine with all its inherent delays. Unfortunately this is costing lives. Here are some of the things I believe we could have acted on some years ago. Prove me wrong.

  1. BMI is a horribly crude risk indicator and should have been replaced by indices of central adiposity (unhealthy obese vs healthy. TOFI vs healthy thin) years ago. Fat that is overwhelmed with energy stores gets sick and leaks toxins causing disease (see next point). We need to store and use. Cyclical feast and famine is our only hope even if the “famine” is your weekly fast, or extended overnight fast.
  2. Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, pcos (and its subclinical partner – the majority of female infertility), dementia, a lot of depression, and a lot of autoimmune disease are probably caused by a caloric overload, dysfunctional microbiome and immune dysregulation. Serum glucose is only a surrogate marker. It’s the inflamed fat that causes most of the damage, and few medications alter that (but metformin fortunately does)
  3. Your brain needs healthy saturated fat, because that’s what comprises it. Starve it of that and instead feed yourself manufactured oils and you will get membrane changes that aren’t so good.
  4. If we eat “empty calories” (pure energy sources- sugar, refined carbs, modern nutrient depleted wheat) and your body will crave vitamins and minerals. You will probably overconsume causing energy storage overload, leading to chronic disease. We should avoid processed foods.
  5. Most of the conclusions about unhealthy fats, serum cholesterol were based on simplistic and false assumptions, poor stratification of food groups in comparative trials and many studies were highly influenced by vested interests.
  6. We’ve only just started to realise the effects of pollution- air, water, food and environment. The effects are huge and the diseases complex and some defy current understandings. Avoid cities. Wash food. Don’t trust many “safe” additives. Recent examples- emulsifiers, additives to sunscreens.
  7. Randomised trials and well conducted studies can’t save us now. Too many variables. Artificial intelligence using big datasets, associations and algorithms are our main hope.
  8. A lot of diagnosing relies on pattern recognition. Humans can’t have a big enough dataset to keep ahead of machines (dermatologists, radiologists for example are a threatened species) Google will become a better diagnostician than your GP.
  9. Machines will never be human enough to do empathy. Humans can enhance the benefits that AI will bring to medicine by providing spirit and connection.
  10. We waste most of our health budget on monitoring or treating preventable disease. We are poor at motivating people because our culture undereducates us in health literacy and outsources that to “experts”, and we by training blame others or ourselves for our “failures” rather than recognising and growing our agency.

That’s enough for now. More to come. Prove me wrong, or let’s get together to shift the paradigm.

Try this reflective exercise.

Recently I found myself at a gathering of health professionals. I felt a little out of my comfort zone. Increasingly commonly I think I have something valuable to share and I get blank stares. I thought it was me.

But then it hit me.. it’s not only me. There’s a paradigm out there that’s pretty self contained and if you say anything that exposes or challenges its assumptions you often get the “you’re a bit mad” look, or blankness.

Since we were doing exercises and workshops at this gathering, I mused about testing my theory that I’m in a minority group.

Here’s my proposed exercise- designed for groups of up to several thousand.

Run this cold… any explanation or pre-loading will corrupt the results.

“Turn to your neighbour/s. In pairs or small groups have a discussion where you ask yourself “How patriarchal is my thinking?” Use your group to help clarify your answer. You have about 2-3 minutes for this.”

“Then, when I ring the bell move into one of four groups”..

Group A – “Not very”

Group B- “About average”

Group C- “Quite”

Group D- “Don’t know”

I think I’d be in Group A, but I’m not sure. I wonder how many would be in Group D?

A followup exercise- How ready are you to subvert the dominant paradigm? (groups based on the same answers)