Edited Jan 24, 2015
What if …

physical fractures that are caused by a traffic accident were treated like the fractured integrity that is caused by harm in our lives?

Imagine having complex fractures in both legs and hearing this from a medical expert:

After exhaustive testing and investigations, we have concluded that your movement impediment is outside the spectrum of normality, and you will never be able to walk again. You have an ambulatory disorder, and will have to learn to live with it.

It’s not your fault, it’s not anyone’s fault, the cause is a chemical imbalance in your skeleton. Your responsibility is to face up to your illness and the fact that you will never walk normally … that’s what having an ambulatory disorder means … and cooperate with the rigorous regimen of evidence-based movement training that we have set up for you. 

You will also have to learn to live with pain, but don’t worry – we will help you with all the extensive pharmaceutical resources that modern ambulatory disorder research has placed at our disposal.

Obedience submission compliance  cooperation is essential here – you can only be helped if you place yourself in our hands and realize that we are the only serious, evidence-based scientific alternative, and refrain from bringing up irrelevancies or asking awkward questions.

Car? What car? Didn’t you hear what I just said? We’re not talking about cars here, we’re talking about your responsibility for realizing the realities of your situation, being positive, putting the past behind you and looking to the future like the good little disordered patient we need you to be.

What did you say? You still insist on blaming the driver of the fantasy car that you keep babbling about for your disorder? We can’t help you if you reject the realities of your situation and disappear into paranoid problems that only exist in your sick little mind …


I can’t go on, this is way too depressing, I have actually met with this kind of logic from our national mental health services when I was attempting to heal non-physical  childhood harm.

But I was extremely lucky … I finally  connected with someone in the health services (not a psychotherapist) who was able to give me the space I needed to look at how my integrity had been fractured. And that is another story – my Thanks to a Helper who Helped

Kat Stoeffel: 39 Things We’ll Miss About Patriarchy, Which Is Dead

Via my knitting forum I give you Kat Stoeffel’s article on 

39 Things We’ll Miss About Patriarchy, Which Is Dead

It begins like this:

We were surprised to learn today that the patriarchy is dead. We were informed by Slate’s Hanna Rosin, who wrote that criticism of her nonfiction book The End of Men can be explained by feminists’ “irrational attachment to the concept of unfair.” We got the vote and the Pill. What more could we want? “It’s elite feminists like my questioner and me who cling to the dreaded patriarchy just as he is walking out of our lives,” she writes.

She’s right. We’re clinging to structurally reinforced sexism like a bad boyfriend, and it’s time to say, “See ya later, Patriarchy.” It’s been real. Thanks for all the good times.

We’ll never forget …

1. The 200 abortion restrictions passed since 2011, closing 58 (or roughly 1 in 10) clinics.

2. Aerobic striptease, cardio pole dancing, and bikini bodybuilding


Dec 30: Edited and retitled
Nov 12, 2017: edited

There is no Dark Side. There is only fear of the dark. That was a story about our earliest ancestors who huddled around campfires as protection from a dark that could kill.  

People still huddle, but campfires are not that important any more. To feel safe, we gather around virtual normlights that are generated by collective stories, ideas, ideologies and values. And while the dark might not be as dangerous as it was, the glare of normlights blind us to what is outside our circle of norm.

This is a story about normlight that I lived under a long time ago. A normlight of colonization: 

The year is 1958. I am a pupil at St. Paul’s School in DarjeelingI am one of four girls who were daughters of teachers in a school with 700 boys. And this note from the assistant headmaster brings on a crooked smile:  

“Not unintelligent and is coming along very well. I think that she would benefit by mingling more frequently with the boys..”

I am 8.11 years old, according to this term report. And I can’t possibly stretch my imagination into a scenario where the 23 8-year-old boys in my class would let me “mingle” with them. Being ignored was the best I could hope for. 

This story begins with a comment from my form teacher: “Rather restless in class and so distracts many of the children. She must be more attentive and obedient.”

55 years later I still recall vividly one time I was restless and disobedient. It was early in the first term, I was new at the school, and we were doing Norway in geography class. 

And I read in the old British geography book that Norwegian children skied to school all winter, wearing a woolen sweater with a belt on the outside so that snow wouldn’t get under their clothes when they fell.

Maybe the author was extrapolating from a viking costume like this one?

When I tell Norwegians about the belted sweater, I get the Garfield stare. I had recently gone to school in Norway, and we took the school bus or walked or biked or sometimes used a kicksled, but skiing wasn’t exactly the norm.  I had never, ever, ever, ever, seen anyone on skis in a woolen sweater with a belt over it, and in my wide range of experience as an incompetent skier, snow under clothes is not a problem.

I tried to tell Miss all this, and I don’t think I got to complete a sentence before being told to be quiet and sit down. I do remember not giving up easily, this was important to 8.11-year-old me in ways I did not have words to express.

This is how a Normlight – the collective story of a Normiarchy – works. It renders information that exists outside it invisible, while it invades and colonizes the stories of individuals. I unvented the word Normiarchy because I wanted a gender-neutral variant of Patriarchy, as Normlights and Normiarchys are alive and well also in feminist groups. 

And because of episodes like this, my childhood defense against the certainty of Normlights – any kind of Normlights – was “no feel/no show”: to shut down, go neutral, not feel upset, not protest, not react. Dissociate.   

It took me 50 years to realize that I wish Miss had said: “Let us check this. If you write a letter to the author of the book, telling what you know and asking him where he has his information from, I’ll send it to him via the publisher.” 

But this school was a tiny outpost of Britain at the time. The students were from all over Asia, with a smattering of European kids whose families worked in this part of the world. The frame of reference was British, and people sent their children here so that they could learn the correct British accent, and connect with others on a common ground of British frames of reference.

And it worked. It worked so well on me that I almost burst into tears when I first visited the British Museum. So many of the artifacts there had been illustrations in my Darjeeling school books that it was like coming home.

My years in Darjeeling fine-tuned my ability to dissociate, yet I remember them fondly, partly because of the Himalayas and the rather benign aspects of the colonization I encountered there, mainly because of the kindness and integrity of some people I was lucky enough to meet and befriend. 

And when I received a travel grant via my translators union, I went to London and visited the British Museum every day, learning more about why this place felt like my roots. 

And that story is here:

 Relevant links, via @medskep: 

You See What You Believe
Your causal beliefs about the world influence what you see.
Published on August 23, 2013 by Art Markman, Ph.D. in “Ulterior Motives”

The Curse of the Herd

What does it mean to grow up in a society that permits no strays?
Published on January 6, 2013 by Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. in “Making Humans”

Information Is Beautiful: Rhetological Fallacies

Many thanks to @medskep, who posted a link that gorgeously supplements my previous post on critical thinking:

And if you scroll way down, you’ll find another link:

The most senior Catholic Cardinal here in the UK recently outlined his argument against same-sex marriage. Here’s our rhetological matrix applied to his speech.

James Lett: A Field Guide to Critical Thinking

I have been using James Lett’s field guide since I first read this article in 1990:

It is written in response to the prevalence of paranormal beliefs in the USA, and I have used it in negotiating the tangles and thickets and sinkholes and bogs in the belief systems of mental health care. 

Here is a distillation of James Lett’s six  guidelines, that he calls FiLCHeRS: 

Falsifiability: It must be possible to conceive of evidence that would prove the claim false.

Logic: Any argument offered as evidence in support of any claim must be sound. An invalid argument can be recognize by the simple method of counterexample: If you can conceive of a single imaginable instance whereby the conclusion would not necessarily follow from the premises even if the premises were true, then the argument is invalid.

Comprehensiveness: The evidence offered in support of any claim must be exhaustive — that is all of the available evidence must be considered.

Honesty: The evidence offered in support of any claim must be evaluated without self-deception.The rule of honesty is a corollary to the rule of comprehensiveness. When you have examined all of the evidence, it is essential that you be honest with yourself about the results of that examination. If the weight of the evidence contradicts the claim, then you are required to abandon belief in that claim. The obverse, of course, would hold as well.

Replicability: If the evidence for any claim is based upon an experimental result, or if the evidence offered in support of any claim could logically be explained as coincidental, then it is necessary for the evidence to be repeated in subsequent experiments or trials.

Sufficiency: The evidence offered in support of any claim must be adequate to establish the truth of that claim, with these stipulations: the burden of proof for any claim rests on the claimant, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence,  and evidence based upon authority and/or testimony is always inadequate 

Adult friends: Soldier

Written in March 2012.

Ingen bildebeskrivelse er tilgjengelig.

In an old album I found a faded picture of a man in a khaki uniform with a kind and tired face. On the picture he had written: «Remember one when you grow old.»

Now I am old, and I wish I could tell this man that he has been one of the most important people in my life.

I never knew his name; he was just «Soldier». He was my Soldier and I was his Ninni Baba for a few years, until I was ripped out of this life. And because of him and his friends, soldiers were the kindest people I knew of when I was a little missionary child in India.

The missionary colleagues of my parents scared me, and that is another story.

The soldiers were war veterans; this was back in the early 1950s. And in my world soldiers were a friendly presence.

Sometimes they helped with practical tasks at the mission station, sometimes they arranged parties and games for the kids, and everyone had prizes. I used to win the last place prize in races, and that was completely OK – last place was also a place.

The soldiers showed us that children were important people.

Every Christmas they did hair-raising balancing acts on rickety ladders when they decorated the huge spruce tree in the mission courtyard with coloured light bulbs. And they put out Santa Claus when he caught on fire once, and that is also another story.

Sometimes they just were. They were very good at just being.

Did they call me over to them when they were having a smoke and a break? “Come, Nini Baba, come sit with us for a while.” Did I sit, toes curling in secret joy, with these friendly, tough men who kept on talking and mostly ignored me?

I cannot know. It is so easy to attach false memories to emotions. I do not trust the memories; I trust the security I felt when I was with them, the trust, the acceptance and the inclusion.

What I do know, is that when I search for the source of important knowledge and important values in my life, I often find the soldiers there:



The value of life.


What you do is important. Intentions and excuses are irrelevant.

The difference between “manners” and “manner”.

If possible, live in such a way that you can bear to look at yourself in the mirror. With an undertone of knowing that it had not always been possible during the war.

Honour is what you know about yourself. Reputation is what others think about you. 

When you have lived in a hurricane for many years, things do not suddenly become OK when the surroundings are calm.

From quiet conversations that I do not know if I remember, there is a sense of the problems of adjusting to peacetime boredom, something about the ignorance of everyone who had not been actively touched by the war. And knowledge that this was not something one could talk to normal people about.

I brought with me knowledge about the ignorance of those untouched when I came to a Support Centre Against Sexual Abuse in the 80s, just like everyone else who came there. And it was very good to be with others who had the same knowledge. Was it also like this for the soldiers? Did they help each other recover from post-traumatic stress?

Soldier and I connected in a shared interest in nature. A need to be outdoors, to observe, be surrounded by life and growing, sink into the surroundings, rest in them. Later I would be lucky enough to meet other adult friends who shared this need with me.

Soldier attached an extra seat to the crossbar of his bike, and I would dangle my legs and hold happily on to the handlebars when we set out into the jungle, looking for interesting places.

A need to sit for hours and wait for small animals to show up … is that so unusual that an adult would see a friend in a child who had the same need?

Very rarely, I buy a box of corned beef, and I cut slices straight out of the box and eat them cold. Then the tears come, and I see Soldier impaling a slice like that on his hunting knife and giving it to me when we are out exploring. 

Is that a true memory? I do not know.

It’s a nice memory, anyway.

The tears are real, the grief at being torn away from Soldier and others who were important to me, without being prepared for it, without saying goodbye to them. There were so many losses that had to be flash frozen at the time because they were too heavy to bear.

The goodness is real – the feeling of being safe and valued. The trust in people who deserve trust. The pleasure of remembering just being together. This I never lost, even in the years when I had suppressed the sources.

And something else that is real, is the support: “Someone who had seen me” was an important factor when I first began to allow memories and emotions from old harm to thaw, more than a quarter century ago. In that scary and chaotic period, when I deep down inside knew that I was going to drown and die, Soldier said something in a dream:

«One cannot sink who is a boat.»

At the time I wondered about the word “one”, and did not connect it to Soldier until I read what he had written on the photograph: «Remember one when you grow old.»

The image he gave me, of being a boat, helped me let go of the false stories I was clinging to, helped me follow the current and the tide and the waves of my life in their ups and downs and hithers and thithers instead of trying to stay stuck in one level and one place.

And when I started a new thawing process in 2011, the voice of Soldier ended a long and dystopian dream with these words:

“Best go unburdened into the unknown.”

That dream is a story for another time. His words I give on to anyone who finds meaning in them.

Ash Beckham on the word ‘Gay’

And a quote from that page: 

I wrote to Ash to ask her how we could help, and she said she’d really appreciate it if you would take the time to like The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) on Facebook. Also, sharing this would help bunches as well. Also you could totally like Ash on Facebook if you like funny people. Totally your call though.

Ash Beckham is very funny – and extremely relevant. Her point about the difference between tolerance and acceptance alone is worth the minutes it takes to see this: