Patrick Stewart on violence


Heather Skye asked Patrick Stewart a question:

“Besides acting, what are you most proud of that you have done in your life (that you are willing to share with us)?”

And here is Patrick Stewart’s response: 

Heather Skye writes about this in her blog:

Let me tell you a thing, about an amazing man named Patrick Stewart 

And here are her comments to the video on YouTube:

Published on 29 May 2013
This was my question to Sir Patrick Stewart at Comicpalooza 2013. I wanted to thank Patrick Stewart for his speech at Amnesty International it personally help me put a name to the abuse, sexual abuse in my case, I had experienced in the past. He responded very passionately and the last thing I thought I would get at was a heartfelt hug.

When he embraced me he told me “You never have to go through that again, you’re safe now”. I just kept thanking him.

I hope everyone who needs help in abusive or violent situations has the courage to do so. There are people willing and ready to help you. There are hotline numbers a little farther down.

This video is owned by Oswald Vinueza and full recording can be found here…

I posted an extended response about the experience here on my blog…

If you need help, please reach out!

Refuge Hotline in UK

Combat Stress Hotline In UK


Vets in USA with PTSD Hotline
1-800-273-8255, press 1.

USA Hotline for Domestic Abuse

What is #success to me?

What is success to me? I look at the four elements in Arianna Huffington’s definition …

1 well-being 
2 wisdom 
3 capacity to celebrate life 
4 our ability to give back

… and I think: Nice stuff if you can get it, but not exactly universal. 

I’m happy for everyone to whom this definition belongs, and it does not belong to me.

This belongs to me:  

  • know that I was given a faulty compass and misleading map early in life 
  • redraw my own map 
  • learn how to trust my inner compass
  • be aware of what is happening in me and around me, give it my own words, evaluate and choose, and own who I am and what I do. 



I am adding a sincere apology to well-meaning people who read this and feel bad
because they give “don’t think of an elephant”-type advice.

I made a conscious choice when I posted it: 
I knew it would hurt some people and I posted it anyway, 
because many of the persons who receive advice like this are already hurting badly,
and this kind of advice piles new hurt on to the old hurt.

I found this exchange on Twitter today:

I am completely useless, and so are words with no substance.

Stop listening to that voice. She only tells lies. 😉
I wish it were that simple,
that we could just “stop listening” to our hateful inner voices. 
And I wish that such advice was
“words with no substance”. I am sure this advice stems from a well-meant wish
to be helpful, and in my opinion it is harmful for two reasons:  

listening to that voice” is just as impossible as “don’t think of an elephant”. Impossible as in IT CANNOT BE DONE! A
hateful inner voice is not a problem that can be solved by an act of will.

when people believe that a hateful inner voice is a problem that can be solved
with an act of will, the message they convey is that the hateful inner voice is
not the problem, the real problem is that the owner of the voice won’t stop
listening. And this message is the opposite of helpful: It strengthens the hateful inner voice that keeps hammering home the message that “everything else is
OK, and you are useless”.

Distressed people … are supposed … 
to transform themselves into people no longer feeling distress.”

David Smail coined “magical voluntarism” in a context of therapy:

And I am borrowing it to use in
a context of advice that boils down to “DON’T THINK OF THE ELEPHANT”.
Has anyone ever, anywhere in
the world, been able to stop listening to the seriously toxic voices that are
brainwashed into some of us in childhood? Or in adulthood, for that matter?
In my experience, this kind of
advice resembles advice on how to deal with compound leg fractures – from people
who know what a twisted ankle feels like.
Or, sometimes, from people who
themselves have seriously toxic inner voices, and seem to deal with them by constantly
reminding others not to listen to toxic inner voices.   
Instead of advice against voices that hate, I have words that have substance in my life: 
You were not born knowing this about yourself.
Who taught you this?
Brainwashing you into believing hateful things about yourself is the
responsibility of the persons who did it.
Dealing with it is your responsibility.
There are probably just as many
ways of dealing as there are of cooking rice, and now I am only speaking for
myself, of how I dealt with it: By seeing the hating inner voices as defences that
I unconsciously evolved in order to survive childhood.
I don’t have time to write
more, so I am pasting in a bit that begins with a hating inner voice and being manipulated to the brink
of suicide by toxic therapy. The whole story is here:

… I planned to kill myself.
Every day. In secret. Hiding how I felt had been a survival strategy in my
childhood, and that helped me now.

But certain criteria had to be met:

It had to look like an accident. I wanted to liberate
my family and friends from me, not burden them with guilt.
And I had to make sure that I died immediately.
I couldn’t risk surviving with permanent injuries that would burden
And it shouldn’t hurt. Not much. And I did not smile
at this thought. 

don’t remember much from this time, only that the parts of me that wanted to
live became more and more concerned when I drove on the steep, winding roads
where I live. And, one evening when I was alone, I got in touch with the part
of me that wanted me dead. And I let her communicate. And promised not to stop
her, not to sensor, just let her say all she had to say.

She began to write. Grunge. Detailed, poisonous grunge about me, about how
evil, useless and stupid I was. Ugly, power-mad, fat, wrong, illogical,
manipulating, wrong, wrong, stupid, wrong, too dumb to realize that I had no
social skills and should not be allowed to interact with people, I should never
have been born, I was an affront to all right-thinking people in the world …
and as I wrote, my writing became larger, sharper, and the pencil stabbed the
paper like a knife in flesh.

And I began to recognize voices. Moods.  Shades of people, some of the words.
She wrote corroding concentrates of feedback others had given me. About me
being wrong. And if I could just stop being wrong, everything would be OK, but
as I couldn’t, the world should not be burdened with me.  

And when the part of me that wanted me dead finally
was finished, we looked at it together. And I thanked her for what she had done
for me when I needed her help to survive.

She had communicated and strengthened signals from my surroundings,
so that I could try to avoid doing what people I needed did not like. And I
explained that her help had been crucial then, but my life was different now. I
was not helpless, not in the way I had been then.

And Inner Critic heaved an enormous sigh of relief and took a vacation. 

This last sentence is both true and not … there was an immense sense of relief at no longer being needed to help me survive; and I still have to communicate with Critic once in a while, to tell her what I need her help with. 

Kirk Schneider on the polarized mind

The Peril is Not Mental Illness but The Polarized Mind


There is a reason that many of the most twisted and destructive people on this planet are not seen as “mental patients.” They tend to be ordinary or even celebrated individuals—and their brains are as “normal” as the rest of us. Does this not tell us something glaring about the inadequacy of our current diagnostic system, as well as the culture out of which it arises? We have no language for the malady that both supersedes and in many cases fuels the diagnostic categories we conventionally term psychiatric illnesses, and our reduction of them to brain abnormalities almost entirely blinds us to their deeper cause. This cause is overridingly environmental and the product not of sickness but of unaddressed, unacknowledged fear—which leads individuals—as well as societies—to become rigid, narrow, and destructive

I would prefer the expression “polarized mode” … because people react differently in different situations.

Glossary: "An expert is someone from the south. With slides"

I learned this definition from an ethnologist and knitter when visiting Fair Isle. She explained how “southern” misunderstandings of their traditional knitting techniques and terminology had become academic fact, and gave some examples of how impossible it had been to correct academic misinformation about the words that expert craftswomen in the area had used for generation.

This reminded me of her experiences:

Medicalsceptic is a rich source of interesting information. Well worth following. 

And this paper is worth being read thoroughly and thoughtfully:  

The pursuit of certainty–the desire for certainty – what Hans-Georg Gadamer calls “the reduction of truth to certainty”8 affects the way we use words and language. So I want to explore the use and abuse of words within the interaction between doctor and patient, and examine the normative basis of power in story, language, and knowledge. I hope to show how easy it is for doctors to use these dimensions of power to constrain and limit our patients’ stories, consign many of them to stories of failure, and reduce their capacity to celebrate, or even recognise, achievement.9

An article by the paediatrician Michael Cornwall on psychiatric expertise:
Will Psychiatry’s Harmful Treatment of Our Children Bring About Its Eventual Demise?

For over 30 years, I’ve known and worked alongside many child psychiatrists. They are some of the most dedicated and caring people I have ever known.

When I would repeatedly protest to them about the dangers of prescribing antipsychotic meds and SSRI’s to children and teens, the psychiatrists, often with true anguish, would respond to me by saying, “But Michael, I have to do it! The latest brain imaging research says that psychosis damages the brain, and it has been shown that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin.”

The solid, peer-reviewed  research I would then offer, attempting to counter their biochemical, genetic-based, disease model beliefs, would unfortunately not be taken seriously enough to change my psychiatrist coworkers’ minds.

To no avail, I would urge them to consider that valuable scientific inquiry in the broader field of psychology doesn’t have to be limited to only studying genetics and the physical human brain. They shunned the evidence proving the efficacy of psychosocial alternatives to psychiatric medications. They seemed compelled to elevate applied neuroscience as a reified paradigm of understanding and treating human psychological distress. 

Filters Against Folly: How to Survive despite Economists, Ecologists and the Merely Eloquent by Garrett Hardin.  

In his review of this book, Carl Bajama writes: 

We need lay defenses to protect ourselves against the assumptions (conscious and unconscious), the biases, the prejudices and ignorance of experts so that we can evaluate the claims of experts as we citizens try to identify the most appropriate course of action. Hardin contends that the greatest folly citizens can commit when confronted with expert testimony is to accept expert statements uncritically. The statement that “The authority of a scholar is measured by how long he/she can delay progress in his/her field” applies equally to experts in engineering and government as well as in science and theology. 

The Therapy Industry: The Irresistible Rise of the Talking Cure, and Why It Doesn’t Work  by Paul Moloney 

Paul Moloney has written a brilliant and erudite book that might help us see through the mystifying fog of ideas in our present culture that leads us to seek individual therapy and self-help as cures for our ills, rather than people focusing on changing the main causes of distress in the C21st and getting together to create a society that is less damaging to us all. (Dr Guy Holmes, Clinical Psychologist)

To date The Therapy Industry is the most comprehensive, accessible and best-documented critique available of the whole theory and practice of psychological therapy. Indispensable. (David Smail, author of ‘Taking Care: An Alternative to Therapy’)

This book combines intellectual acuity, a well-developed political sensitivity and a comprehensive grasp of the literature with an experienced clinician’s tacit knowledge, wisdom and insight. Reading it may change how you think about psychology, about therapy, and perhaps even about yourself. (Dr John Cromby, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Loughborough University)


I’ll be adding more related links as I find them

Steve Flatt on medicine versus psychology

Steve Flatt

Director of the PTU in Liverpool. Solution focused practitioner, cognitive therapist, nurse and psychologist.

The futility of medicine versus psychology in mental health