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At work today I, not for the first time, experienced a trivial clash of ideology with some of my work colleagues. I was handing over an experience with a patient who is at this time experiencing vivid visual and tactile hallucinations, appearing to be focused almost exclusively around animals, reptiles being the most common.

In this instance, he had called me to the toilet where he was having problems. I entered and pulled the door closed to provide privacy. He explained that he was having a problem. A lizard was in his boxer shorts and it was obviously causing him concern and discomfort. As I stood there, he repeatedly folded and unfolded his boxer shorts, as if searching for something that he felt but was unable to actually get hold of. As if the lizard was continually evading him, in conflict mentally with what he senses told him.

For those who have never experienced anything even vaguely similar, this is almost classic psychotic hallucination. It’s actually rather rare. A pure sensational experience that does not evoke fear or terror, but something that causes confusion and sensory disorientation. Oh, it can be so much worse, but thankfully not in this case. The patient in question is a nice guy.

In handover, this caused some dismissal. In mental health nursing, and the approach to patients experiencing such hallucinations there are two schools of thought. Those who think that a nurses role is not to dismiss such personal experiences, and those that think that to go along with such things is to perpetuate such unreal experiences as to do so is to the detriment of the patient.

The latter viewpoint is easy to understand if rather blinkered. After all, the nurse of this viewpoint cannot see, in this case, a lizard nesting in the patient’s boxer shorts. It’s simply not there and the very idea that a lizard could be there in a men’s toilet, on an inpatient unit in a British seaside town during the bank holiday weekend is ludicrous.

During the handover one staff member indicated that they would tell the patient to simply not be silly, and dismiss such things.

Personally, the attitude of the ‘dismissive’ nurse may indicate several things. Firstly, a lack of experience beyond the mundane. What is attainable within the reach of our basic human senses.

Secondly an inability to accept the experience of the individual as important. In other words, if they cannot perceive or accept something, then it does not or cannot exist.

This is rather sad really, but hey.

The other type of nurse, let’s call them, them ‘empath’, has the ability to accept that just because they cannot directly experience that someone experiencing hallucinations, it does not mean it does not exist. My partner, a nurse of much longer experience than I, describes it as saying to a patient, “I cannot experience what you are experiencing, but that does not mean I don’t believe that you are experiencing it.”

I, from my own point of view know exactly what they are experiencing and so am unable to dismiss it. In my early years I experimented with several common substances that had a psychoactive effect, basically magic mushrooms and LSD. This coupled with a naturally accepting and non-judgemental attitude to others has firmly put me under the ‘empath’ type of approach to mental health nursing. I cannot dismiss anyone suffering in the way the patient described above is shown, because I have experienced very similar sensations and hallucinations, while temporarily under the influence of psychoactive chemicals. I know what it feels like to have my sensory input taken out, twisted about and mixed with imagination and sometimes even a large dose of irrational fear.

Each person experiences the world about us in a unique and subjective way. And thats without including the effects of mental illness on such personal perspections. So to dismiss the experiences of a mental health patient simply because we cannot personally experience the same, is both irrational and to be honest rather cruel.

It’s the same as telling a devout believer in any divine concept that what they believe is simply not true because you do not share such beliefs. Or that someone suffering from colour-blindness is wrong because they cannot see the world about them in the same colours that you do.

Being artistic I also tend to see things in such terms. A child drawing a three dimensional object will be restrained by their concept and ability to translate something three dimensional onto a two dimensional medium. They will develop such an ability, but at an early age, they have not gained such a perceptional ability. Would you tell a child drawing a box as a simply square that they were wrong, just because you have gained the ability they lack? The answer is no.

The sad thing when dealing with adults who cannot accept that they cannot experience is that they won’t really change their attitude without experiencing such a profound change of perception personally, and even if they do, it still won’t be the same. Its individual, it’s personal and so by definition, unobtainable by anyone else.

Despite the patient described above being noted as experiencing a classic case of psychotic hallucination, another patient with a similar condition will not experience the same sensations. To some it might be little demons dancing around his tea cup, another will see a mark on a wall gaining some distracting but profoundly moving connotation. Another will feel the pain of an onion as it is cut and denote such pain as causing the cutters eyes water, while yet another will see electronic implants or insects under their skin. To that person these things are as real as any experience we so called ‘normal’ people perceive, but just because we don’t experience them, does that not make them real to the individual who does?

The answer once again is no.

On a similar point, I listened to a black female police officer in the Louisiana police force which was involved in the killing of an unarmed black teenager. She felt that the lack of empathy and understanding of white officers with the black community continues to lead directly to the ease of taking such an fatal reaction when in situations of conflict. She noted that fear is an aspect of this. A lack of understanding and of course it is a common fact that we fear what we do not understand.

So is the dismissive reaction to the intrapersonal experiences of a mental health patient going through a psychotic episode a reaction with an aspect of fear? And so as described, causes in some an extreme emotional reaction and makes that person react in an extreme way. Something that is in fact a abnormal reaction, an extreme reaction.

The foundation of stigma towards people with mental health problems is fear. That the sufferer may act in an unpredictable way that may endanger others. One of the founding principles of the modern Mental Health Act, originally developed in 1983, is that the person under assessment may be a danger to themselves or others. If they are seen as a danger in any shape or form, they will be Sectioned, along with all that entails, even if they have actually not behaved in any overt manner that may support this fear.

But in the minds of the everyday person, that fear is based around the possibility that every single person, given the right set of experiences may end up suffering a mental illness, and in our culture, particularly Western, civilised society, we are consumed with conformity, or self control, because we have been conditioned that anything that breaks the accepted norms of that society is not normal, will lead to the individual being isolated, cast out by their peers and even being brought to the attention of professionals.

I read once that it takes two people to have a mental illness. One to experience it, another to say they are experiencing it. A schizophrenic alone on a desert island is not a schizophrenic, it’s just a man on an desert island. It takes the judgement of others to label that person as not acting in a so called normal way. Society creates stigma by not accepting the behaviour of anyone who is perceived as different, who behaves in anything other than the accepted manner of that time in history.

In The Crysalids, the profoundly insightful English author John Wyndham describes such a world where any form of physical abnormality is persecuted as being an abhorrent affront to God and destroyed. This, in my opinion is exactly the same concept as those white police officers reacting in the extreme to the black community due to lack of understanding and acceptance.

It’s commonsense really. To have empathy for another, who have to have a glimpse of what its like to walk in their shoes. Obviously as subjective beings, true interchangeable experience with another is impossible, but empathy is about acceptance through understanding isn’t it?

The argument that to follow the delusions of another perpetuates the delusion is also rather arrogant. It denotes that by dismissal and the imposition of the personal point of view over another, it renders the sufferers reality as not real. It presumes that the dismissal of such things can undermine psychosis.

If that is the case, why does psychiatric medicine need drugs? Don’t bother with Clozaril or Respiridone, all it takes is a stern dismal to not be silly, there’s nothing there, pull yourself together and shake it off. There! Sorted!

This is obviously not true.

If every mental health professional took LSD as part of their training and experienced the pseudo psychotic state that it leads to, everyone would gain empathy for those who suffer from these conditions and that conversation I had in handover, would not have occurred. After all, and rather ironically, drugs such as cannabis and opium had widespread use in the early days of psychiatry to create a temporary psychotic state.

In the end, the nurse being confronted by someone living with such hallucinations should not be expected to believe in fairies or demons, or that black is white and white is black. The nurse should however accept that the patient does. And react accordingly.

 

What is the founding principle of organised religion?

You might choose any of the obvious answers to this question. The answer to this is as varied as religions themselves at this time in human history. But I believe that the answer is simple.

It is this.

Organised religion says only one thing, beneath all the BS.

What we believe is the truth, and what you believe, if you believe at all, is wrong.

And the continued existence of organised religion thrives on one thing. The one thing that makes our world in every aspect, not work as it could.

Division

Today, this insidious division takes a myriad of forms from the overt to the hardly ever perceived by the man or woman in the street. From the evangelical missions of the dominant religions and the actions of its followers, like those of Muslim or Christian fundamentalists and their part in terrorism, racism and prevailing cultural prejudice. From the choice of political party to what football team you follow. From wearing name brands of clothing to, in my opinion, the ludicrous act of using dividers at your local supermarket, as your goods lurch towards the cashier. Dividing things you don’t even own yet from those of others.

In the question of organised religion, its long history rife with prejudice and persecution, most notably against followers of other religions, and also the place of women in our societies. The latter only recently changing in the Church of England after hundreds of years of existence, while the Catholic Church remains entrenched in male dominated culture. While as recent stories testify, even raising the question of gender equality in higher church roles in the Mormon Church can lead to excommunication. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the prevailing second class citizenship that women are still enduring to this day is down to organised religion, but that’s an debate for another day.

We, as Humans, have an innately subjective view of everything that we encounter. It’s a fact because , despite your choices and affiliations, we are unique individuals, our view of the world personal and individual. No single human being see’s the world in exactly the same way.

So the interpretation of religious concepts, the words of God if you prefer, will likewise be individual. Religion is a simple fact that large groups of people share a concept in as close a way as is possible given this unique human trait. And in so believing, our, as close as possible, communal truth, we will identify anyone else as wrong.

The outcome?

Division

I heard a nice analogy of religion once. It said that every form of religion in the world see’s the same God, but from different angles, the image changed by the experience, the culture and the history of the viewer. But the focus is the same, even if the viewer cannot accept this.

An alternative was the much older Asian fable of the three blind men who first encountered an Elephant. The first man touching the animal’s ear, stating that it was a large leaf, the second touching the animal’s leg, saying it was the base of a tree, while the last man touching the trunk, stating it was a serpent. The fact remains. It was the same animal, despite the handicapped perception of the men. The handicap of organised religion is also its blindness. The blindness to accepting not what they believe is wrong, but that others can be right too.

At this point, a question should be raised. Why do we need organised religion at all, because its simple outcome is division? The most devastating outcome of this is that followers of one religion feel justified in the death of others at their hands. That the death of those who do not follow their faith somehow makes the loss less important. In a similar way that in war, a fundamental part of the ability to wage war on others is the dehumanisation of the enemy. This is exactly what is occurring in religious wars at this moment in time, just as it was in the more notable wars in human history.

But, back to the question. Why do we need organised religion at all?

Surely we have the ability to perceive the influence, the support and the insight of God/the Divine without having someone work as a go-between? Do we need to be sheep, following a shepherd? This analogy is intentional because the ultimate outcome of following a shepherd is to be led to slaughter or have some part of us removed, exacted for the benefit of others.

If you agree with conventional religious thought, we are the offspring of God, his children. Does a child wanting to engage with their parent have to employ a third party to facilitate that engagement? If the answer is yes, then this is a seriously dysfunctional family dynamic. And in our modern society would provoke serious professional input, because we would see it as highlighting the breakdown in the relationship. This is the state that organised religion in all its forms and going back thousands of years. Organised religion does not highlight our closeness to God, but quite the opposite. Our inability to engage with the divine on our own.

People have described religion as a crutch. This is not true. In the above case, it’s surely more like a social worker, alerted to the situation by a string of dysfunctional experiences that highlight safe-guarding issues and that could ultimately lead to the child, or in fact, the parent, suffering.

Or if you want to go a step further and remove the role of social worker altogether, which admittedly has a benevolent connotation. The power, control and influence of organised religion is the equivalent of child abuse, the follower being the child, the parent being the divine ideation, the religion being the incestuous family member, or predatory paedophile, praying on the innocent and coming ultimately between parent and child while destroying the victim.

The human race is one race. We are all exactly the same biologically, with only variations of chemicals in our skin caused by evolution in a given environment. Some have even go on to say that we share a single consciousness, a collective consciousness that communicates globally and may even influence humanity as a whole. All forms of division complicate and often utterly obscuring that communication.

In Africa, the word Umbutu, roughly translates as I am, because you are.

A phrase highlighting human unity.

If you want to go even further into chemicals, take the underfunded and largely ignored research into DMT, a chemical compound found in practically every living organism on the planet, a commonly occurring chemical that is also a psychoactive compound with frighteningly powerful effects on consciousness.

While modern society increasingly focuses on fear and division of the individual from everyone around them, which is rather ironic given that humanity only survived its early existence by focusing on community and mutual cooperation to survive, but which does serve to demonstrate a fundamental reason why the world in the in the state it is in. Why war continues, why millions die for want of the most basic needs, while the gap between rich and poor continues to increase. We have lost our ultimate truth, something that transcends all others. That we are one, that we are the same, despite culture, history and race. The recent death of a black youth in Southern America, shot by a white policeman highlights that America has yet to move on from its history of racial prejudice. The attitude that children and the elderly are effectively disabled because they do not serve a function in our production line like society, serves to highlight that our society is so obsessed with productivity and playing our part is capitalist consumer culture that those who are worthwhile and those who are not, continues to perpetuate. The list goes on and on.

To me, who comes from a mental health nursing background, the most notable example of this division and loss of, let us say oneness, was the decision in the late Seventies, early Eighties in the UK to close the mental health institutions and the move towards what was then called, Care In The Community. For those unfamiliar with this change, it was basically taking the patients out of the institutions and moving them into the community, using the funds raised by the closures to set up support amidst those communities. The problem was that due to the change in our society, we had largely lost the concept of community, and that, for the most part, the money vanished, or was channelled into other areas, or private pockets.

This was brought home to me in travelling to my nursing training at what remained of a large institution in Essex, then surrounded by a high metal fence, and to see groups of ex-patients from that institution huddled around the entrance area, as close as they could get to the place they still perceived as their home.

This made me realise a simple fact. A fact that even those with enduring mental illness could understand. That the community wasn’t outside, but inside. Many would say, arhh, the effect of institionalisation! I would say we all exist in that state, only our institution is much, much bigger.

And this brings me back to organised religion and why do we need them. If we all are one, and so all have the fundamental ability to perceive the touch of the divine, then we are, to say the least, naïve to believe that others have the ability to translate what the divine says.

I once watched, with some disgust and anxiety, a couple of people using a divining board. The pointer moved from letter to letter and the results were written down. They didn’t make any sense. At the end of the session, one participant then juggled the letters about like an anagram to make words. I asked ‘Why are you doing that? Surely if the spirits, or whatever wanted to give you a message, it would simply spell it out? My reply was a dismissive, ‘Oh, don’t be wet!’

Now I’m sure this is not how it’s supposed to work and the people involved were, well, morons. But if God wants to speak to someone, surely it would be in a way that the individual can ultimately perceive, even if it’s symbolic or cryptic, or in a way that is intended to teach and inform. Its God after all. Not via to perception or interpretation of another, who like the people in my anecdote, may well be total idiots.

The follower puts faith in the priest or whatever, but why? Because the religion has an established hierarchy, and this person has a direct pipeline to the divine? That is ignorance personified. And in fact, simply states that the follower truly believes that they are somehow not worthy or God’s attention. He/she/it has far more important people to talk to than a mere follower. Does God really need to delegate? Does a priest have a greater insight in right and wrong just because they have participated in years of subjective religious indoctrination?

The answer, if you truly believe in any form of the divine, is no. I firmly believe that both God and humanity are much more powerful than that and that by making that connection directly, we both benefit. And yes, I believe the Divine benefits from us, as we can from it, just like the example noted above regarding the parent child relationship.

Or is it because, as is oh so prominent in the Catholic religion, that we are all filled with Sin, so have to come to our divine parent on our knees, unworthy or their attention, begging forgiveness for our transgressions and those committed in the Garden of Eden…….by a woman no less!!!?

This concept, to be blunt, makes me want to puke! And is simply a control mechanism making us feel the need for these divine go-betweens of organised religion, and also feel ultimately worthless in the sight of the Divine. Its rubbish and it’s about time we realised that, because it is once again a form of division, but now from the Divine, or concept of God. That’s not the Divine concept I feel and see. If there is an original Sin, it’s believing this kind of blatant religious propaganda.

And a note to all Christians who adhere to this concept, The Bible was edited and censored during the reign of the Holy Roman Empire at the synods of Nicea by the leaders of the early Christian church, not the simple followers, the ruling hierarchy, so what you read in the Bible is edited. Enjoy the silence people!

To believe you are a child of God, or the Divine, is to accept that you may fall and truly screw up at times, but that parent will always be there for you, without the need to beg for forgiveness, or accept that you are worthless, or kill others in their name. If you went out today, armed with whatever type of weapon you desired at that time and killed another, and your defence was you did that for your mother or father, how would that truly make that parent feel. I exclude of course parents who are as pathological as their offspring. In that case you’re saying that God/the Divine, is as insane and brutal as your actions are.

Moving forward with all its benefits to Humanity as a whole has nothing to do with which church you go to or what club you theologically belong to. It has everything to do with re-establishing that direct personal connection with the Divine and putting aside all those religions whose true agenda consists only of gaining prominence over other religions by having more bums on seats and more money in the bank.

We are one. That is it. Division diminishes us all and allows everything wrong with our world to continue and perpetuate. And until we accept this with courage and humility, nothing will ever change.

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Yay….fancied a bit of Elder Scrolls Online, the newest monster that has crawled, blinking and growling into the daylight of the MMO world.
So I brought up the launcher and….oh…..European Megaserver offline for maintenance. Now I logged on yesterday afternoon and got the same thing. I am assuming that it was online in between time, but who knows.
Since its official launch I have lost track of the amount of time the servers, North America and European, have been offline for maintenance. It seems to be happening with painful irregularity in fact. World of Warcraft used to have every Wednesday morning for maintenance, which was fine because you could simply not bother to try and log in. Another example, The Secret World, the Lovecraftesque horror MMO, appears to rarely go offline for such maintenance at all. I certainly don’t ever recall the same level of log-on frustration.
Now admittedly, ESO is the new kid on the block, but repeated maintenance does give me personally the idea that they are still fixing things that should have been sorted prior to release. I guess its a common thing in games today. Back in the day, people simply wouldn’t release a game until it was a full game, but with the internet, game producers seem to have become lazy, and I suspect, greedy too. If you release a game incomplete, with enough bugs to give an Egyptian plague a run for its money, you can simply fix the bits you didn’t have time to sort out via the net, in patch form, or in the above case, maintenance. But the sooner you release a game, the quicker you can get money from consumers. With MMO’s, you can get an estimate of your potential profit from credit details. And with MMO’s in particular, you really have a consumer market that is a hostage to your game really. Basically they can’t do much about you offlining your game because you have their details already.
ESO had a lot of Beta testing with millions participating but still release issues continue.
Now Ive played the game since release and to be honest, despite various novel approaches to the genre, I’m not really wow’d by it. It continues to remain vanilla in many areas with nothing original jumping out at the player. I was playing Everquest prior to release and have to say I really enjoyed it, while ESO appears a little same same, but different. There are nice touches like the group delves, and a new land to enjoy, but mechanically, it won’t be pushing any boundaries in the MMO field. Personally, I feel its appeal was firmly aimed at people who loved Skyrim and its forebears. For originality The Secret World is unbeatable in that respect and its free to play, while ESO firmly sits in the Blizzard model.
In fact, in the genre of MMO, the concept of Free to Play (FTP), is the only advance evident in today’s market, though arguably a bit profit based. I played Lord of the Rings Online and despite the rather vicious FTP aspect (you had to play for zones, or they would simply appear empty of quests etc), I still enjoyed it, with paying for a zone would give you days and days of play.
With respect to ESO, fair enough I haven’t advanced that fair, with my characters at level 20, the level cap being 50, but I really can’t see any changes occurring beyond land scenery, but we will see…if I actually get a chance to play the game free of maintenance.

BBC NEWS – 28/3/14

A UK industry regulator has called for the law to be changed to require pornography sites to carry out age checks before granting access.

The survey indicated that over the period:

  • 6% of children aged 15 years or younger had accessed an adult website
  • 5% of visitors to such sites had been under-18
  • One website alone – Pornhub – had been visited by 112,000 boys in the UK aged between 12 and 17-years-old
  • Of the wider population, 23% of those who had used the net over the month had visited an adult site
  • Visitors to adult sites spent an average of 15 minutes looking at them during each visit and typically clocked up two-and-a-half hours of time in total over the month

ATVOD (The Authority for Television On Demand) added that the survey probably underestimated the scale of the issue since smartphone and tablet use was not included in the figures.

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Heard this on Radio 4 this morning and it linked in with an item several months ago that I felt the urge to write about but didn’t. Firstly, the item on the radio had two speakers representing both sides of the argument, one a guy who had once run an adult site. Unlike most adult sites this one had a rather boring and sleazeless name, which probably explains why he did run one, given that most such sites have typically names like Cumtube and HornyTeens.com. The person representing the side of the argument incensed by the news above and pro-censorship made me laugh. I often wonder if people representing certain arguments on TV or radio are recruited from a list of stereotypes. Yup, you guessed it right. The representative was what sounded like a 60+ upper middles-classed woman, complete with your typical upper register ‘jolly hockey sticks’ tone. How awwwfully predictable.

THE PROBLEM

The problem seems to be children under the age of 18, watching hardcore porn. Unlike the picture above, as might be expected, its mostly boys. The other side of the problem is that viewing such material can damage the viewer.

THE RATIONALE

Now personally, despite believing utterly in the freedom of the internet and personally having no issues with pornography, I do agree that children under a certain age should not view such material, though personally I think it should be under 16, not under 18, or you end up with a silly situation like age laws in the US. I mean, logically, if you can legally have sex, surely you should be able to watch other people (via the media) having sex.

I have no doubt that viewing hardcore porn if you are young does effect the way you view sex, and the opposite sex. It also reinforces gender attitudes that should be killed off, like the view of women as objects. These just reinforce male dominant attitudes that have done nothing but screw this world up.

The viewing off such thing also can lead the child to inadvertently view subject matter that is simply fucked up, because porn links are not always to be trusted, and so risking even worse psychological trauma in the viewer.

Lets be honest, porn is not a good reflection of male female interaction. If you’re old enough to have already established an adult approach to the opposite sex, founded on experience, then I believe the damage can be avoided. But children don’t have that experience, so their view can be prematurely corrupted.

THE ANSWER

VODAFONE, already have the answer. GOD! I never thought I’d say that about Vodafone.

Basically, if you want to access adult material you have to call up and ask for the access filter to be removed. So, take this idea and go for broke.

So, you’re a horny 12 year old boy. You’ve got bored of page 3 of The Sun or a sneakily stolen lingerie catalog. You’re hormones are bubbling away like the rumblings of a dormant volcano, ready to spew forth a raging surge of sexuality…in fact, you’re probably already feverishly practicing for something you can only imagine, despite you’re imagination being rather limited. So, you have a form of internet access, a smart phone, a laptop, and iPad, and you try to find some porn. Your friends at school have talked about it. The media has told you about it. You feel a thrill of nervous excitement as you hit Google and do a search.

BAMM!

Google, the champion of accountability, gives you 30 pages of links that make your groin throb.

You pause to listen to make sure you’re parents or a siblings haven’t come home yet, your finger ready to click the link. Click! You get the following image come up.

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Now if that doesn’t put the horny little dude off, then when he calls the number provided, trying to make his voice sound deeper and practicing a false date of birth, the phone is answered by….OH MY GOD! Its an obviously elderly lady, who sounds like his granny. FUCK! The poor little guy, his hard on instantly gone as he has to engage with what he can image is a sweet little old lady, as she asks a series of questions that are aimed to confirm his age. Her manner is utterly personable as she starts to ask his some questions.

“Now sonny, what sort of pornography would you like to watch?”

“Err, oh, ah….”

“Would be like to watch things with big boobs? Teen porn? Japanese porn…oh, that includes bukkake doesn’t it sonny? Cumshots? Anal sex……..grannies!”

At this point I imagine any normal sexually frustrated preteen would have hung up. Shit he was expecting to just give his date of birth to some bloke in India with the dull practiced tone of bank clerk, not this shit.

Another bonus is the employment opportunities for elderly ladies, all trained to make such conversations so embarrassingly agonizing for the child making the call. Add to that some tech that identifies child like vocal tones and the explanation that calls will be recorded, and it would be a great deterrent.

Fair enough, porn can be shared between children, and to be honest there’s not much you can do about that, but despite the obvious macho factor of showing porn to your friends, the fact remains that viewing porn, accompanies by the associated activity of whacking off to it, IS a solitary pleasure. Its not a group sport I’m telling you.

But in the end, its down the the services providers to put that filter in. Its all down to them.

Kids will always do what they see as dangerous and adult. Especially if you consider the pressure our culture puts on children, denying the duration of being a child. Since the late 50’s, the pressure to rush into adulthood has been a very real problem in my opinion. And it gets worse every year. There is a dreadful hypocrisy that society limits the time that children can be children, but then starts taking the moral high ground when children start trying to be adults before they’re allowed legally.

To be a child is to be innocent.

Our society pretty quickly destroys the reality of innocence.

Its not a new story. The Fall in the garden of Eden, the snake, the apple, Adam & Eve, is all about the loss of innocence. (OH, and reinforcing patrician society for the next two thousand years  and making sure that women were abused and dominated for the same length of time of course.) But in a society where 7 yr olds hang themselves due to academic pressures or media bullying really needs to get its priorities straight. In fact, here, pornography itself can illustrate how fucked up our society really is. In the 1970’s and before, porn had hair! Oh my word did it have hair. The participants had big hair, bushy side burns and huge moustaches. The naked bodies had pubic hair sprouting from everywhere. Hairy bodies, hairy groins. It was all so natural and above all, adult. Today, in an age of moral panic about internet grooming, predatory pedophiles lurking everywhere, conservative attitudes on everything, all sticking up its nose at every kind of immoral acts. But hear once again we see porn representing the culture in which it exists and also portraying what we copy, albeit unconsciously. Porn today is practically hairless. The women all now have a shaved, almost pubescent appearance. And if you take a group of women aged 18-35, I would bet good money that over 50% of them would be just the same.

Morally, ethically, rationally, our society is truly fucked up. It makes no sense whatsoever.

But the one thing that makes me feel really sad for us as a race, is the loss of childhood, the loss of innocence. The chance to be a child. Pornography is just one of the thousands of influences that slow erodes that time when we have the capacity to be free.

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My failed entry for The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

I realised that my last post didn’t actually show the painting I entered for the RA summer exhibition, so here it is.

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5c5b60bc6f5ef0e7bb618323775e09ecDear Saul Timothy.

Thank you for submitting images of your artwork entitled “THE GREENMAN”.

The Members of the Selection Committee have given careful consideration to the images and regret that they will not be able to include your work on this occasion. They therefore request that you do not deliver it to the Academy.

We very much hope that you will submit work in future years.

With best wishes,

The Summer Exhibition Team

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I had LPI about three weeks ago. I was nervous admittedly, because I’m both a nurse and an artist. I was given steroid drops, to be taken 6 times a day for the first week and then down to 4 times a week for the second week. I started to notice problems in the second week, by detail through my right eye was bad, with detail down by 75%, not vision loss exactly, but inability to see detail, so looking at say, a number plate, the white background would have cobwebs of black around the edge and across the image, while the numbers would just be a black blur. I also noted some swelling of the eyeball.This made working incredibly hard with computer work a headache causing task, my vision constantly being cross my trippy colours, and even focusing on patients faces, incredibly hard, with expressions being constantly cross by shadows and flashes of colour.

I got an emergency appointment and was told that the steroid drops had increased the pressure in my operated eyes from 18 to 38. The drops were stopped immediately and more drops to reduce the pressure in that eye. I went in for a check up yesterday and the pressure in my right eye had dropped to 20, which was good, however I am still experiencing acuity loss, though it seems a little better and something I term as ‘ghosting’, This is like the effect you get if you stare at a TV screen, or maybe lights, then look away and the coloured flashes of light follow your vision. This concerns me but the doctor told me to relax.
The thing that continues to annoys me, is that I’ve seen three doctors so far, and none of them will actually give me a rationale for having LPI in the first place. With drops my pressure was sustained at around 17/18, but having LPI appears to have had no effect at all. When asked the doctors simply cannot give me a rationale for why I needed LPI, what improvement (if any) it will have, and why, if drops maintain my pressure, is LPI even necessary. It seems to be simply something they do. I’m a psychiatric nurse, and have to admit that certain treatments, ECT immediately comes to mind. Basically, we don’t know why it works, or how it works, or even if it will work at all, its simply an option…..a sort of ‘poke it see what happens’ approach.

Medical science is proud to look down on psychiatric treatment as being unscientific, yet here we are, with ophthalmic treatment doing just the same.
This is hardly a clear clinical rational for drilling a hole in someones eyeballs.

Don’t get me wrong, the principle is sound. Too much fluid in the eyeball increases the internal pressure, in my case due to a narrow vent that doesn’t get the fluid out enough. So drill a new hole to make up for the restriction of the other. However, if there is a chance that it will not work, or in fact add additional problems. And if it actually doesn’t reduce pressure, why bother with it, if medication can effectively do the same?

ThiefBannerLogo2

Just finished the 2014 revamp of Thief.

OK…

I was excited, because the previous games were the original stealth games and the last one, Thief: Deadly Shadows was, well, bloody awesome. I envy people of a certain generation who could say, hey, in the 70’s I was in a pub in the East End and Keith Richards and Paul Rodgers were playing pool. Or hey I saw the Small Faces play in a tiny club in Kentish Town in 1966.

People, who even for the briefest moment were witness to an original moment in history.

As I’ve harped on about before, I am of the generation who were there at the beginning of home PC’s and the games that evolved from such humble beginnings of Elite, XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Syndicate. This is where I developed further my self isolating behaviour and started enjoying feverishly, wasting long periods of my life when I could have been enjoying fresh air and meeting people.

So, I have wasted such periods of my life on some of the best original games that today have spawned a billion half hearted, limpdicked rehashes. Don’t get me wrong, the genre has advanced to a point that makes those early sparks of genius, the metaphorical acorns that have grown into pretty decent sized trees, Farcry (besides the QTE elements) and the whole sandbox revolution.

The problem is that now and again, some bastard comes along with a chainsaw and £30 later you’ve got a chest of drawers and a bookcase, both mundanely useful but nothing like a tree from an aesthetic point of view.

And sadly, just like remaking old films (remake Spiderman FFS!!), remaking old games is…shit!

I bet out there at this exact second in history, there are a thousand…no..a million people who have an idea for a computer game in their heads that could revolutionize the genre. Something mind-blowing. But sadly these people and their ideas have crappy jobs that they need to afford that luxury of keeping a roof over their heads or eating, and those dreams will fade, or be pushed back to the woulda-coulda-shoulda corner of their minds, there to gather dust and be something to muse on when their eyesight fails along with their bladder control.

Meanwhile, large gaming corporations, who yes I firmly believe have games fans working for them, reproduce games like Thief, the shareholders and chief execs sitting back and patting themselves on the back for hooking in people who either played the original or heard how good it was, but can’t play it because their computer is too powerful to run it.

I have to say I haven’t really milked the game and seen what I can get out of it now I’ve completed the main storyline, and maybe I will. This review is purely a first impression. Thief is a fairly good game..The stealth aspects are there, the atmosphere is there, the story is…there. NO WAIT!

The story sucks. The ending making me think that a guy like Garret, one of PC histories most iconic characters, who spends his life  climbing about on rooftops, really should in his free time have done some serious work with one of those hand exercise machines. To sum it up,

lame

leɪm/

adjective

adjective: lame; comparative adjective: lamer; superlative adjective: lamest

1.

(of a person or animal) unable to walk without difficulty as the result of an injury or illness affecting the leg or foot.

“his horse went lame

(of a leg or foot) affected by injury or illness.

“despite his lame leg, he fled”

2.

(of an explanation or excuse) unconvincingly feeble.

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Why do they do it? OH WHY!

The game play, while atmospheric is also very linear, something you simply don’t expect from this time in gaming history.  Unless, this was the intention to give the game that retro feel. They even tried to recreate The Cradle, that insanity teasing section of Deadly Shadows that remains one of the most creepy sections of any game that doesn’t have zombies, alien face suckers, or scary little girls in it. But the effect is rather weak now, like a 21st century audience being expected to be scared by Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Some areas of the city exist only for the player to get to a preset scenario and have no opportunities to do a bit of stealing, which is a little soul destroying.

Over all, I was hoping for it to get me over this period before Elder Scrolls Online comes out next month, but here I am on the 6th March, game completed. It will probably go into my pile of games that I enjoyed but will probably not revisit. There doesn’t seem to be much point. And there lies the problem with such games. Without that option to explore and discover things or ways of doing stuff you may not have found before, a game like Thief, simply becomes a vanilla experience like a novel you buy at the airport to see you through the flight. They are something to indulge in briefly but then discard. The problem here is its a £30 novel you buy at the airport and then leave in a cafe somewhere for someone else to read, forgotten with only a vague sense of temporary intrigue or investment. A game you really wish you’d have Torrented, as would be befitting of such a throwaway experience.

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ChildAbusePrevention[7]

Today, listening to Radio 4, I heard an item about children with mental health problems being treated on adult mental health units. According to government statistics (usually an optimistic appraisal at the best of times, and far from the real level of a given problem.) in the UK today, 1 in 10 children suffer from mental health problems. The article states that some children are having to travel huge distances to get a bed, though it was vague as to if this was an adult bed or a bed on an age appropriate unit.  (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/20/mentally-ill-children-treated-on-adult-wards-far-from-home)   (http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/jul/23/politics.socialcare)

OK…

Firstly, let me give you a few facts.

My NHS Trust recently built a whole new unit for the treatment of adolescents and children with mental health problems and actively rent out beds to what we refer to as ‘out of area’ patients. This can generate large amounts of funding to the Trust renting out, as the prices other Trusts (the Trust actually responsible for the child’s care) is significantly higher than a patient from the local area.

Secondly, I know other care workers who have worked on my local unit for children/adolescents, and to be perfectly honest, I would prefer my child to be admitted to the adult unit where I work than be put for a single day in the age specific unit in my area. It is a hell hole. The routine is one of constant self harming attempts, violence and aggression towards staff and staff having to restrain young patients. This never stops I might add. If you want a child to experience such things, and in fact learn some new tricks, which children are wont to do in any situation, that’s the place to admit them. Obviously, staffing is challenging in such units and staff sickness or shortage leads inevitably to using high volumes of bank or agency staff, who are often not experienced or in fact professional enough to be appropriate to work with younger patients.

In the case of my own unit, we will admit 17 yr olds, but they will immediately be put on level 3 observations due to their age and perceived vulnerability. Level 3 basically meaning they have a staff member with them 24/7.

But above all things, I have to say it’s all well and good to give statistics about the occurrence of mental illness in the young, but surely we should be asking, ‘why is the occurrence of mental illness in children so high?’

What is our society doing that is causing so much mental illness in children. Once childhood was perceived as the best time of your life. So what has happened that children as young as 11 in the UK have mental illness? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!!!?

The sad thing, as noted in part, above, is that there is money to be made in children being treated for mental health problems. In some ways it reminds me of the history of advertising in the 50’s that began to aim their consumer marketing  at young adults and children rather than simply adults. The aim being to ‘get them while they were young’ and hook them for life.

Adolescent units are simply breeding grounds for adult inpatient units. Remember, mental illness isn’t like breaking your leg. It cannot be simply set and healed, then fixed. Its psychological and emotional and children naturally adopt and adapt, absorb and evolve. That’s what being a child is all about. These environments are not healthy and heal only by aversion, if at all. Children need nurturing and supporting and this is a virtual impossibility in a unit whose daily routine is aggression, self harm, confrontation and restraint. Staff become simply controllers, prison officers struggling to control the patients. Therapeutic input is a secondary factor is a factor at all. This simply reinforces negative behaviours and a conflict model against people that children and young adults perceive as taking away their freedom and choice.

Of course then there is the fact that these patients can generate funds for an individual NHS Trust, not to mention the broadening user area for drug companies. In the US, children as young as 8 can get a diagnosis of severe mental illness and look forward to a life time of prescription drug use, in some cases, parents have actually been raided by the police (included SWAT teams) because they refused to give their young children prescription drugs, while the child is forcibly removed from the family home.

You have to question the health of a society when children under 16 are committing suicide due to mental illness, where children are given powerful antipsychotics with severe side effects and where the admission to specialist units is seen as necessary.

Children by their essential organic nature are in a process of development. They are reactive to everything about them as well as in them. If a child develops a ‘mental illness’ the question remains….why? The biological argument is not the answer, this is why I loathe the comment ‘oh it’s because he suffers from ADHD.’ As if this is an inevitable, unavoidable answer to the problem and excuses our society and parents (also effected by culture and society obviously) from any role or accountability in such a manifestation.

If a child begins to behave in a way that leads to someone labelling them with being mentally ill, I say they are reacting to something that impacts on them. NOT, something developing in them. Its common sense really.

Examine and change society, rather than stigmatising children, admitting them into the mental health system and pumping children full of drugs.

 

Personally, I feel that society is sick….not the people within it.

This is the first blog entry for a while, because I accidentally spill beer over my modem resulting in a rather brown smell and a shower of sparks wreathed in smoke. The plain result of too much beer and too little desktop space.

I saw this as an omen and much needed, so I dismantled my computer down to the smallest bits I could get and packed the bits away.

BUT….technology has a kind of sneaky way of making you use it. I’m here purely because I’m doing an undergraduate course and need the PC and the connection. RESULT – Haven’t painted in a week!

Anyway, despite my failings. Here is a list of things both coming up and the Fates willing, aim to do in 2014.

I can look back at this entry later and see where I succeeded and where I failed.

 

Most traumatic for me, as a person whose very existence is based on vision, in January I am having holes drilled in my eyeballs to relieve ocular hypertension. To be honest I am terrified. Ive just got into my art and realized how it benefits me, and my fear is that something will go wrong and I will have that taken away from me, in some apparently trivial outpatients appointment. That’s January. The rest of the year seems totally dependant on this working out.

All well, my task for next year is to produce 8 paintings for exhibition in Colchester where a rather conservative atmosphere exists with regard to my kind of art. The driving force for this is simply artistic revenge!

A so-called community gallery whittled down my request for an exhibition from a full scale exhibit to maybe…maybe having one picture in an open exhibition. Something that conflicted with my ego and undermined my faith of local art in general. But I also want to make a stand for art that is deemed ‘out of the ordinary.’ There are better artists out there than me, no doubt, but if I can make enough of a noise with my stuff, maybe I can open the door a crack for other people like me. Artistically I want to reenact the sacking of Colchester by Boudica, and the more noise and upset I can create, the better.

Also, I am going to enter the BP portrait competition 2014, hosted by the National Portrait Gallery in London. I have the idea, which as all good pieces of true inspiration just came to me and above all made me chuckle. So I knew that was the one. Its called Authors on a Bench. That’s all I’m going to say. The feeling behind it was a mixture of the urge to portray three authors who I respect, but with a sense of emotion and poignancy given the situation they appear to find themselves in at this moment in time. I don’t want to do just caricatures, so will try and avoid my urge to fine, obsessive detail.

On a different slant, next year, all going well, I will stop work and go traveling once again with my lady, which means 6 months or so of intense heat and uncontrollable sweat and weight loss and beautiful views and smells that turn your stomach along with stomach upsets, with the woman I love and who I have never traveled with. In the past I have traveled, and then most of the time, stop traveling and come home because I miss her. So this will be both amazing and also different.

This is the plan.

We

Shall

See.

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