Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Enabling is a term that's commonly used in addiction medicine and sometimes in psychiatry. Others areas of social service and education will use it as well. It's a word that is loved or hated and sometimes attached to ideology that may or may not belong.

Wikipedia describes the term "enabling" "in it's counseling or psychological sense' and says that it has 'double meaning" . They refer to the 'enabling acts' of government that empower groups versus the term 'enabling' as I use it here.

Enabling refers to dysfunctional behaviors that perpetuate a person's illness or dysfunction. They are part of the 'system' in which a sick person moves. For instance an adult can 'procure' alcohol for an adolescent which outwardly may appear innocent and helpful but clearly contributes to youth alcoholism.

Most of what we refer to as enabling is not so overt. A number of 'ideologies' are specifically enabling because they perpetuate a negative situation for an individual or group.

Enabling behavior most often serves the enabler at the expense of the person who is the 'victim' of this form of negligence or covert aggression.

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I don't understand business, economics or money. I like money. Money is a kind of power. It's an energy of a kind as well. I heard a sermon once in a California church by a woman who said that she'd one day decided that money was spiritual energy for herself. How it came in and went out related to her love and fear. Ironically the stock market is affected by sunny days.
I just fixed a hole in my wallet. I thought it was a metaphor. It was a $3 repair. During the week or so I had the hole I tipped generously and gave a way change because it was 'inconvenient'.
I have a family member who would never consider any 'money' inconvenient. He's rich as a result. "Count the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves", he's always said and his success speaks for itself. Meanwhile I'm often playing the 'big shot' flashing a $5 bill as a 'tip' when really I don't get tipped in my work. And why would I need to 'impress' the tip receiver. Tipping is an odd system with it's belligerence and institutional begging but I remember thinking less of my father because he never 'tipped' bad service. I felt somehow I should 'tip' always so only varied the amount, tipping more for 'good service' and less for bad but really frankly usually tipping 10 then 15 per cent mostly out of fear. Fear that I'd not be 'seen' as the 'good' guy.
G20 is about money. The rich have it and poor don't. It's about individuals and nations. A pretty strong argument is made for a few rich families controlling the whole of money apparatus going back to medieval times. My Chinese friend described his family making 3 generation investments in property. The grandfather bought the property knowing the son and grandson would pay because of the honor in the family. The cost of that 'honour' is something a more free wheeling individual would object to but the grandson is thankful for his 'ancestors' decisions and now makes similar decisions regarding his family.
When I married into great wealth I found it interesting that the 'revolutionary' children only went so 'far' . A call from the grandfather to the mother saying he was displeased with what he heard was a clear statement that the maverick would be out of the will if he didn't pull in. I watched the tack change and thought how sad it was for all the other 'revolutionaries' who had nothing to fall back on and no 'safety net' of family. To them the 'cause' was all. Lenin and the boys weren't poor nor was Castro. Revolutionaries so often are like Bin Laden, angry children of rich families.
When I told a brilliant psychiatrist about all the fights I'd been in rescuing women and underdogs, describing the guns I'd faced and scars I'd acquired, he simply said, "Isn't it equally possible you like to fight and look for a cause to justify getting into a scrap especially if the odds are against you". Whether or not my psychotherapist was telling the truth I did notice that I didn't 'volunteer' for a punch up with any alacrity after that. Indeed today I'm the last one to get into a fight but I'd put that less to wisdom and more to being fat and old. I'd certainly begrudge my elder psychiatrist colleague his Christian wisdom as well. I'd like to keep a little 'pride'.
The reformer is the enemy of anyone who benefits from the status quo. G20 are doing their best for their countries to keep them on 'top'. Meanwhile the poorer nations are wanting what the richer nations have and making all manner of arguments to support their case.
Coulter was gagged by University of Ottawa, Allan Rock whose 'litany of ad hominems' against her was trite at best, but unbecoming a president of a University. Allan Rock wants what Coulter has and Coulter wants what China has. They no doubt study Stalin and Hitler and admire everything they did without the killing and gassing. But then what rich person or poor person for that matter hasn't at some times said you have to 'crack a few eggs if you want to make an omellette'.
All students of politics are encouraged to study Machiavelli who given Rome's penchant of making only old Italian men saints has never been considered. Yet if there was a sainthood class in politics and economics Machiavelli would stand aside St. Peter or St. Francis.
So where did democracy go? Where did power to the people go? World banks control the world and it's only 500 years or so ago that Kings could only go to war if their bankers or 'taxmen' brought them enough funds to outfit their armies.
Canada is in Afghanistan because of poppies and American is in Iraq because of oil. It's not that wars are means of my guys to get your guys gold but rather for my guys to control of the access. It's all about licenses, tarriffs and access. In the world of information it's all about who can 'censor".
And that's what Robert Graves said Helen of Troy was all about, metaphor. Helen was the trade route to the east.
So now if we control the opium trade and oil trade we can control the money which are based on a percentage of the wealth associated with these commodities. There's a lot of diamonds. So many that it would be little different from glass were it not for the 'control' of the diamond 'trade'. Remove the control and all those women who accepted the 'security' of thousands of dollars of pretty rock,( the vestiges of 'bride price' without the collateral 'dowry' as yet more evidence of the present 'matriarchal' state) and keening and wails would be heard throughout the land.
Real estate is like diamonds in that sense. Is land really owned or 'leased'. Interesting, as Canada sells lands 'freely' all over, the Canadians aren't allowed to buy land in foreign countries. Yet 'discrimination' is commonly a complaint against Canadian men. Racism was never racism when it was against 'whites'.
So to some extent that biased 'liberalism' is a way that supposedly poorer countries argue that they should be 'given' the wealth of richer countries. But a poor country like Mexico has some of the richest people on the planet as Mexicans. It's the disparity of wealth within any country that's more significant.
As Israel rightly argues the Palestinians are poor because other Arabs are rich and don't do for the Palestinians any different than the rich Israelis do for poor jews.
Rich people don't 'give' away their money easily and even Jimmy Buffet and Bill Gates are very careful about who they support, not tipping indiscriminately, but rather rewarding specifically. This was exactly what Rockerfeller did in the 30's.
And Henry Ford said if I gave my wealth freely to everyone everyone would have a dollar more but if I harness my wealth specifically I can make a powerhouse for the production of wealth.
Now if I want wealth like a Non Profit Association I can rescue "mosquitos" and spotted toe mollusks or white babies or sick idiots of genetically deprived parents or whatever through the argument, I need high pay to help a 'victim'. I beg not for myself though I'll get a whole lot of pay in the end but really I'm begging for this other 'victim'. Like American really cared about the Kurd, ha?
University Chancellor jobs are mostly a variation on this sort of 'refined' begging.
At the other end of the spectrum there are 'stock promoters' and 'Hollywood agents". It's all the same really.
I saw a video of police attacking peaceful demonstrators in Toronto. It was pathetic. I was embarrassed to be a Canadian and ashamed of the OPP. But yes I was billy clubbed in the 60's peace demonstrations and today I believe I was mostly confused and afraid. The man in Tieneman Square is still my hero. Gandhi too but then the thousands of deaths that followed his 'nonviolence' gets to the division of arts and science. Arts is about more 'good intentions' more often than not whereas 'science' is more about 'outcome' measures. So Einstein felt personally accountable for the destruction that derived from his theories. I hope that Gandhi would share that insight. Something about butterfly effect and interconnectedness and Jung's collective unconscious coupled to String Theory.
To get back to G20 I saw a video of Black Hoods smashing up Toronto for a really long time with police not taking any action. It was so 'overtly' bizarre that Canadians today 'reasonably' believe that the Black Hoods are G20 'provocateurs'. It's what I'd do in the war of 'public opinion'. It's lets use 9-11 to finish the job Daddy started but didn't complete. It's the only clip released from the pentagon air strike being one shot when there were clearly many cameras just as the Israelies released the one shot of an Israeil soldier being attacked on a ship deck after the Israeli had killed people from above minutes before off camera.
Shakespeare put his best parts 'off stage'. Hitchcock did too. Now the politicians and the protestors do too. And Google today is faced with censorship in China.
So it's not about the 'content' but the 'process'. It's about controlling 'access'. There's all this gold in banks but obviously there's these keys and vaults and things with only certain people controlling 'access'.
Most wealth is inherited. After that 'hard work' and 'good luck' and 'wise decisions' account for the greater acquisition and keeping of wealth.
Canadians didn't make babies. Africans did. I forego the delight of 'many hands to make work light' or 'many mouths to feed' but it's part of the equation.
I don't know much about money, business or economics. I've devoted my life to knowing medicine and psychiatry. If I had done a perfect job everyone would be healthy and sane. If the economists and rulers and bankers had done a perfect job everyone would be rich.
I believe most people are muddling along doing the best they can most of the time. Psychopaths and sociopaths aren't common. Yet I can have one serial murderer who kills only a dozen people and justify using all the resources of the land on 'vengeance' calling it justice where justice is something a whole lot more.
I don't think the government or the protestors should use 'brown shirt' tactics but then I don't like the brawling in hockey. I want to watch a good hockey game without the 'unnecessary' violence. But violence sells Google and Youtube.
It remains evidence of a country's greatness how it treats the sick, poor and mentally ill. The trouble is that today the language has changed. When that statement was made "poor" meant to all the inability to have food, clothing and shelter. Today in Canada 'poor' is a 'relative' term or a term from Marxist rant but it means that if you have 2 lear jets and I have only one then I'm "poor" and mentally ill doesn't mean raving lunatic in an asylum but rather dysthymia. But it's just part of the Vietnam battle for 'hearts and minds'. Who has access to 'language' and who controls the media.
I don't understand money but I know it's spiritual. I've been recording every purchase I make and all my spending for the last six months. It's tedious to the extreme. I've kept receipts and entered totals into this pda device and been a regular accountant. I did this traveling. I did it with water and battery energy on sailing and trekking expeditions. I did it because I know that the rich do this. The rich that I have known personally are extremely hard working, extremely careful with their money, count pennies, and mostly are like my Dad. Cheap and conservative.
Dad said, "there's no free lunch".
So my black sheep jewish surgeon friend from a famous banking family told me he was the rebel because everyone in his family went into finance and he'd wanted to be surgeon. His family despite stereotypes about jews tried desperately to argue him out of his 'dirty' job, 'working with his hands'. He asked me to describe a couch once. I said it was black leather. He said, it was black leather, with a retail price of $3000 and a wholesale price of $300. He told me that in his family as kids they learned 'retail' and 'wholesale' prices the way the children of artists learned the names of colours and the way the children of doctors learned the names of body parts.
My rich friends read the prices in catalogue. It's tedious and boring. My brother reads the business pages of newspapers. He's much better off than my friend who reads the sports pages. I read the comics. I'm not complaining but it's a fact and I accept it that reading the comics is fun and enjoyable.
I don't like that people destroyed windows in Toronto. G20 is people getting together to talk. Boys and girls destroy. Men and women create. Anyone can be a critic. Vandalism isn't a solution. It just means that peaceful demonstrators get hurt. But yea, I know, if it weren't for the Black Panthers the US would never have talked to Martin Luther King. But then who killed Martin Luther King, a black panther associate or the US government, or some wing nut.
Money is spiritual. It's still one of my favorite Beatles songs, "We don't want a revolution." "Give peace a chance!"

- @kn using BlogPress from my iPhonethe

Location:Carrall St,Vancouver,Canada

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The Canadian Author's Association Conference was in Victoria this year. I confess that while I wanted to go to the conference and was indeed a presenter Victoria was a major attraction. I love the city. I've been going their for years.  I love best sailing into the harbour and staying on my sailboat in the waterfront. Second best, well the Empress for sure. After that I've stayed in several of the 5 star hotels around he harbour and loved them all. I have even stayed in the motels further out from the centre of the city and loved the quick access to downtown. It's such a manageable city.  Everything is within walking. And it's a pretty city.  Really. It's like Kingston and Quebec City. All the old with the new and a real tourist treat.

Laura and I loved the Harbour Towers.  Gilbert was allowed to stay and he says it's a great place for a dog. At least until I was presenting during the luncheon and some cudmudgeon complained that there was a dog under the table.  I'm sure I saw this person, rodent featured person, obviously terrified of the ferocious cockapoo hidden under the table, at this private function. That said there are these anti human and anti animal health regulations that would never fly in civilized parts of the world where people share kitchens with goats and pigs but would exclude the  rodent featured persons who complain about cockapoos.  Besides Gilbert is a person.    Away from food the Hotel was terrific about Gilbert.

We all loved the conference and when we weren't involved directly we enjoyed walks along the seawall and through the city. The Empress, covered in Ivy during the day, or lit up at night is always a pleasure to the eyes.   The parliament buildings are truly beautiful.  I loved the buskers about Victoria. This year the Sax Quartet and the Piper by the totem were especially good.  The art being sold on the street, especially the First Nations is of high quality too.

We had lunch at the Old Deli and tea and coffee at Murchies. Munro Books is the best.  We shopped at Roots and Tilly and Levi and just had a very fine tourist holiday. Who needs to go thousands of miles away when there's Victoria?

The conference ended on Sunday but Laura and I left early with Gilbert to attend Mass at Christ Church Cathedral.  Gilbert likes that the Queen loves her corgis.  She's attended Christ Church in Victoria.  Gilbert on his way to being an Anglican was a model dog throughout the service except when he tried to join the procession and had to be kept on a short leash. The Dean's sermon  was  profound and thought provoking in the most refreshing way.

Morning with Ipad

The iPad cost me at l least two hours sleep. I was so absorbed in using the virtual keyboard and downloading new aps that it was 1am before I knew it. Then I thought about it before falling asleep. At least I didn't dream about it. Gilbert woke me this morning with puppy tongue licks to the ear. I let him out in the yard where he pooped and peed by himself. In only a few months we've come from me stepping in poo to wet diapers on floor to barking beside the bed to frantic scratching at the door to puppy kisses.
At 6 am he actually let me go back to sleep while he made his own breakfast, turned on the tv and watched trailer park doggie boys. I may have been dreaming. At 7 he woke me to play so I got dressed in sweats and took him for a walk. He even fetched ball for a bit before getting bored.
Now I'm at the Ipad having just downloaded the weather channel one of my Iphone favorite aps. And back to practice on this virtual keyboard which works if I watch my fingers.
I can't fly with writing as i do with a regular keyboard but I'm up to30 wpm about and few mistakes.

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I don't see any way of uploading pictures within blogpress or on this safari view. I have pictures I can email and have pictues on the piccassa album online but I don't
Location:W 13th Ave,Vancouver,Canada

virtual keyboard for iPad

I can see that with practice I could get adept at full finger typing. The hands have to be high above the key but it rseems that with practice it may be possible to get some speed. Right now I'm probably doing only 20 words a minute while with a regular keyboard I'M over 100 with few mistakes. i' having to watching my fingers as yet but 50 wpm is likely possible soon and this is better than two finger for us typists
it's likely I'll get to point Where I can write with this though now I'm still having to think about the process.

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Location:W 13th Ave,Vancouver,Canada


I've found an app for blogging with the iphone so I'm happy. Now I'm wondering how to import pictures from my nikon coolpix or from the iphone. I expect there's going to be a need to upload these to another computer or flickr or some such online place to then download to blog or ipad. The next generation of Ipad will probably come with a camera and we'll all upgrade. Or more likely there is some nifty way of transferring pictures and videos to this world which I've not yet found. The expectation is the presence of another computer. I've been using my acer to download itunes and sync with the ipad. It's pretty much all a computer by itself but there's these not quite all the way aspects about it. Still it's so easy to use. I love it. Now lets see if Blogpress does it. It says I can sync pictures and videos to blogpress using itunes so I'll have to do that next.

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I have an Ipad. It started with the Iphone. I love my Iphone. It's been up there in enjoyment with the first laptop I bought that used a micro cassette for memory. It's right along side the joy that came with the first PC. This Ipad is like mega Iphone. Just a bigger variety really without the phone part. Eventually they're going to make this with earphone or blue tooth phone connection and iphone will be auxilliarized. They really are overlapping. I haven't figured how to upload documents to my blog so I'm typing on line. The virtual keyboard is a bit small and overly sensitive for regular typing so far but the dock keyboard I'm using is just fine. It really is great. Planet Earth and Youtube have been the most fun. The books are terrific too.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Green Zone

A great war and intrigue movie starring an amazing Matt Damon as rogue American soldier. It's a story about the search for the disappearing WMD. Director Paul Greengrass. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland. Based on book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who was Washington Post Bureau Chief in Bagdad and is now National Editor.

The question that is addressed is 'trust'. Whose going to trust America is doing the right thing or the good thing. When Caligula ruled Rome Romans and others listened because the emperor controlled the army but was Caligula good and right. Some would say power is right. Thereafter whoever has power defines what is 'good'.

I can't forget 9-11. Bin Laden terrorists supposedly are the cause. Bin Laden is Saudi. Then suddenly 'invade Iraq' is the solution. Kill Saddam Husein yet Saddam Husein isn't related to Bin Laden. There was this huge "leap of faith".

There is also no doubt now whatsoever that there was a cover up. All the people who were supposed to ensure against a 9-11 scenario appear to have been promoted. The investigation simply never addressed the obvious questions. But to question 9-11 is to be unpatriotic. I think it's horrible that people died in 9-11 and I don't hate firemen. I just don't like liars. It's the way my mother raised me.

Now we'll still looking for Bin Laden and the so called Weapons of Mass Destruction. Great movie.

Was Saddam Hussein killed because he knew Dick Cheney was hiding Bin Laden in Texas?. Anything can go missing in Texas. I wouldn't be surprised if they found Elvis and Kennedy's real shooter were being held by Halliburton in Roswell.

I thought I'd never say it, but American politics make Harper and Ignatieff look like Canadian good ole boys. They might have sex with moose or burn blacks in Prince George but they'd never tell the kind of fibs American presidents do. Either that or Clinton really didn't know what he was doing with Monica was sexual.

It sure makes prayer more attractive. Great movie.

The Author is an Odd Animal

The Author is an Odd Animal
-William Hay
The author is an odd animal. Instead of living life he or she chooses to write about it. Alone he worships a blank page or screen until a God or muse fills that very space with words. Whether these words have meaning or validity isn’t terribly important. Like the Pentacostal whose ‘talking in tongues’ is interpreted by diviners, writers have critics, or better still a postgraduate English student who “interprets” their otherwise incoherent doggerel into high art.
A psychiatrist observing authors would declare them isolative and anti social. That they sometimes deign to hang out with other authors is just primitive tribalism. Gangs of authors who gather together around books are very little different than gangs of motorcyclists who gather around Harley Davidson’s. The latter have overt tattoos while the authors more discretely place their buttock expressions of ‘ex libris’ opposite their flamboyant heart tattoos containing the names of their first publisher’s.
The most hebephrenic of the lot, readily named psychotic by any sane shrink would of course be the poet. What writer claims more to depend upon the ‘muse’. These grandiose babblers talk in rhyme and clang associations. The most obsessive of their lot count syllables to the magic number of 17. Others beat and still others chant. The worst add music to their words and calls these noisy poems, songs.
No worse lot of writers lived. The lot would to be locked up were it not for the grace of warriors who drunk on victory throughout history have demanded poets celebrate their carnage in poetry and song.
It’s bedlam the way these folk meddle with words and make mockery of language. Some won’t even use punctuation. There’s no end to the madness of poets.
The novelists are little better. Liars, the lot of them. Anti social tale tellers and gossips who sometimes stoop so low in social depravity that they use pseudonyms to disguise their works.
They write as if they were somewhere when they weren’t and mess with time and place continuously Sometimes they don’t even bother to call their utter fabrications historic or futuristic. Some are so damned lazy they don’t satisfactorily end their works and leave the conclusion to the swindled reader.
They’re big on detectives, not surprising given the way they steal the hearts and minds of their readers. From Sherlock to Mallory to Alex Cross they’re inventing characters and making them do the most unbelievable things. But at least that lot tries to maintain some semblance of sanity. The writers of fantasy are quite simply over the top.
The worst of all are the children’s writers. They should be banned outright. They even babble like the children they write for. Such extraordinary tales about talking fish and flying children. They pollute the minds of pre formed citizens. The very worst steal authority from the august medical profession and claim that blathering of green eggs and ham are a doctor’s pronouncement. Children should learn accounting from a young age and be limited to spread sheets and facts while this lot would have them caught up in spider webs and magic spells

Prose writers are pretentious and pompous. The historians lie by selection and exclusion. They claim objectivity when they’re obviously biased or would not give a crap about the matter they’re writing about. They bring up all sorts of muck and re fight wars their side lost long ago. They make much of research but what they mostly research are other authors. Authors quoting another authors ad nauseum.

The journalists are a particularly depraved lot. They churn out words by the thousands. They only slightly vary their formulas because the readers quickly forget what they wrote the day or week before. As often as not they change their opinions 180 degrees without any one noticing.
Some of these journalists even claim to be investigative but it’s clear that they are just looking for a story. They’ve got nothing of their own. Empty vessels desperate for someone else to give them their lives. The very worst give up writing all together and get on television. They’re especially fond of wearing clean well pressed clothes and pretty hair in front of scenes of war and poverty.
At least some journalists are a bit honest. These are called gossip columnists. The deceitful of this lot call themselves biographers. The biographers put a lot of this drivel together and compile books, but it’s really no difference. They’re all just identity vampires.
Just as some authors have no identity of their own others have multiple personality disorders. These ones only escape diagnosis because of the enabling of their fans.
The playwrights and screen writers have hundreds if not thousands protecting them from incarceration in the asylums. People point to sales as if the opinions of groups of stupid people with excess cash had anything to do with what is clearly a most severe form of mental illness.
They call the dirty authors erotic while the downright depressives are viewed as deep. The manics start off writing prophecies only to later get their own television shows as televangelists.
At the very bottom of the barrel are the comedians for sure. There I rest my case. A group of grown men and women making adolescent fun of bodily processes. I’m certainly not going to fart on stage to make my point.
Nothing is more subversive than the comedians. They actually make fun of the authorities. They mock prime ministers and presidents. They make potty jokes. They even stoop to swearing again and again while their audiences laugh and laugh at such contemptuous behavior. Nothing is sacred. Like a dog chewing on it’s own leg, they even make fun of themselves. Now that’s sick.
The latest in the constellation of writer’s, the bloggers, simply don’t bare mention.
The only thing good to be said about authors and writers is that, were it not for them, good and decent respectful law abiding obedient CENSORS would have a no means of making an honest living.

-presented at Canwrite 2010 conference Victoria, BC

Hair of the Sasquatch

Rodger Cove is a screenwriter and film maker who taught courses at the recent CanWrite 2010 Conference. I had the pleasure of attending both, one on structure and storytelling while the other was on the new media. Both were excellent. Rodger seemed like a traditional young college professor and taught all the conventional material one would hope to cover in these areas. His special insights went beyond this to the cutting edge. That was all on the surface.

He and a friend made an internet movie serial, the Hair of the Sasquatch. This is really Rodger Cove. I won't go so far as to suggest he likes hairy Italian women but I would recommend that anything he does is worth the price of admission. I wouldn't be fooled either by his clean cut looks and serious demure. He's definitely got a touch of Fellini about him.

CAA Literary Awards Banquet

Let me start by saying that authors clean up nicely. Even the Irish like Patrick Taylor looked almost civilized. Rhonda Lee Stephenson, Awards Committee Chair, looked simply ravishing. Anthony Dalton, CAA President and intrepid marine adventurer was probably concealing a .pdf (personal flotation device) under his clothing but outwardly looked almost Bay Street.

Julie and Colin Angus, National Geographic's 2007 Adventurers of the Year award winners and authors of their most recent book Rowed Trip, gave a truly d(h)aunting and surprisingly amusing account of their adventures bicycling Siberian blizzards, rowboating Atlantic Hurricanes and interpreting Bulgarian customs. After all that they even navigated publishers and started a family. Their youthful energy was exhausting.

The banquet food and service at the Harbour Towers was terrific. I do apologize to whoever ate my salmon. When the chicken came by first, I was famished so I just said that I'd ordered chicken. I really had no idea Laura chose salmon for us. I was feeling a bit fishy until I cleared that up. The chicken really was delicious.

R. L. Stephenson-Read presented the awards with flair:

The Bookland Press Emerging Writer Award went to British Columbian author, Rachelle Delaney for The Ship of Lost Souls, (HarperCollins Publishing).

The CAA Award for Poetry went to Newfoundland poet, Tom Dawe, for Where Genesis Begins,(Breakwater Books).

The Carol Bolt Award for Drama went to Manitoban playwright, Michael Nathanson, for Talk, (Playwrights Canada Press).

The Lela Common Award for Canadian History went to Ontarian Jonathan F. Vance for A History of Canadian Culture (Oxford University Press).

The Mosaid Technologies Award for Fiction went to Newfoundlander Michael Crummy, for Galore (Doubleday Canada).

Bernice Lever, a former award winner herself, presented the Allan Sangster Award, honouring long and meritorious CAA service, to British Columbian, Walter MacConville. Fellow poet, Sheila Martindale accepted the award for Walter who at 95 wasn't about to Colin Angus himself to some late night writer's banquet.

With that Jean Kay was called up by Anthony and R.L. so Margaret Hume could present her a bouquet of flowers with special thanks for all the amazing work and organization that she'd undertaken to make this a truly memorable conference that will be the 'buzz' for years to come.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

CanWrite 2010 – Julie and Colin Angus

I have had the privilege of meeting prime ministers, Nobel Prize Winners, Olympic Athletes and World Religious leaders. I really can't recall being as moved by anyone as much as by Julie and Colin Angus, two thoughtful young adventurers with a baby on the way after hurricanes and Siberian snow storms couldn't come between them.

Colin circumnavigated the world under human power. Julie accompanied him much of the way but especially for the crossing of the Atlantic in which they encountered 2 hurricanes. Julie became the first woman to row from mainland to mainland across the Atlantic. Their epic 2 year journey began at the Maritime Museum in Vancouver and ended there.

I had read Julie Angus' book, Rowboat in a Hurricane, after Phil a retired oceanographer and sea captain, thrust it into my hand last winter saying, "You've got to read this. There's nothing like it." Later at the Canadian Author's Association I would hear Julie's publisher singing her praise as one of the most enjoyable writer's she'd ever had the opportunity to work with. Colin's book of his 2 year, 43,000 km trek Beyond the Horizon is my next must read book.

Waiting to hear them speak at the CAA Literary Awards Banquet, sitting at a table of learned and accomplished writers and genius, the topic was of the devastation of the British Petroleum oil catastrophe. It was so apropos coming spontaneously before these two shining lights of ecology celebrating human energy and renewable resource. Julie and Colin Angus, two spiritually gifted writers and visionaries gave hope by their action and the gift of their presentation and words.

What a priviledge to be in the same room with such humble and humorous superhumans.

Their latest book Rowed Trip described their journey by oar from Scotland to Syria, through 13 countries, across the waterways and lands. For now Julie pats her bulging belly and says "this is our next adventure."

CanWrite 2010 –Blue Pencil Sessions

At this year's Canadian Author's Association, "blue pencil" sessions were held in the lobby. Due to complaints by other hotel guests about the 'noise and shameful carrying on" these 'blue pencil' sessions will in future be held off site, in padded rooms.

Through out the conference writers heard their fellows chanting "Not my bon mot! Not my bon mot!" as authors staged rallies in groups hoping vainly political action might influence editors.

One petite white haired woman cried desperately to no avail 'that scene defined my grandmother, I simply can't remove it from her memoirs." Senior writers, ever available to criticize, wielded Luke Skywalker Blue Pencils with great flair. Others ganged up on the unpublished, two on one ,while the third operated the chain saw.

A veritable tug of war went on for hours with kc dyer on one end of a paragraph and a budding author at the other. By her utter deviousness, Bernice Lever, demonstrated that she'd been at this editing business a very long time. "Whose that behind you," she'd say and then whole chapters would disappear into thin air. "I could have sworn I included my 60's recipes for mushrooms in my cookbook for wholesome childen's food…I just don't know what's become of it." said the long haired author. Bernice smiled coyly like the proverbial cat.

Listening to Anthony Dalton you'd have thought he was a grief counselor, "it's gone, learn to live with it. We all move on with time."

However gentle the published authors were the newcomers just kept thrashing about on the floor and gnashing their teeth. At times the keening interrupted keynote speakers. Bob Mackay, his own novel just accepted for publication wanted to offer solace to one particularly forlorn writer but Rodger Cove stopped him. "He's got to face the loss of that one comma!" Rodger said.

It didn't matter that all the authors told the new writers, the editors and publishers were even more brutal. "We're doing this for your own good," fell on deaf ears.

Friday, June 25, 2010

CANWRITE 2010 – Richard Wagamese

R.L introduced Richard Wagamese, the Friday evening keynote speaker. Richard received the Canadian Authors Association award for fiction for his 3rd novel Dream Wheels in 2007. He was the first native Canadian to win a National Newspaper Award for Column Writing in 1991. His debut novel Keeper'n Me won the Alberta Writer's Guild Best Novel award in 1994. His other books include: The Terrible Summer; A Quality of Light; For Joshua, An Ojibway Father Teaches His Son; Ragged Company; One Native Life, his memoir. He has also received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters making him Dr. Richard Wagamese.

R.L having introduced him said, "Please take the podium, Dr. Wagamese" To this he responded, "Wrong thing to tell an Indian to take something, I'm already imagining how I'm going to carry it home on my back". After that he spoke of street life as a young man, leaving school and finding 'at 16 my idea of safety was the library." He described reading stacks of books there and 'when creator came I was ready."

He was out of work at 17 and saw an ad "Native writer wanted" so "I thought I'm half way there, I'm native." When he was asked what training and experience he had, he said, "I lied." Asked for transcripts, he said, "they'd all been lost in a fire." He was told to come back and show his work so he went to the library to read up on how to write 'journalism' and got the job. Since then he has worked as a professional writer.

"I allow myself to be all for Creator and the creative process, to be the vessel."

"Each time we face an empty screen it is a spiritual experience." He shared. "The thing we are called upon to do is fill that empty space with spirit and spirituality……we are conjurers……we pull rabbits out of the hat…..we arrange words in ways they have never been arranged before…it's magic."

"I spoke to the Ojibway elders and they told me that I was supposed to create stories for the story's sake."

"You have to hear it, feel it, smell it, taste it so you can put it on paper so someone else can hear it, feel it, smell it, taste it."

"We're all tribal people, " he said," We have a desire to hear the one voice speaking and we lean closer around the campfire to hear that voice. Regardless of your background we all have oral tradition in common."

Then he created the most amazing complex and beautiful story as a game, receiving three words and a sentence, the sentence being the one that would end the story. Then he told us all a wonderful story and the whole room of authors stood en mass applauding at the wonder he shared.

In closing he said, "When people encouraged me to be the best I could be spiritually, I thought the acronym FAITH meant , Find Another Indian To Hassle, but now I know the acronym for FAITH is Find Another Insight That Heals."

It was an honor to be in the room with and hear this great man say, "It's an honor to come to a room of my peers who face that same paper." When he stepped down from the podium there were tears in the eyes of a few.

CANWRITE 2010 – Patrick Taylor

Margaret Hume, president of the Vancouver chapter of the CAA, introduced Patrick Taylor as this morning's keynote speaker. His accomplishments in Obstetrics and medical research are as noteworthy as his remarkable career as a short story writer and later novelist. As Margaret so well pointed out Patrick makes light of his achievements which include 170 scientific papers, 6 text books and 10 years as the Editor in Chief of the Canadian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

I was personally delighted to read his stories in Stitches the Journal of Medical Humor in which he was the book reviewer. His own books now include: Only Wounded: Ulster Stories; Pray for Us Sinners; The Apprenticeship of Doctor Laverty; Now and In the Hour of Our Death; An Irish Country Doctor and an Irish Country Village. An Irish Country Girl was just released this spring and he is presently working on An Irish Country Partnership due to be released next year.

"In the Beginning was the Word." He quoted in his most mellifluous Irish accent. "And we all here love words," he continued at his whimsical best. His topic that day regarded what traditional writers needed in an electronic world. He described how he himself had progressed from pen to word processor but said to much laughter, "I had a short time with voice recognition technology but with an accent like mine…."

Making fun of his own efforts in this realm and connecting to all the writers there, he shared on the downside of electronic age, "I've a habit of losing stories to cyber space. There's one still hovering over Regina Saskatchewan from when I pressed the wrong button on the computer." "Back up! Back up! Back up!" he drilled home the message to all writers using computers.

But he highlighted the speed and ease of editing sharing his recent experience of sending 20 chapters to his editor from Tenerife and getting them back a week later.

Getting down to the grit of marketing in the electronic age, he advised, "Don't ask so much about royalty but ask what your book's publicity budget will be." The problem with ease of publishing on the internet is that books can come out but if no one hears about them then it's little different than if they collected dust in the basement or attic.

He emphasized the importance of 'word of mouth…it's still the best tool for selling." With that he shared anecdotes from his personal book tours, satellite tours and even talked about Margaret Atwood's auto signer robotic arm.

As he progressed with his topic he entered more and more into the twists and turns of modern publishing warning of the pitfalls and sharing anecdotes about what to do and not to do with contracts. He warned writers to consider how e publishing was affecting the music industry and the increasing concerns of piracy.

The American Author's Association and Canadian Authors Association were directly involved in addressing all the new changes that were coming legally as a result of this new media.

While there seemed to be much to be concerned about he closed on a very positive note: "the youngsters are still reading."

The e world had too he said affected the ability of readers to interact with writers. "I don't twitter or tweat, " he said, "but I have a web site and I respond to my reader's emails."

It was a wonderful speech specific to the needs of the writer audience. But the standing ovation he received was as much for the man.

CANWRITE 2010 – Mayor Dean Fortin

The Friday morning session of Canwrite 2010 opened with Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin's remarks to the audience. "Arts and culture define our city" he said. "I believe we have the most independent bookstores in the country." " Our city has it's own Poet Laureate. This year it's Linda Rogers."

Mayor Fortin was indeed a man of vision and saw the central role for arts and culture in postmodern society. Victoria thrives on tourism. Tourism has increasingly become a major industry in today's world. Where once the individual depended on big business to supply their 'commerce' from other countries and regions, today, that very same individual goes directly to the source. Why buy from some place in the world at a distance when I personally can visit that place and bring back what I find I want. Why hear second hand about a place when I can have the full esperience first hand. This Canwrite conference talked increasingly about the nature of technology removing middlemen and Mayor Fortin expressed his realization of this.

"Our movement is to see arts and culture thrive", he said, citing the creation of Victoria's "Random Acts of Poetry" series. "We want to fill our city with Random Acts of Art".

"Tourism is so important to our city….where other cities were cutting the budget to the arts we were not."

Mayor Dean Fortin was highly applauded by those in attendance. He expressed the kind of foresight and spirit that are needed today as the world changes from an economy of war to economy of creation.

CanWrite 2010 - The Opening

The bar opened. Writers being thirsty for knowledge stirred from the opulence of the Harbour Towers hotel seeking liquid inspiration. Patrick Taylor was holding court in the foyer surrounded by gorgeous nubile women hanging on his every word.

I slithered over to hear what the master was saying. It was really very profound. Talk of cultural roots and comparisons of his children's grasp of Canada versus his own sense of the country having himself moved here from Ireland. Watching the women adulating this famous author I thought, "He can't be as intelligent and learned as he sounds, it must be the Irish accent."

I turned to another genius, Jane Hall and tried out an Irish accent on her hoping to elevate myself in this crowd of brilliance. She didn't notice.

I concluded Patrick's delivery is merely a product of his years as a Obstetrician. That's what must have made his mind so fertile. A pregnant pause. Daily peering at new squalling humanity upside down must have given him his inside take on the Irish that has made his writing cherished the world over.

Anthony Dalton, the grand adventure writer, had been dragged from some Arctic ship or other to be in our midst. I don't know with all the books he's published this year, some dozen or more how he finds time to be the national President of the Canadian Author's Association.

Russ Harvey, the new media guru, was glowing in our midst. He's long ago ascended to cyber sainthood and only occasionally incarnates for the benefit of those of us still using pen and keyboard.

Riot police were called in to barricade the bar so that organizers Jean Kay and Perry Wilson could herd the authors to their seats.

BC Minister of Arts Kevin Krueger was appreciated by all as he spoke of his powerful efforts on behalf of the BC Arts Community to raise funding for artists. His son is a professional writer. Mr. Krueger was such a delightful raconteur that several writers in the audience were rapidly jotting notes in hope of plagiariazing his stories to create sure fire best sellers.

After the riot police were sent home the authors stormed the bar again and continued to graze amidst the marvellous hotel hoer d'oves.

Open mike followed. As I was part for this event I have no recollection at all of what transpired. Writers are recluses who hide behind characters. Open mikes are particular traumatic events. However the audiences always seem to be highly entertained by this. Mostly other writers like to watch their peers squirm.

After, Ben Nuttal Smith, who had recited poetry earlier, and was 10 foot tall from learning his latest novel has been accepted for publication,played guitar and sang songs from the 30's and 40's. He wondered why I didn't know all the words. What was wrong with me?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

CanWrite 2010 – Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites

The ferry over from Vancouver to Victoria was crawling with writers. Some were clinging upside down from ceilings. Others were dragging along the sides of the boat. I saw Perry Wilson and that Kenyan writer, Sandra Harper, plotting together. Others were being shooed out of closets by the ferry crew. One writer was clearly editting. He was trying to disguise it but his furrowed brow gave him a way. We were all simply in a mad dash to get to CanWrite 2010 for registration today.

Laura and I and Gilbert the dog made it to the Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites despite my frequent stops for delusional hallucinations in which complete strangers appeared desperate for my autograph. Laura tried to keep the police out of it. Little Gilbert, still a puppy chewed on these tourists pant legs, because he could. Meanwhile I was clinging to their appendages begging these complete strangers in the end to ask me for my autograph, offering as a last resort to pay them if they would. .

Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites at least knew who I was. After we sorted out that I had to give them my credit card and they weren't paying me to stay here, things went even more smoothly. I was very sorry the German desk girl, Katy, had not read my Canadian book of poetry. I told her that 100 had been sold or given away and that if only I'd had the money to buy 400 more I might have had a best seller.

Resident Poet Bernice Lever was already surrounded by fans in the lobby. She just had another book of poetry published adding to the obscene number of books she's already written.

Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites is just too nice a place for an authors conference. Entering the gorgeous rooms with spectacular harbour view I already have had thoughts of barricading the doors and ordering in large quantities of booze, drugs and paper so I can hole up here to write a much needed rock concert. It's that sort of upscale place. Give peace a chance!

Something is happening later tonight but Gilbert wants to go for a walk now. Amazing how a puppies bladder and bowels can humble even the great unknown poets.

It's a great hotel that lets dogs under 20 lbs in the rooms. He's growing so fast I've got to stop feeding him through the conference or he may outweigh his welcome.

Victoria meanwhile is an idyllic city. A great place for a writer's conference. I can't wait to find a outdoor coffee shop where I can posture. If I'm really lucky I'll spot more of the actually famous writers who are attending this conference.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010



Wisdom is a deep understanding and realizing of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to choose or act to consistently produce the optimum results with a minimum of time and energy.

Proverbs in the Bible is the literature of Wisdom, thought to come mostly from Solomon. It is also thought that it may have been composed as guidance to young men as they entered into manhood.

"What the wicked dreads will overtake him

What the righteous desire will be granted." (Proverbs 10)

Philosophically , wisdom is the best use of knowledge. While freethinkers and others believed it came from pure reason, others believe it comes from intuition or spirituality.

"Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doorway.

For who ever finds me finds life and receives favour from the Lord

But whoever fails to find me, harms himself

All who hate me love death." (Proverbs 8)

Certainly experience is a way to wisdom but hopefully we can learn from others successes and failures. We don't have to reinvent the wheel continuously. Individually and historically we seem to do just that.

The golden rule throughout the world is "do unto others what you would have them do until you" or "do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you."

In social physics this is equivalent to 'gravity'. The dissension and war in the world therefore can be likened to the evidence of any hospital trauma ward. What goes up comes down and while yes with great effort together we can put a man in space more often than not we are Icarus. "Pride goest before a fall." "All the Kings men could not put Humpty together again." So there's the evidence of broken bones, casts, and splints. I am fortunate today to be ambulatory because as an adolescent boy my friends and I being big on folly and low on wisdom thought we'd see how high a building we could jump from without getting hurt too badly. Perhaps had we read proverbs we'd not all have eventually sprained our ankles.

In church, an elder, in his 70's or even 80's, though he was wry and full of wit and had the sparkling eyes of youth, prayed before the congregation, "Thank you God for the pain because it reminds me of all the trials and good times I've had in my life."

My ankle reminds me of the joy of leaping off tall buildings with friends below to pick up the pieces. Naturally I can focus on that final two story or three story jump or I can play the tape back to the silly glee of youth and the foolish belief that we could perhaps defy gravity.

NASA had it's crashes but it worked with extreme caution, we think. Wisdom is that balance between inaction and action. It's a turning point. It's beyond clever.

A task that is given to the aging is to write their own 'obituary' or consider what 'epitaph' one would want on their tombstone. Then consider using the time left in life to meet that goal. Today I don't think I'd have an obituary that said I was a "wise" man. At best I would be considered intelligent. My mother in fact said, I was 'too smart by half" and while I never did quite understand what she meant I know it was not her cryptic way of calling me wise.

I believe most would know that I was a God seeker. I would that I had found Him more or She had caught me more and perhaps then I'd be said to be a "Godly" man. We tend to think of the Godly as wise. At best today I'd be said to be a 'good man' and I know that when I was so pleased with "popularity" I wouldn't have been thought 'good'. To be popular is often to be 'all things to all people' whereas to be 'good' is to make 'moral' judgements which will naturally cause one to be thought poorly of by those who benefit from evil.

"To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech." (Proverbs 8)

Does that sound like the sort who would thrive in the Los Vegas, Hollywood, Washington, Ottawa, or Victoria as portrayed in the media. It strikes me that it would be easier to be 'moral' in Podunk Saskatchewan.

Yet, a couple of hundreds years of medieval church history is a discussion of 'virtue'. If 'chastity' is a virtue, would a girl who is born in a brothel, lives to 30 and dies a virgin be more or less virtuous, than a girl born in an nunnery, lives to 30 and dies a virgin. The culmination of the thought on just this sort of conundrum was that the "virtue untested" is not a 'virtue". Indeed there is a thing called the 'virtue of necessity'.

That our times seem more evil is probably simply because individually and collectively we simply have more power. There's are nuclear weapons and mass media. The interconnectedness of society is such that we're literally always peeing upstream from someone and drinking water downstream from someone else who is peeing. Karey Shinn's endeavours to ensure clean water by her 'Clean Sewage News' speaks to this dilemma. The proud don't care. Consequently they drink a lot of piss and eat a lot of shit because 'what goes around comes around' is a bit of 'wisdom' that affects everything from faeces to political favours.

Ralf Nader was considered one of the squeakiest clean men in America. Car companies spent millions of dollars paying private investigators to find 'dirt' on him. They were unsuccessful. We associated Mother Theresa or St. Theresa and Gandhi with good yet they might not have stood the test that Nader was subjected to. Churchill was never particularly 'wholesome' with his cigars and booze and love or war. Yet , he too is considered wise.

Researchers in the field of positive psychology have defined wisdom as the coordination of "knowledge and experience" and "its deliberate use to improve well being."[12] With this definition, wisdom can supposedly be measured using the following criteria.[9]

  • A wise person has self-knowledge.
  • A wise person seems sincere and direct with others.
  • Others ask wise people for advice.
  • A wise person's actions are consistent with his/her ethical beliefs.

Measurement instruments that use these criteria have acceptable to good internal consistency and low test-retest
reliability (r in the range of 0.35 to 0.67).[9] (Wikipedia)

I just remember that when I was 20 I wanted to be an "intellectual". I was told I was when I was 30 by the most intellectual of intellectuals I knew. I was surprised then but not now. I know that today I'm not so interested in being 'intellectual' but I'd sure like to be wise. To that end I pray each day for God's guidance. I also seek advice regularly from those I consider wise. I read medical and scientific literature, study the arts, take courses and strive to learn more about what is true. Somedays I actually try to practice the virtues, like 'prudence' which has been equated with wisdom.

The wisdom of Socrates was that he knew what he didn't know and I believe I'm becoming wise each day in my own ignorance.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Horseman

Last night Laura and I watched a trite and frivolous movie called, From Rome with Love. That was definitely a chick flick. "The Horseman," Laura said, "is definitely not a chick flick." It's raw violence with the feeling one gets watching a bloody heavy weight title boxing match. It's an Australian movie and very un-American. The pansy American's are forever using bigger machine guns and missile launchers in their vigilante movies. The good ole days of Charles Bronson are replaced with arsenals of weapons to make up for the obvious decline in manhood. Not this Australian killer. It's big on fists, knives and ballpeen hammers. It's definitely weak on guns. In fact the gun isn't considered very manly. Why use a gun when a lead pipe has so much better action.

That said, the movie's other redeeming bit is that it's probably the best expose of the porn business since Nicholas Cage's 9 mm. Today's business makes Playboy look like approved elementary school viewing in comparison. Not a pretty movie. Not a pretty subject. It's directed and written by Steven Kastrissios, starring Peter Marshall and Caroline Marohasy

Monday, June 21, 2010

Stages of Recovery

The first stage of recovery is physical . The first phase of this is called "withdrawal'. This is the period of detoxification during which the actual drugs and alcohol and their metabolites are clearing from the system.

As the physician in charge of a detox unit, this was to us caregivers medically a potentially high risk period. People experience all manner of physical symptons including seizures and psychosis. It's associated with increased sweating, sometimes tremors, odd pains, unusual sensations, fatigue, oversleeping, insomnia and anxiety and depression. Not a particularly pleasant experience by any stretch of the imagination but usually over in days to at most a week or two.

There are many variables that affect the person physically during the withdrawal phase. First of all is age. The young do better than the old but the very young and the very old are at most risk. Healthy athletic people do better than people who are sick and decrepid. What and how much of the drugs and alcohol can affect the severity and prolong withdrawal. How long a person has been using can also affect withdrawal. Other medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes, HIV, pneumonia etc. can all complicate withdrawal.

Withdrawal is predominantly a physical process and people are often psychologically simply numb, in shock or insane. Much of withdrawal is quickly forgotten by many. Many people simply leave detox and despite the best wishes go out and begin drinking or using again. The successful go on to the second phase of recovery.

This second phase is the first season. Each week and month of recovery is a milestone at first but the 3 month stage is when the brain has most likely come back "on line" fully. The greatest relapse occurs in the first three months. Old timers in AA would say, "90 meetings in 90 days and if you don't like what you've got you can go back and restore your misery". Modern functional MRI's have shown now that it takes 90 days for the frontal lobes of the brain to begin to function normally again in recovery. The frontal lobes are what make us predominantly 'human' and account for our judgement.

Working now with mechanical brain injury after falls and motor vehicle accidents I am daily struck by how similar the recovery process is for addicts and alcoholics. It's caused me to call the latter condition 'reversible chemical brain damage". The 'mechanical brain injuries' though often do better because they lack the 'oppositional' , "non cooperative' and 'resistance to change' 'anti authority' issues that come along with addiction. This is commonly packaged under the term 'denial'.

The second, third and fourth seasons of recovery all appear to be associated with their own organic healing. Liver enzymes restore to normal for those with liver involvement. Given that the liver is the chief organ for metabolism of alcohol and drugs it's usually a safe bet that there has been some damage, reversible or irreversible to the liver. Commonly the heart and lungs are involved and these heal during this period. The thyroid can be involved and people will not uncommonly complain of a wide variety of physical symptons throughout this period.

Often there is also simple 'hypochondriasis' or somatic elements of anxiety and depression. Nonetheless it needs to be observed carefully as commonly alcoholics and addicts have not given much care to the maintenance of their bodies. Exercise, good food and good medical care are very important in the first year. Most commonly too there is a need for a dental visit.

Many of the drugs of abuse affect a person's ability to perceive pain properly with the consequence that dental caries go unnoticed, joints and muscles are strained and injuries and illness ignored cometo the fore. The person literally wakes up to life in their body without the constant distraction of drugs and alcohol. Gastritis, pancreatic, and various intestinal complications of ingesting toxic waste are also common.

The whole first year is as much physical as it is psychological. St. Francis described his body as 'Brother Ass" or "Brother Donkey". Our body's are the first baby we're given the care for and addicts and alcoholics are notoriously immature parents when it comes to taking over the responsibility of their bodily care from their parents, institutions, asylums, schools or other care givers. In the first year they have to restore homeostasis to a wide variety of physical systems that have been quite frankly traumatized. Sleep cycles, energy cycles, appetite, bowel patterns and much more all have to be routinized and ordered. The longer the addiction has been prevalent in a person's life the more disorder and chaos is present in their physical self.

Psychologically the first year is associated with extreme anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, irritability, depression and sometimes hypomanic episodes.

The underlying disorder of addiction is an anxiety disorder. Mostly the anxiety is a 'social phobia'. Alcoholics and addicts in the first year of recovery commonly present as bipolar disorder and many actually have post traumatic stress disorder.

Psychiatric psychotherapy has to be used wisely and judiciously during this first year because many psychotherapies and counseling techniques that have 'curative' value for people without addiction are 'anxiety provoking'. All the analytic and 'insight' therapies fall into this category.

Talking about past abuse in the first six months with patients in recovery can easily increase their anxiety when they still only know how to cope with anxiety by abusing drugs or drinking. Many a well intentioned therapist without training in addiction has done alcoholics and addicts tremendous disservice through their ignorance and grandiosity.

Motivation therapy, Cognitive Therapy, 12 Step Facilitation therapy, and Supportive therapies are all mainstays of the first year of recovery. The cornerstone of psychotherapy in the first year is the group therapy. AA, NA, SMART, CELEBRATE are just some of the acronymns for group therapies which have proven critical to the recovery process because of the centrality of interpersonal disturbances and deficits.

Any drug with a street value is by rule of thumb contraindicated in the psychopharmacological care of those in recovery in their first year. Most addiction specialists would question any drug with addictive potential and think very carefully about it's use in the first 3 to 5 years of the recovery process if not more.

The World Health Organization originally used one year as the bench mark for the first stage of recovery. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association also uses 1 year as the period of time needed for this process of basic physical and psychological recovery. It is a year before a person with addiction is said by the DSMIV to be in full sustained remission.

Stage II recovery has referred to the psychosocial recovery period that while beginning in the first year really takes off in the second year. During this period patients in individual and group therapies are decreasingly psychotic and more likely able to engage in controlling knee jerk emotional reactions, addictive tendencies to blame others, rage attacks, and well honed projective, dissociative and acting out defences.

It's been said that in this second year of recovery psychologically a person can actually enter into an hour of interpersonal interaction and come away with a fair likelihood of saying truthfully who said what and what emotions were involved in the process. In this phase of recovery the self absorption and egomania (defensive or offensive) is less overwhelming. Addicts and alcoholics in recovery can actually have conversations and discussions and tolerate the thwarting of their wishes, accept negative feedback and actually consider compromise and diplomatic resolution of conflicts. Suicide and homicidal thinking are not all that is going on between their ears as they behave and smile pleasantly but still don't get their way

In the third year it's been said that a person in recover begins to be able to actually report clearly the communication that occurred when three or more people were present in a room. This is the recovery at the community level. So much of addiction is self absorption and isolation that the road of recovery is often described as a journey back into normal society. During this phase of recovery people who have often taken more than given throughout their addiction and caused significant damage are able to really contribute at the community level. Recovery now involves participation not only in the recovery groups themselves but as volunteers in political organizations, churches, and community centres and functions. Recovery is at this stage is recognized as a time of reintegration into mainstream society.

Addicts and alcoholics have commonly made a virtue of necessity and chosen paths and associations which have allowed for their addiction to thrive. In recovery a person will order their lives with increasing organization, social involvement and commitment.

It's recognized that the addict in the past had to be 'available' for the 'call of their master' so increasingly avoided any activity that might come between them and their addiction. In the third year of recovery addicts commonly return to school, take night school course, taking part in committees, join boards and become apart of organizing events. It's not what 'feels' good to the addict but what 'is' good that motivates the person in recovery. Despite the difficulty that follows long years of addiction persons in recovery look to the example of others in society who have avoided addiction and follow in their paths.

When professionals have returned to work urine testing normally goes on till at least three years because of the high rates of relapse that persist this long after sobriety is established. The addict or alcoholic commonly thinks they're 'cured' much earlyier (some hours after their last drink or drug of abuse, in fact) but it's not till three years later that saner minds feel the prognosis is potentially good.

Addiction and alcoholism are deadly diseases. Asylums and jails are full of alcoholics and addicts. Anyone who works with alcoholics and addicts has heard all the promises but seen the relapses over and over again despite the best intentions. Even with the best of care and resources patients can relapse though the chance of this decreases most significantly with time.

It is only at five years that Dr. Vaillant, head of Harvard Psychiatry and a leading addiction specialist actually showed that the risk for the recovered addict or alcoholic relapsing to their previous level of abuse and chaos compared with the potential risk of a 'new' unknown case of alcoholism or addiction arising in a socalled normal population.

Some have called addiction 'cancer of the mind' and like physical cancer, it's only at five years that medically recovery is seen to be 'well established'. Professionals, pilots and others having urine testing as part of their return to work policy can encounter employers who want urine testing and psychiatric and medical supervision to persist at least till 5 years.

This concern isn't punative. It's simply a product of the disease. This 'reversible' mental illness can have severe societal consequences without the addict or alcoholic being able to recognize their risk to themselves or others.

Recovery could be said thereafter to be a lifelong process. There is no clear consensus in research on 'stages' or phases beyond this even though in AA it's thought that 10 years is required before a person is over the most devastating spiritual consequences of the disease of addiction and alcoholism. The long term physical and psychological and social consequences of the disease of addiction may go on forever.

One man killed another in a black out. There's no taking that back. He knows it's true because he saw the video and spent 10 years in jail. He now goes to jail AA meetings. There he tells his story, doing this community service with alcoholics and addicts who have themselves committed crimes while under the influence. Recovery is the road back to health, saniety and society.

Free Association

"Say whatever comes to mind…..speak as if I am not in the room….let the mind and words flow….what we are looking to achieve here is an almost trance like state in which you say whatever drifts from your unconscious into your conscious… this means we hope to get some insight into what is going on beneath the surface of reason….it doesn't matter that you don't understand what you are saying….we will interpret whatever comes together."

This is the kind of communication that initiated the 'free association' 'insight oriented" analytic process. The analyst sitting at the head of the patient was out of sight and gave no indication of whether he or she approved or didn't approve of whatever was said. The semi reclining position of the patient and the lack of external stimuli created a 'semi trance like' state in which a person began to speak continuously about whatever came to mind whether it was at all related to the initial subject.

This 'process' was followed by the therapist without comment and certainly without 'maternal reassurance'. The 'reserve' of the therapist created a quite unpleasant experience of somewhat 'conditional' love. The patient expressed reams of material at first hoping to get a reaction from the therapist and hoping to have the therapists comment 'reassure' them of their own validity. The therapist meanwhile recording the free association for a sufficient time until recurrence of themes and symbols made otherwise idiosyncratic material hold significant relevance.

When I initially did 'free association' therapy I literally recorded hours in which the patient spoke continuously and I only expressed at most a sentence or two in the whole therapeutic process. The patient talked as if to themselves. This wasn't the 'story telling' and 'case making' of counseling where the patient literally endeavours to make an ally of the therapist by presenting themselves in the best light and the therapist elucidates the material that will make the person 'feel' good.

The process of 'free association' was indeed a lonely and often painful journey as individuals went through a process of finding their own demons and realizing that they were as often as not victimizers as victims. A classic analyst statement was "we must find the Eichman' within. "

The harrowing process of psychoanalysis involved working through the 'negative transference'. The patient in all therapy came to hate and despise the therapist at times as part of their own projection. Today counselors simply can't allow the patient to not 'like' them because of the fear of 'reprisals' or loss of a client. Indeed in Kleinian analysis there were always two therapists. One, the administrator, was outside of the session, and was there to protect the therapist, while the other, the actual therapist, explored without restraint the patients most narcissistic and immature defences.

Kohut and Kernberg working with severe borderline personality disorders had to resist "rescuing' the patient when they threatened suicide. Suicidal and homicidal threats were 'acting out', immature defences that came out of the developmental grandiosity of the individual. Adolescent rage and sexuality also had to be worked through, the therapist avoiding succumbing to retaliation or the seduction of the patient who had in their own lives learned the power of these strategies of interpersonal relating and never moved on to more mature coping.

Free association was the mainstay of the work of early analysis developed by Freud and later explored extensively by decades of analysts who essentially mapped the mental processes. Today fMRI and PET scan imaging supports the understanding that the analysts came to about the very way the mind functions.

Thanks to the exhaustive learning of these pioneers more advanced techniques of therapy have been developed. Free association continues to be part of the armentarium of psychoanalytically trained psychotherapists but it's not something that is normally part of the 'counselling' process.

I remember it taking a couple of years of basic training before I was even able to make a well timed 'interpretation' or fully understood such simple analytic concepts as the Menninger Triangle which coupled with 'free association' gave the therapy it's poignancy.

Timing was the 'key' to all the work done in this process. The therapist would listen as the patient free associated and would choose just the exact and 'right' time for interrupting this process and asking a question or providing an interpretation. The process of one's own therapy was central to understanding the central importance of timing.

Freud had worked with hypnosis first and as hypnotists knew a patient could reveal a 'secret' under hypnosis, the classic being, history of sexual abuse by themselves or by others. The silliness of a lot of the pop psychology was that what is hidden most often is not the 'victimship' matters but the 'victimizer' components. In sexual abuse, as many as a third of those who were victimized sexually victimize others. This is what is most often 'hidden'. Under hypnosis a person will 'confess' but when out of trance they are told of what they said they will 'deny' it because they are not ready to hear this. Similiarly it was recognised that the person who the patient was overtly angry at consciously was more often than not the person they were truly angry at, as evidenced by the material of the unconscious mind, as seen through 'free association' and dream analysis.

Freud gave up hypnosis for 'free association' because it provided a venue in which the patient could be part of the learning process. The therapist however had to wait patiently for when the patient was 'ready' to go deeper into their psyche and come to terms with what was hidden by the so called 'defences'. If a therapist interrupted the 'flow' because of their own 'countertransference' issues then they 'colluded' with the patient in keeping the hidden hidden. However if a therapist 'missed' the 'window' of opportunity"when a patient was 'ready' to deal with some unpleasant truth they equally did a disservice to the patient. The technique was indeed almost 'surgical' in the precision and timing of the rare interventions by the therapist.

As a result of the immense work over decades by the masters much of the map of the various roadways to recovery were laid out and the brief and short term psychoanalytic therapists of the likes of Malan and others could very judiciously 'direct' therapy along the already established lines that the masters had travelled successfully.

Indeed all modern therapy owes a great debt to the pioneers of psychoanalytic therapy who used predominantly 'free association' techniques to create the modern therapies which go by such names as "strategic", "gestault', "cognitive", "motivational", "dialectic", "inter personal", "transpersonal" etc.

The power and success of the psychotherapies was directly associated with their capacity for change. People who had been chronically bed ridden returned to work. Women and men who could not have sex went on to enjoy sex again and procreate. The power of the psychotherapies was such that many physical illnesses were improved and the foundations of "psychosomatic medicine" were laid. It wasn't just that people 'felt' good about their limitations, their limitations were lifted. Miraculous 'cures' were common.

Cameron et al published the scientific evidence demonstrating the huge success and evidence based validity of the psychotherapies. Professionalism has been differentiated from 'dilletantism' or amateurism but the simple fact of 'consistency'. The professional is able to establish a consistent minimal standard and naturally has outstanding achievements on top of this. The amateur however has no minimal standard but is commonly rated by their exceptional success often as much a product of luck as anything. The psychotherapies applied by professionals have demonstrated that they work and restore health and the ability to love and work.

The success of psychopharmacology followed the success of the psychotherapies and was initially only used by those already adept in the lessons of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Even today when pharmacists and other less trained individuals have been given the power to prescribe, prescribing to the mentally ill has been considered best left to physicians and especially psychiatrists because of the variable response of medication in this population. Indeed psychoanalysts considered medication a psychotherapeutic 'nursing' intervention and others called it a 'chemical strait jacket' as it served only to 'contain' emotions without exploring them or helping individuals to develop ways to cope without medication.

Just as meditation techniques have been shown to 'cure' hypertention so 'psychotherapies' could 'cure' depressions without the use of pills. However, if both therapies worked independently most pragmatic clinicians combined them for greater results. Unfortunately for many mentally ill, in the end, all they received was 'medication' therapy when this alone had so often been proven only to provide 'sympton' relief without helping a person to avoid situations of difficulty or cope better with situations that gave rise to mental turmoil.

Today 'free association' is often used to refer to a highly watered down or diluted process compared to the psychotherapeutic process that was referred to in the literature and history. Just as 'Freudian slip' has become familiar to the pop culture so 'free association' has too. Both were and did mean much more than they do today to those who have not spent the hundreds of hours in rigorous training and therapy the analytically trained did and do.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Zero History

William Gibson's latest book, Zero History, is presently available for pre order. It will be out 09/07/2010. This is the first time I have ever 'pre ordered' a book. William Gibson is however a genius. Truly one of the most gifted writers of our time, every one of his books has been unique and amazingly prescient.

Harlan Coben’s latest

I've just started Caught, Harlan Coben's latest novel. It's already classic Coben description with fast moving action and terrific characterization. I have to keep this blog short just to get back to the novel. It's been unforgivable that Coben's readers have had to wait at least a year for this latest, even if it's this good. It's not a Myron Bolitar which will make him immortal. A loving God will not allow Coben to die because God wants to know what Myron will do next. That said Caught is real good. Now I'm going back to reading it, so don't bother me.

(ps I downloaded the Amazon Kindle version and am reading it on my iphone. This will make it easier to stay up all night reading as the iphone has it's own built in light. Beats holding the flashlight in my mouth.)

St. George’s Anglican Church

It was another good day to be in church giving thanks. Today was father's day and across from me stood a proud father with his newborn baby and beautiful wife. Watching how he was concerned for his child gave new meaning to the prayer "Our Father," which we said in unison in the service. After prayers and eucharist, Rev. Paul Borthistle lead us all in a rousing Muddy Waters spiritual that had the congregation clapping and stamping their feet.