Thursday, January 31, 2008

A petition for mental health professionals

Therapists for Social Responsibility has created an online petition calling on our public leaders to support policies, legislation and programs that reflect the core principles and values of the mental health profession and to oppose those that do not.

I signed it.

Read and sign the petition:
A Call To Public Leaders To Enact Policies, Legislation And Programs That Reflect The Core Principles And Values of The Mental Health Community written by Shauna Smith.

Also see Therapists for Social Responsibility

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Article: How Teenage Rebellion Has Become a Mental Illness

Big pharma has some new customers. Not complying with authority is now, in many cases, labeled a disease.
While there are several reasons for behavioral disruptiveness and emotional difficulties, rebellion against an oppressive environment is one common reason that is routinely not even considered by many mental health professionals. Why? It is my experience that many mental health professionals are unaware of how extremely obedient they are to authorities. Acceptance into medical school and graduate school and achieving a Ph.D. or M.D. means jumping through many meaningless hoops, all of which require much behavioral, attentional and emotional compliance to authorities -- even disrespected ones. When compliant M.D.s and Ph.D.s begin seeing noncompliant patients, many of these doctors become anxious, sometimes even ashamed of their own excessive compliance, and this anxiety and shame can be fuel for diseasing normal human reactions.

Two ways of subduing defiance are to criminalize it and to pathologize it, and U.S. history is replete with examples of both. In the same era that John Adams' Sedition Act criminalized criticism of U.S. governmental policy, Dr. Benjamin Rush, the father of American psychiatry (his image adorns the APA seal), pathologized anti-authoritarianism. Rush diagnosed those rebelling against a centralized federal authority as having an "excess of the passion for liberty" that "constituted a form of insanity." He labeled this illness "anarchia."
While there are several reasons for behavioral disruptiveness and emotional difficulties, rebellion against an oppressive environment is one common reason that is routinely not even considered by many mental health professionals.
Two ways of subduing defiance are to criminalize it and to pathologize it, and U.S. history is replete with examples of both.
Read all of How Teenage Rebellion Has Become a Mental Illness
by Bruce E. Levine ~ AlterNet ~ January 28, 2008

Crisis - A Lesson in Word Origins

When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters - one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity. ~ John F Kennedy
I first read that on the back cover of a counseling textbook when I was in graduate school, and I have it in my quotes pages on my website.

I thought it was a great perspective, and then I didn't think about it past that until the other day when I wanted to mention it to someone and decided to look it up online.

That's when I found that in Mandarin it's not exactly a correct translation, but it does have some connection, and the word crisis also means a turning point.

Here are the two essays about the origins of the word that I found interesting and want to share:

"Crisis" an essay by Dave Wilton on
"Crisis" Does NOT Equal "Danger" Plus "Opportunity - How a misunderstanding about Chinese characters has led many astray.
by Victor H. Mair, professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania, with contributions from Denis Mair and Zhang Liqing.

War and the Soul - a workshop I'm taking in Seattle

War and the Soul: Healing Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Friday, February 8th at Antioch College in Seattle
This workshop helps mental health professionals explore the inner world of combat and the universal dimensions of veterans' wounding as revealed through history, archetypal psychology and cross-cultural perspectives. Participants learn about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder as an identity disorder and soul wound and learn about psycho-spiritual interventions and social activism that rebuild veterans' identities, shrink trauma and restore wounded dimensions of soul.
The instructor is Edward Tick, Ph.D., a holistic psychotherapist, writer, educator, journey guide, activist and veterans' advocate.

Thanks to Catherine for letting me know about this.

Find out more:
War and the Soul: Healing Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome

More ear tests on Friday

FYI, tomorrow afternoon Alec and I go to Seattle and will spend the night at af friend's house so we can get up really early and drive across town to the University of Washington Medical Center for me to have another MRI and a balance test because of my continuing ear problem - mild vertigo and possible damage due to an inner ear infection.

This has been going on since July (thats a LONG time!) and I've lost a lot of hearing in my right ear which could be permanent. I hope not. I'll see the ear doc again next week and find out what the tests show. He told us he thinks the infection is gone but did some damage and thats what this is to figure out.

We have to be there for the tests at 7:30am or so Friday thru about 4pm, so we figured it would be easier to go up the day before and not have an over an hour drive in the morning. Early rush hour to Seattle is no fun - especially in the winter when its probably raining and could snow.

Noel has the day off so he'll meet us at the hospital after he does a morning run. That way we get to see him, and Alec will have some company to hang out with during a long day at the hospital. Then we'll probably get some dinner with Noel before we drive home on Friday evening.

I don't plan to be online at all while we are gone, but I'll have my cell phone with me and will let Alec hold it when I'm being tested. For those of you who have the number, if something comes up that you need to let me know about give me a call.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

FIERCE! in New York City / Save the Christopher Street pier and the West Village from re-development and gentrification.

I'm originally from NYC and I just found out about this organization. It looks like they are doing some great things.

FIERCE! - Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment.
FIERCE! is a community organization for Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Queer, and Questioning (TLGBTSQQ) youth of color in New York City. We are dedicated to exploring and building power in our communities through a mix of leadership development, artistic and cultural activism, political education, and campaign development while taking care of ourselves and each other. We take on the institutions that perpetuate transphobia, homophobia, racism, ethnic conflict, gender bias, economic injustice, ageism, and the spread of HIV, STIs, STDs, and other mental and physical health crises — that make daily survival a terrifying challenge for many TLGBTSQQ youth. FIERCE organizes against the injustices of the criminal "justice" system, housing, employment, education, and healthcare systems. We believe in ethic of organizing by us, for us. Now that's FIERCE!
FIERCE! programs:
  • Fenced OUT: Fenced OUT documents the struggle of LGBTSTQ youth of color to save the Christopher Street pier and the West Village from re-development and gentrification. (See the petition below.)
  • FIERCE! develops campaigns to improve the quality of life for LGBT youth of color in New York City. Our previous and current campaigns focus on reclaiming and preserving safe public space in the West Village amidst rapid development and police harassment.
  • FIERCE! Education For Liberation Project (ELP): a paid training program which provides comprehensive community organizing, political education, and anti-oppression trainings to lesbian, gay, bisexual, Two-Spirit, and transgender (LGBTST) youth, especially those who are low-income and/or of color, in New York City.
  • FIERCE! is currently in the process of making a queer youth of color-produced Zine that will be using this as an organizing tool, focusing on the quality of life policies and the effects they have on the youth in the Village. It will cover quality of life policies, "Know Your Rights" for police search and seizure, art, poetry and stories from FIERCE!'s constituency, and resources for queer youth of color and homeless youth.
  • FIERCE! organizes regular political education and skills-building group trainings open to all of FIERCE!'s constituency.
  • FIERCE! does continuing outreach and political education at the Christopher Street piers and at other queer youth organizations.
Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 12–8 p.m. Our drop-in hours are Monday through Friday 4-8 p.m. 147 West 24th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10011; Phone: (646) 336-6789; Fax: (646) 336-6788; Email:; Website:

Find out more at the FIERCE! website.


Fenced OUT is a youth-inspired, produced and directed video created in collaboration between FIERCE!, Paper Tiger Television and The Neutral Zone. Fenced OUT documents the struggle of LGBTSTQ youth of color to save the Christopher Street pier and the West Village from re-development and gentrification. While researching the history of the pier, FIERCE! members discovered past generations of queer peoples' fight for use of public spaces at Christopher Street and the piers. We have continued to use the documentary as a public education tool to raise awareness about the increasing displacement, violence, and criminalization experienced by LGBTSTQ youth of color. To date we have reached over 3,000 people in New York City and nationwide. Find out more about Fenced OUT: FIERCE!'s Youth-Produced Documentary.


And here is the petition. You don't need to be in New York City to sign it.

Save the Christopher Street pier and the West Village from re-development and gentrification.

To: Hudson River Park Trust Board of Directors:

As a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer [LGBTQ] Youth or ally, I am strongly opposed to the current development process for Pier 40 that plans to allow private developers to drastically change the surrounding neighborhood of the West Village.

I support the Pier 40 Working Group recommendation to reject both private development proposals for Pier 40 because neither proposal holds the community’s needs as its priority. Instead, I support a process where the HRPT will use its own or public funds to facilitate the structural repairs for Pier 40. I support a public process for the addition of more community space and activities on Pier 40.

In particular, I believe that LGBTQ youth who use Pier 45 are an important part of the West Village community. The Pier 40 redevelopment should include a minimum requirement of a significant amount of space to house an LGBT youth center with extended hours and various activities and services for one of NYC’s most marginalized youth populations. The redevelopment of Pier 40 should not rely on the displacement of anyone who call the West Village home.

I strongly urge the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) to reject both private development proposals for Pier 40 and to manage the development itself with the public’s input, including addressing the needs of LGBT youth who are a part of the surrounding community.

Use your vote to Say NO! to Private Development and YES! to a community centered process!

"SAVE THE VILLAGE | LGBT Youth Say NO to Private Development"

Sign the petition.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Yes, today is Bill's birthday.

If he were still alive Bill would be 30 years old today.


That birthday was 10,957 days ago.

We had him with us for 6375 days.
And then he committed suicide 12 years, 6 months, 15 days ago.
So now we have been living without him for
4582 days.

Maybe doing numbers on this is a little weird. So be it.

Bill will always be seventeen, and sometimes act like a twelve year old imp.

He will always love Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Green Day, Dire Straits, Enya, Robbie Robertson ... and Mozart.

We will always wonder who he would be if he had not ended his life all those suns and moons ago.

And who we would be if he was still with us.

The odd thing is at this point I can't imagine.

By the way, Alec and I are working on a book version of Bill's story. We hope to publish it in the near future.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nobody Leaves New York

Composed and performed by Steve Schalchlin.
Lyrics by our amazing friend Amy Lynn Shapiro.

Steve writes:

This is the archival video footage of the first recording of the song ... scheduled for the upcoming musical revue "Manhattan Clam Chowder."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Conversation with a new friend.

I've made a new friend through Safe Schools Coalition. I haven't met her, but we have been having a conversation through email that I want to share.

She's sixteen years old, and she describes herself as "a realistic, radical, feministic lesbian". I think she is quite amazing and I'm honored to be included in her world.

Here it is with what she wrote in red, edited a bit to protect her identity and her privacy:

I talked with Mr. ***** (the principal at her school) today about 10 minutes ago and we talked about getting me on the climate committee here at school. He asked me to bring in a few people I know that would be willing to talk about what's going on at our school. Like what things are good an what are bad. Something tells me though that it's not going to matter. No matter how much we beg and plead for recognition or the time of day we don't really get it. Mr. ***** is wonderful and all as a principal and I understand there's only so much that he CAN do but I don't know. I was just expecting more...
I know its frustrating. But everything you do counts - even if it feels small and even if you don't see that it affects folks. Sometimes we don't see it, but it does have an impact. The changes aren't fast but they do happen. Every heart and mind you crack into and get your toe in to make someone stop and think can go out and do something too - or at least feel something different than they would if you are silent. At least thats how I do it. I hope it makes sense. I wrote this
Everyday Out with my friend Catherine back in the dark ages (1997) and it talks about that.
I realize that you're right Mrs. Clayton, I really do but sometimes it's just hard to deal with problems in our school ...
and a little later:
Mrs. Clayton can I ask you a question?
Please call me Gabi.

Sure. I'll try to answer.
:) Okay. Gabi, I was wondering why our school system doesn' t take our concerns seriously?
That's a big one.

"our school system" is looking at a big picture and maybe too big.

Officially the system 'cares' about the things I think you are referring to as concerns - harassment, hate, abuse, neglect, etc. but that's what it does on paper because its a system, not people.

When you look at specific people and ask 'Why don't you take our concerns seriously?' then you will get a whole variety of answers - everything including:

I do care and this is what I am doing.
I do care and this is what I am trying to do.
I do care and I don't know how to do something about it.
I do care and I am powerless to do anything.
I used to care and I am burned out or overwhelmed so I am not doing anything now.
I didn't know.
I don't care because it's not my job.
I don't care because it's not my responsibility.
I don't know how to care.
I don't want to know.
I just don't care.

And there are plenty of all of those folks out there. The trick is to find the ones who you can connect with who are doing or want to or maybe know they should but don't know how and work with those. And use 'the system' (i.e. the rules and laws like the safe schools bullying law, the abuse laws, and the malicious harassment laws) to make the rest of them do what they are supposed to do whether they like it or not.

All the while, you take care of yourself and each other.

Then you win some and you lose some - or you win part of something and sometimes you get surprises - positive ones and negative ones.

And then you rest up and play and start all over.

How's that for an answer?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Oh lordy? Oy vey!

(Seattle, Washington) A group of conservative religious leaders have formed a corporation to organize a shareholder revolt against what they call Microsoft's funding of the gay agenda.
and Ken Hutcherson, quoted:
"We are not trying to hurt Microsoft or their shareholders nor are we calling for a boycott of their products or services. We are trying to help them," Hutcherson said in the statement.
"I consider myself a warrior for Christ. Microsoft don't scare me. I got God with me,"
Read all of Fundamentalists Launch Shareholder Drive To Fight Microsoft On Gay Rights
by Newscenter Staff ~ January 9, 2008

And then don't miss tonight's commentary by lovable grouch Ken Shram of KOMO-TV in Seattle (who I usually agree with) where he awarded Ken Hutcherson one of his "Shrammie" awards:
Being one of the region's pre-eminent Christian bullies, Pastor Ken Hutcherson is gathering his flock for a special task.
I just wonder if God gave him any other stock tips besides Microsoft.
Read all of Ken's transcript: A mi$$ion from God?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

What I want.

It’s January 3rd, 2008.

I didn't make any new years resolutions. But I do have a list. It’s about what I want. And given that today is the first day of primaries for president, I think it’s a good day to share it.

Here is my list - and it is in no particular order:

I want peace. I want the war over NOW. I want our soldiers brought home and treated right.

I want NO preemptive war.

I want those responsible for this war and its horrors charged with war crimes, found guilty and sent to prison. And I want those who will not do this charged as accomplices.

I want no nuclear warheads and weapons. I want my country to take the lead in this by disarming all of ours NOW.

I want comprehensive universal health care for everyone in my country.

I want safe schools for every student, teacher/staff and family.

I want a good education free for everyone in my country - through college - a bachelors degree or its equivalent in some other way such as technical school.

I want that 'everyone' to include undocumented residents who should be treated as guests and thanked for their contributions to our society.

I want the arts to be considered an essential part of education - music, literature, theater arts, fine arts, etc. as well as reading, writing, history, math, science & technology.

I want public service in things such as the Peace Corps, Vista and Job Corps to be encouraged for people of all ages.

I want homeless and poor people to be treated with respect and welcomed as part of all communities.

I want everyone in my country to have enough good food to eat.

I want everyone to have shelter.

I want workers unions to be allowed and respected in every profession.

I want a livable minimum wage, and I want all the politicians who vote on what that is to have to live on it.

I want drugs legalized, and drug addicts treated as persons with an illness, not as criminals.

I want elections funded by the public through taxes and I want an end to the two party political system in my country so there is room for politicians who do not fit into the two boxes.

I want our prisons and our military funded only by the public, and those who supply them supervised by citizen committees whose job is to make sure those companies are not making unreasonable profits.

I want victimless crimes decriminalized and crimes with real victims criminalized (like war crimes, child abuse, partner abuse, elder abuse, rape, assault, murder, etc).

I want an end to the death penalty in my country. I want the maximum penalty for the worst crimes to be life in prison - I want those persons treated humanly but with no possible parole ever (unless future evidence proves them innocent).

I want our police to respect and honor our citizen's right to protest and demonstrate peacefully.

I want hatemongers to be treated as people who are mentally ill - and as criminals if they are responsible for any harm or for instigating others to do harm.

I want parents and caregivers who assault or throw out their children who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in my country to be treated charged with child abuse and expected to pay for the care of their children in safe loving homes until they are of age.

I want true complete separation of church and state.

I want birth control available to all persons, and abortion kept legal.

I want an end to hate, biased based incidents and discrimination – including in employment and housing among other things.

I want true celebration of the diversity of my country including real or percieved: class, socioeconomic status, education level, ethnicity, geography, family status, gender, gender identity & expression, housing status, health status, language / accent, mental / physical dis/ability, physical appearance including size, race & color, religion & non-belief, political belief / activism / allyship, sexual /affectional orientation, work status / profession, youth & age.

I want marriage equality in my country so that same sex couples have exactly the same rights in all states as straight couples.

I want my country to take real care of our land and planet - to stop polluting and do everything we can to end global warming including using alternative energy sources we have access to now and investing in finding more and better ones.

That's a start of what I want.

What did I forget? Please comment.