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 I'm part way through reading "Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder" which I picked up because I love Gabor Mate's writing. It is so accepting even when he's writing about topics where blaming is the normalized method of talking about something (see "In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts").

This book is turning out to be a parenting book, at least the parts I've read so far. There is a chapter devoted to unconditional positive regard even. 


Jul. 31st, 2017 09:00 pm
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 What is the non-gendered equivalent of aunt/uncle?
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I’m using a very broad definition of self-help for my book reviews. Basically, I’m including any book that may be applicable to personal growth work, or which sells itself as applicable to personal growth work. Whatever the accuracy, comprehensiveness, or readability of the contents, in my experience, self-help books tend to have a purpose or a direction, something that they are trying to do. It can be helpful in finding the right self-help book to know both what the book is trying to do and what you want to get out of it. A good match up can be worth more than all the well-written doorstops in the world.


The majority of self-help books I have fit into a few categories (Fixer, Awareness Raiser, Argument, Resource, and How-To):


The Fixer is, by far, the most common type. You have a problem; they have the Solution. The Fixer makes promises, sometimes extensive, about outcomes and focuses on what you have to do to get those life changing outcomes.  By necessity, these solutions will be simplified, and narrowed or generalized, enough to fit in a mass production paperback. As a result, these books may be presented as a series adapting the same basic material for different circumstances (i.e. “The Fixer”, “The Fixer at Home”, “The Fixer at Work”, “The Fixer in Outer Space”, etc). It is a lovely, gift-wrapped Hammer for all your nail and nail-shaped-object needs. 


The Awareness Raiser is almost the opposite of the Fixer. It may or may not have an actual solution presentation. Instead, it focuses on identifying, naming, presenting, and describing a problem (i.e. “The Problem With Fixing”). You might not have known there was a problem, or the scope of it, before reading an Awareness Raiser, but you certainly know after. That’s the point. 


The Argument is like the child of the Fixer and the Awareness Raiser and, like all children, it has its own unique character. This is the self-help book equivalent of “Somebody is Wrong on the Internet”. Whatever solution it may present is secondary to convincing you that That Other Solution(s) is Wrong. 


The Resource aims more towards educating, informing, and explaining information about a particular area. It may be a broad overview book (i.e. “Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Everything Related To That Thing”) or very narrow (i.e. “That Thing”), but in either case it tends to present itself as a repository of knowledge about an area. If this book had a motto, it would be “Knowledge is Power” or “Here’s a Crate of Power Tools, Good Luck”.


The How-To focuses primarily on skills development. The goal of these books is for the reader to be able to do, or at least attempt, a skill (i.e. “How to Talk to Complete Assholes”). The mere knowledge of the problem or solution isn’t enough to ensure a good outcome. The reader is expected to do something with the material… you know… like learn, or practice, or otherwise do-the-thing. The How-To is more about process than outcome, and your outcomes may vary.

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I just discovered this is a thing:

Codex Seraphiniaus [1]

Which of course lead to this (which I already knew about but hadn't seen):

The Voynich Manuscript[1]

All because I was thinking about this:

The Red Book [1]

And this:

What We See When We Read [1]

Which reminded me of this:

My Favorite Thing is Monsters [1]

I love the idea of making something in this vein.


[1] I recommend doing google image searches on all of them to understand why they fit together. Some of it will be NSFW.
doc_paradise: (honest)

DISCLOSURE: I am not a medical doctor or medically trained. 


Title: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

Author: Gabor Maté, M.D.

ISBN: 978-0-676-97741-7



Writing Style

Gabor Maté is a gifted writer. He combines medical research, case histories, his personal life story, and political commentary in a storytelling style that makes the difficult material both readable and compassionate. 

It’s pretty common for books on trauma to use descriptions of the terrible things that happen to people as illustrative examples. This is useful and appropriate, however some writers sprinkle their books with the equivalent of live grenades. I get it, they are trying to make a point. This is real. This is bad. This is serious. This is horrific. 

This book does something different. Maté’s writing shows unconditional positive regard for people while still talking about a long list (see content warning below) of terrible, heartbreaking, and horrific experiences. I like that. It encourages empathy, rather than othering. It also makes the book’s topic more approachable and (perhaps) less emotionally overwhelming. [1]



CONTENT WARNING: This book contains descriptions of human suffering, drug use, physical and mental illness, pain, self harm, death, violence, addiction, abuse, murder, assault, genocide, racism, slurs.


In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts explicitly connects addiction to pain and experiences in childhood development.


Part I - Hellbound Train — Tells the human stories of some of the author’s patients in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, their lives and their struggles with addiction, illness, and suffering. It also introduces the author, his ideals, and his successes and failures in being a compassionate physician. This section both sets the stage and humanizes the people and situations. 

Part II - Physician, Heal Thyself — Talks about the experience of behavioural addiction through the lens of the author’s own behavioural addictions and personal experiences. It also ties his addictions to his experiences with ADHD, as an infant in the Budapest ghetto, and the deaths of his grandparents in Auschwitz. 

Part III - A Different State of the Brain — Defines addiction as “any repeated behaviour, substance-related or not, in which a person feels compelled to persist, regardless of its negative impact on his life and the lives of others” [pg. 128]. It disconnects the addictive process from substance-abuse and breaks down the brain’s response to neurotransmitters and how they tie into addiction. 

Part IV - How The Addicted Brain Develops — Ties addiction to trauma, stress, and the early environment’s effect on brain development. Argues against addiction as a product of a simple genetic cause. 

Part V - The Addiction Process and the Addictive Personality — Approaches addiction as a response mechanism for managing the results of adverse childhood events, both what happened that shouldn’t have, and what didn’t happen but should have happened.  

Part VI - Imagining a Humane Reality: Beyond the War on Drugs — Examines and condemns present social roots of addiction and drug policy. While this section talks about U.S. drug policy, it focuses on Canada, particularly the treatment of First Nations peoples. It points out what isn’t working in social policies and attitudes, and introduces compassionate approaches and harm reduction. 

Part VII - The Ecology of Healing — Returns to the author’s struggles with behavioural addiction and self-healing. It examines some approaches to self-healing and management of addiction. It also touches on the difficulties the family, friends, and partners face. It does not offer a cure for addiction, but rather approaches to sobriety (including one based on OCD management).  


There is an epilogue that concludes some of the stories of the people described in the book, several appendices, endnotes with references, and an index.


My Opinion:

My copy of this book has many multicoloured tabs sticking out of it. I have every intention of re-reading sections. It’s an introduction to addiction and the issues related to addiction. It doesn’t plumb the depths to any great degree. Instead, it gives a broad overview and an emotional connection to suffering and addiction in Canada. (Yes, Canada we have a problem.) I found it engrossing. Broadening the definition of addiction to include far more than just illegal substance-abuse was eye-opening. In this context, behavioural addictions are more clearly addictions than in a disease model. I particularly liked his approach to behavioural addictions and how Part III broke down effects based on types of neurotransmitters (endorphins vs dopamine) rather than by drug type. 

I was already in agreement with harm reduction methods of treating addiction (such as methadone clinics and safe injection sites), but I didn’t know much about them other than they worked better than punishing the shit out of people. This book explains some of the reasons why. Unfortunately, the storytelling style will make it difficult to quote in Facebook arguments.


Evil Overlord Assessment:

I’m not a doctor, medical or otherwise. I can’t effectively evaluate the medical information in this book. Given that it is both emotionally appealing and convincing… if the medical information is incorrect or problematic… the presentation would make any toxic bits very easy to swallow. This book downgrades genetic factors and the disease model of addiction, both of which are more commonly accepted by the public. Again, I don’t have the expertise to evaluate the validity of either the commonly presented opinion or the medical information in Maté’s book. It appeals to me, for a variety of reasons, and therefore it is convincing. 



[1] Book excerpts area available at:




Disclaimer: I am not a therapist, a doctor, or a professional reviewer. I do, however, own and enjoy reading a staggering number of self-help books and I have opinions. Lots of opinions. One of these opinions is that the underlying assumptions in “self-improvement” and “self-help” books should be unpacked. These reviews may or may not do that, but I will try to acknowledge both some of the potentially useful and potentially problematic aspects of the books I review. The “Evil Overlord Assessment” section specifically looks at some ways that a fictional “Evil Overlord” might use this book to harm or control others for the purpose of World Domination. 


Jun. 29th, 2017 10:05 pm
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Women are flocking to wellness because modern medicine still doesn’t take them seriously

"The medical system is even more terrible for women, whose experience of pain is routinely minimized by health practitioners. In the emergency room, women routinely wait longer than men to receive medication for acute pain. At the gynecologist’s office, severe period-related pain is often dismissed or underestimated. Ingrained sexism means that doctors may regard women as either earth mothers or hypochondriacs; that is, either women possess deep wellspring of internal pain control that they ought to be able to channel during childbirth, or their pain is psychological in nature—a symptom of hysteria.

Conditions that affect women at higher rates than men, including depression and autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia, are much more likely to be dismissed as having a psychological rather than a physiological source. Chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers are still instructed to rely on exercise and positive thinking, despite research that indicates these measures do not cure the condition. Many women with autoimmune diseases, endometriosis, or even multiple sclerosis go undiagnosed for years, despite multiple trips to doctors and specialists—all the while being told that their symptoms could just be stress."


Jun. 28th, 2017 06:50 pm
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Paradise Labs would happily hire Inspirobot to head its motivational division.

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I have something to celebrate so I'm planning on making buttons (probably 1.25" rounds) like this:

Some of the black border will be trimmed off.
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Why Women Are Tired: The Price of Unpaid Emotional Labor

"So, what does it look like, friends, to build a new house together, and to find new tools for the job?

Can the emotionally exhausted among us say “No,” either simply and gently to those we love, or, as Jen did, loudly and insistently when our emotional boundaries are crossed and we are asked to work for free again? Can we dedicate our labor to ourselves, humbly learning the basics of taking care of our own emotional needs?

Can those who have received the benefit of others’ emotional labor admit, “I am embarrassed to not be good at this. I need help with it. I was not taught these skills, and that is unfair to me and to those I love?”

Relationships are hard work, they require labor. Sometimes they are tiring. But hopefully, they can be a mutual exchange, so that both parties can alternate working and being worked for, fighting and being fought for. When we all pitch in to dismantling and rebuilding our relationship houses, perhaps we can finally, together, get some rest."
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So... I want to pre-load posts so that they post on particular dates (and not before). Is there a way to do that on DW? Does it require a paid account? (I'm willing to get a paid account if this is an option available there.)

(I want to pre-load Paradise Lab and Minion Bob stories so that they post automatically.)
doc_paradise: (stories)

From the Desk of Doc Paradise:


Dear Potential Client,


Thank you for showing interest in the services Paradise Labs has to offer. It appears that you are inquiring after our line of Entertainment Management Androids (EMAs). We have the following packages available:


* Basic Package - Android(s) are loaded with simple Play Well With Others (PWWO) software and will show up at the designated location for the designated time period (negotiable) and perform basic entertainment and interaction tasks. PWWO are capable of providing a degree of pre-negotiated customization based on the client's needs. No management, organizational, structural, or event failure prevention software is included in this package. These tasks are expected to be the responsibility of the client. This package is complimentary to Valued Clients.


* Host Package - In addition to PWWO software, these Android(s) are loaded with Advanced Hosting and Organization (AHO) software. These EMAs will perform tasks such as scheduling, meal planning, distributing and following up on invitations, hosting and entertainment management, basic preparation and cleanup tasks, and failure management. 


Please be aware that our Emotional Labour Android Upgrades (ELUs) are highly sought after and are considered extras in both of the basic and host Entertainment Management packages. Availability is limited.


* Emotional Labour Upgrade - This software performs basic Emotional Labour and Active Listening (EL-AL) tasks. Mansplaining Endurance software and Tongue Biting software are presently not available. 


For your convenience, we've included the appropriate fee lists with this letter of response. Holiday weekend rates apply. Prices on the ELU list are listed as multipliers on the selected EMA package. A deposit is required for new and probationary clients, but waved for Valued clients (don’t assume you are one). Failure to include sufficient location and timing information will void the contract and deposit return.

DW Update

May. 1st, 2017 12:04 pm
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I'm here... I haven't had time to set this journal up well and I'm trying to do so today.

FYI -- I've deleted my LJ account. I *think* this means that my open-id account for LJ (here on DW) has been orphaned. I don't think I can login to shut it down either. You might want to unfriend that account.

edit: So... DW doesn't have sticky posts?

edit: ... mildly embaressed about how much I've forgotten about windows machines and dos...
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The results of the Turnip Sacrifice are up at
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This year's Turnip Sacrifice post is up at Clevermanka.Net.


Sep. 2nd, 2016 02:54 pm
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ACS Webinars - Chemistry and material science webinars every Thursday. Webinars are free to anybody who registers when they are broadcast and available to ACS members in an archive after the fact.
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