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 FUUUCK... I forgot how much I loved "The Booth On The End". We finally watched the second season on youtube.  
doc_paradise: (honest)

Title: When Good Men Behave Badly: Change Your Behaviour, Change Your Relationships

Author: David B. Wexler, Ph.D.

ISBN: ISBN-13 978-1-57224-346-0

Type: Fixer



“When Good Men Behave Badly” focuses on men’s feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and perceived threats to identity that can lead to acting badly in otherwise good men with good values, who want to make good choices instead of being emotionally hijacked by their limbic system. It offers these men acknowledgement and an understanding of their emotional life with the goal of equipping them with new behavioural options.

CONTENT WARNING: This book contains examples of domestic violence and examples of derogatory language


Presentation Style

This is a self-help book for middle-aged, white, cis-men written by a middle-aged, white, cis-man. On the one hand, this framing is useful because this to create a tone of (white) men talking to (white) men about shared experiences which may be difficult for women (and others) to have sympathy for when they are on the receiving end of the described bad behaviour. On the other hand, the advice is very binary oriented (men and women only), heteronormative (heterosexual and monogamous assumptions), and doesn’t discern between different groups of men (one size fits all *sigh*). It doesn’t specifically state that it is about white men, but with a white man on the cover… it doesn’t do anything to move away from white men as the default. I’m agender, I don’t exist in this book.

Speaking of the cover… I hate it. My edition has a white man in a dress shirt holding flowers behind his back. My mind jumps to the assumption that the man is in the “doghouse”. A focus group somewhere may have determined that this is brilliant marketing, but it makes me cringe. The irony of the cover is that the book warns of the importance of perception by telling the story of one of the author’s clients, who had a great session with him, but never returned to therapy after the author recommended a book that had the phrase “verbal abuse” in the title.[1]

“When Good Men Behave Badly” is a relatively short book (199 pages + references) that overviews and introduces a selection of ideas, explanations, exercises, and suggestions. It uses examples heavily (see content warning) and fiction examples which may be dated (I don’t recognize most of them, but that didn’t make much of a difference to understanding). This is introductory material. If you want to go into the topics in depth you will have to follow up with other material [2] or seek out a therapist familiar with men’s issues.


Chapter Breakdown:

1. Good Men and Broken Mirrors — Introduces mirroring, broken mirrors, and twinning through the concept of selfobjects (someone or something that helps us feel cohesive). How the broken mirror experience can trigger acting out. 

2. The Power of Women — What men are taught [by toxic masculinity] to expect from women and how emotional dependancy on women for missing needs can lead to resentment or withdrawal, and a perception that they have power over men.

3. Fathers and Sons: Curses and Blessings — How fathers may expect sons to be positive mirrors, react to them as broken mirrors when they don’t measure up, and what this does to boys. 

4. Midlife, Affairs, and Projections —What people do when there is a gap between what is and what they expected in their life. This talks about self-awareness, distress tolerance, taking responsibility and how these can help when it feels like something is missing.

5.  Men’s Brains —What it is like to be hijacked by your limbic system and the effects of anger. Some strategies for dealing with these.

6. Odysseus, Relational Heroism, and Imaginary Crimes — How to be a Relational Hero through self-awareness, preparation, and doing things differently. How to let go of Imaginary Crimes.

7. Guy Talk —How men talk to themselves and other men, and how that sets the frame for behaviour.

8. What Women Can Do —For those women who read the book, a short chapter on dealing with men (and raising boys) within the context of the author’s “good men” hypothesis with some concrete “try these” ideas. It also recognizes that there are men who are dangerous and not just behaving badly.


My Opinion:

This is a book about how toxic masculinity fucks over men.


“When Good Men Behave Badly” presents itself mainly as a relationship repair guide, but it is more about how men can have better relationships with themselves through self-awareness, emotional regulation, and understanding the influences of masculinity in themselves… improved romantic and family relationships is a (very positive) side-effect of being able to navigate one’s internal landscape without being capsized or swamped. I think it is important to healing and growth that men have acknowledgement of their feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and missing needs, and I like that this book acknowledges this as something that women do for men while at the same time pointing out that disowning responsibility for those needs ultimately undermines the ability to get them met. I like that the author manages to navigate recognizing the subjective reality of these feelings while disassembling the idea that it is women’s job (and men are helpless) to emotionally regulate men. The author strongly believes in men’s positive ability to learn how to regulate and manage their emotional needs well. 


That said, as an agender person who is regularly misgendered as a woman, I’m struggling to find a way to get this book into the hands of the men I think who would benefit from it (possibly even enjoy it), without giving the impression that I think they are broken and harmful people. The book goes in a much different direction than that, but that doesn’t matter if first impressions means they don’t get past the cover.[3] Even beyond the usual problems with giving self-help books to people[4], I think it may be especially difficult, due to the topic, for a woman to give this book to a man without it being potentially perceived (accurately or inaccurately) as shaming. That is unfortunate.   


I think, therefore, that this is a book for men to read and then share with other men in an act of twinship mirroring. 




[1] One of Wexler’s areas of specialty is domestic abuse. He has a number of other books on the topic as well as a book about men in therapy, which (according to the blurb I read) apparently does deal with groups of men other than white cis-men. 


[2] Such as the work of Terrence Real (author of “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” a book on male depression) which is quoted and referenced in this book. 


[3] Being known as someone who reads a staggering number of self-help/psychology books does help diffuse this “I’m giving this to you because you’re broken” vibe, but still… “Hey! I found this fabulous book on [insert taboo topic here] that I think you will love and get lots out of!” isn’t a great party topic for most people. My friends have figured out how to run with it, but they are also used to seeing books on conflict or trauma (for example) on my coffee table.


[4] Self-help books don’t make good gifts folks. They are specifically aimed at fixing people and giving them will *always* have an underlying message that needs to be managed. I love self-help books but there are books on my shelf that just sit there unread specifically because of the framing of their gifting. 


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. 

Video Game

Aug. 29th, 2017 11:43 am
doc_paradise: (Default)
 h/t to [personal profile] malovich introduced me to this demonstration game about the use of game theory to develop trust or destroy it.

The main site has a bunch of other little games that I haven't checked out yet but intend to.
doc_paradise: (Default)
 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
doc_paradise: (duck)
 What is the non-gendered equivalent of aunt/uncle?
doc_paradise: (Default)

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."
doc_paradise: (Default)
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
doc_paradise: (Default)
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
doc_paradise: (password2)
This year's Turnip Sacrifice post is up at Clevermanka.Net.


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