I am interested in how the world ticks. You too? Keep reading then.
These days, I mostly talk about topics to do with diversity and otherization. Think of bioethics, neuroscience, (in)equality, disabilities, personality disorders, neurodiversity, cultural differences and the public health challenges that stalking behaviors present.
Did you know that in 2017/2018, the police recorded 10,334 incidents of stalking whereas the Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates that there were over 1,000,000 self-reported victims of stalking each year for about the same time period?
Let that sink in…
Did you know that the police in England and Wales have admitted (2017) that they fail stalking victims by default and that a consortium of experts and organizations have recently (end 2022) submitted a so-called super complaint against the police over the issue of stalking? On 26 January 2023, it was assessed as being eligible to be investigated.
Hi. I’m a Dutchwoman from Amsterdam. I’ve previously lived in the United States so you’ll find a mix of American and British spelling on this website. I’ve been in England, the southernmost one of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom, since the end of 2004.
My last name appears to be a combination of Norse and French, because that is where the families on my dad’s side came from, but you have to go back pretty far in time to track that down. My mother’s family came from a different part of France and apparently were low-ranking nobility as they had a family crest. That too, was a long time ago.
I am an earth & life scientist, a geologist turned marine biogeochemist, to be exact. Yep, sure, I was once part of KNCV, GeochemSoc, AGU, KNGMG, IUPAC, ASM and various organizations for women in science. I am a current member of IAPG, but not active in it.
I am self-employed and VAT-registered, and have been for more than 20 years. I am also a Company Director.
If you ask what I can do for you, well, I support stalking victims, mostly in very practical ways, but also as someone who’s supportive and makes stalking victims feel less alone and alienated. Read the page about my long road to find out about the wealth of experiences that I bring to the table. Stalking often has a great deal to do with diversity and otherization as well as with neuroscience. Here in England, let’s face it, crime victims can no longer count on the police for anything at all. However, stalking generally isn’t even a policing matter but a complex public health issue.
I suppose you could say that I run a one-woman think tank from a place called Portsmouth. It’s is a very densely populated small city of over 200,000 folks most of who have are crammed onto a tiny island called Portsea Island. It measures 24.5 square kilometers (9.5 square miles; 6,100 acres). Parts of Portsmouth are located on mainland England. The Isle of Wight is to the south of it. Geologically speaking, it’s on the edge of the Paris Basin.
I have been based there since the start of 2009. Before that, I resided in Southampton. I moved from Amsterdam to Southampton in the second half of 2004. That was only supposed to have been for a few years and I initially had planned to go to Plymouth. If I had done that, then I would likely have been a university professor in the States now, with my own research group in the marine biogeochemistry field.
For nearly 15 years, I was subjected to a baffling combination of English community harassment and neurodivergent behaviors (the latter likely to be at least to some degree explorative). It sums up as a pattern called “sadistic stalking aka “resentful stalking”. It’s included 24/7 hacking interference as well as things like lock-picking and downright abuse and sadism, such as animal cruelty, but has had positive aspects as well. Positive aspects within this kind of context tend to be intended to control, isolate and manipulate, however. There’s been a tremendous amount of sabotage, too. Crazy…
This hasn’t quite ended yet. What on earth’s going on here, you ask? Well, keep visiting this website from time to time and you’ll be able to discover and learn along with me.
Is it one or two people’s Asperger’s that I am mostly dealing with? Might it concern one or two people’s DID? Or could it be closer to NPD with a psychopathy (or sociopathy) component?
I don’t like labels and I see the diversity space as multidimensional, but it is useful for practical purposes to have some idea of where in this space someone’s located. For example, you can’t comfort an autistic person by touching and hugging them and showering them with attention – it would only burden them tremendously – but for others, it can be exactly what they need when they’re stressed.
It concerns people who often feel vulnerable and who do have emotions and who throw angry hissy fits, and who wish that they could change themselves but can’t, hence are after acceptance of who they are. Othering them makes things worse for everyone. What a Catch-22. Such a hard balancing act.
- More about neurodiversity: https://angelinasouren.com/about-neurodiversity/
- More about sadistic stalking: https://angelinasouren.com/stranger-stalking/
Now I get to a few tricky issues. I’m a migrant. We all know what successive UK governments and Home Secretaries have been saying about EU citizens and I can’t simply ignore that. People in England have rarely done me the courtesy of accepting my science background, while often expecting me to respect theirs and even sometimes rely on it heavily.
Have a little faith, folks. Not everyone is out to con you. Don’t blindly assume that what UK politicians tell you about folks like me is accurate. Thanks.
I have nothing against low-skilled labor, by the way. To the contrary, I am totally not a desk jockey. There is a lot of manual labor involved in geology (and also in marine science) as well as a lot of walking and climbing. Want an example? I collected 500 kilograms of rock samples during my fieldwork in Sweden (usually needing to be chiseled and hammered out first, after taking down their location and orientation) and they had to be crushed or sawed and/or pelleted for further analysis.
Let’s continue a little “tongue in cheek”.
I’m a late bloomer, though. I used to work in tourism & hospitality in Amsterdam and only decided to turn myself into a scientist when I was in my mid twenties.
I ran into other prejudices when I moved to England. I was in my mid 40s and it was as if I aged 50 years overnight. Thankfully, I also lose 50 years each time I leave the country.
There’s this thinking that women who are over 45 all have dementia and most men too. We are crazy, we old people, and we do things like make up hackers to mask that we don’t know what to do with a computer, let alone a smartphone. We old folks, we’re like recalcitrant 3-year-olds and must be put in our place. How dare we be so foolish as to have opinions and wishes and demand to be allowed to use our brains?
Seriously, most older adults do not develop dementia at all. Let go of the belief that everyone over 45 is senile and as good as dead, but does not want to admit it yet, a “daisy”. 13 in 14 people over 65 do not have dementia. Only 1 in 14 does.
Poverty is a much bigger problem in England because that is behind a lot of health problems in all age groups. It’s not at all true that once you’re over 45 or 65, bad health is a given. A lot of the prejudice against older adults, however, is the result of younger folks seeing what a lifetime of deprivation does to people. Bad nutrition, bad housing, bad quality of sleep. Living with black mold, dust mites, high crime levels and lots of noise, frequent severe financial stress and being forced to breathe in too much polluted air, all of that can take a toll.
There is a Dutch phrase “roofbouw op je lijf plegen”. You can’t shamelessly exploit humans and expect those humans to remain super healthy. You can’t put a human body through a lifetime of deprivation and expect no ill effects. And there is a great deal of deprivation in England.
Please, let go of all the other nonsense too, such as the idea that Black Lives Matter is a daft short-lived typically American movement that has no relevance for people in Britain.
Eighteen years ago, in the second half of 2004, I relocated from Amsterdam to Hampshire in England. This was only supposed to have been for a few years, as I just mentioned. I’d previously lived and worked in the United States and the plan was to move back to the US eventually.
Every country has its problems and its pluses and minuses. They’re just like people, to some degree. You click more with some than with others, but the most difficult situations also usually offer the biggest learning opportunities. That’s how I felt. There are limits to that, though.
In the US, most people welcomed me.
The fact that I looked ten, fifteen years younger than I actually was – helped along greatly by the optimal skin moisturization produced by Florida’s high humidity – caused a certain degree of misunderstanding, sure. I remember one woman telling me that a vintage wooden Coca Cola crate she had in her lovely shop – with bottles! – was much older than I was, and then she proceeded to explain that it wasn’t without realizing it. No more than one to three people associated me with drugs and prostitution or wooden shoes just because I was from the Netherlands.
Most Americans were also very helpful, corrected me when I made language mistakes (mispronunciations, sometimes because I used the British pronunciation of words like “herbs”) and taught me that the language we got to hear in American TV series and movies is not always fit for daily use (such as the word “bastard”).
Oddly enough, many of the warnings I had gotten about the States, such “won’t be able to rent a place on your own, but will have to share a house” and “won’t be able to make friends because Americans don’t do friendship, really, because they’re too busy for that” and “when Americans invite you over to dinner, they don’t actually mean it, they’re just being polite” turned out to pertain much more to England than to the States, along with warnings about the level of crime and the need to be alert at all times.
In England, by contrast, people tend to make smirk but say nothing when you mispronounce something or when for example you say “musical” when you meant “music”. If you ask questions, you usually get nowhere. You may even get told off. You’re a non-native and you’ll never understand the English way of doing things. And if you don’t like that, then why don’t you go back to where you came from?
I stopped making jokes because English people, I learned, almost always assume that foreign folks have a bad command of English, by default. They tended to misinterpret jokes and many other remarks as something I said because I had a bad grasp of the English language.
Admittedly, my spoken English started to deteriorate after I left Amsterdam. I spoke more English than Dutch when I was still living in Amsterdam and I spoke English at a much higher level than l do nowadays.
Sometimes, English people you’ve never met before must have already spoken about you with other English people at such length that they apparently feel that they already know you and, therefore, forget to introduce themselves. They don’t inform you that they already know that you’re Dutch either. It can lead to odd situations in a group setting such as a woman who you’ve never met before nodding in your direction when she brings up the environmental cost of Dutch flowers. Your wonder what that means. Is she holding you responsible for that environmental cost? Is she implying that you surely agree? Most likely, all she wants to convey is “I know that you’re Dutch.” At least, that’s my take.
In other groups with a stranger in their midst, English people often diligently avoid your eyes and pull up their chairs to close the circle so that you can’t pull up another chair and sit next to them, but that, indeed, is genuine English social awkwardness. There are English people, too, who are greatly amused by this, such as the HMRC guy who ran a tax workshop that I attended and who noticed that I was the only one talking to the others and handing out cards. That sort of thing – talking to strangers; no, this is not exclusively about foreigners – still tends to freak out a lot of English folks, even if they’re in business for themselves.
Brexit is not likely to make that better because it will only increase England’s insularity.
So far, Brexit has only caused massive inflation, all kinds of shortages as well as the departure and collapse of many British businesses. Its post-pandemic recovery lags way behind that of other countries.
Socially speaking, England is often like a guerrilla war zone, in comparison with what I know from the Netherlands and the United States. A lot of immature bickering goes on and a lot of snarky, often nonsensical sneering directed at strangers. It’s almost like sniper fire.
No, that’s not just me saying this. See for example this article in The Guardian. The standard style of communication is passive aggression, it asserts. It’s quintessentially English. This passive aggression does not only get expressed in words but in actions as well. I do my best to avoid and ignore people who display passive aggression because to me, they come across as pathologically insecure and as wasting my time but their behavior also signifies a risk of physical aggression. Even if those acts would be minor, it’s still not the kind of experience I’d enjoy.
It’s not the kind of behavior that comes from a mentally healthy, well-balanced person: https://psychcentral.com/relationships/how-to-deal-with-a-passive-aggressive-person
Unfortunately, you can’t help adopting this mentality eventually, if you’ve been in England for a long time. You may end up not liking yourself much any longer, but you likely feel that you have little choice. When in Rome… Has that happened to you too, as a foreigner? Do your best to make that Herculean effort to stay above it. You’ll feel so much better!
I spent many years obsessing over how I could help make English society a happier and more upbeat place, until I realized that it is part of the national character to be pretty grouchy.
By contrast, I loved living in Florida (generally speaking). I had not expected to like it much in the US. I had also anticipated not liking the Florida heat and humidity at all. In fact, I had dreaded it, but I probably mostly based that on a long weekend spent in Alicante in unusual ridiculously humid weather and on my experiences in Amsterdam, a city with a lot of air pollution that quickly becomes overcast and sticky in hot summer weather. I already noticed a long time ago that there were blue skies after the train got out of Amsterdam. (I commuted to Amsterdam for a few years, but then I moved into it.)
Florida’s air is relatively clean.
Moreover, all Florida homes have some form of air conditioning, abbreviated to “airco” in the Netherlands and to “air con” in the UK, but it’s simply “a/c” in the US. It makes a big difference.
I got dehydrated there pretty badly once but that was also the last time. When it happened, the Americans around me were helpful and understanding.
From that point on, I increasingly cherished the heat and humidity of Florida. I was so much healthier there. No more powerless coughing in the winter.
Fast forward to England where it’s often like everyone considers themselves your personal enemy. That feels like a gross exaggeration, so dramatic, until you consider the following.
This fragment comes from (an earlier version of) the book “When cultures collide“, written by Englishman Richard D. Lewis and recommended to me by an American, Pinkney C. Froneberger III (a Democrat whose granddad was a US senator). I encountered him at a workshop at Berenschot, about cultural differences. PC and I discovered that we were both members of the Amsterdam American Business Club.
Later, when someone at NATO called me one day and inquired about the presentation skills workshops for scientists that I was offering through my business, I contacted PC, because PC did this kind of thing for a living, mostly working with the big banks, through his own business. My usual presentations skills trainer with whom I’d designed three different workshops, a self-employed Australian ex-Shell guy with a geology background, was in Turkey at the time, on business.
Through the Amsterdam American Business Club, I got to meet Lencola Sullivan, another Democrat as well as a world-class singer and speaker. I was attending the celebration of Dutch-American Friendship Day at a reception in a lounge at Schiphol Airport and noticed a woman in a peach- or salmon-colored suit standing by herself at the time and I sauntered over. We got to talk about how natural public speaking skills come to most Americans. It’s what American youngsters grew up with, but Dutch folks certainly did not. Communication is a vital part of science but many science presentations were still really dull in those days. There were no TED Talks yet. Lencola then invited me to join Toastmasters of The Hague, which I did. That’s where I met the ex-Shell guy.
By the way, did you know that the United States and the Netherlands have the longest uninterrupted friendship between two countries?
Shell had gotten my attention because one day, I had watched a woman who graduated from the same department as I display superb presentation and leadership/management skills at a GAIA event. She was Shell staff and I figured it might have something to do with that.
I’ve also done a great deal of networking online. That’s for example, how I ended up working with Arcadis (until I moved to England).
These are just a few examples of how people in other countries network.
England does not work this way at all, by contrast.
Does that mean that I never felt awkward at network etc events in the past, when I still had a life? Sure I did! I remember a meeting in Delft or the Hague at which a woman started talking about sailing with the guy at the table that I was at too. I think this was during lunch at a grant-writing workshop. Turned out that he too was into sailing. I had and still have no experience with sailing and suddenly became completely invisible. That’s just how it goes sometimes.