Lauren McCluskey: We need specialized teams with psychologists, psychiatrists, IT specialists and investigators

I have said it many times before.

Police officers are not equipped to deal with cases of stalking and so on, at all. They do not have the knowledge to assess them (and are sadly too often led by their personal bias toward the victims).

It happened in the cases of Shana Grice, Molly McLaren and Bijan Ebrahimi in the UK.

And it happened in the case of Lauren McCluskey in the US as now transpires.

It has happened in many other situations.

Having specialized teams that are not part of the police but of new to be set up organizations and that respond instantly would also often benefit many people who could normally go on to murder someone because they would get the intervention and treatment they need IN TIME.

They too are criminalized and unnecessarily victimized if they are in ill mental health. Instead of saying that they believe they need help but being ignored by police or simply being ignored by police – period – or even being egged on by police after concerns are reported, they would get the help that just might stop them from committing murders, murders like those of Shana Grice, Molly McLaren, Bijan Ebrahimi and Lauren McCluskey.

Police officers often see themselves as superior experts in just about anything but in reality, their level of knowledge is often no different from that of the average homeless meth addict or industrious takeaway owner.

On the other hand, police officers now also waste a lot of time chasing up silly “he said she said” disputes and playing thought police. Silly “he said she said” quarrels and normal breakup situations could quickly be weeded out as representing little danger if there were dedicated teams of specialists to assess these situations.

The need for specialized IT staff on these teams is also made clear by the McCluskey case; see the screen shot below from the case review. (This looks like sadistic stalking to me, by the way. The taunting nature of it, the mix of openly seeming supportive with regard to what he was actually doing too, albeit in the dark, except that sadistic stalking usually occurs on much longer time scales, as far as I know, but it is a complex phenomenon that is almost impossible to escape from if it happens to you.)

The way the situation currently is, contacting police is the worst you can do if you are being stalked and harassed. Why? Because it will enrage your stalker and as police usually do nothing or next to nothing, it will greatly amplify the stalker’s power. At best, it makes no difference.

In addition to this proposed overhaul of police, we also need changes in the medical profession. Police officers and medical professionals are currently among the biggest propagators of mental health stigmas, stopping people who need it from getting treatment.

There appears to be a huge gap between the knowledge about physical health (with mostly physical effects) and the knowledge about brain-related or “mental” health. The fact that there is even a stigma on pain – as pain is not visible and often not directly measurable – indicates that there is a tendency to place stigmas on any health issues that are not visible or hard to show in a visual form. (Even having a brain scan that shows differences can help a lot.) People are being blamed for brain-related health conditions as it is often assumed that all humans have total control over them. The mere fact that personalities can change after a stroke or other type of brain injury already shows that we don’t.

(Hence, I also believe that it is wrong to criminalize people with brain-related health conditions, which is not the same as declaring them “insane”. We need different approaches to mental health and much better care. Genuine professional care. Support.)

 

PS
Years ago, I screamed or cried at police over the phone “What the hell does this guy want from me? Ask him what he wants from me so that I can give him an answer so that he can move on and leave me in peace.” Police thought it was hilarious, but frowned at me. Delusional old cow.

Five videos for people in the Netherlands

For a long time, the Netherlands has been a highly egalitarian country, but inequality is very slowly starting to increase there, even though most people in the Netherlands still live – in a comparison to make you understand – with caviare and champagne for breakfast and gold taps and door handles throughout the home.

For the past fourteen years, I have been living in a country that has a huge degree of inequality, which is much worse than in all the other EU countries. Yes, all of them. I want you to know what that looks like, at the bottom. So that you can help stop the Netherlands from going into that direction too.

There is a HUGE amount of homelessness here in the UK, for mostly financial reasons.

Yes, the simple lack of sufficient income for people to support their basic needs.

You see that in countries like the US and Australia too. It includes many female older adults and also people like Manda in one of the videos below, who sustained a brain injury with associated nerve damage. (The Hanes corporation decided to help her.) Most of these people never thought in their wildest dreams that they might ever end up homeless. Among the poorest retired women are former nurses and researchers but also many former stay-at-home mothers.

One of the things it sometimes leads to in Britain is a great deal of envy or discomfort when people in poverty see someone who does not appear to be miserable or who appears to be able to support himself or herself financially. It makes them feel like something has been taken away from them, and they often focus those feelings and their energy on the person who is not miserable. As a result, that person may then be pushed into poverty as well. There are no efforts, certainly not by the British government (to the contrary), to pull people out of poverty here.

In Britain, I have learned what it is like to live without hot water, heat and electricity, to sit in your bed all day long, and walk over to a place where they provide a hot meal for you (and where they may treat you as if you are a potentially dangerous wild animal for no other reason than that you are poor). In Britain, I have seen what it is like to live in deep poverty, to stop looking toward the future because you know that you will never get out of that poverty, and become so accustomed to it that you completely forget what a life is like without poverty.

The other side of the spectrum, the crazy consumerism, the drive for higher and higher GDPs, and the accumulation of personal possessions as the only measure of one’s self-worth, the push for ever-increasing industrial production without any concern for the costs of that and the senseless of it all seems to be also pushing a lot of people into deep poverty.

The key word in many developments and environments is balance. Leading simpler lives is generally more fun than pursuing a consumerist lifestyle, but deep poverty is is just as bad as crazy consumerism. And they seem to go hand in hand.

I’ve heard someone who was spending about 6000 a month describe himself as poor. That’s crazy.

Poor, in the western world, is 6000 a year, or 8000 a year, or 2000 a year.

Poor is having no or limited access to medical care, in the western world.

Poor, in the western world, is having so little income that you have to choose between having a roof over your head and having food in your stomach or having food in your stomach and having food in your children’s stomachs.

One of the videos below features Charlotte, a young British woman who lives on one day a meal and who does not want a sandwich for lunch because eating the sandwich would make her feel hungry the next day. When you have to live on very little food, your metabolism changes, and you will want to keep your body functioning in that mode because it helps you cope. (People who want to stuff people who’ve been living on very little food for a long time, say a year or half a year or one and a half year, and get angry when they don’t want to gorge themselves are simply totally clueless. On the other hand, when your food intake fluctuates, then you will likely want to stuff yourself and may not be able to stop eating when you do get food and may eat 4 plates full of pasta and/or 6 bagels in one go.)

You may also develop nutritional deficiencies.

The medical profession is mostly completely blind to all of this. If you complain about muscle weakness to your doctor, he or she will likely suggest that you join a gym club. Because that is what he or she would do in your place. But these doctors aren’t you. They aren’t poor and haven’t got the foggiest idea what it is like to be really poor.

So instead of buying yet another fancy this or that for your garden or patio and an Alexa or iPhone, you could go to your local Aldi or Lidl, look at how other people are shopping and spend the money you would have spent on your new garden ornament on on that new iPhone on people who would, in a sense, have been paying for your iPhone, Alexa or garden ornament.

Inequality seems to be the result of you not wanting to pay 600 for your new phone but only 400, so that you can spend 200 on your garden ornament. It seems to mean that there are people who get paid very little so that you can get what you want (but don’t need). It seems to mean that there are people who live in environments that have been polluted by the side effects of your consumerism. (It is not healthy to live close to a garbage dump, for example.)

Money and income are not limited resources like oil and gas, but consumerist spending is linked to the depletion of limited resources, and somehow, that results in greater inequality.

Research by universities and the IMF has shown that greater equality makes everyone better off, including those at the top socio-economic levels.

What life is like for a woman in Britain

Some years ago, I wrote a poem about the tearful state of women’s emancipation in Britain.

As you may know, the United Nations inspection a few years ago found Britain possibly the world’s most openly misogynistic country, with sexism worse than in some African countries and countries like Afghanistan. Yes, there is a lot of open hostility and sexism toward women here, with for example “fuckability” and number and frequency of heterosexual sexual service encounters seen as the only indicators of a woman’s worth, with women being taunted as useless, fragile and afraid, and with rape not really seen as a crime and women seen as deserving to be scorned, abused and dismissed. It’s considered so normal that most people in Britain saw nothing wrong with it (which is also why they didn’t recognize themselves in the UN report).

But things are very slowly getting better.

(Not just for women and not just in Britain. It is one of the topics I address in my new course. Did you know that Italy allowed women to go to university much earlier than Britain, that Italy has almost no gender pay gap and that Italy now also allows women “period leave”?)

Shortly after I arrived in Britain at the end of 2004, an accountant I spoke with surprised me greatly by telling me that Chamber of Commerce meetings were “safe for women to attend”. It sounded like something out of a western, to me. I think that worrying about one’s personal safety during business network meetings is no longer a concern for women in Britain these days.
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7 Quotes from the Book “Women Who Run with the Wolves”

1. Be yourself

To be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves.”

2. Be strong

To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one’s own luminosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one’s own way. It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live.”

3. Getting away allows us to discover ourselves

“While exile is not a thing to desire for the fun of it, there is an unexpected gain from it; the gifts of exile are many. It takes out weakness by the pounding. It removes whininess, enables acute insight, heightens intuition, grants the power of keen observation and perspective that the ‘insider’ can never achieve.”

4. What happens when you don’t love yourself

“Our secret hunger for being loved is not beautiful. Our disuse and misuse of love is not beautiful. Our lack of loyalty and devotion is unloving, our state of separation from the soul is ugly, based on psychological warts, inadequacies, and childhood fancies.” 

5. Authentic love

“Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back.”

6. Hit rock bottom

“The best land to plant and grow something new again is rock bottom. In that sense, hitting rock bottom, although extremely painful, is also the ground to sow new life on.”

7. Authentic growth

“If we live as we breathe, taking and releasing, we cannot make mistakes.”

Language alters our experience of time


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Amy Adams in Arrival.
Paramount Pictures

Panos Athanasopoulos, Lancaster University

It turns out, Hollywood got it half right. In the film Arrival, Amy Adams plays linguist Louise Banks who is trying to decipher an alien language. She discovers the way the aliens talk about time gives them the power to see into the future – so as Banks learns their language, she also begins to see through time. As one character in the movie says: “Learning a foreign language rewires your brain.”

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One last post before the holidays

I don’t know if you are making one of those lists with good intentions for the new year or are entertaining wishes for your Christmas presents, but I hope they’ll all come true.

This morning, I reminded myself that I’ve picked up all sorts of habits over the years, while I moved through various cultures. Mine, for example, does not have a Christmas presents tradition, but you know what? I’d completely forgotten.

[The Dutch do celebrate Christmas, but they give each other presents on St Nicholas Day –  Sinterklaas – at the beginning of December. As Dutch mobile phone provider Telfort gave me free calls at Sinterklaas, I know that the tradition is still going strong in the Netherlands, complete with the soot-faced chimney sweeps, and their hand-held short natural-materials brush called “roe” and their chimney sweep’s beret.

The chimney sweeps descend down the chimney to deliver the gifts while Santa (Sinterklaas) and horse wait on the roof, moon overhead. In the days running up to Sinterklaas, Dutch children place one of their shoes near the chimney so that one of the chimney sweep can leave some candy, if he happens to pass by their house, in exchange for a carrot or some sugar for the horse. Apparently, chimney sweeps bring good luck.]

Today, I received a Christmas parcel from the States. I’ll open it on the evening of the 24th, because I think that’s what I am supposed to do.

It’s gonna be my 15th Christmas in Britain and my 10th in Portsmouth. Same for New Year’s Eve. For the coming year, I have lots of wishes for myself, but I am keeping them to myself.

For the world, I have lots of wishes too, but it feels grandiose to say that. It is not my place to dictate for other people what they should wish (though I can fantasize!). I guess that in reality, those wishes represent what I want for myself to some degree.

The above collage contains a photo of a Christmas wreath I decorated while I was living in Florida in the mid 1990s, with dough-based ornaments and sea shells that I painted and Spanish moss, crops of photos of some of the other ornaments I made back then, and a 2009 Christmas card that I scanned and pasted into the image. Then I added a red mist focus.

Oh, by the way, I saw lots of pale salmon-coloured starfish washing up at Southsea, two or three days ago. Amazing! Brought back memories from my high-school biology class. There was a fierce storm with high waves, and lots of seagulls riding them, feasting on various goodies.

Poverty, women and age

Today, I watched a few videos on YouTube about women in poverty, many of whom are homeless or illegally living in a caravan, particularly if they are pensioners. They may get a small pension, but it’s not enough to live on AND rent a place.

They live in the US, Australia, or New Zealand. (I already know quite a bit about the situation in the UK, where one third of the people live in poverty.) They are 48, 57 or 69 years old.

From reading newspapers, I get the impression that poverty is very slowly starting to creep up in the Netherlands too now. That is where I am from, a country where most people still have incomes with lifestyles that now come across as obscene to me, but that I used to see as normal.

There is not necessarily anything wrong with it – apart from the resource consumption that can be linked to it – but I call it obscene because of the giant contrast with the lives I see around me.

To give a comparison that they may be able to understand, their lives are like having gold taps and gold handles throughout the house and expensive champagne with smoked salmon and caviare at breakfast every day.

What strikes me particularly about the stories of the women in the videos is that they never expected to live in poverty and are totally gobsmacked by the fact that they are.

But here is the thing. It’s not them. They didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. It’s mostly the result of sheer coincidence.

Several of them mentioned the 2008 financial crisis. (Thank you, banks.) Others mentioned a divorce, hence suddenly being without a home.

They grew up in a time when life was still good. For most of them, it was a reasonable expectation that they would not be poor a few decades later.

It’s made me remember that in 2006 or thereabouts, various articles more or less predicted this rise in poverty, this sharpening division in the haves and have-nots. There was a lot of talk about corn, and the price of it. The articles said that we were heading for a time of food insecurity and a lot of poverty. It worried me. It sounded alarming. It made me look into emigrating to countries with much lower living expenses and the kind of climate in which I thrive.

If you thrive, physically, you can do more work. If you live in pleasant surroundings and don’t struggle with paying the bills, you maintain better health, too. All of these factors help.

I seem to recall that those articles also said that knowledge workers would increasingly get into difficulties, but that the opportunities for creatives would likely become much better. Back then, I had no idea what that meant in practice. (Maybe the people who wrote those articles did not know either.) It is starting to dawn on me now.

Once you’re in real poverty, it’s almost impossible to get out of, it seems, unless you have an extraordinary stroke of luck, for most people.

There have to be ways to solve this, stop this from progressing. Yo, creatives, can you come up with some bright ideas?

The focus of the world is shifting. The articles predicted that too. It’s true. The United States no longer run the world.

Some of the women in the YouTube videos solved their homelessness by taking up house-sitting, although that also sometimes meant that they were no longer eligible for social housing. One of the women has MS, the relapsing-remitting version, and no health insurance.

Something else struck me, too. These women were too nice about it all, too accepting, taking their worries and bouts of depression in stride.

“You’ve got to roll with the punches.”

True, but rolling with the punches means that the punches barely touch you and don’t hurt you. When the punches hurt and you never asked for them, never started the fight yourself, you’re entitled to a bit of anger. There are power and energy in certain kinds of anger – but women are still not supposed to get angry.

At least two narcissists run big countries?

Donald Trump appears to be a so-called grandiose or malignant or overt narcissist, and I am starting to suspect that Theresa May is a narcissist as well.

Her behaviour caught my attention off and on over the years, but I thought she was merely being fairly typically British, certainly for a politician. Now I wonder…

She is heartless/without an apparent capacity for empathy, when she does dish out “sweetness” it is almost always faked for effect, she is calculating and obstinate, lies constantly and does not even flinch when she is caught red-handed, as if she thinks it merely shows how smart she is, she occasionally acts all personally injured, it is impossible to have a genuine conversation with her and not replying at all to clear questions is one of her favourite tactics.

The way she smiles in this video, it’s… kinda nuts, but it seems to fit with how a narcissist might respond. She appears to love how powerless and frustrated – exasperated – her blunt refusal to answer makes Jeremy Corbyn.

And this refusal to reply is not about who ate the cookies.

That makes it even stranger.

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It is more or less how Donald Trump would respond too, right? Or am I seeing ghosts?

There has been research into how it would be perceived if a woman said the things that Donald Trump says. It turned out that the public finds it far more acceptable when it comes from a woman. I find that interesting!

Make no mistake, nobody chooses to have a narcissistic personality disorder. It is a brain-based condition and the exasperation that the condition can cause in others is not that different, perhaps, from the exasperation people can feel toward people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, another, albeit different brain-based condition.

Why the NHS does not get enough funding

Because of all the money that goes into bad administration. Bad government.

“The UK has allocated £2bn ($2.5bn) in funding to government departments” to deal with a Brexit worst-case scenario.

“3,500 troops will be put on standby to maintain essential services”

Imagine what the NHS could have done with those TWO BILLION pounds!

The British motto of “never admit defeat” is starting to look pretty ridiculous, fighting an imaginary war that, in reality, is a war against itself.

 

 

THIS I want to share!

There are many resources out there, including by clinical psychologists, who make you feel that you are a complete idiot if your natural tendency is to take the gentle approach of decency and goodness if there is someone in your life who has a narcissistic personality disorder.

Let’s face it, most of us know nothing about personality disorders, so if you find yourself the target of “sadistic stalking” which happened to me or whatever it is that happened to you that made you look into narcissistic personality disorder and then recognize it (it’s how I realized that I have a friend on the other side of the world who has this disorder), you will find that there is no one to advise you and the only thing you have – besides your own inner compass – is what you find on the web. And a lot of that information is, well, crap, practically speaking.

NOBODY chooses to have a personality disorder and if there is one mental health condition that I think the people who have it would do almost anything for NOT to have it, it’s narcissistic personality disorder, because it is my impression that life hurts almost all the time when you have that.

As mentioned, I have a long-time friend who has this disorder and after I began to understand that, and started reading up, I made mistakes. I became afraid of these people. Being afraid is silly. This mistake makes me feel very stupid, in hindsight, but hindsight is always 20/20.

So, don’t repeat my mistake if there is someone in your life who has narcissistic personality disorder.

(By the way, in Britain, people with this condition appear to be revered – and very very common. Why is that? This is something I will want to dive into, eventually. I suspect that Theresa May is a covert narcissist, for example, the way in which she lies, the complete lack of empathy and the way she acts all personally injured at times. Or is it just a public persona that she adopts, because it is revered in Britain?)

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When someone is sabotaging your reputation behind your back…

… you may be dealing with someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder.

This is one of the reasons why narcissists like single immigrants who are relatively “fresh off the boat”. They have no local network yet, no local friends yet for emotional support, and nobody who will stand up for them in that environment, nobody who knows them well. Narcissists perceive them as “easy prey”, with less work required.

Don’t hold it against them. Nobody chooses to have a personality disorder. Learning about the disorder is very helpful.

Here is more:

Also quintessentially British is this?

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A few years ago, I read a story about a man who was constantly being hassled by British police wherever he went. Turns out that he had once attended some kind of relatively innocent demonstration and that got him into a police data base that got his car or his face flagged wherever he went.

19 December 2018
Here is more: https://rightsinfo.org/mass-surveillance-in-londons-west-end/ (Mass Surveillance In London’s West End As Unmarked Police Vans Scan 18,000 People Per Minute)

Quintessentially British?

This, too: https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/kicked-punched-knocked-unconscious-tipped-out-of-wheelchairs-campaigners-describe-repeated-police-targeting-of-disabled-anti-fracking-protesters/

It’s happened before, a few years ago, when people in wheelchairs and pensioners (off the top of my head) protested against their ability to travel being severely cut short. Police hit back hard.

Here is a link:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10922230/Video-shows-pensioner-protesting-against-cuts-to-free-travel-being-restrained-by-police.html

In both situations, people were knocked unconscious by police.

Am I throwing a pity party?

Sorry. I am sure that it sometimes comes across that way in posts and videos related to my latest course.

The thing is, society throws a lot of literal and figurative hurdles into the lives of people who are unlike the masses around them. We call some of them “disabled” in English or “invalide” in Dutch. But it’s often those hurdles that society creates or forgets to remove that do the disabling.

They’re roadblocks.

And I don’t want to make light of those. (So that we can do something about them.) And I know that some conditions also go with lesions (bed sores), pain and other challenges. I don’t want to make light of that either.

One of the figurative hurdles for disabled people is similar to the stigma on being a migrant. You are deemed relatively useless, hence not hired, which then “proves” that you are useless. How some countries treat them can stigmatize refugees. Forbidding them to work and forcing them to lead extremely limited frustrating lives, sometimes for over a decade, can do that to them.

Being “disabled” also has the idea that your life is automatically worthless, devoid of joy and happiness, attached to it. That’s bullshit. I know that.

(That one is akin to the stigma / prejudice to do with being older or being single, isn’t it?)

My long deceased mother, not disabled but severely ill, went into town one day, got a new outfit including a new suede jacket – blue – and huge sunglasses. Pretending to be an incognito movie star, she dropped in on family. She had a heck of a lot of fun doing that. Called a taxi cab so that the car couldn’t be recognized.

She used a cane with a delicately carved dog’s head as handle as her walking support when she was still able to walk relatively well. Refused crutches. Too ugly.

But being severely ill is not the same as “disabled”. I know that too. It’s just that I have known a lot of severe illness around me, so I can’t talk about the time so and so and I did this or that and we had such a blast because I don’t seem to have known anyone who is physically disabled. Also, doing that would make me feel a bit biased or abusive. If so and so and I had a blast, we would merely have had a blast, you see, and it would have had nothing to do with whether or not so and so was “disabled”. It might make me feel like I was using the disability in some way, which I wouldn’t want to do.

So I have to use other people’s stories, to convey the message I sometimes may have trouble getting across.

Here is one.

Sue Austin is an artist. She is also a deep-sea diver. There was no wheelchair for deep-sea diving so she developed one. For her, wheelchairs symbolize freedom. The power to do what she wants to do.

An elephant called Happy.

Later today,

“in Albion, New York, a court is set to hear arguments on an elephant’s legal personhood and fundamental right to bodily liberty in the world’s first habeas corpus hearing on behalf of an elephant.

With support from world-renowned elephant experts such as Joyce Poole and Cynthia Moss who have spent their careers observing elephants living freely in their natural habitats, we argue Happy’s imprisonment at the Bronx Zoo is unlawful and deprives her of her ability to exercise her autonomy in meaningful ways, including the freedom to choose where to go, what to do, and with whom to be.

Show your support for Happy’s release from imprisonment and transfer to an elephant sanctuary by sharing this image on your social media accounts and using the hashtag #IStandWithHappy

Also join us on Twitter @NonhumanRights for live updates with the hashtag #HappyHearing and on this Facebook event page where you can leave an #IStandWithHappy message of support for Happy. We’ll be posting to the event page throughout the day.

Happy deserves the opportunity to experience the freedom of a sanctuary, including the opportunity to meaningfully interact with other elephants. Learn more about her life and court case here. To support the work of the NhRP, please visit this page.”

I believe that the respect we have for other animals also reflects how we treat each other and vice versa. Humans too are merely mammals. We are not supernatural, not separate from nature but part of it.

Another opinion

The key to our humanity isn’t genetic, it’s microbial

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The microbes that live in our gut are essential to good health.
Alpha Tauri 3D Graphics/SHutterstock.com

Ian Myles, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

What if the key to perfecting the human species were actually … yogurt?

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I want to share this experience with you

Eight years ago, I was vision-impaired for several days.

This is a clip from the course. One of the topics I talk about in the course is how society creates unnecessary hindrances for many people. The experience made me aware of how much more society can do to make many people’s lives easier.