Keeping Quiet – Pablo Neruda

Keeping Quiet

‘Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.’

Pablo Neruda

Thank you to Emily Pearce on Facebook for this.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

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‘In the footsteps of the walking air’ Kenneth Patchen

‘In the footsteps of the walking air
Sky’s prophetic chickens weave their cloth of awe
And hillsides lift green wings in somber journeying.

Night in his soft haste bumps on the shoulders of the abyss
And a single drop of dark blood covers the earth.

Now is the China of the spirit at walking
In my reaches.
A sable organ sounds in my gathered will
And love’s inscrutable skeleton sings.

My seeing moves under a vegetable shroud
And dead forests stand where once Mary stood.

Sullen stone dogs wait in the groves of water …
Though the wanderer drown, his welfare is as a fire
That burns at the bottom of the sea, warming
Unknown roads for sleep to walk upon.’

Kenneth Patchen

Thank you to Neil Talbott on Facebook for introducing us to this poem and poet. Here’s the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in consciousness, creativity, metaphor & dream, perception, poetry, presence, sleep, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jez Hughes on the cultural/collective context of ‘mental illness’

“If we were to approach something like schizophrenia as an extreme example of an underlying disease in our society; that those suffering the mental torment are the ones actually taking the knocks for the whole of the culture as they are the ones open to the invisible forces behind the reality we inhabit, then we may see it differently.

This would involve “listening” to what they are saying… However, this doesn’t mean getting caught up in the detail or story of what is being said, as this may just be a whole load of personal and collective fears and paranoia. But, instead, listening in a different way and feeling the energy that is behind what is being expressed. What is the nature of the pain? How is this pain being acted out or being held by the collective at the moment?

We may then begin to understand or deal with some of the underlying causes of the symptoms, both on a personal and collective level. This can mean we get closer to healing many other problems that exist along a similar spectrum, even if they may not be obviously related. We can also get closer to the underlying symptoms of our cultural pathology and psychosis.”

The Heart of Life: Shamanic Initiation & Healing in the Modern World 

The shamanic perspective holds some of the antidote to our current cultural blind alleys, because it is in its essence an holistic cosmology, acknowledging the interconnection and interdependence of all of life – what Charles Eisenstein calls ‘interbeing’ – and because it brings in a sense of the sacred – ‘I/Thou’ ways of relating towards each other, towards other living beings and towards our planet. Both these are essentially person-centred concepts, wearing slightly different clothing.

The writer does a lot of work with people with psychiatric model diagnoses, and she resonates with Jez’s comments about the cultural context and underlying meanings: ‘those suffering the mental torment are the ones actually taking the knocks for the whole of the culture.’ This is into the landscape of personal and collective shadow, and the inevitable entwining of the two – both in how we experience ourselves, and in how our culture experiences and defines those carrying cultural shadow for the rest of us.

She also resonates with:-

‘…listening in a different way and feeling the energy that is behind what is being expressed..’

Clearly that is one of the fundamental tasks of person-centred therapy. Therapy becomes meaningful when the therapist is able to come alongside the person they working with, and engage authentically and respectfully with that person’s internal locus, meanings and experience. There is evidence over decades of the efficacy of a relationship characterized by such empathic listening and presence when working with people with – e.g. – diagnoses of psychosis or schizophrenia.

Jez’s book is well worth a read, on these themes, and on our cultural predicament and what solutions might look like. Here’s the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in awakening, consciousness, cultural questions, Disconnection, empathy, healing, hearing voices, interconnection & belonging, internal locus of evaluation, meaning, Palace Gate Counselling Service, paradigm shift, perception, person centred, power and powerlessness, psychiatry, psychosis, reality, scapegoating, schizophrenia, shadow, therapeutic relationship, working with clients | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Is mental illness real?’ Jay Watts

Click on the above link for this interesting and important piece in the Guardian’s ‘Comment is free’ section, showing how these perceptions are gradually making it into the mainstream media…which is encouraging. For the writer, Jay still speaks in part from within some of the assumptions of the ‘disorder’ model, and so she would not align herself with all of this. That said, she is wholeheartedly on board with the fundamentals: about validating and trusting people’s truths, and challenging the medicalization of human distress – which has given rise to coercive and oppressive cultural structures unsupported by evidence or reason, and in which empathy, compassion or respectfulness for those caught in the wheels is largely absent:-

‘Rather than clumsily trying to squeeze people’s distress into different boxes, and attempting to convince the public that these reflect illness processes, as with flu or cancer, we must shift our focus to one that validates the lived experience of people who are suffering, however they choose to understand their pain.’

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, autonomy, bullying, civil rights, compassion, cultural questions, diagnoses of bipolar, emotions, empathy, equality, ethics, external locus, family systems, generational trauma, healing, hearing voices, internal locus of evaluation, kindness & compassion, medical model, paradigm shift, perception, political, power, power and powerlessness, psychiatric abuse, psychiatric drugs, psychiatry, psychosis, research evidence, risk, sadness & pain, schizophrenia, shadow, trauma, violence, vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out Beyond Christianity – Fred LaMotte

‘Out beyond Christianity
Magdalene and Jesus are dancing

in a garden where things grow wild,
where things grow into what they are.

Many paths lead here, not one,
and the gates are always open.

Over each gate there’s a sign:
‘Wanderers Welcome.’

Mary thinks Jesus is the gardener,
and he is.

They drink the wine that turns
temples into bodies again.

She reaches out to take his hand:
he lets her.

There are three rules here:
Yearn, Risk Everything, Connect.’

Fred LaMotte

Thanks to Vera de Chalambert on Facebook for showing us this wonderful poem.

Here’s a book link (not clear if this poem is in this book or not, as the writer has not yet managed to procure a copy):-

Wishing you and all of us and our world blessings this Easter.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in awakening, consciousness, creativity, embodiment, encounter, immanence, interconnection & belonging, love, political, presence, risk, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gil Bailie on the Crucifixion & Blame

“The surest way to miss the link between the cure (the crucifixion and its aftereffects) and the disease (the structures of scapegoating violence upon which all human social arrangements have depended) is to read the passion story with an eye to locating and denouncing those most responsible for it. There is a deep irony in this. The fact that we automatically search the text – or the world outside the text – for culprits on whom to blame the crucifixion is proof that we are one of the culprits, for the crucifixion was demanded by those determined to find a culprit to blame or punish or expel. Responsibility for the crucifixion and the system of sacred or scapegoating violence it epitomizes – is to be borne either by all of us or by only some of us. If the responsibility belongs only to some of us, those who bear responsibility deserve the contempt of those who do not, and we are back in a world of religious categories and sacred violence. The crucifixion’s anthropological significance is lost if responsibility for its violence is shifted from all to some. To lay the blame on the Pharisees or the Jews is to undermine the universal meaning of the crucifixion in favor of the familiar finger-pointing theory of human wickedness.”

Gil Bailie, Violence Unveiled

For the writer, this summarises much of her last 5 years’ experience as a therapist, and her observations of the society we live in.

Culturally, we do not teach, encourage or support the deep, personal, perpetual inwards enquiry, that alone can become the basis for an acknowledgement of our participation – for a compassionate, awake awareness that there is no ‘us and them’, only ‘us’, and that if we seek to diminish another, we diminish ourselves, perpetuating disconnection and separation.

Such an awareness is not blame-based – it does not operate within that model. It is instead informed by the person-centred conception that we all have reasons for how we act – however destructive or harmful that may seem – embedded in how we see ourselves, others and the world, and derived from the entirety of our life’s experience. This dissolving awareness – the antidote to blame, disconnection and separation – involves empathic, loving, authentic presence with self and other. It is what results from the inwards enquiry process we describe, whether undertaken in therapy or on any of the many other paths.

In place of this, our culture teaches and encourages us to project distress outwards, to divert from our own pain by seeking another or others to blame and ‘hold accountable’. Over and over again, the writer sees this play out, in her clients’ lives, in her community, in the media, in her own life. And it’s a blind alley that ultimately serves no-one – ironically, the more prevalent the blame model becomes, the less willing or able any person becomes to accept personal responsibility for anything. No-one wants to be blamed. We know deep in our bones it will not serve us – most of us have learned that since childhood. We are already seamed with the scars of blame heaped upon us by others, and the secret wounds of our own introjected blame of self. We shrink from further wounding, and from our own deeply imbibed fear that we deserve it.

Thank you to Brent Dean Robbins on Facebook for this quotation.

Here’s the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in 'evil', accountability, awakening, blaming, bullying, civil rights, community, compassion, conditions of worth, conflict, congruence, core conditions, criminal justice model, cultural questions, Disconnection, empathy, ethics, external locus, fear, guilt, human condition, identity, interconnection & belonging, kindness & compassion, love, meaning, objectification, perception, person centred, person centred theory, political, power and powerlessness, presence, sadness & pain, scapegoating, self, self concept, self esteem, shadow, shame, shaming, spirituality, trauma, trust, violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Let’s talk about how we address mental health’ Dainius Pūras

Click on the above link to visit this U.N. site, for this address by Dainius Pūras on World Health Day. He is a psychiatrist, and representative of the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. If you are a regular visit to this blog, you will know that psychiatrists do not feature frequently. We do not work within or support the biomedical/psychiatric model of ‘mental health’. As Dainius puts it:-

‘The longstanding biomedical tradition of medicalizing various forms of psychosocial distress and human suffering has cast a long shadow over the importance of addressing the social and underlying determinants of health.  This not only undermines the right to health, it also ignores a rapidly growing evidence base.

For example, there exists compelling evidence that higher prevalence of depression is strongly linked to early childhood adversities, including toxic stress and sexual, physical and emotional child abuse, as well as to inequalities and violence, including gender based inequalities and gender based violence, and many other adverse conditions which people, especially those in vulnerable situations such as poverty or social exclusion, face when their basic needs are not met and their rights are not protected.’ 

The writer does not herself initiate or implicitly/explicitly endorse the use of ‘mental health’ language, like ‘depression’ and ‘severe depression’ in making sense of our human experience – although she supports those she works with in making sense of their experience in whatever ways feel useful to them. So some of the language and residual assumptions in this piece sit a little uncomfortably…. However, Dainius is a psychiatrist with a difference, on the evidence here. In fact, he nails it:-

‘…recent decades have been marked with excessive medicalization of mental health and the overuse of biomedical interventions, including in the treatment of depression and suicide prevention. The biased and selective use of research outcomes has negatively influenced mental health policies and services. Important stakeholders, including the general public, rights holders using mental health services, policymakers, medical students, and medical doctors have been misinformed.  The use of psychotropic medications as the first line treatment for depression and other conditions is, quite simply, unsupported by the evidence. The excessive use of medications and other biomedical interventions, based on a reductive neurobiological paradigm causes more harm than good, undermines the right to health, and must be abandoned.

….we should not accept that medications and other biomedical interventions be commonly used  to address issues which are closely related  to social problems, unequal power relationships, violence and other  adversities that determine our social and emotional environment. There is a need of a shift in investments in mental health, from focusing on “chemical imbalances” to focusing on “power imbalances” and inequalities.’

At this point, it feels worth saying that in the writer’s decade plus experience as a therapist – working with people with all kinds of psychiatric ‘diagnoses’, from ‘borderline personality disorder’ to ‘psychosis’ to ‘schizophrenia’…the list goes on – she has not once worked with anyone whose experiences, however distressing and outwith social norms, have not turned out to have meaning, and roots in past adverse experience. Not once in 12 years. Many of those people have been forcibly hospitalised and injected with psychotropic drugs against their will – inevitably traumatising them further. This is a vast human rights issue, and normalising/overlooking it is one of those social norms.

There is a huge amount of evidence – traditionally largely ignored by the psychiatric model – showing the beneficial effect for most of us (whatever our psychiatric labels) of supportive relationship, characterised by loving presence, authenticity, empathy and acceptance. Which is what we as a service seek to offer those who walk through our door. Dainius in fact ends his address on this note:-

‘”Let us talk” – is a very good slogan chosen for this World Health Day of 2017. People need to talk about their depression, about what they think might be behind feeling sad or happy. Those who make policy decisions need to talk about what went wrong with addressing mental health of individuals and societies, and how things need to be different now. It may be a hard talk – but even more so it is important that we need to talk.’


Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

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