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mental health mondays :: seeing things [or hearing, or feeling or smelling...]

if you had to pick one symptom that most western-world dwellers could agree is a sure sign of having the crazies, it would be hallucinating- a sensory perception or response in the absence of a real-world stimulus. "hearing voices" or being instructed to do things by voices is one of the most common cultural tropes about insanity in the contemporary world, since david berkowitz decided to try to implicate his neighbour's dog...

hundreds of years ago, people who had hallucinations were heralded as religious leaders. or condemned as being possessed by demons and then killed. it was kind of political. the point is that up until relatively recently, society approached hallucinations from a relatively humble perspective, assuming that if a person could detect sights, sounds, or other stimuli that weren't immediately evident that what they reported was probably important. with the rise of science, the pendulum shifted to the other extreme and now, when someone insistently speaks about something that isn't present, we assume that what they have to say is automatically irrelevant and untrustworthy. we have become happily convinced that we know it all.


in fact, hallucinations are almost uncomfortably common [even discounting those that are drug-induced], it's just that the majority of people who get them have them in certain specific circumstances and are able to contextualise them. for instance, many people experience hypnogogic hallucinations- distortions of sensory reality that occur in the transition period from wakefulness to sleep. many, many people experience hallucinations that are often quite vivid and can last for minutes as we're lying in bed, trying to drift off. those of us who have experienced them [and will admit to doing so] will know that they are very different from dreams, so there isn't much danger of confusing them. likewise, many of us think that we hear things when we don't, or believe that we smell something "funny" when others can't, or show some other propensity towards an imaginary stimulus at different points in our daily lives. now, most of you are going to react to that by thinking that those don't count. that's silly. of course they count, we just like to categorise them as different from the guy who yells at an unseen companion walking down the street because that's them and we're us.

ok, ok, there is a difference, but the difference isn't in the hallucinations themselves, but in their frequency and in our self-consciousness about indulging them. many of us mutter to ourselves [or to our pets, or plants, or whatever we choose as a listener to hide the fact that we're really talking to ourselves] on a regular basis, but we severely curb that tendency when others can see us [when we can], because we know that such behaviour is suspect. by that definition, "crazy" is more about a loss of self-consciousness than anything else.

certainly, hallucinations are still a key indicator of serious mental illness, but doctors are also encouraged to discount other conditions, like certain forms of epilepsy or, quite commonly, sleep disorders. they look into possible other causes because, despite the fact that we're convinced our world has lost its mystery and that everything about our bodies has been categorised, rationalised, measured, tested and accounted for, medical professionals still have pretty much no idea why people hallucinate.

fruedian theorists posit ideas on why people might hallucinate the specific things they do [it's about your mom] and there is general agreement that hallucinations and mental disorders are often linked, no one seems to be able to figure out the science of why your brain sets about convincing itself that it senses something that isn't there. particularly mysterious are hallucinations that aren't triggered by things like drugs or alcohol. so many different people have so many different kinds of hallucinations under so many different circumstances that it's become like trying to say with certainty what makes us yawn. it just happens and no one's quite sure why.

in many ways, we're still back in the dark ages, waiting to be persuaded that it really is god talking to us.


as long as you're here, why not read more?

making faces :: fall for all, part 2 [a seasonal colour analysis experiment]

well, installment one was the easy part: coming up with autumn looks for the autumn seasons. now we move into seasonal colour types that aren't as well-aligned with the typical autumn palette. first up, we deal with the winter seasons: dark, true and bright.

in colour analysis, each "parent" season- spring, summer, autumn, winter- overlap with each other season in one colour dimension- hue [warm/ cool], value [light/ dark] and chroma [saturated/ muted]. autumn is warm, dark and muted [relatively speaking], whereas winter is cool, dark and saturated. so you can see that the points of crossover in palettes, the places where you can emphasize autumn's attributes, is in the darker shades.

it's unsurprising that as fall transitions into winter, you get the darkest shades of all. we've seen the warmer equivalent in the dark autumn look from last time, so from there, as with all neutral seasons, we move from the warmer to the cooler cognate...

it continues... [part one]

so we're back at it with the democratic debates. last night saw cnn take their first crack at presenting ten candidates on one stage after msnbc led the charge last month. a lot of people were critical of the first debate because it seemed there were moments when moderators got such tunnel vision about keeping things moving that they stopped thinking about what was happening on stage. [the prime example being kamala harris having to insist that she be allowed to speak on the issue of racism, being the only person of colour on stage.] the other problem that many identified was that the time given to candidates wasn't even close to equal. i feel like cnn wasn't a lot better with the former, although they avoided any serious gaffes, and that they did an excellent job of fixing the latter. [that said, some of the outlying candidates might be wishing they hadn't had as much time as they did.] as with last time, i'll start off with a few general observations.

how importa…

white trash

yes, my lovelies, i have returned from the dead, at least for the time it takes me to write this post. this is not just another piece of observational drivel about how i haven't been taking care of the blog lately, although i clearly haven't. on that front, though, the principal cause of my absence has actually been due to me trying to get another, somewhat related project, off the ground. unfortunately, that project has met with some frustrating delays which means that anyone who follows this blog [perhaps there are still a few of you who haven't entirely given up] would understandably be left with the impression that i'd simply forsaken more like space to marvel at the complexity of my own belly button lint. [it's possible you had that impression even before i disappeared.]

ok, enough with that. i have a subject i wanted to discuss with you, in the sense that i will want and encourage you to respond with questions, concerns and criticism in the comments or by em…