Psychedelic Furs

My ear hurts – my left one. Fortunately a giant man in leather, with a beard came, and stood between me and the speaker stack when S and I went to see the Psychedelic Furs last night. The last time I got that close to a band I had hair (how come the men in the bands I like seem to still have theirs? Mr Smith, Mr Butler, is it real?); and the last time, what, it may have been The Cure. I can’t remember.

Whoever it was, I didn’t enjoy it as much. We were all so young and awkward, and that was beautiful: but it had terrifying edges that many of us didn’t seem to want to go beyond, or didn’t know how, or thought that we couldn’t, or maybe we wanted time to stop still. It all felt for real, never a rehearsal for a life behind a desk, or whatever it was we felt we never wanted to get into.

It wasn’t just dressing up, it was a start outside of something I know my parents, many of the people I knew, felt I should be inside. What was that? A bubble of an idea of security that burst for me when I was very young. I realised, when I saw Richard Butler smiling last night, and I couldn’t stop myself doing the same, that my cynicism’s finally departed.

We’re here, those of us still standing and coherent.  Psychedelic Furs, you were truly amazing.  Here’s a clip from last year, which looks as if it was almost the same …



I used to run a workshop: Harnessing Your Anger. I think it was helpful to those who took part. If I did it again I’d call it Unhappiness and I think we’d get to the same places but perhaps less self-consciously.



EMDR / Palimpsest

I find it so important to recognise here and now dynamics in relation to the dynamics of traumatic situations my clients describe. Often a client will notice their relationship to power in the present more distinctly after experiencing something of how their agency was affected by a key event in the past and whatever lay either side of that event, historically. As Freud described, a conscious awareness of these kinds of relational dynamics, phenomena that a psychoanalytic psychotherapist might talk about as the transference, within what Nicolas Abraham wrote about as the ‘dynamism of intersubjective functioning’, can be transformational.

Active Resentment

Resentment brings us back to incidents that we believe were unjust, so that justice may prevail. In other words you can have a lot of angry, repetitive conversations until you and whoever else feel you’ve said what you needed to, done your best, and been heard irrespective of the outcome.

How and What

All of the things I have learned how to do will never be any help unless I’ve found a way of understanding what’s going on. First I work out what’s happening, and then I think about how I approach the situation. ‘How do I do this?’ might feel impossible if I haven’t understood what ‘this’ is: this moment, this situation, this problem, as distinct from all of the others I have encountered. There will always be more that’s distinct than it first appears.

Creepy Rationalism: The New Sophists

The creepy rationalism of many psychotherapists, or therapists as they often call themselves, continues to disturb me.  They’re like newsreaders: a strange sense of authority (absurd in any other context) that sounds so rational. What they are saying is usually built on a very thin but compelling layer of understanding, like someone who’s been to the moon and can describe what the earth looks like from the stars … but I wouldn’t trust an astronaut to tell me about life on earth. These New Sophists may sound rational, but endowing someone with reason will have more to do with how I listen than the presence of any intrinsic good sense.

Rational means endowed with reason. Logical means reasoning correctly. We can argue over what’s correct, but there’s no arguing with sophistry. Sophistry’s a drug that demands withdrawal and one of the best ways to do that is to listen for logic and then ask questions.


Disconnection: Clare Denis & Taryn Simon

I’m noticing a terrible disconnection between some of the things I am reading, visiting, watching and observing, and us, readers, viewers, watchers, and observers. What is it? Is this in me, as it must be, and only in me? Or is this in the world? I believe it is also in the world. I am thinking in particular of Clare Denis’ Let The Sunshine In and Taryn Simon’s An Occupation of Loss.

I watched Claire Denis’ new film, Let The Sunshine In, and found it as dark and as terrifying as her last film, Bastards. Bastards was a brilliant film, although I would have found it unwatchable if I hadn’t seen it on my own in the afternoon, in the middle of summer. There was enough written about it before I saw it for me to decide how I saw it. But Let The Sunshine In? I watched twenty five minutes before I had to end it. I wasn’t prepared for it. More about men and their capacity to trash, to ruin, to abuse life and how some people un-knowingly invite that darkness in. Perhaps there was sunshine to come, but I wasn’t going to wait while the atmosphere felt apocalyptic.

I went to see An Occupation of Loss by Taryn Simon and came away chilled, wondering how much the professional mourners were being paid, hopefully as much as any actor on a London stage. While I was there I was as much affected by the attendants and their cold professionalism, their lack of respect for anybody (mine, or of anybody I came with, or of anybody else, the body of this show) in a way that seemed as horribly professional as any other kind of hack entertainer, because they were (although it seemed to have been forgotten) part of the show. An Occupation of Loss was a show about money, and death is always also about money, isn’t it? I was told, in what I read beforehand, nothing about this.

Neither Denis nor Simon were served well by their critics. Writers, critics, seem to have lost the sense that what they are describing exists, for real, real texts in the world, as things, bodies of a particular kind, that carry the intentions of their creators and participants: all of them.

The ideas I read in reviews are like a drama in themselves. Who knows what kind of a reading will connect me to the thing they try to describe?

Cocoon of Addiction: Addiction Treatment to Face the World

I was reminded today of what happens when someone finally seems free of their dependency: they need to confront the source of their anxiety.  An entrenched belief, perhaps; an overwhelming one. Addiction can be a cocoon protecting someone from something they cannot face – addiction treatment, a way of coming to think the unthinkable.

Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment requires an element of nerve.


What often confuses people is how long addiction treatment can take. Being free of dependency is not the same as stopping, or being abstinent. The desire to use needs to recede; the emotional-intellectual state someone is trying to recreate (the scene they are repeatedly brought back to) needs to diminish in intensity to a point where using is thinkable.

There are three broad phases of addiction treatment: stopping (which involves all that leads to stopping), becoming free of dependency, and then attending to self-esteem. Although the third phase is often also part of the work in the second phase, it can only ever really happen last.

The ideal way to engage with this cocoon, the best form of addiction treatment? Group work plus EMDR, followed by long term psychotherapy.  Too much addiction treatment stops too soon, over-investing in what has been seen as stopping, of a person not wanting to use or in apparent gains in self-esteem.  Shifts can happen quickly, leading to a sudden, powerful sense of gain. It’s often overlooked that this change brings with it all kinds of complications. A personality needs to adjust to the difference in life.

Occasionally treatment ends too soon, or relapse occurs because the depth of often painful feeling achieved when someone no longer needs to use feels like failure.

Addiction treatment takes time and if it doesn’t it will probably fail.

#International Women’s Day

Q: How many men does it take to change a situation?

A: What situation?

How many men publicly say anything in support of women or the situation we continue to live in where women … (fill in the ellipses however you want: there are so many absurdly negative, infuriating choices)? Is it because the kind of men who’d say something have themselves ended up isolated or silenced? Or is that we don’t really care enough. I think it’s mainly the latter.

Most men don’t know how to care and a lot of men just don’t care.

Men: do something. Do something with yourselves, learn how to properly give a f*** and the rest will follow.