How Complacent Are We?

How complacent are we to say “We didn’t know?”

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I am turning 42 this year. I reflect back on my life and I have this idea of who I was and how it has made me who I am today. The accumulation of time seems irrelevant. I could be 20 or I could be 5. And still hold onto the exact thoughts I was having at those ages. Where is the relevance to how my mind has been shaped and formed by my beliefs but also societal beliefs.

An idea of identity seems less important now with the onslaught of social media. And the onslaught of what we are seeing on social media. What and who I choose to follow online mediates what kind of posts and comments I may see. What I choose to follow may not exist in the realms of people and their usage online. In my head, I want to believe everyone is seeing the same things, the same information of injustice in all corners of the world. But even I limit myself and am restricted in my own box.

It’s a real question of humanity when we see the uprising of pressure on society to act accordingly to the behaviours of other people. Without this information or outlet of news media and personalized news media, that occurs repetitively on peoples feeds, perhaps there would be no chain reaction and no movement. Maybe things like BLM would be as telling of the civil rights movement happening in the 60s. Where the reach would be limited to smaller communities. It’s nothing profound but it’s thanks to technology that we are able to share and capture moments more frequently either for justice or injustice on polar opposite sides of peoples lack of morals or enacting bigger morals.

The two ends of polar opposites are using the same type of technology they have at the tips of their hands that , in my bias, the more evolved human species, has at the tip of their hands. And there is no one regulating this online. There are no rules to this “free” wave of access to internet platforms. Guidelines, but no rules.

An overwhelming source of information and disinformation. But who chooses what is “good” verses what is “bad”? It’s a moral call on personal code and ethics and of conduct. We are all conducting it the same way. It’s as much a hub of rioting on the internet (social media) as it is on the streets today. And both have reached a peak of worldwide access and action.

Law and Order, is simply a linguistic plea to Obey.  Obey is simply one of the ten commandments from the Bible. Religion has no place in the office of politics. That is why centuries ago, governments formed. To take state out of church. Religion is as much a humanity issue as race, sexual identity, and class and poverty. I feel like in my life, I’ve been exposed to all these doctrines and have had to formulate my own sense of beliefs, though I don’t sit here typing out step by step,  from a list, what they are. I have just internalized it all for myself. I feel perhaps individuals and groups have internalized all this as well. And that this moment in history has made a gradual shift over the past four years of this feeble attempt of remaining silent to progressions of outrage and protest. Allowing the #metoo, #climatechange, #pride and a bigger movement for #BLM , to take place on a massive scale to say, LISTEN. The world is fed up not just by systemic racism but systems that disenfranchise and displace, other people. People and their livelihoods. Everyone is talking at once.

It seems each person with a conscience is reflecting back on their lives and their rights and wrongs, and their place in this world. Discovering or rediscovering that at other times there were leaders fighting a good cause for change in their communities. And now everyone is looking for a leader or leaders. And the Internet has given everyone an opportunity to take that action. We may not all know who or where these movements started (although the information can be found online), but these changes and calls for change come from a HASHTAG. I’m not neglecting those on the front that are daily, making these changes happen and gathering people, and who’s life depends on their beliefs. Because there are people fighting everyday at every level to progress society and demand change, as there always has been and as they always have done. All I am saying is that a # was able to reach en masse as a tool to garner more attention.

That’s the unique world we live in today. A hashtag that really relies on the number sign, to demonstrate the sign of the times.

In all this that we hope brings change, as progress has always been ion motion in the background… keep your mental health in check. It’s overwhelming for me because I have to refrain from constantly thinking “Who did not know?”. Who gets to live in that bubble, with every outrage happening in the world and who is implicitly or indirectly involved, and gets to say, “We Didn’t Know.”?

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(The Ill Constitution, 2014)

[As an aside: Who gets to say, we didn’t know the impact to that which causes mental illness?]

NONFICFICSCIFI

NON-FIC-FIC-SCI-FI by Jea Rhee (13.05.2020)

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I live a different virtual reality than most would believe or consider to be true.

Point A. Being as I am diagnosed with a mental illness.

That is what hinders me from addressing and/or writing about it in a comprehensive manner to acknowledge that it is happening to me.

HyperReal Psychosis: as I defined it’s meaning, to me, in previous writing. My first attempt at relaying my mental illness in regards to technology and the digital medium. (See*Social Media as an Influencing Machine)

I re-read it recently, backwards, and what seemed so complicated for me at the time, and complex I couldn’t fathom…. it just seems like rhetoric, today.

So simple.

I’ve managed to garner attention from sources I never believed possible.

I can’t call them peers. I won’t indulge to call them my heroes either. They are people I don’t know personally, but have a connection with online. I am their fandom. I am their fan. I’ve been their audience at stages throughout my life. They are inspiration. They are music. And they came together to help a sister out. At least that’s what I want to believe as true.

First a spectator. Second a supporter.

Just An Entertainer

Some of them are a community from grandeur hip hop culture.

Some of them are researchers in tech that I wish I knew.

Some of them are artists with great rights.

And I, myself, am befuddled to really know how it all happened.

Just a hack?

Would you believe that I can communicate to people on the television when it’s live? Otherwise if my minds not stable, the mysterious world is always in step and time with my thoughts, or with what I speak. That idea that everything in this universe is connected. Psychosis is a hypersensitive reality to the connection of all things that our brains choose to focus on. (Signs/symbols/sounds)

Communication gets picked up through my phone. Every bit of information picked up, if it’s written.

No privacy, all access pass?

Point B. This reality has virtually killed off the notion of grandiose conspiracies and surveillance. That part of my paranoia with psychosis.

I no longer know if I am having a psychotic episode because that part has seemed to have been addressed.

As I wanted to find out, what happens to people with mental illness when they become aware that technology has moved this far and forward, that suspicion and extreme paranoia is simply a reality. What does mental illness look like after this? How will it affect children that grow up in this technically advanced society.

Did it “cure” me? That part, yes. I still get paranoid but more about situations, outcomes, and people I’ve known personally. My past.  I cannot manage stress well and it raises my anxiety. These negative thoughts and feelings cloud my brain and make it a little bit more vivid. Too many rampant thoughts at once. That I seem to go into a depressive hole. I know to worry when my mind gets triggered by sounds a little bit too much, in a manner of coursing the thoughts in my mind or the actions I make.

That has got to be part of my mental illness but I no longer know what exactly I experience. I no longer know if it’s just being human. That everyone experiences these things but have better coping mechanisms.

I’ve always been a help yourself kind of person. I forget I can call my nurse if I am experiencing any discomfort in my mind. I just go through it, get out, and then maybe it comes up in a conversation as something that already happened. Fine now though. This can’t be the best way to manage mental health, but I’m used to it.

No one person needs to know this is my life. No one person has to believe this is my life. The ones who are least willing to comprehend or believe it are the people I personally know. They know something is going on but not exactly what. It’s too abstract to put into words. At least for me.

I’m not even sure I know exactly what/when/who/where/why… but I know all these better than I know the How.

But there are many people involved in this reality of mine, that I don’t need anyone else to believe it.

I will continue to saunter through this life for as long as it takes until I reach the end.

I’ve for the most part adapted, but I still get insecure about what it is exactly I’m doing. Or what I’m trying to do. I question way less.

All I know is we went to the dentist one time, and came home with what can easily be believed to be a chip/mic/what have you, on the back of our tooth. And I haven’t been to the dentist since. And after our appointment the dentists changed.

We transition and change throughout the course of our lives. Some people stay stagnant. But I believe in forward motion. As in running away from my past to get on with life as I know it. Call it truama. Call it all truama. But the one thing I seem to be successful at is grappling with life, no matter what is thrown into it.  I somehow seem to still GET BY.

SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH.

 

Social Media As The Influencing Machine

STAYING CONNECTED: IRL (chapter, 2017)

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Photo, (2013)

HYPERREAL PSYCHOSIS: Social Media as the Influencing Machine by Jea Rhee

With the use of social media, our subconscious self has the means to become more “conscious” online. That is, with stream of consciousness thinking and writing/posting, the distinction between our reality and our simulation of reality becomes blurred and less distinct. Our personal online persona (simulated self) feeds information into the vast sea of the web, particularly onto social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Google etc… and we become subjects of the Internet. By choice, we display ourselves- often in fragments- to a community, that could be a mix of friends, family, colleagues, and even complete strangers. We choose whether to filter ourselves guardedly on social media, or not at all. In this manner, we either become sensitive or desensitized to digital information platforms.

So what happens to some of us who immerse ourselves into the digital realm of social media, with only our cognitive dysfunction?

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I assume many are familiar with the word ‘psychotic’ but perhaps far removed from the clinical definition. I know it well, as I was diagnosed with psychosis and schizoaffective disorder as a young adult. It is a mental illness that encompasses such symptoms as hallucinations and/or delusions, as well as diverse beliefs of grandiosity and paranoia, particularly between the self and others. Psychosis can be defined by a loss of contact with reality. Hyperreality is defined as an “inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality…[it] is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins.” I’ve conjured up the term “hyperreal psychosis” to further demonstrate the severity of mental illness in the digital age, in that what is “real” and “unreal” in a person’s identity of self and personal story while in this state have no distinct boundaries with the use of technology. With this illness, false realities fuse together in real time with the person’s use of technology and the “reality” of their everyday life.

Like many people with this illness, my experiences with psychosis are isolated incidents (episodic) which means it happens in fragments of time (episodes), It is not a constant state-of-mind, although it is a lifelong illness. Each person experiences things differently but there are many common threads that make this a diagnosis of exclusion. These experiences, as I have personally dealt with, include thoughts of conspiracy , the feeling of being under surveillance, and feelings of persecution from other “powers” (individuals, religious figures like God, governments and so on…). Even sounds and visual signs become meaningful in dictating thoughts or actions. I experienced media, such as television and music “speaking” to me, trying to converse directly with me and send me dire messages. I believed in ideas that people could read and control my mind, and that I was communicating with them telepathically. There were times I didn’t even think I was human, that maybe I was a machine or a program. Overall, I would say that through these episodic experiences, I was engulfed in a narcissistic egotism by going to the deepest reaches of my mind and playing with every thought it could produce, but not by choice.

To someone without psychosis, there is no rhyme and reason to these mentally- unstable thoughts and actions. Furthermore the beliefs the mentally unstable have that their circumstance is rooted in evidence is a hyperreality, a state of consciousness where one is unable to distinguish between imagination and reality. When you begin to include and incorporate digital age technology into this condition, such as social media, there then exists an ability for it to take you from your dark space into a deeper space of isolation. Social media becomes an influencing machine by inversely making it seem everything is being exploited very publicly to the ends of the world, in all its inter-connectivity.

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Photo, (2013)

In today’s connective world we are becoming comfortable with the reality that governments can monitor anyone, that hackers can access very personal data, and that corporations like Google and Facebook can gather personal information and sell it or conduct research based on our online presence. The technology exists, and the lack of consent and unethical behavior exists. When these lines get crossed with mental illness such as psychosis, there is a high risk for one to spiral down from “reality”, and to become trapped in a delusional and paranoid mental space that causes them to believe that they are the target and universal center to everything. You don’t need to have a mental illness to understand this, but you experience it differently when you do.

The Internet is a major player in gathering and distributing and sharing mass media and personal information. Since reality is not subject to a singular consensus, the distinction between “what is” and “what is observed,” becomes a projection of identity that can become unhealthy. The Internet is a pool of information that is ever-growing because of how many people contribute to it. We collectively make the Internet with our input and participation. It is now, more than ever, becoming common knowledge that websites are collecting personal information about their users, and artificially catering to their interests based on their input. Social media sites such as Facebook use specified algorithms that dictate some of the things we see online, in our newsfeed, or in advertisements and so forth, but it reaches far beyond just a single application. It extends to what sites you peruse, what you search for, what platforms/browsers you use (as Apps have access to many personal files… i.e. files on your smartphone…. It’s no lie that someone/something could be listening). It seems at times, they know more about us than we do of ourselves, as the Internet is all “connected” in that so-called Global Village where information moves and is received instantaneously through the metaphorical village of telecommunications.

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Photo, (2013)

In 2012, Facebook tested a new algorithm for their newsfeed that was done without the users’ knowledge. Public knowledge of the use of algorithms was not widespread at the time. Content on peoples’ newsfeed were filled with stories in response to the “emotion” they thought that particular individual was feeling. The newsfeed would then report stories that were “angry”, or “happy”, based on what emotion they thought the user was feeling at the time they made a post, just like a mirroring. Facebook has a whole separate department doing research on just these newsfeed interactions. Now, this technology has evolved to the use of Emotion-AI. The next advance in technology, according to the company Affective, who are actively creating the ability of digital devices to empathize with our more human characteristics, such as emotion. So, I have to ask how is this 21st Century obsession with social media and the Internet helping us? Or, how has social media become the answer to whatever humanity was lacking before it became like a second skin? Is AI leading us to become reliant on technology and to have a communicative discourse with our devices that have yet to fundamentally understand us? (Think Google Home, or Alexa) Or will they help us when they sense we are in distress?

This is a personal tale of ‘hyperreal psychosis’.

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Warrior, (2012)

With psychosis, I tend to be hypersensitive to this kind of information sharing. While going through my last manic episode of psychosis, I garnered the newsfeed “feedback” as an attack or reward system between what I was writing or sharing. It appeared to be a game or conversation happening cognitively between self and the big Internet “Bully”. When I wrote about psychosis or was behaving peculiarly with mass posting, articles would begin to pop up on articles that reflected that language. While in a psychotic state, which means I was immersed in a hyperreality, the newsfeed returned articles using derogatory language like “crazy” or “psycho”. It felt as though they were responding to my feelings, my state, and private thoughts, and not just random data. These were posts from individuals/groups I chose to follow, not particularly who were following me. I believed that there was someone on the other side intentionally making responses as a hate fueled troll, personally tailoring what I saw in my newsfeed. Of course in reality, this was false. It was not one individual back at the Facebook office, but an algorithm at work.

During this episode, I let my “demons” play out on and off line. I put up no guards or walls to what I was sharing (as if I had a choice). But I did have wandering ideas about whether I could “cure” this mental illness myself, with an alternative treatment that did not include medication (this thought is not uncommon among people with mental illnesses). My mind was racing and playing games with me, and I wondered whether social media would be my saving grace. As if through a masochistic mental incarceration, I began ‘speaking’ to no one directly but indirectly to the entire world. I was pulled deeper into grandiose delusions by believing I was communicating to the masses beyond my social circle on and off line, that everyone was tuned in (The Truman Show Delusion*), and that through a single channel of language, thoughts and images, “they” directed messages solely to little ol’me. Sometimes I felt coerced to believe in hateful rhetoric and at other times I felt as though I was being given a “thumbs up”, believing in these abstract thoughts and responses.

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Photo, (2013)

That is the subtlety of mental illness and result of hyperreal psychosis. Ultimately in the end I was communicating with myself on a public platform with bystanders watching it all play out. Probably confused. I believed I was under surveillance 24/7 in my mental and physical space, which was part of my psychosis, which was not real. Friends who knew of my illness at the time reached out but I would respond of being fine or just “going through some things”, and feel begrudged that they were just intruding on this life-quest/mission that was imagined through my psychosis. Within a psychotic episode, you rarely know you are in it until you get out. It does not define you but the fragility of being exposed to the masses as a false representation of your true self, in which you have no control, is deeply unsettling.

The Global Village can be a resourceful community but should we be weary that there is still something quite not human beyond the technology? Is there a facet that may change considering the direction in which the future of the digital age is moving. Without my medication I perceived myself to being treated through a “virtual” yet real time “reality.

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Illustrations, (2019)

There have been advancements in psychological treatments, such as for addictive or abusive behaviour. Patients are exposed to a virtual reality device and taken on specified scenarios that would “train” their cognitive behaviour based on their previous responses in real life situations. Whether the outcome is successful is unknown as it is still in its research phase. Today there are many ways of healing and there are many resources for support. Facebook and Instagram have launched a way of reaching out to an individual who might seem to be depressed or suicidal based on their posts. They have implemented support systems through their algorithmic AI that will privately contact the user with resources on seeking support and accessing help. They have made it a point to emphasize the importance of outreach. Although during my last episodic experience, these resources were not yet implemented, I believe I still experienced through my own volition, a virtual treatment to my psychosis/schizoaffective diagnosis. I lived over a year in this nightmare of feeling trapped in the web and in my life. I spiralled down so hard that I was finally forced by my partner to seek medical attention. I went a year without medication and it was my worst yet most affirming experience, that yes, I require professional and medical treatment, perhaps I needed more than just to distance myself from my paranoid crutch of technology. But perhaps I also needed this hyperreal psychotic experience. Technology is what is often at the tip of our hands. People with mental illness want to be heard. Need to be heard. And want to be understood when chaos has no reason.

It took some time but for years now, I have been truly fine.

As life is its own sequence of experiences, Hyperreal Psychosis for me was a virtual reality in real time.

REDUXIST CONCLUSION (2019):

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Photo, (2013)

IT happened again. ALL over again.

The Sanity Cycle. The Insanity Calamity.

We began where we left off online.

In a hyperreal void. IRL.

IT IS REAL. It is not a delusion.

(To Be Continued…)

On Quarantine

On Quarantine

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Severed Minds/Severed Souls
Been a reflection on what we need
And what we don’t.
Like Fixed Minds vs Growth Mindsets
A time of problem solving
Outside of the box.
Unknown and less predictable
Future
No one knows what will happen
They can make projections.
That’s what we do.
That’s what people do.
They set out goals
Without knowing perfectly the outcome
If it’s not perfect
Some of us can accept it.
Others will deny it.
Others will find fault and blame.
State of the World.

[Pause]

Ever wonder why….
I don’t know anymore.

 

Part II

I want to give up
Because there are no answers anymore
I don’t know what to think
I don’t know what to believe
What to hope for anymore.
It’s ok to feel this way
It’s ok to believe this way
Knowing we don’t have to take part
In what makes things worse.
To be enlightened
So I can’t listen
I want this to be over.
Who doesn’t.
So I can hide in peace
Like before
Without this looming presence
That we are trapped in our homes
Without the freedom
That others don’t have
Just to roam.
We will get out of this quarantine
We will have salvation
While we lay others to Rest In Peace
Time will tell
How we shall overcome
Economically
As if that is what matters
For us to get back on our feet
Rest in Power
To the Frontliners
Living hell
I swear I’ve been there before
But not like this
Not in this situation
Outcomes different
We can only hold on.
Though holding on
Feels like holding onto air.

[pause]

Ever wonder why
We don’t know anymore.

THE STRAIGHT STORY II

The Battle With The Past

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BlueFig, Ink (2000)

During the course of my mental illness journey, I had blocked out the good memories and a big part of my identity that had matured in my days at University. A lot of people say they block out high school because they regret who they were. I never regretted high school in my hometown, but I did regret moving back to a city in which my mental illness was born and diagnosed.
Life was good at first. Socially, mentally, and financially. Until my mind started collapsing into itself, partly because I never felt like I belonged in that city, with the same faces that had left the city, only to come back to it. I wonder if they had ill feelings about it too? Or maybe they love it because they have deep seeded roots there. Many people escape, or at least, eventually. The city and its people really killed my soul and my mind during that period of my life. So much so I am still healing from it.

After I was diagnosed, I was abandoned by people I felt were good friends. I made new friends but still felt the attachment to those I had become distant from. I felt trapped in a city that knew an old version of me and then switched to a mentally unstable version of me. Surrounded by people, I felt isolated. I began to make music again with a friend. That was the only saving grace. And then I moved away. I had still pursued technical school, jobs etc… but the city was so damn small. And in small cities, you get a lot of hearsay, judgement and gossip that doesn’t help those sensitive with mental illness.
In 2007, I returned to my true home. Montreal. I had come for a lab tech interview, found out I got the job, and then… bye-bye, left the town behind. I lived life venturing many things in my new city, areas and neighbourhoods I had never ventured to back when I was younger. I had psychiatric assistance with professionals that seemed to care. All in all, I had a positive experience with the mental health institution. The only time I struggled with being happy was when I would see people from my past, and when I recognized I had an alcohol addiction problem, since I have an addictive personality and had already quit my pot habit once I was diagnosed. (Pot is said to not benefit those with mental illness, especially since paranoia is a common reaction from frequent use). From London, or Montreal escapees, to friends I had made in Calgary that had moved to Montreal, everyone was so bitter in my eyes. They behaved like they had accomplished their life goals, that I had not accomplished anything. That social numbers were so important and networking connections. The big city became small again.

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Love Hurts, Ink (2002)

Over the twelve years I’ve been here. Half of it was struggling to survive to have finances enough to afford the necessities of life. To try to maintain employment when I never could because of my extreme paranoia and psychosis that would get in the way. I began my artist moniker of My Little Robot Friend. I was being creative, finding jobs that suited me (mostly short term gigs), and I was satisfied that I was finally becoming stable enough to balance things. On my own.

Then I had that exploration online, an experience I’ll never forget. It landed me in the hospital, after I started to burn memorabilia from my past life that I felt I had hung onto for too long. This was due to stopping my medication and thinking I had somehow been cured. When I get in these episodes, my first instinct is to get rid of all material possessions because they don’t matter in life. I used to do that all the time, even in the past. To donate all my wardrobe to charities and so on. But this time, in a ward I’d never been sent to before, I met a man that I knew would be the final one. He was and still is.

The last half of the twelve years (the other six) , turned out to be the most challenging experience ever for me and my mental illness. Through it all I had the best partner to support me, understand my mental illness, and truly the first partner that ever made me feel like I was home. Home with myself and at home with him. Long story short, I have overcome many boundaries and shortcomings, to live a fulfilling life by accepting what I cannot change. And now, we have made it back home. The struggles will never stop with mental illness, it is a lifelong disease, but there are many ways to make it better and to learn more about the challenges and deal with them consciously. Mental illness may be a life sentence, but it’s never about a final death sentence or death wish. That’s what a lot of professionals and common folk get wrong about surviving in life. We are all impacted with a moment of mental instability at some point in our lives, it’s just a matter of choosing how to react to it and respond to it.

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Body, Mixed Media (2004, 2013)

THE STRAIGHT STORY

circa 2005

Prevention Of Early Psychosis Prevention (PEPP) : ‘Putting The Puzzle Pieces Together’

My FIRST experience with meeting the psychiatrist assigned to me; he just wanted to shoot the shit and talk about himself, his career achievements, his life… conversational familiarity? Nothing about mental illness and what we are trying to achieve here. Like, hmm, maybe you can talk about things?

  1. A) What would I talk about anyway?
  2. B) I am not familiar with talking about “problems” or “issues” that could be beneficial, yet alone “regular” shoot the shit personal conversation with a professional psychiatrist.
  3. C) Why am I here?
  4. D) All Of The Above: Why is there so much judgement based on my Asian ethnicity?

[He created my prejudice against him because of his South-West Asian ethnicity of Ego-flexing – a common stereotype of systemic racism, as he created a stereotypical version of an Asian female brought up from assumed place of privilege]

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THE STRAIGHT STORY (reVISITed)

[Common thread in psychosis]

Did you think you were Jesus?” – nurse
No(Yes)”- me

Psychiatric Ward:

[What does the scale mean to you, as it pertains to what it means to me?]

Dr: “On a scale of 1-10, how do you feel ?
Me:” What do you mean?

Out of Ward:

[Common thread with mental illness is ceasing to take medication]

Back ‘n’ Ward:
[Give all the medication needed to cease the ideations.]

Ward:

[Judgement from nurse: Why did you stop taking your medication? This is not a joke]

Assigned Nurse visits: “They have given you too much Risperidol, it exceeds any amount within the limited range.”

Me: How does medication ‘solve’ my problems?

– continued to play with medication for years to come [Common thread from Mentally Ill patients- What is it good for? You feel better momentarily, so you start to believe you no longer need the medication or there are other alternatives – diet, supplements, exercise]

PEPP

[Common thread, mental illness only impacts low income people – Asians can have mental illness too]

Doctor: “You know University graduates have mental illness too
Me: [Uh, I never said otherwise, why the hell you bringing  that up?]

PEPP

Doctor: “We are holding our annual charity event for Mental Health Care, can your parents by tickets to the fundraiser?
Me:”Oh,they probably wouldn’t be interested in attending
Doctor:”Why? It’s for a good cause. They can meet other people in the field and impacted by mental illness. It’s only $100

HAPPY CLEANERS

Doctor appears at my parents business

I see him and walk out, ignoring him

[He was never a previous customer]

PEPP

Doctor: “Why do your parents not accept credit cards? BC they’re [cheap], it costs money?
Doctor:”I only go to your parents dry cleaners because they are the best in the business, I wasn’t checking on you

[Bing et Wife @ L’Acadie Cleaners, 2013] – last formal place of employment, full circle.

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PEPP

Me:”I’m taking a trip to MTL. Can I get my prescription?

Phone

Nurse:”There’s been an adjustment, take x amount of this, x amount of that
Me:”OK

MTL

Me:”Shit my vision is getting really blurry
Me:”I better cut my trip short, bc I’m also out of money

LO

Me:”I took the medication like this and was getting side effects
Nurse:”No your prescription says this, you took the opposite amounts of what I told you to take
Me:”No, you told me this
Nurse:”No I did not, it says right here on the prescription
Me:”Yes, you did
Nurse:”No I didn’t. Why would I tell you otherwise?

[Humans make mistakes. You listen to what you heard and trust it at times, instead of double checking your own prescription guidelines]

Me:”I came back also because I was broke” [Colloquial Speech]
Doctor:”You aren’t ‘broke’. You have money don’t you??? That does not mean you are broke, other people are broke.
Me:[wtf]

PEPP

Visit…

Doctor:”Would you like to get an injection of Risperidol? It will be free and you won’t have to pay for your medication
Me:”No thanks

Next Visit…

Doctor:”You should try this injection, it’s for a trial of Risperidol
Me: “No thanks

Next Next Visit….

Doctor: “Are you scared of needles?
Me: “No
Doctor: “Why won’t you try this injection? What are you scared of?
Me: “Uhm, I just don’t want to try trial injection of medication not approved
Doctor:”Are you scared of needles?
Me: [OMG STOP!!!!]

Years Later: Advertisment of Class Action Suit against Risperidol Injections

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[too be cont’d…]

Umberto Eco

The World According to Eco

by LEE MARSHALL
Italian novelist and semiotician Umberto Eco expounds upon the Net, writing, The Osteria, libraries, the continental divide, Marshall Mcluhan,and, well, God.__so you didn’t know what a feat Umberto Eco pulled off in writing The Name of the Rose, that postmodern bestseller (17 million copies and counting) set in a 12th-century monastery. You didn’t know that Eco wrote the novel while holding down a day job as a university professor – following student theses, writing academic texts, attending any number of international conferences, and penning a column for Italy’s weekly newsmagazine L’Espresso. Or that the portly 65-year-old semiotician is also a literary critic, a satirist, and a political pundit.

But you did know – didn’t you? – that Eco was the guy behind that unforgettable Mac versus DOS metaphor. That in one of his weekly columns he first mused upon the “software schism” dividing users of Macintosh and DOS operating systems. Mac, he posited, is Catholic, with “sumptuous icons” and the promise of offering everybody the chance to reach the Kingdom of Heaven (“or at least the moment when your document is printed”) by following a series of easy steps. DOS, on the other hand, is Protestant: “it allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions … and takes for granted that not all can reach salvation.” Following this logic, Windows becomes “an Anglican-style schism – big ceremonies in the cathedral, but with the possibility of going back secretly to DOS in order to modify just about anything you like.” (Asked to embellish the metaphor, Eco calls Windows 95 “pure unadulterated Catholicism. Already Windows 3.1 was more than Anglican – it was Anglo-Catholic, keeping a foot in both camps. But Windows 95 goes all the way: six Hail Marys and how about a little something for the Mother Church in Seattle.”)

Eco first rose to fame in Italy as a parodist in the early ’60s. Like all the best satirists, he oscillates between exasperation at the depths of human dumbness, and the benign indulgence of a grandfather. Don’t let that grandfatherly look fool you, though. Eco was taking apart striptease and TV anchormen back in the late ’50s, before anyone had even heard of Roland Barthes, and way before taking modern culture seriously (deconstructing The Simpsons, psychoanalyzing Tintin) became everybody’s favorite pomo sport. Then there’s his idea that any text is created as much by the reader as by the author, a dogma that invaded the lit crit departments of American universities in the mid-’70s and that underlies thinking about text in cyberspace and who it belongs to. Eco, mind you, got his flag in first, with his 1962 manifesto Opera aperta (The Open Work).

Eco continues to wrap his intellect around the information revolution, but he’s turning his attention from the spirit of software to technology’s political implications. Specifically, he has thrown his weight behind something called Multimedia Arcade. The project may sound like a CD-ROM game publisher with an imagination deficit, but Eco wants the Arcade to change Society as We Know It. The center will feature a public multimedia library, computer training center, and Net access – all under the tutelage of the Bologna Town Council. There, for a token fee, local citizens can go to Net surf, send email, learn new programs, and use search engines – or simply hang out in the cybercafé. Set to open in late 1997, Multimedia Arcade will offer around 50 state-of-the-art terminals linked together in a local network with a fast Net connection.It will feature a large multimedia, software, and print library, as well as a staff of teachers, technicians, and librarians.

The premise is simple: if Net literacy is a basic right, then it should be guaranteed for all citizens by the state. We don’t rely on the free market to teach our children to read, so why should we rely on it to teach our children to Net surf? Eco sees the Bologna center as the pilot for a nationwide and – why not? – even worldwide chain of high tech public libraries. Remember, this is a man with that old-fashioned European humanist faith in the library as a model of good society and spiritual regeneration – a man who once went so far as to declare that “libraries can take the place of God.”__

Marshall: You say that the new Multimedia Arcade project is all about ensuring that cybersociety is a democratic place to live –

Eco: There is a risk that we might be heading toward an online 1984, in which Orwell’s “proles” are represented by the passive, television-fed masses that have no access to this new tool, and wouldn’t know how to use it if they did. Above them, of course, there’ll be a petite bourgeoisie of passive users – office workers, airline clerks. And finally we’ll see the masters of the game, the nomenklatura – in the Soviet sense of the term. This has nothing to do with class in the traditional, Marxist sense – the nomenklatura are just as likely to be inner-city hackers as rich executives. But they will have one thing in common: the knowledge that brings control. We have to create a nomenklatura of the masses. We know that state-of-the art modems, an ISDN connection, and up-to-date hardware are beyond the means of most potential users – especially when you need to upgrade every six months. So let’s give people access free, or at least for the price of the necessary phone connection.

Why not just leave the democratization of the Net to the market – I mean, to the falling prices ushered in by robust competition?

Look at it this way: when Benz and others invented the automobile, they had no idea that one day the mass market would be opened up by Henry Ford’s Model T – that came only 40 years later. So how do you persuade people to start using a means of transport that was beyond the means of all but the very rich? Easy: you rent by the minute, with a driver, and you call the result a taxi. It was this which gave people access to the new technology, but it was also this which allowed the industry to expand to the point where the Model T Ford was conceivable. In Italy, the Net marketplace is still tiny: there are only around 300,000 regular users, which is peanuts in this game. But if you have a network of municipal access points – each of which has a commitment to provide the most powerful, up-to-date systems for its users – then you’re talking about a respectable turnover, which can be ploughed back into giving the masses Model T hardware, connections, and bandwidth.

Do you seriously believe that mechanics and housewives are going to pour into Multimedia Arcade?

No, not straight away. When Gutenberg invented his printing press, the working classes did not immediately sign up for copies of the 42-Line Bible; but they were reading it a century later. And don’t forget Luther. Despite widespread illiteracy, his translation of the New Testament circulated through all sections of 16th-century German society. What we need is a Luther of the Net.

But what’s so special about Multimedia Arcade? Isn’t it just a state-run cybercafé?

You don’t want to turn the whole thing into the waiting room of an Italian government ministry, that’s for sure. But we have the advantage here of being in a Mediterranean culture. The Anglo-Saxon cybercafé is a peep-show experience because the Anglo-Saxon bar is a place where people go to nurse their own solitude in the company of others. In New York, you might say “Hi – lovely day!” to the person on the next barstool – but then you go back to brooding over the woman who just left you. The model for Multimedia Arcade, on the other hand, is that of the Mediterranean osteria. This should be reflected by the structure of the place – it would be nice to have a giant communal screen, for example, where the individual navigators could post interesting sites that they’ve just discovered.

Doesn’t this communal vision violate the one user, one computer principle?

I’m a user and I own eight computers. So you see that there are exceptions to the rule. In Leonardo’s day, remember, the rule was one user, one painting. Ditto when the first gramophones were produced. Are we short of communal opportunities to look at paintings today, or to listen to recorded music? Give it time.

Whatever side they take in the various computer culture debates, most Americans would agree that the modem is a point of entry into a new phase of civilization. Europeans seem to see it more as a desirable household appliance, on a level with the dishwasher or the electric razor. There seems to be an “enthusiasm gap” between the two continents. Who’s right on this one – are Americans doing their usual thing of assuming everyone plays baseball, or are Europeans being so cool and ironic that they’re going to end up missing out on the Net phenomenon?

The same thing happened with television, which reached a critical mass in the States a good few years before it took off over here. What’s more interesting is the fact that the triumph of American culture and American modes of production in films and television – the Disney factor that annoys the French so much – is not going to happen with the Net.

As for the “enthusiasm gap” – I’m not even sure there is one. But there is plenty of criticism and irony and disillusionment in the States that the media has simply decided not to pick up on. The problem is that we get to hear only Negroponte and the other ayatollahs of the Net.

You publicly supported Italy’s new center-left coalition government when it was campaigning for election in April 1996. After the victory, it was rumored in the Italian press that your payoff was the new post of Minister of Culture – but you turned down the job before it was even offered. Why?

Because before you start talking about a Minister of Culture you have to decide what you mean by “culture.” If it refers to the aesthetic products of the past – beautiful paintings, old buildings, medieval manuscripts – then I’m all in favor of state protection; but that job is already taken care of by the Heritage Ministry. So that leaves “culture” in the sense of ongoing creative work – and I’m afraid that I can’t support a body that attempts to encourage and subsidize this. Creativity can only be anarchic, capitalist, Darwinian.

In 1967 you wrote an influential essay called “Towards a Semiological Guerrilla Warfare” in which you argued that the important objective for any committed cultural guerrilla was not the TV studio, but the armchairs of the people watching. In other words: if you can give people tools that help them to criticize the messages they are receiving, these messages lose their potency as subliminal political levers.

We’re talking about a range of simple skills. After years of practice,
I can walk into a bookstore and understand its layout in a few seconds. I can glance at the spine of a book and make a good guess at its content from a number of signs. If I see the words Harvard University Press, I know it’s probably not going to be a cheap romance. I go onto the Net and I don’t have those skills.

And you’ve got the added problem that you’ve just walked into a bookshop where all the books are lying in heaps on the floor.

Exactly. So how do I make sense of the mess? I try to learn some basic labels. But there are problems here too: if I click on a URL that ends with .indiana.edu I think, Ah – this must have something to do with the University of Indiana. Like hell it does: the signpost is deceptive, since there are people using that domain to post all kinds of stuff, most of which has little or nothing to do with education. You have to grope your way through the signs. You have to recycle the semiological skills that allow you to distinguish a pastoral poem from a satirical skit, and apply them to the problem, for example, of weeding out the serious philosophical sites from the lunatic ravings.

I was looking through neo-Nazi sites the other day. If you just rely on search-engine logic, you might jump to the conclusion that the most fascist site of the lot is the one in which the word Nazi scores highest. But in fact this turns out to belong to an antifascist watchdog group.

Modernism seems to have ground to a halt – in the novel at least. Are people getting their experimental kicks from other sources, such as the Net? Maybe if Joyce had been able to surf the Web he would have written Gone with the Wind rather than Finnegans Wake?

No – I see it the other way round. If Margaret Mitchell had been able to surf the Web, she would probably have written Finnegans Wake. And in any case, Joyce was always online. He never came off.

But hasn’t the experience of writing changed in the age of hypertext? Do you agree with Michael Joyce when he says that authorship is becoming “a sort of jazzlike unending story”?

Not really. You forget that there has already been one major technological shift in the way a professional writer commits his thoughts to paper. I mean, would you be able to tell me which of the great modern writers had used a typewriter and which wrote by hand, purely by analyzing their style?

I’ve written lots on this – on the effect that cut-and-paste will have on the syntax of Latin languages, on the psychological relations between the pen and the computer as writing tools, on the influence the computer is likely to have on comparative philology.

Well, if you were to use a computer to generate your next novel, how would you go about it?

The best way to answer that is to quote from an essay I wrote recently for the anthology Come si scrive un romanzo (How to write a novel), published by Bompiani: “I would scan into the computer around a hundred novels, as many scientific texts, the Bible, the Koran, a few telephone directories (great for names). Say around a hundred, a hundred and twenty thousand pages. Then I’d use a simple, random program to mix them all up, and make a few changes – such as taking all the A’s out. That way I’d have a novel which was also a lipogram. Next step would be to print it all out and read it through carefully a few times, underlining the important passages. Then I’d load it all onto a truck and take it to the nearest incinerator. While it was burning I’d sit under a tree with a pencil and a piece of paper and let my thoughts wander until I’d come up with a couple of lines, for example: ‘The moon rides high in the sky – the forest rustles.'”

At first, of course, it wouldn’t be a novel so much as a haiku. But that doesn’t matter. The important thing is to make a start.

McLuhan wasn’t a philosopher – he was a sociologist with a flair for trend-spotting. If he were alive today he would probably be writing books contradicting what he said 30 or 40 years ago. As it was, he came up with the global village prophecy, which has turned out to be at least partly true, the “end of the book” prophecy, which has turned out to be totally false, and a great slogan – “The medium is the message” – which works a lot better for television than it does for the Internet.

OK, maybe at the beginning you play around, you use your search engine to look for “shit” and then for “Aquinas” and then for “shit AND Aquinas,” and in that case the medium certainly is the message. But when you start to use the Net seriously, it does not reduce everything to the fact of its own existence, as television tends to. There is an objective difference between downloading the works of Chaucer and goggling at the Playmate of the Month.

It comes down to a question of attention: it’s difficult to use the Net distractedly, unlike the television or the radio. I can zap among Web sites, but I’m not going to do it as casually as I do with the television, simply because it takes a lot longer to get back to where I was before, and I’m paying for the delay.

In your closing address to a recent symposium on the future of the book, you pointed out that McLuhan’s “end of the Gutenberg galaxy” is a restatement of the doom-laden prophecy in Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, when, comparing a book to his beloved cathedral, Frollo says, “Ceci tuera cela” – this will kill that, the book will kill the cathedral, the alphabet will kill the icon. Did it?

Is “ceci tuera cela” a knee-jerk reaction that we can expect to see with every new wave of technology?

It’s a bad habit that people will probably never shake. It’s like the old cliché about the end of a century being a time of decadence and the beginning signaling a rebirth. It’s just a way of organizing history to fit a story we want to tell.

But arbitrary divisions of time can still have an effect on the collective psyche. You’ve studied the fear of the end that pervaded the 10th century. Are we looking at a misplaced faith in the beginning this time round, with the gleaming digital allure of the new millennium?

Centuries and millennia are always arbitrary: you don’t need to be a medievalist to know that. However, it’s true that syndromes of decadence or rebirth can form around such symbolic divisions of time. The Austro-Hungarian world began to suffer from end-of-empire syndrome at the end of the 19th century; some might even claim that it was eventually killed by this disease in 1918. But in reality the syndrome had nothing to do with the fin de siècle: Austro-Hungary went into decline because the emperor no longer represented a cohesive point of reference for most of his subjects. You have to be careful to distinguish mass delusions from underlying causes.

And how about your own sense of time? If you had the chance to travel in time, would you go backward or forward – and by how many years?

And you, sir, if you had the chance to ask someone else that question, who would you ask? Joking aside, I already travel in the past: haven’t you read my novels? And as for the future – haven’t you read this interview?

 

Stranger Than Fiction

https://mikejay.net/stranger-fiction/

A Visionary Madness: The Case of James Tilly Matthews and the Influencing Machine by Mike Jay

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“On the Origin of the ‘Influencing Machine’ in Schizophrenia” is an article written by psychoanalyst Viktor Tausk. It was first published in 1919 in the journal Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse …. Translated into English: Tausk V (1933) On the origin of the influencing machine in schizophrenia. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 2, 519-556.

‘The Truman Show Delusion: Psychosis in the Global Village’, May 2012 issue of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry

A HyperReal Tale Of ARG

Around 1996/97, a Virtual Reality cafe opened in London, ON. (My home town). A first time experience to try VR gaming/simulation. Safe to say, the trend did not stick. The cafe closed soon thereafter. It was ahead of its time but the public did not catch on.

Also in the 1990’s, Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG), seemed to catch on with people such as the musicians, NIN.  Clues would be left in the virtual world and in the real physical world that intertwined for fans to engage with the band. AGR also reminds me of the film The Game. A real-life game based on lies and deceit, where the main character played by Michael Douglas, is led through this surreal mystery of death and consequence. This film can only be watched once. Once you know the ending, you cannot forget it.

Pokemon Go came out and applied geomapping to a new system of alternate gaming in 2016. It also interweaves the virtual world, with the real physical world. Pokemon has created an empire of creativity that has lasted well over two decades. Created by Satoshi Tajiri, who has been linked to living with autism, and who wanted to recreate a game based on his childhood memories of collecting insects. At the time Niantic created Pokemon Go, it caught on like a whirlwind. People were ready and waiting having already been attached to, and comfortable, with the mobile smartphones.

Technology catches up with time. To use the idea of climate change, it caught up with the masses in time, unfortunately when the time is too dire to ignore.

ARG

Alternate Reality Gaming, at times include non-disclosure agreements by those that choose to partake. “The first rule of fight club. You do not talk about fight club.”

I woke up today to find an item I had been searching for online, months ago, in my Amazon shopping cart. I, nor anyone with physical access to my phone, made that action. When I checked my email this morning (okay, afternoon), the MIT tech review I subscribe to posed the question, whether Amazon’s Alexa would be a viable tool as a personal assistant.  Hmm… I don’t have an answer. I do have the answer that these two factors correspond to each other, not as coincidence though. How do I know exactly? I have been at this “psychological virtual game” for too long to ignore action and reaction sequences. I have reached out to a number of “random” individuals,  since I started this “Virtual Quest”.

This situation that I am in poses the dilemma of privacy rights and granted permission through the right , or proper, channels. If the government foresees this and has granted other individuals/professionals to partake in this Virtual “Hacking” Game… am I just a pawn that has given silent consent? Or am I a victim? Am I being delusional?

To understand mental illness, people need to be aware that there are delicate issues about the hardships of personal life that lead to suicide. In nature, I am not a suicidal person. Ideations have occurred before but quite rarely and through channels of my psychosis. Not “my” thoughts but “their” thoughts. Are people aware of the sensitivity behind their online behaviour? What kind of consequences their actions could lead to? [It eats me up inside that young kids today face this kind of harassment on nearly a daily basis, online and offline. That it does lead to tragic consequences. How often do we hear stories of virtually posted suicides, videos of extreme harassment and violence? (That is just a side rant to the impact of social media on young minds that have not developed to know there is a whole other world out there waiting to accept them)]

In my world, I am open to this permission to whomever chooses to participate and engage online. But life is not a game. Virtual worlds are not a game. They all extend into our physical real lives and make an impact far greater than simply being able to “shut it off”.  I felt fear and threatened, the first time this occurred in 2013. As though my personal space had been invaded and exposed. At times I still do, as I know it tends to lead me down the road of psychosis. Each time it happens, paranoia is there, but I no longer feel threatened. It takes time for my mind to regulate real verses fiction of my entire lived-out life, not just that particular single moment. But as always I pull through, a bit wiser and a bit more stable. I am fully aware when my IG newsfeed is “hacked” with people I don’t know followed by names that correlate to my name, and stating they have won a million dollar lottery given to names of people I do know, with a repetition of this post in a series that I can not delete. That is not delusion. That is an invasion of privacy.

We are all pawns in this game of life, but we cannot go through it blindly. We must think about the consequences our actions make, whether our actions do more harm than good. We aren’t robots and haven’t quite reached “cyborg” status yet…

Even when we turn OFF for the night, our minds remain ON.

MLRFs