About this blog

Why I chose this blog title:

Edited Nov 24th, 2013

One of the most luminous moments in my life was in 1988, when I was talking with a small boy in his room. When another boy came in, I was introduced with the words: "This is Ingrid. She is also a survivor." 

That meeting is etched in my memory with a sprinkle of Tinkerbell dust: Time stood still, and we savoured that feeling of kinship, of belonging, of seeing each other and being seen. 

This blog is dedicated to them, and to all other children who are carrying wounds the world doesn't want to see. And to all adults who have children like these as a part of who they are. 

The two boys said : "We have to tell people that these things are real!" And this is my way of doing so. 

I also want to explore the societal mechanisms that make it so difficult to see that "these things are real", and to show alternatives to these mechanisms.

Stories and labels are the building blocks of these mechanisms, and and I want to collect thoughts that can dissolve them, and look critically at stories and labels that ... often with the very best of intentions … can cage and blind and cripple and maim. 

I have been labeled "anti-psychiatry", which from my viewpoint as a translator is a weird reaction: it's as if translators dismissed criticism of translations as anti-translation. 

"If you're not with us, you're against us" is not a constructive story.

My story is that I evaluate authority: 

And I deny authority's right to invade the stories of individuals with collective stories.

I'll let E.E. Cummings have the last word:

From "A Poet's advice to Students"

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you're a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you're nobody-but-yourself.
To be nobody-but-yourself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else-means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.



  1. I love the blog title itself! Love it to bits.

    The subtitle, not so much. It states: "Freedom is the opportunity to take responsibility for our own lives".

    But is freedom really ever just an opportunity? Blacks long had an opening, an opportunity of going to university in the south of the US but when the first one actually tried, he needed armed protection. When did actual freedom arrive? Women long had equal opportunity for education and positions, same as men, but due to traditional customs and social pressure they hesitated to take that opportunity. Would you call it freedom?

    Lets look at the opposite of freedom, being forced to do someting against your will or being a prisoner. Lets start with freedom, like freedom to enjoy alcohol and a teenager who selfdestructs by overdrinking, kills a couple in drunken driving and gets a life sentence. Clearly, he's not enjoying freedom now, he's in jail. But the subtitle says, he had the opportunity to take responsibility for his own life. He had freedom. You could go deeper. Neglected childhood. Alcoholic parents. No jobs on offer. Again, freedom as opportunity is a concept that covers up the real issues.

    Or what about the public health care system. You're offered therapy, but you don't agree with the principles of therapy. OK, you can decline the therapy. You have the opportunity to take responsibility for you own life. No other treatment will be on offer though, and good luck trying to find out what principles of therapy are before you've ever been to a shrink before. Again, freedom? Really?

    I guess that an opportunity is something that's given to you by others. It doesn't match well with freedom, in my opinion. Instead of having it given to you, freedom is something you just take.

    I take the liberty of...is an expression in every language. I prefer that way of saying it.

  2. Yippee! Feedback! Disagreement! Thank you so much, Gambetti, for new food for thought. I have time to digest it on Thursday, on a long train journey, and hope to respond soon after that

    Just one thought for now: "Freedom is the opportunity to take responsibility for our own lives" became a banner for me when I became a Psychiatric Diagnosis is the health services. (You have read about this in my blog in Norwegian.) I kept being told that I had "clear freedom of choice" ... when all signs of being an autonomous entity were treated as symptoms of a mental disorder.

    I had to ask myself:

    1) Where is this freedom they are talking about?
    2) What are my options within this freedom they are talking about?
    3) What option have I chosen?
    4) Is there room for this option in this context?
    5) What is freedom?

    and my answers were:
    1) Can't find it.
    2) I can realize that the experts are right, or prove that they are right.
    3) To take responsibility for my life.
    4) No.
    5) Opportunity to take responsibility. When that does not exist in a context, there is no freedom.

    So ... isn't this an analogy to your example? "Blacks long had an opening, an opportunity of going to university in the south of the US but when the first one actually tried, he needed armed protection."

    As a citizen in a democracy I had freedom of choice. And freedom of thought and speech. And as a Diagnosis in the health services, my situation was like that of the Black - except that my unfreedom was invisible, and there was no armed protection available when I took the opportunity.

    I had chosen to take responsibility - and taken the opportunity. But within the frame of "mental health care", this opportunity did not exist. I was in an alwayswrong situation:

    a communications dilemma
    where others know that our reactions are always wrong
    and it is impossible to discuss the problem or resolve it.
    In this situation confusion is a natural response,
    and we can only get rid of the confusion
    by removing ourselves from the situation

    My natural confusion in this situation created the symptoms that proved that the mental health care experts were right.

    Luckily I could remove myself, and did. That was how I "took the opportunity" ... leaving the health services.

    Nose to the grindstone time!

  3. Ah, yes. You've got work to do before your holiday, haven't you. No need to reply to me before you get home again. I just find myself navigating to your blog frequently to listen to your Leonard Cohen clips. They can be addictive.

    Yes, I understand how the subtitle would be correct in your own case. You left the health services. You exercised your liberty.

    But don't you see how this definition of freedom could be used by governments, or authorities, or those in charge in general?

    I think the problem here lies in the word opportunity. What qualifies as an opportunity? If Blacks are permitted legally to enter university, but they might be lynched, then it's not a true opportunity, is it? The young unemployed man from a difficult background, was a he free man and could he have done with his life whatever he wanted to with it? It depends on society, what help there is available to help work out issues and so on, doesn't it? What is true opportunity?

    So saying there was always an opportunity is often an easy way out, an excuse, for the people in power who won't accept any blame for the misfortune of others.

    1. This has been on the back burner since you wrote it. I have not been thinking consciously about it, but today it boiled down to: "Opportunity" is just a word. A tool. And we can decide what it means to us, also when people in power (unconsciously) use it to confirm their prejudices and convey "blame, shame, burden and guilt", as with blacks in the USA.

      To continue with your analogy: It took a Civil Rights Movement in the USA how reveal the societal lie of "opportunity" - by showing what black people did NOT have the opportunity to do.

      Both of us are commenting on the Norwegian health and welfare system in Norwegian blogs, and todat I came across this sign on the door to a NAV (Norwegian Work and Welfare) office: "We give people opportunities."

      As I see it, that fits perfectly into what you wrote: "So saying there was always an opportunity is often an easy way out, an excuse, for the people in power who won't accept any blame for the misfortune of others."

      We both know that the opportunities within NAV are limited by the beliefs (prejudices), knowledge and limitations of the Powers That Be.

      And I think it's up to us, and people like us, to reveal this particular societal lie. And show which opportunities we are not given ... like the opportunity to heal and grow.

      I honestly think that the PTB honestly do not realize that these opportunities are realistic ... so we have to show them that they are.

  4. "We give people opportunities."

    Nail on head! Yes, that's exactly what I meant and what I was referring to. It's quite provoking to be met with that kind of marketing from an institution many sick and disabled feel are sabotaging their chances of recovery.

    And words are indeed tools. So we need to know what precise meaning we put into those words. It's so easy to manipulate. It's interesting also to see what other people associate with words, and how this particular combination of words became a powerful instrument for finding your own path and direction.

    Thanks for the discussion! I really enjoyed it :-)

    1. And many thanks back to you too! The very best discussions are those that end in greater clarification for all involved!

      Have you had a look at "Steven Pinker: Language as a Window into Human Nature" in the popular posts list?

      There is another and very toxic aspect to the social services ... mess? Criticizing it is on the taboo end of the scale, because 'they are trying to be helpful'.

      Judging institutions by their intentions and not by their actions is another kind of unclarity


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