Monthly Archives: February 2007

Goddamn Scribblers!

I recently found a message board for gifted adults. I felt semi-intimidated, it reminded me of The Dummy Police feeling from elementary school. The feeling has the official title of Imposter Syndrome. Basically in elementary school, for at least five months, I was sure the Dummy Police were going to run into the program I was in, say a mistake had been made and I was actually really stupid, and throw me back into the regular school system. I was terrified in an attracted/repulsed way to the idea. If I went back to the normal school system I wouldn’t have so much pressure to succeed, I could wilt back into the background and vanish, which seemed really attractive. On the other hand I was really excited to be learning, instead of going over what I already knew. And I was excited that people paid attention and were interested, instead of being bored and saying everything was stupid and stuff. And I liked that people didn’t think I was weird for being quiet, because everyone was pretty quiet, at first. But I think people came out of their shells more, because they didn’t feel like they had to hide anymore.

It turns out that I felt really okay on the message board, and people were talking about more than just being smart, they were talking about all the strange things that come along with it, like having low self esteem. And then sense of being bullied and not fighting back not out of weakness but out of a profound empathy for what fighting back would do to that other person. It’s true, I have only ever thrown a punch once in my life. Other than that, I cannot do it. I probably could physically fight back if I had to, but I would be upset by it. I think it makes life so strange, I honestly sometimes don’t understand how people can live with themselves.

I think the Overexcitabilities really do make a huge impact on intelligence, but no one ever told me before. It’s strange to realize there really are tons of people who don’t know how to really empathize with someone. I heard of a Buddhist monk who was teaching and a dog was barking, so a man in the audience threw a rock at the dog to shut it up so he could hear the monk. But the monk was so enlightened that he shrieked and fell over and ended up with a bruise on his side in the exact spot where the dog was hurt. I think that’s how I understand empathy. Not that I get bruises, but sometimes it almost feels like that. And while you would think someone that sensitive to life would shrink away from horrible things, if it has a larger meaning I will look deeply into it. I don’t watch horror film or gore, but I will watch intense documentaries or go to the land where things have happened and things like that. If it really happened to someone, I often feel obligated to find out more, and often that can be physically painful to do. I nearly suffocated at a concentration camp once, and that was even before I read on a sign that I was at a small closet where prisoners were pushed into and suffocated. I get that at other sites too, sometimes I’ll stumble on some fear someone left behind and get deep urges to run when there isn’t any threat around.

I guess that’s why I started this blog in the first place, things happened to me during my time in the psychiatric industry that no one was willing to hear about. And so it was kind of festering. And I couldn’t really use my brain to do all the things I used to do to let things out, but I tried. When I think about those few years on an antipsychotic it seems like it is always night time, like there was never sun, just dark grey clouds blotting out even the stars, and an endless night where things were never warm. Ray Bradbury wrote this story, All Summer in a Day, and that kind of reminds me of it too, the sun only comes out for one hour after seven years, these kids live on Venus, and they lock a girl into the closet just before the sun comes out, because they’re jealous of her because she remembers seeing the sun, she can describe it, and people say she’s going back to earth. And there’s this description of her, “She was a very frail girl who looked as if she had been lost in the rain for years and the rain had washed out the blue from her eyes and the red from her mouth and the yellow from her hair. She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitened away, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost.” That’s how I felt on psychiatric medication, all erased and muted to a manageable level.

Now I’m being told that I’ve been comparing myself to the wrong people this whole time. I can’t measure myself based on what’s standard for Joe Blow, I have to measure myself based on what’s standard for Einstein or Da Vinci or Edison. And after doing that, jeez, I’m totally fine. I found out MD’s only have an average I.Q. of 130, and I’m way over that. I often wondered why I questioned medicine so much and got into trouble, I wasn’t supposed to know certain things, and I certainly wasn’t supposed to question a Doctor. But honestly, they make mistakes all the time! And why can’t they handle being questioned? Are their egos that fragile?

Also, people really don’t know anything about the gifted population. We’re a tiny minority and we scare people. I don’t know why. I think some of us prefer people don’t know about us.

I had this nightmare once when I was a kid where I was drawing perfect circles, and this guy kept running up and scribbling all over them when I was done. So I would draw another perfect circle and the guy would scribble it out again. And I did it over and over and finally got so mad that I punched my mom in her sleep because I thought she was the scribbler.

Goddamn scribblers! Scribbling all over the important things in life.

I’m also meeting a lot of people who have gotten tangled up in the psychiatric system a la Janet Frame. It’s kind of scary, to think of the grander implications of it. The fact that time after time highly intelligent people are killed or damaged because people don’t understand them. And it’s true, sometimes I feel like I’ve got the mute button on, just so I don’t say something really profound that will freak everyone out. I know people usually think I’m either mentally ill or possibly cognitively impaired, but I don’t think I can ever really get them to stop thinking that. Sometimes I want them to think that so I can find out how they would treat people of those groupings.

I don’t want to be treated by anyone anymore though. And I’m not sure how to be myself and survive, and not survive myself but survive everyone else. I’m not a danger to anything, but I am awfully terrified of society as a whole, based on it’s lack of empathy and acceptance of difference. For now I’m listening to other people’s stories, and reading autobiographies, trying to figure out how people protected themselves while still doing amazing work. I’m tired of using only parts of myself to be friends with people too. I wish I had a few more people in my life who I could be all of me with. I’m afraid of being judged, and then I know based on my psych history that judgment carries terrible penalties.

What a strange world, to feel so small and yet hide something so big. I am trying to make some kind of meaning out of being deprived of my intelligence for four years. I don’t know how though. It’s tragic, like walking around half dead. I remember in the psych ward this orderly was making fun of a patient because she said the world was full of dead people, and I thought, yeah, she’s totally right, and he’s one of them!!! I mean it as a metaphor of course, though in a spiritual sense it’s kind of true. And this is the other issue, in that I find metaphors are sometimes the only way to explain something. I was talking about sex with a friend recently and I suddenly switched into describing it how I experience it as, which is like going to the carnival and passing by all these different rides, and some are really SCARY but that’s why you have to do it. And then I realized I lost her somewhere along the way and she thought I was talking about an actual carnival. No, I was talking about sex. Right. Um, and anal fisting would be like the Ring of Fire or a wooden rollercoaster. And missionary is a merry go round. And oral sex is like the ferris wheel and fisting was like the Gravitron.

I haven’t been to the carnival in ages.

Um, this has nothing to do with anything, I just wanted to post it at some point:

I hate you Johann!

I read the funniest thing about overexcitabilities. Apparently people can be so sensitive that you can piss someone off by going for a particular overexcitability. J.S. Bach’s wife, when she was mad at him, used to go to the piano and pound out dischordant tones which drove him spare. I’ve seen artists literally scream and get furious if they’re forced to endure bad art. And I, I cannot handle those stupid Pizza Pop commercials with the talking stomach, ooooh!!! It makes me mad just thinking about it, goddamn stomach!! Grrrr!

Grad School Deadline Approacheth

My Grad School deadline is coming up, eeeee! I still need one more letter of recommendation and I’m not sure I’ll get it from this person, aside from that I don’t know who else to ask for a letter from. It’s such a different direction to go into compared to a BFA in film and video. Maybe people are worried I’m giving up on the film side to go in this direction, but I’m not, this is just a fun program that can help me achieve a goal. I really do want to reform/abolish psychiatry and the treatment of individuals in psychological distress. There is a profound lack of empathy towards the mad, and it’s evolved into a deadly system of force and punishment supported by the very people around the individual in crisis. I intend to set out a new methodology for treating people without the use of force and without the use of medication. The adversarial nature of psychiatry keeps people from reaching out for help, because it is simply the laziest way of “helping” people. No one really seems to care about their friends or family enough to sit with them, or to admit that abuse has caused distress. And people are simply too stupid to appropriately question what is being sold as science. The scientific methodology in psychiatry is woefully lacking in intellectual rigor. They still talk about fuckin’ Oedipus and Electra complexes, even though we know Freud only came up with those theories to explain why all his female patients were reporting incest.

I sometimes wonder if Kurt Cobain would still be alive if he hadn’t been threatened with psychiatric incarceration. We take the best and brightest who are in the throes of existential despair and place them on intellectually damaging drugs which make them conform only because then they truly are operating at the same intelligence as the rest of the world. It’s sick and it’s destroying our societies potential for truly revolutionary humane and aware co-existence. I’m still sad that I lost my brain for three and a half years simply because someone gave me too much antidepressants.

Mental Illness is not a life sentence. We take an event and turn it into an identity, we damage people enough that we can turn them into chronic patients, always dependent on psychiatry and never given enough free reign to heal themselves. We punish those who don’t conform, even though they have potential for greatness.

So yeah, uh, grad school. Well, I have at least three concepts I am going to be working with in my thesis, and I’m looking forward to sitting around with people who are all thinking at the same level. I also think since it is a disability related program, my bad marks for two years won’t be such an issue in getting accepted, hopefully. And if I do really well in this course, I can use this GPA towards the PhD in The History of Consciousness program at Santa Cruz. I am also hoping to have at least one or two films, features, out by the time I apply for my PhD.

I am also thinking more about what lengths I may have to go to in order to survive a Level 1 society. Already I know there are times I have to shut up or I can get into trouble, but those are people I usually stay away from. Anyone who doesn’t believe me when I say something is usually gently excommunicated from my life, because I just don’t have time for them. I’m concerned about my family, you can only open their minds so much and then they get very angry, and they don’t like to read things which explain my experience. I also know my mom prefers to read my diaries instead of actually asking me questions. And instead of asking me how I am, too many people ask if I am taking my medication. I hate that. It’s so cold.

I do know I have to stop listening to people who think I’m being grandiose when I talk about trying to become a major feature filmmaker, learn four more languages, get my masters and PhD, and live off of my art work. People are more concerned about me getting a job and having a workplace I fit into, and I don’t fit into any workplaces. I think it’s a waste of my talents, my energy is better spent working on my own projects than making shoes forty hours a week. (I don’t make shoes, it’s just an example). I also decided I want to learn to play the guitar. I have a hard time playing music because it expresses my emotions the most concisly and that makes me shy, since everyone always told me my emotions were problematic. So I think it would be good for me to have an outlet for it. I really do like music. My mom used to always say that I was tone deaf or something, but I voraciously devour music and when she’s not around to make fun of me I actually do like bopping around singing. I am sure I will sometimes cry terribly while making music, but maybe that’s a form of therapy. Filmmaking is quite similar to music actually, in that it’s a time based medium and uses emotional responses.

I think it will be good for me to go to grad school. I can be around people who like learning, more so than people in a bachelors program. I was surrounded by a lot of other gifted people at Emily Carr, which was nice because for the first time I wasn’t a freak, but there were also some silly people there who were just doing art because they were told to go to uni in order to access their trust funds. It was fun though. And being in a learning environment dedicated to advancing human rights is really freakin’ sexy. I really hope it happens, I’m freaking out about the recommendation letters, but I have to do the other stuff and trust that the letters will come in. I still need to choose a writing sample, and that’s a BIG part of the issue. I know I wrote a brilliant analytical essay in an exam, I could use that. Hmm, not sure not sure. I have several papers around, but the sociology one might make the most sense.

Plus it’s a reason to spend a year in Toronto, which I’ve never really lived in. I don’t know how I’ll do there. I know I can’t live in Vancouver again, because people consistently lack empathy when I am bereaved, and obviously Montreal is a terribly dangerous place for someone like me to live, plus the health care system is deeply flawed. I’m surprised they’re not all dead actually. I am thinking I will probably end up settling down in Winnipeg. It’s probably the city I like the best in Canada, the people are all very nice and smart and doing amazing things in their lives, the cost of living is cheaper, and it has some pretty amazing stuff going on in the film/video sphere. Saskatoon is problematic for me in various ways, I love my family but I really don’t fit in with them and I end up feeling dominated and sad, there isn’t a film and video community, the art community is very insecure and conservative, and as a whole, I dunno, it’s not a happy place. I can’t even engage with the queer or BDSM community here, and that really sucks. I wish I knew more trans people too.

Ideally I would live in a big city, but I can’t do the starving to death thing again. It’s a ruthless and careless environment. I’m realizing more and more that I am going to have to envision and craft a lifestyle for myself that works, irregardless of other people’s opinions. I have a vague idea of what that will look like. I have to completely reassess myself now that I know about OE’s, that they are innate, and that I will always live with them. Accepting them is kind of interesting, because now I actually have something to work with. There’s no way to eliminate them short of killing myself, and I really don’t care to do that. So I am going to try and adjust to life with them. Some people only have a few OE’s, and I have all of them!!!

Deviant

Since starting to get off psych drugs my memory has returned, along with an ability to rapidly learn things again. I realized that while learning about Quantum mechanics helped me realize the existence of God, since I was immediately put on Zyprexa at the same time I have a shoddy recollection of basic quantum mechanic theory, which is irritating me. So now I have to relearn it. I do have some books around on it, it’s one of those conceptual ideas that I like playing with because it twists up all the ideas of reality which average people assume is the truth. Unfortunately, it’s also the kind of advanced concept that average people don’t study and therefore view as some kind of psychotic thought, especially when it comes out of someone who people don’t consider having an astute scientific mind.

I was talking to my friend Robin last night when we both suddenly stumbled on this idea of Genius Sex. It’s an unusual concept, to be sure, but there does seem to be a such thing as Genius Sex, and it doesn’t seem to be something most people can do. I was lucky in that my first two lovers were highly intelligent people and so having long extended four hour plus sex sessions were pretty normal. But then I found out, that isn’t the norm! Most people seem to have sex lasting on average half an hour. I think in some respects I gave up sex because I got tired of the limited scope of it with certain parties. I would choreograph extended sessions with fifteen different acts and get done with about two of them when the other person would roll over and turn out the lights. Uh, hey, wait a minute. We didn’t even get to hour two, and I had something REALLY spectacular planned at hour four. What the hell?

Robin said “You mean people don’t usually have sex for four hours or more? What?” It’s true. And people think intelligent people make terrible lovers, that’s just dumb. Imagine someone specifically trying to give you multiple orgasms in a Fibonacci mathematical sequence! We were trying to figure out why great sex and great minds seem to come together. I think it’s because sex is seen as a skill set by people who like to learn and are adept at it. I know the best BDSM practitioners are the ones who actually care to learn the culture, the medical issues, the psychological issues, along with technique and practical usage. The worst practitioners are the ones who just show up with a whip and don’t even care to learn how to avoid hitting kidneys or why you should avoid hitting them. And even with relatively vanilla techniques there’s a lot to learn, with a lot of dialogue with your partner to find out what’s working. I also think that since learning entails mistakes, people who enjoying the learning process are willing to admit when something they’re doing isn’t working, and more creative in finding something else that WILL work, and then applying that to several other different techniques. If the other person hasn’t rolled over and gone to sleep that is.

Which brings me to the other issue at hand, some people just can’t take sex sessions that are so extended. And gifted people generally have high levels of energy, so of course if you put two of them together and they’re having fun AND not getting tired it’s just going to go on and on.

So I’m relearning what giftedness feels like, since the psych drugs basically eradicated it during the last four years. It feels like, it’s really nice actually. I like being able to toy with concepts again, especially several at once. I like being moved to tears by film, music, and art again. I like seeing the big picture. I like the thoughts which psychiatrists considered grandiose but which are just reasonable thoughts and goals for me. I like that I have finally figured out my own psychological condition apart from a judged pathology label given by people who didn’t bother to ask me anything about myself and who thought maybe my filmmaking was a delusion. I’m not so used to the fact that I don’t need as much sleep again. I’ve often been a sleepy person, but I can function on an average of six hours of sleep. More is nice at times though, and sometimes less is necessary when I’m really working hard on something.

I’m trying to be careful around other people, because I know that few people around me understand what is normal for me. I guess you could say I was one of those gifted people that went underground after facing constant social rejection, but now I’m at a level of maturity where I don’t really care about fitting in anymore. I know I won’t. That’s okay. I just hope that people don’t think they can improve my life by MAKING me fit in, because that means making me dumb and I dislike the experience.

So I am trying to honour the fact that I have overexcitabilities, which are very different from manic depression but often mistakenly assumed to be manic depression. There is nothing wrong with crying because of something on the news, or being terribly excited about a new concept, or making a mess and not caring that it’s there. I’m trying to re-educate my mom on the experience of gifted people and the propensity of society to pathologize our differences in an attempt to help us conform, when we are not meant to conform. I’m not sure if she appreciates being constantly given information on gifted characteristics, but I’m hoping I can educate her enough that she won’t start telling me I’m doing something “bipolar” when I’m actually doing something gifted. Especially since I’m getting off the intellectually damaging drugs.

And I have done a lot better since getting off, I don’t have shakes and tremors, I haven’t had a seizure in a long time, I haven’t cared so much about smoking pot, I don’t hear things anymore, I sleep better in that I’m not super sleepy, my short and long term memory has improved, I can come up with creative ideas at a much more rapid pace, and I can assimilate new information with greater ease. I’m also not depressed anymore, which is a side effect of the drugs they gave me to cure mania, which was caused by antidepressants mostly and not spontaneously from me, and the antidepressants were originally used for existential depression. So I got misdiagnosed and treated for the wrong thing, most of my treatment in the last four years was to eliminate mania and hypomania, which are actually overexcitabilities which gifted people tend to have and which serve a purpose.

I am on 500mg of epival now. I think at the end of this week I will cease taking it. I’m hoping I don’t flip out, but we’ll see. Mostly I hope people give me a chance to get through the withdrawal symptom without running around yelling that I’m sick.

I think I’m lucky though, I do have a small number of people who I can have conversations with about what I care about, and that’s important. I don’t know anyone else but Robin who could have a half hour discussion on Genius Sex. I have another friend who sends sweet nothings in latin, and a few people here and there who I drop in on and talk about their thesis or dissertations or other pleasurable intellectual pursuits. I have been deeply lonely around the lack of people to talk to and play with and have sex with, yes, but I’ve reached a turning point where I’m not willing to measure myself based on the standard. I am a deviation, it is true, but that doesn’t always mean a lack.

Growing Up Gifted

When I went crazy, later on my mom criticized one psychiatrist for thinking I was “some kind of mad genius.” This hurt, because in fact I am a mad genius. Long before any psychological issues emerged, I had already been handpicked by the elementary school system to go into a smaller program for gifted students. There are two classes in the city for gifted students, and the program lasts approximately as long as an undergraduate degree, four years. I got some flak for deciding to accept the invitation from friends who thought I was going to “nerd school.” Yes, the only fistfight in our classroom over a four year period was over theories of aerodynamics, but really we were just a group of terribly smart kids who were getting bored in regular schooling.

We were half of the 60 kids in Saskatoon in our grade level with the highest I.Q. scores, about 140 and upwards. I know there’s lots of debate about how I.Q. tests work and what intelligence is valued over others, but there you have it. That’s how the program selected us. It wasn’t a program you could apply to either, or even knew that it existed, the school board just sent my mom a letter of invitation for me at the end of grade 4. And it was good because I was getting really bored in my schooling. Phonetics class was the most useless, by the time I got to kindergarten I had already been reading for some time. I still remember the first book I read on my own, when the marks actually had meaning. I remember reading it and thinking “Is that all there is?” It was a boring book! So boring. Dolphins, bleh! But phoenetics was the worst because it taught you to read in a way that made adults laugh at you, and I didn’t like that. Even the word for phonetics isn’t fonetic.

Luckily I kept reading after the first boring book. My mom didn’t know I could read until she found me one day sitting in my room with a book and she asked me what I was doing. “Reading.” She didn’t really believe me until I started reading the whole book aloud to her. I was about four.

It was my Gramma who helped me learn to read. I was frustrated by the inaccessability of the written language, I knew there was a pattern and I knew it had a meaning but I didn’t know HOW that worked yet. She was a kindergarten teacher a long time before, so she started doing reading exercises with me. Recognizing letters mostly, someone got some workbooks from a teacher store and that’s what I did with my Gramma when we visited. Because in a large extent it was self directed learning, I think I also learned how to learn from a very very young age. So I learned how to read, and it just continued on.

My mom was often busy with my sister, so I also became really self reliant because I was so impatient. I remember when I got my first two wheel bicycle my mom was going to teach me how to ride it after she put my sister to bed. That took an hour, and an hour was like, oh my god, an eternity. So I went into the back alley, jumped on my bicycle, put two feet on the pedals, and fell over immediately. This continued on for about an hour, until my mom finally came out to teach me only to see me riding up and down the alley saying “Look what I can do!” with totally bloody gory knees dripping blood and embedded with bits of gravel.

Thinking back on it, while my class was fairly diverse, a majority of the students could be considered disabled in the various ways students are currently being labeled. In hindsight most students had what would be labeled now as attention deficit disorder, at least one person had autism, there were wide ranging emotional problems, and when all was said and done we could have been a really rowdy problematic group of kids to teach. Pretty much everyone was an independent thinker in their own ways, nothing happened in class that wasn’t challenged in some way. So the teachers had to literally teach us in a different way than the majority of students were being taught. They knew that for us to learn and be happy we had to work with whatever we were interested in at the time. We did research projects all the time. And I can’t say that we were all geniuses in the same way. I was the writer/artist genius among several others, some people were really strong in math, some people were athletes, some people were good computer programmers, some were musicians, and so on. Yes, we still had the “popular kids” and the “nerds” and other social aspects common to most educational environments. But we were also respected by the people who were our authorities, which was a very different way of learning than I experienced in other learning environments. It changed the way I thought of authority.

It was probably also one of the places I got bullied so much, because it started becoming obvious to my classmates that I wasn’t heterosexual and that the tomboy thing wasn’t going away. But one thing they couldn’t bully me about was being stupid. The only snide comment they could make about my intelligence was that I wasn’t good at math, because I wasn’t doing algebra while most of them were. That hurt, but even then they couldn’t call me worse than average in mathematics, because I wasn’t in remedial, I just had to go to the regular class for math and then come back.

There was one thing I quit, a few other students did too. Band. I just never liked band. I think it was the group thing that annoyed me, if I had been able to play an instrument on my own with music I chose I probably would have stuck with it, but as it was I was practicing Ode to Joy and the William Tell Overture without any back up and feeling dumb. So I spent two years wiggling my fingers on the keys. I don’t know if anyone noticed, because I kept passing. Then one day I turned to the second saxaphonist and confessed my fraudulent finger wiggling and she said “That’s what I’ve been doing too!” There was only one other alto sax in the band, and I have no idea what the heck she was doing, I never asked. I decided to quit, even though I only had one more year of band. I didn’t want to live a lie! And I remember the band teacher huffed and said “I hope you don’t quit EVERYTHING you do in life!” Which was weird because it was the one thing I ever quit as a kid.

Oh, except for fencing, but that’s because I was a girl and got no play.

It’s not like I twiddled around with my life by leaving band, instead I wrote more essays and read more books, so it was all good.

I have to say though, for a society which prides itself on valuing intelligence, it really doesn’t. That’s bunk. Our society values conformity, someone who follows orders well, someone who is the same as most of the other somebodies. I think it’s been my intellect which has frustrated myself and almost everyone else the most. I’ve been told I think too much, too fast, feel too deeply, everything has been about slowing me down until I am at the same pace as everyone else. Do you know what it’s like being on an antipsychotic for three and a half years as a gifted person? God, it fuckin’ SUCKS! You can’t think, or feel. I mean, people seem to think you can, and I’m sure I wasn’t stupid, but I wasn’t thinking at a comfortable pace, I couldn’t have extreme emotional responses to life so it took me longer to process things which happened. It was agony.

There was this Twilight Zone I watched once when I was a kid about this kid who’s studying for a big test coming up that all the kids have to take at that age. It’s administered by the government and he wants to do really well on it. People are like “Oh, don’t worry about it,” trying to dissuade him from studying and so on, trying to get him to act like a regular kid and not worry about academics so much. But he studies anyway and does really well and it turns out the government has a policy to kill the really smart people of it’s population.

I talk about all of my identities a lot in my art practice and here obviously, but I have never before talked openly about my gifted identity. It’s considered “elitist” to acknowledge being highly intelligent. Like what right do I have to say I’m smart, that’s for someone else to judge. But I got judged early and often and sent to a special class for four years to avoid being crushed by the system.

And yet I never really went looking for information on what that identity really means. Being gifted often comes with a deep abiding existential depression and loneliness. I don’t talk to people often because often they make conversation about limited things. I’ll want to talk about deep subjects at length and often notice myself getting shut down by people who consistently prefer lighter fare. It makes me really hard to get to know. I’m emotionally sensitive to a higher degree than others, and sensually more sensitive than others too. I often prefer more varieties of stimulation all at the same time, like playing music while writing with reading breaks and maybe, oh, masturbating somewhere in there.

It turns out gifted people often get diagnosed with pathologies simply because people in the mental health field are woefully uneducated about our population. I recently found a theory which seems to apply more to my psychological issues compared to the bipolar label. It’s called Positive Disintegration, and it’s common amongst the gifted population, who often have overexcitabilities. Besides being intellectually smart, we also have vastly different developmental issues than the general population. Age Appropriate for a gifted child is completely useless. And typically existential depression, suicides, and psychosis can accompany the moral development of a gifted person. Rather than being a negative aspect of life, it represents a struggle between higher and lower functioning. Lower functioning is where educators and psychiatrists try to push us back to, because those are the people who fit in with society the best. That would be someone who hasn’t developed to a morally advanced stage of deep empathy for humanity at large. Dabrowski, who developed this theory, states that the health of a society can be measured by how many people within it suffer from psychoneurosis, the more the better. Primary Integration, the 1st stage, is where most average people stay at. Incidentally, it is also the domain of individuals defined as psychopaths. Psychopathy is a label given to people who are deficient in empathy and conscience, who often do very well in society as it operates today and can be found in occupations like law, politics, business, and CEO’s. Secondary Integration is the ideal outcome of positive disintegration, but on the way there all hell breaks loose. Because we live in a society which devalues independent thought, moral development, and emotional reactions, we’ve also demonized some really healthy and natural personal growth processes in the name of mental hygiene.

Is it a disability? I don’t know. I know that it comes with things that make life in this world very difficult. I remember when I was ten and read Vasari’s Lives of the Artists I was so fascinated with descriptions of Leonardo Da Vinci, who reminded me in many ways of myself. On Star Trek Voyager Captain Janeway was always going to Da Vinci’s studio to commune with great intellect, but in real life she probably would have run screaming from it. This was a man who’s fixation on anatomy would lead him to endlessly draw cadavers and not notice the stench of being around rotting bodies. His studio was a mess, he developed a reputation for starting projects and abandoning them when something else came up. For fun he attached intestines to bellows and expanded them so much that he would push people out of the room. He caused one mentor to stop painting when as a child he painted an angel holding clothes with so much more attention to the use of colour that his mentor became embarassed of his own lack of abilities. Today he would probably be put on ritalin.

It’s been stated that 40% to 60% of gifted children have neurological disabilities. So few people know how to deal with gifted thought processes and development that we often DO have a hard time in the world. In that respect I would say we are disabled, since we have a lack of resources to live in this world. One might assume that we can just trot off to higher education and excell, and sometimes that’s true, but often post secondary education fails gifted people as well.

All very interesting I say.

Pan’s Labyrinth

I just came back from seeing Pan’s Labyrinth and my muscles hurt from being tensed up that whole time! And I haven’t cried that hard at the end of a movie in forever and ever. Jesus Christ. Ow. My body hurts! It was such a good movie though, between him and his friend Curaron, jesus they’re intense!

Filmmakers are brutal. It’s the most extreme amount of power you have, to have people spend two hours listening and watching an entire story you’ve created and responding in certain ways. I think if you can make someone laugh and you can make someone cry on demand in response to a film you’ve made, you have the potential to be an amazing filmmaker. I seem to have mastered those two things in my filmmaking, I’m trying to incorporate other things. I REALLY want to make a film that will make everyone in the audience have an orgasm on demand, but I’m not sure how to do that, and I’m not talking porn or where they actually start masturbating, I just think there must be some way to make someone come without doing anything to them. I told a friend about my idea to do that and she said “Oh, that’s a very kind film you’re making.” So yes, emotions are complex. And when people get mad about films manipulating people, uh, well yeah, that’s what we do. That’s a very simplistic explanation of filmmaking, but at the same time I don’t want to deny that filmmaking is one of the biggest power trips ever, it’s the uber apex of domination.

I’m working on one film which won’t come out for another decade at least, but the ending is so intense that it makes ME cry every time I think about it.

Anyway, Pan’s Labyrinth, wow, anti-war movies starring children seem to be the most effective. Cripes!!

Culture Clash

Last night I went out with my friend Laurel, who’s been my best friend since daycare. She’s Saulteaux, which because of geographical proximity is pretty close to Cree. We were talking about the current problems in the aboriginal communities, like the fact that we treat our children really horribly when before colonialism they were afforded the same respect and reverence as elders. But then European thought was imposed on our cultures, and children were treated terribly of course, they weren’t even considered persons of value until they reached adult hood. And so we have learned that from Europe, to disregard children and abuse them in all the ways that they can be abused. Not everyone, but child abuse is epidemic in our communities today. Dickens had the Blacking Factory and too many aboriginal children are working the streets.

But I was extending it to something else. In Cree culture, and many other aboriginal cultures, people with disabilities were also honoured. I know people, usually white people, try to say that we would have just left them on an ice floe or in the bush to die, I don’t know about other tribes but Crees did not do that. If someone like my sister was born they would be a good omen for the community because they were seen as being spiritually advanced. The parents lucky enough to have such a child would also be honoured. People like me were recognized for having abilities to speak to spirits and see the future, and would have been trained to control their mind powers (not stifle, just be more in control).

This idea is starting to be lost in our communities since European values have been imposed on us. Disabled people are said to be a “white thing,” like we never showed up in aboriginal communities before contact. They try to say the same thing about gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans people too. But we’ve all been showing up in our communities here forever. I should also note that it would never be just the immediate family who would act as caregivers to disabled people, the whole community would be involved in looking after that person. My sister would have been able to wander around the camp and everyone would keep an eye out to make sure she was safe.

It is strange to read things about people with disabilities that violates the values I was brought up with. Like when the Ashley X thing happened and some comments on various blogs were to the effect of her life being worthless because she can’t work or think in specific ways. That is such a European concept to me, and horrifying. How can someone’s life be considered worthless just because they can’t work? Ugh, so disgusting.

And I think about myself too, and my times of extreme poverty and starvation, and I wonder why that was allowed to happen, why I have to earn things like food and shelter, why anybody has to earn those things, when as a community we should just be ensuring everyone is being taken care of. I hate when I hear people tell panhandlers to get a job, like it’s such an easy thing. Or to get a house. People don’t think about what is involved in that, you need an address and phone to get jobs, you need references to get housing, you need money to get housing, and often you have to put down a damage deposit when you first move which can almost double your rent for that month. Sometimes you have to pay first and last months rent. And shelters and housing for street people often comes with conditions, like not being allowed to drink beer in your apartment because it’s a sober living arrangement. I know alcoholism sucks, but not all street people are alcoholics, and it’s not always a good idea to stop drinking. Take someone who has incest flashbacks that create suicidal episodes who’s drinking to forget. Yes, it’s a problematic thing to drink, but is someone going to be there looking after them when they start having those flashbacks? Some shelters require you take part in religious services, some require you meet with a psychiatrist and start taking medication. These aren’t conditions that will improve these peoples lives, these are just situations where poor people are being blackmailed.

I remember when I was in the hospital I got in there during a severe cold snap, so all the homeless people had been rounded up and sent to the psych wards. They weren’t really crazy, most of them, not more so than anyone else who’d been streeting it for a while. But it was a chance for them to get housing and three meals a day, so that people could think it was a good thing. They weren’t freezing to death, but on the other hand they were being exploited to prescribe heavy antipsychotics which were paid for by Quebec Healthcare.

My cultural values are so different from mainstream Canada’s. Take the concept of wealth. In white culture, wealth is demonstrated by how much you own. In Cree culture, wealth is demonstrated by how much you can give away. We still have give aways, ceremonies where a family will collect things like blankets and dishes and toys and so forth, and invite people and give it all away to them. In contemporary life, if we come into more money than usual, no matter how little we may have, it’s common practice to share it amongst friends. I’ve had periods of extended poverty where I suddenly get an artist fee windfall and take some friends out to dinner. Things like that. It means we can get taken advantage of by unscrupulous people, but it’s also just a nice thing to do.

So I am very interested in reviving some of these values which I don’t want to see us lose because of colonialism. Children should be served food at the same time as elders again. Disabled people should be respected members of the community. And we need to find a better way of distributing wealth.